Have you ever gone to bed happy and grateful and then wake up the next morning with the same feeling? You go to sleep with an excitement of the day’s events and then wake up with the same euphoria. This is life’s way of reminding you that happiness matters. People matter. Moments matter.
Last night was one of those moments. Interestingly, my topic for today was chosen and the first draft was already written. However, the universe was secretly laughing when I told myself that I would finish it later. Laughing, because the topic would make a 180-degree turn after the evening’s events.
Not only did I fall asleep and wake up with a smile and a feeling of genuine happiness and gratitude, but I also had two phrases running continuous laps around my head: Moments Matter and Know Your Child’s Friends. Listening to my inner voice is something that I have learned not to ignore. So, this week will be my first installment of Moments Matter, with the topic being Know Your Child’s Friends.
You are probably asking yourself, “What does Know Your Child’s Friends have to do with last night’s bliss?” Well, it has everything to do with it! Let me give you a brief background first.
From the time my son Damien was young, I knew who his circle of friends were. It also helped that I worked in the same school district, particularly in his elementary school office. So, I really knew about his friends…and their families. In addition, I was an involved parent in all of his extra-curricular activities. With that being said, I never had to wonder who he saw or spoke to on a daily basis. His closest friends throughout his life have generally been his teammates or other athletes. Because of this, I had the advantage of knowing the families.
You may still be thinking, “Why is it important for me to know my child’s friends as they get older? I don’t want to be an overbearing parent who invades their privacy.” Well, let me just say that times are changing and they’re speeding by through your data plan and Wi-Fi. When I was growing up, all of my friends either came to the front door or had to call on the family phone; my parents knew who I was speaking to. With that practice slipping away, it is even more important to know who is in your child’s circle of friends. Honestly, it becomes more about your child than their friends.
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. (Anne Frank)
By knowing Damien’s friends through the years, I learned more about who he was. I found out the type of people that he chose to surround himself with. As I look back over the years, his criteria didn’t change much. As in most cases, he chose people with similar interests. Those interests appeared to include sports, family, fun, and goals. Goals to young Damien centered more on the Do you want to win as bad as I do? mentality. As he grew up, it appeared to become more specific: Are you doing your best to make a difference (whether on this team or in life)?
I was sure that his college years would be the end of the road for me, in regards to meeting, let alone knowing, his circle of friends. However, unbeknownst to me, sports would be my saving grace, once again. As a college football mom, I had the pleasure of knowing many of his teammates and their families. Add the fact that other student-athletes would attend football practices or games, at which time, the circle of his friends that I knew widened.
As I reflect on those opportunities, I do realize that a big factor has been our close mother-son relationship. It is a relationship that was first modeled by my parents. Watching their active involvement in the lives of their daughters (and later their grandchildren) showed me the type of parent that I wanted to be. Between the three of us daughters, my parents made it a priority to attend all games, dance recitals and school functions—no matter how large or small. They knew all of our close friends, not only because they were involved, but because we wanted them to. Nowadays, they know most of their grandchildren’s friends too!
Fast forward to last night. I had the privilege of attending a marriage celebration for my son’s college friends. The newlyweds are former student-athletes, college sweethearts, professionals following their passion, and now, soon-to-be parents. They were wed this summer in front of their immediate family members, but lucky for us in attendance, a Saturday evening gathering was planned to celebrate their recent nuptials.
Privileged is the word that best describes how I felt. They were Damien’s college friends, so I was honored to be included in the celebration. Seeing the overall attendees, most of them former student-athletes, made my heart smile beyond measure. The night was filled with smiles, laughter, and gratitude. College life for student-athletes is an extremely busy time, but they still get to see each other on a daily basis. Life after college, however, has taken these same individuals to different cities, states, schedules, and career paths. Therefore, this wedding celebration suddenly turned into an unofficial “college reunion.”
This also became a reunion for some of the parents. As I wrote in a recent blog post, the families of student-athletes also become friends. So, it was nice to catch up with a former football mom too! We reminisced about the good times, talked about the current times, laughed, and would often stop to look at our sons and their friends with a sense of pride.
For me, watching Damien and his friends interact last night is what made me think of how important it is to know your child’s friends. It shows parents who their child chooses to associate with. It gives parents a sneak peek into the type of person that their child is at different stages of their life.
Last night I saw a group of friends who enjoy life, respect each other, appreciate their families, and are striving to be better in their chosen path. This made me happy because these are exactly the type of qualities that I see in my son.
Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive, nourishing, and uplifting people — people who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dreams, and applaud your victories. (Jack Canfield)