Do you enjoy spending time with your young adult children and their friends? I can’t think of anything more fun than that! Recently, my husband Mike and I traveled into New York City (can you say car, train and subway?!) to visit one of our son Max’s oldest friends. Oliver moved into a fabulous fifth-floor walkup on 116th Street near Amy Ruth’s, a famous soul food restaurant in Harlem. Oliver’s known us since he was in second grade and he invited us for a look-see. After I huffed and puffed up the two sets of staircases per floor (that’s ten flights of concrete steps, if you’re counting) carrying roughly 25 pounds of house warming gifts I walked into the main hallway of what turned out to be a very light and airy apartment with large rooms and high ceilings. Oliver’s place is fabulous. Another of Max’s long-time friends was there too; Max has known Greg since middle school. The five of us sat around for a long time talking, laughing and telling stories. Conversations ranged from Obamacare, to commuting, to food and beyond. These three twenty-something men are well read, well spoken and a delight to be around.
That afternoon I felt the cheerleader in me stir. For as long as my children have breathed I’ve been their cheerleader. And I am a reliable cheerleader of their friends too. I support these wonderful young people with my undivided attention, encouraging words, pats on the back, warm hugs, food and more. When they are starting new careers in new places, as so many of them are doing now, I want to be right there to encourage them on their way to a successful future.
Have you watched it happen? You are listening to someone, encouraging him, supporting her dreams … his face relaxes, her gestures become larger, grander as s/he realizes you believe in their dreams and plans too. It’s magical to watch the transformation — sometimes subtle, sometimes readily apparent — that can occur when someone realizes they are being listened to, valued and encouraged. It’s the magic that happens when you know you are loved, valued, supported.
As Mike and I commuted back to New Jersey and even into the next day I thought about how important cheerleaders are. And about how important it is for all of us to have cheerleaders in our lives. Do you have someone in your life who listens to your dreams and encourages you to act on them, make them a reality? I hope so!