February 6 - Three years ago, my friend moved to Israel with her children for one year. Her husband stayed in Los Angeles to manage his company. He visited as often as he could and skyped with them daily. I learned so many things from their experience and wanted them to know the rippling effect on me and our family.
#1 – The obvious lesson is that you should live your dream. When I heard that my friend was preparing to do this, it sounded right and by the look on her face, it felt right. Anything is possible. One can find 400 reasons not to do something, especially when it is big and involves others. It takes great courage and strength to change your life, your partner’s and your kids.
#2 – Partnership is critical to any marriage and parenting. We usually notice how our partnerships are tested when we are in despair. My friend’s experience really showed me that every day we make decisions for ourselves, our partner and our children. The number of decisions that this couple had to make together is overwhelming to me and I can only imagine the intensity of the conversations that took place. Their partnership in the year leading up and throughout their time apart has given me a new perspective. It has shown me that when one partner helps the other turn their dream into a reality, it doesn’t lessen their value, it strengthens the relationship.
#3 – What if your kids don’t want to live your dream? One of their children did not want to go and did not share the dream. To say that she was kicking and screaming all the way is not an understatement. Three years later this same girl, just began a semester abroad program in Israel – a choice she made on her own. The obvious lesson is that we know what is best for our children. The deeper lesson is that sometimes my children are going to be uncomfortable with a decision I make and that is okay. Allowing my children to experience discomfort rather than fixing it will ultimately give them a stronger core. This is probably the most significant lesson for me. It doesn’t take a big move for my children to be upset with a decision I make for them, it can simply be what I choose for dinner. Now I try to help them work through the discomfort. Teaching coping skills may be the best life lesson I can give them.
#4 – Sometimes people go away and do come back. Unlike death, sometimes people do leave our lives for a time and then circumstances in life bring them back. My friend’s daughter is in the same grade as my daughter and they have been friends since pre-school. Teaching your child that friendship (either by outside circumstances or by choice) may change, grow, end or just be on a break is nearly impossible unless it happens. When they left, my daughter was sad at first. Then she got back in the swing of school, time went by, and summer rolled around again and they returned. Our kids were fortunate to be able to pick up their friendship with very little change. My daughter now sees her friend’s experience as an adventure.
I am writing this post because my dream is simply to write more and to let people know that they have made an impact on me. I always say, “No one knows the impact they had on you unless you tell them.” This post is dedicated to my friends – thank you for enriching our lives.
Thanks for listening and stay tuned.