If thousands of these wondrous flowers could be their perfect selves, there was hope for a broken twelve-year-old girl.
I’m still not sure where I fall. I do know the lion’s share of the work required will fall on me. I’m reminded of how manageable our life felt before we made the decision to have a third child. Things sometimes need shaking up.
I didn’t feel ready for parenting I told her, but I went for it anyway. It’s natural to fear what we don’t know, even when we’re ready to leave what we do. In her case, she’s ready to move on and leave high school behind. But the change coming is a big one.
I left the country immediately after graduating – to live and work for several months in London to earn money to travel that fall. As I contemplated returning home seven months later, I worried about the shock of being plunked back into my life here. What would it look like?
Challenges remain as a parent, and one of the biggest I guess, is stepping aside.
I’ve learned in recent years that I can try to do everything right, that I can think my way to what I believe is the “right” solution, and yet it doesn’t always get the intended results. So my goal for now is not to think my to the next stage, but to feel my way. Explore the way a baby, or a toddler, or a child does. See what I can do only by embracing the possibility that I will fall, and that falling won’t kill me.
We need to tell our stories, whether in our private scribbles or public memoirs. If reading can connect us to each other, writing can connect us to ourselves.
And what I learned is that no one else can make me safe, or give me security. I am my own safe harbor. In the middle of this past winter, when the foundation of my life was falling away, I had myself to depend on—strong, determined, clear-headed, stable and available for my kids. If that’s who I am when an emotional earthquake hits, then what—or who?—could I possibly have to fear?
Whatever pain I’d experienced, and still would in the days to come, I knew I would have laid down my life for him. I felt the same when my daughters were born. It is a wild feeling that reduces us, or better reveals to us, that we are animals, ready to bear our teeth and claw someone to death to save our own. I’d never felt as vulnerable.
I feel for kids today, encouraged to stand out and be unique, yet not cross over into self-importance and narcissism. And they do this against a digital backdrop of unrelenting, largely souped-up photos of friends posted online.
With conscious effort, I strive to harness both sadness and happiness. The sadness is on the fringe always, but the joy, an abundance of it is hovering, like a guide leading me through the darkness. When I do experience this joy, I acknowledge it. In some ways I try to bottle it up, like a genie, calling on it in times of restlessness and anxiety.