There is always a greater plan…

 dear friend once said to me, “A mother is only as happy as their most miserable child.” Well, today I felt pretty miserable.

This week, my son, Nicholas, ran for student council at his middle school. He thought he was a shoe-in based on the fact that he was a member last year.

The second I saw his face, as he was walking out of school, I knew that things did not go according to his plan.

Turns out, he was shy by just two votes.

The conversation on the way home was pretty one-sided. He was just talking in circles, manically trying to figure out what went wrong.

I quietly listened, fighting back my own tears, feeling as though I had been sucker-punched in the stomach.

When we got home, my husband and I took Nick upstairs and we all snuggled into our bed. We both tried to make him feel better with these traditional words of wisdom:

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“Maybe the other boys needed this experience more than you do.”

“There is something bigger and better waiting for you this school year.”

Truth is, the whole thing just sucked! I hated seeing my son so upset and I wanted to do everything in my power to make it all better.

As a parent, it is so hard watching our children struggle as they grow up. We strive every day of our lives trying to keep them safe and happy. But in the end, life’s lessons will always find a way to penetrate even our toughest shield.

It’s hard to comprehend that our children are not always going to be the best at everything they do and there are going to be disappointments in their lives. Not everyone is going to like them. They are going to be faced with tough situations, just as we all are.

And though the mere thought makes me shudder, we have a responsibility to not coddle our children but to empower them.

We need to give our children the tools to handle tough situations, and to help them understand that sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Even more important, we must teach our children not to define themselves based on the outcome of a single event or their shortcomings.  And at all cost, they must stay true to who they are.

Bad things are going to happen to our children – it’s how they choose to handle these situations that will define them as a person.  

As difficult as today is, I am grateful that Nicholas had this experience. After all, there is not a safer place in the world to overcome your disappointments, than in the arms of your parents.

We laughed, we cried, we talked it out and in the end we realized that there are far worse things in life, than not being elected to student council. Together we helped Nicholas work through a tough situation, bringing him one-step closer to becoming a functional adult.

I guarantee that somewhere in this experience, there is a valuable life lesson that will serve him well one day.

Sometimes our greatest liabilities in life can turn out to be our greatest assets. Sometimes our greatest defeats and challenges can turn out to be our greatest blessings.

There is always a plan.

Deb Zupancic

PS. Have you ever had to deal with helping your child accept his/her shortcomings? How did you handle it? What advice can you offer for the rest of us?