When my kids were tiny
(were they ever really so tiny I could hold them steadily on one arm?) …
I had a goal to “get them safely through to adulthood” as if parenting and care end at an assigned year of maturity.
One was a noodley baby in our arms and snuggly. One was so jolly and grinning – both were funny, curious, and filled me with hope.
Both had fuzzy white-blond hair once it finally grew in and blue-berry eyes and red snow/wind-blown cheeks.
They are both in possession of their own minds – people not easily swayed – and it has always been so.
How was I to keep them safe?
What if this or that happened?
How would I live without hearing their breathing at night when I stood in the hallway between their rooms before climbing the stairs to my own sleeping nest?
They grew in beauty, grace, adventure, strength, and perfect comic timing.
And as much as I’ve wanted to keep them safe, I want more to see them live their own good lives. This became a tension within.
I realized that only they could live their life and mistakes and fully live their own joys. It’s their job on this planet. Both of us won’t fit into their shadow-no matter how earnest and noble my desire to ensure their safe passage.
Jim Fay and Foster Cline’s, Parenting with Love & Logic probably saved our relational bacon more than anything else. This book and it’s philosophy gave me a reasonable and safe standard of acceptable behavior and response/responsibility. Fortunately, we also had a collective quirky sense of humor and I developed a lack of shame in regards to public spectacle (usually my own.)
They are now 20-ish year-old adults.
Twice in the past month, I waved as they faded into visual distance and returned to their own autonomous good lives. One was heading back to “drill” and a summer of warfare games before a final college year. One drove towards her home – a five-hour drive over highway, byway, and back roads – with the man she loves and the dog they dote upon.
I find myself still wanting to keep them safe.
Inspired towards good lives of intentional work and compassion.
Safe in view.
And this is where I must trust that they are in their own good hands
amid an uncertain and lacking-guarantee life.
My heart leaps and jumps with wonder at who they are becoming. M & K challenge me to be better and to keep growing. They are who they are because they are free. Their successes are their own, their biffed-up moments are theirs, and their shadows – long casts – are theirs alone.
Remembering this reminds me that they are in the safest of passages – come what may.
Here I am, cheering them on.