Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This I Believe

A friend of mine sent me a link to NPR's website where they are having a celebration of beliefs by publishing interesting essays on the topic of "This I Believe." As I sat awake late last night, pondering over my son starting school the next day, I thought of how I was feeling. And, this is what a wrote about today. I doubt it is significant enough to be published, but I will turn it in anyway, just for kicks. (I also worry that it is too long, since it is over their word limit, but I can't find places to cut more. Any thoughts fellow writers?) Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading it.
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This I Believe: Celebrate the Milestones and Ride Out the Rough Spots

Today was a big milestone for my son--entering kindergarten. And, while I focused on making this the most special day that I could for him, I also felt some sadness. For today was also a milestone day for me. The day I learned about letting go of my little boy enough to watch him grow. I am certain now that letting go is by far the hardest part of this roller coaster ride that is parenting.

A little more than six years ago, I walked away from my career and everything I had poured my mind into since leaving college. I walked away to care for this dear little boy with eyes as deep as the ocean and a smile that can melt the hardest of hearts. My son and I have been through many ups and downs these past few years. And, the biggest thing he has taught me is that, as a parent, you cannot plan or predict much of anything that happens with your children. The only thing you can count on is that they will grow more independent from you with each passing day. Through this knowledge, I too have grown and matured into a different person than the day I first brought him home from the hospital.

There were times on this journey, when I questioned whether I was the right type of person to do this full-time, and whether or not I could go on without my career, which gave me so much self confidence and pride. I have been plagued by self doubt, criticism, and self-blame whenever my son has entered a new phase that isn’t pleasant. And, while I am certain some of the blame always falls on my parenting, I also am learning to have faith that my son will work through his tough times. He will ride out the rough spots and will come back to me as the same uniquely charming and funny soul he has always been.


That faith will be tested more than ever this year, as I must let my son go a little more. When he stepped onto his school bus today, he took a little piece of my heart with him, unknowingly. I told him earlier that Mommy’s tears were tears of happiness that he’s grown so much and is about to have such a wonderful experience at school. But, inside I know too that my tears are also about having to let go of him and realizing that he’s out there on his own, without me to protect his open heart from hurt. I can now only be there to dry his tears and shower him with love through the difficult times.

When I grew up, I had the most wonderfully sheltered and happy childhood. But, one thing I do remember is how these milestones in my life were met by some of my loved ones with almost as much sadness as there was happiness. My special moments were shadowed lightly with a subtle mourning for the child I was leaving behind and the adult I was becoming. It is difficult and confusing for a child to move forward, always looking back and to see sadness in the eyes of those she loves the most. You want your family to be happy for you as you grow up. And, I know now that my family was happy for me during these milestones. But, at the time, it felt like their whole happiness was on my shoulders. So, I grew up always trying to do what was right, what was expected, what I thought would make them proud. This isn’t a bad way to grow up, by any means, but it is a very pressured way to live your life. Sometimes you lose yourself trying to fulfill the dreams of your dear loved ones.

And so, as I watched my son go on to start his new life at school, I consciously pushed back my own sadness. I allowed myself to miss him, and I will continue to miss him as he grows up and steps out more and more on his own. But, I choose instead to focus on how truly blessed I have been to have six years with this dear child in my life. I have had so much time to watch him grow and marvel at his amazing character. I have become a better person from having this beautiful soul in my life every day.


Today I will choose to ride out this rough spot for me, as a parent, and celebrate this milestone with him with my tears dried and my face beaming in his accomplishment. I only hope that I am able to continue to celebrate him as the years go by, and that I have the strength to let go with grace, and let him grow into the wonderful man I know that he will become.

3 Comments:

Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Wow. This brought tears to my eyes. Who cares if they publish it? It will be a priceless gift you can give your son one day when he's older.
I really related to your need to please your family. I've struggled with that my whole life. I love my parents to death, but in the end, I chose a totally different path from what they wanted for me- It's taken us both some time to realize there is sometimes more than one road you can take to successfully reach your destination. I spent too many years trying to separate what I wanted from what my parents wanted- and I'm trying very hard (sometimes unsuccessfully!) not to do that to my own children.
Anyway, thank you for a beautiful essay.

3:45 PM, August 10, 2005  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Thanks! Yeah, I'm hoping to print off all of my blogs and keep them in a spiral, or save them off to a CD. The ones that are about my kids I will give to them when they are older. The rest I'll keep in a journal format for me.

I admire that you took a different path from what your parents wanted. I wish I'd have done that!

7:25 PM, August 10, 2005  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Coincidentally, today in Toastmasters a guy read a Kahlil Gibran poem that is about this exact topic. Here's the poem:

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children." And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;

For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

11:42 PM, August 10, 2005  

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