Lots of drifted snow out there today - what a beautiful landscape. We totaled something near 2 feet of new snow, so drifting cornices go significantly deeper than that. It was a lot of hard work for dogs, and no stroll in the park for me either. Nevertheless, it is always worth the effort.
So many of this year's blog posts have included reflections about raising children and going through life's transitions. I have one particular piece of wisdom that it all boils down to: Let them become.
When my first infant moved on from a 100% breast milk diet to baby food, I remember a tiny piece of me saddened by the change. When that perfect little face was smeared with pureed green peas, it was another small loss of a former being, and those adorable first teeth meant the end of that winsome, toothless smile. It was all the beginning of her gradual move towards separation and independence from me. Rolling over, sitting up (sounds like a puppy!), beginning to walk, talk, leaving diapers behind, and then the big move -- off to school.
As children grow, their parents' intimate acquaintance with every detail of their child's existence slowly diminishes. Parents miss more and more of their children's transition points. Children develop their own lives at a friend's house, in school, reading a book, watching a movie, meeting new adults, working with teachers. Later, they go off for weeks to camp, or school, or travel. All the time, they are becoming.
When they return home, they have to negotiate the bridge between who they have become and who they were. It is a challenging, and sometimes even heart-wrenching process of re-definition - deciding which battles for identity require insistence and which ones call for compromise. Where does the "me" end and the "child of my parents" step in?
A parent's job is to keep the doors open to each new version of their child as she or he cycles through life. It can be terribly painful to let go of previous versions of your precious offspring, but it is as essential to their well being as food and shelter. They still care what their parents think at every age (despite appearances), and parental support of their burgeoning selves can be an enormous boost to their confidence and strength as they forge ahead into adulthood.
In writing all of these bits of learned wisdom, I find I am compelled to offer thanks to four particular people. It is never too soon to offer love and gratitude, but often too late, so I want to express those things out loud while they are full in my heart.
This year long blog, a planned facilitator for a year of transitions, brought me from a fully active mother life to a more passive one, from a child centered home to an empty nest. I realized recently that my blog became something else as well - a yearlong love letter to my four children.
Somewhere along the way, my children all began to be regular readers of my blog. That in itself is a gift for which I owe them thanks. It has no doubt influenced my writing. But that only skims the service of my gratitude.
From the moment of my first daughter's birth to the present day, my children have infused my life with a sense of wonder. They have taught me so much, given me so much, helped me to grow and learn and love the world through their eyes. I got to be a child again with them, suffer growing pains, dance in a thunderstorm, see creatures in the clouds, cry and hug with abandon, laugh with unbridled joy. My world is constantly challenged, opened, expanded, educated, humbled, and filled with awe through my acquaintance with their evolving selves.
A, S, N, T --- my most precious children -- thank you for the wisdom that you helped provide to your mom. I love what you were, what you are, and what you will become. I hope that you are all able to see, through everything I write, my love and appreciation for you shining through all of my words.