I just returned from a long weekend away in Florida with my kids where we visited my parents.

It has been a while since I was away with my two boys and the relaxed nature of these past few days allowed us the opportunity to spend a lot of time talking and connecting.

We talked about their upcoming summer plans (they are both in college), some of the exciting things happening in my business, and the shocking developments in the presidential race; and for the first time I found myself in a healthy debate and dialogue with young adults that I have raised.

As I listened to their opinions on the candidates, the visions they hold for their future and the dreams they have for what their personal and professional lives will become, I was taken aback.

They are no longer children.

They don’t necessarily feel the same way I do.

They are independent, free thinking young adults; and I no longer have control over what they say and do. 

For the first time I felt scared and vulnerable, no longer possessing the power to shape who they are or protect them from real life.  I now have to trust that I have armed them with the confidence, skills to think critically, integrity and courage to become the men they are meant to be. 

Truth be told, I wasn’t ready.  I hadn’t prepared myself for this moment.

And while I feel scared and vulnerable, I also realize that they are my reflection and my inspiration.

As with any conversation I might have with a group of adults, the boys and I don’t agree on everything.  In fact, at one point while I sat listening to them, I found myself almost angry and sad, the tears welling up in my eyes.  It was not that we don’t agree, but rather that their words reflect back on me; their words trigger my own insecurities and internal conflicts. They are my mirror.

I see in them the very best and perhaps the worst of who I am.  I am both moved and triggered by them; when I find myself wanting to react, I have to stop and look inward.

So I wondered, where else does this show up in my life?  Where in my personal and professional life does feeling a desire to react signal a need to reflect and an opportunity for self-evaluation?

As they shared their thoughts and opinions with me, I accepted them as a challenge to set an even higher standard for myself.

This weekend they have challenged me:

to listen more carefully to what they and others are saying…and why.

to set the example for what it means to walk powerfully into unlimited potential.

to show them that “success” can be defined in many ways and that honor and integrity hold a valuable place in the journey towards achieving it.

to model compassion, humility and the relentless pursuit of peace, happiness and fulfillment…even when it may not be popular.

In some ways we came full circle this weekend; my children became my teachers, and I the student.  They are a remarkable gift and a reminder to continue my quest for growth, expansion and excellence. 

My job doesn’t end because they are now young men.  In fact, the assertion of their independence is merely an invitation for me to raise my performance as a mother, professional and leader; they will need me now more than ever.  It is my job to challenge them to think bigger and more critically, and to cultivate them as leaders, partners, professionals and honorable men.

I never imagined that I could love so deeply and passionately.

I accept their invitation.

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