Wednesday 4 May 2022

Some thoughts (before Mother's Day 2022)

Where did the years go? Almost 17 years as a parent, and I am still stumbling and fumbling. Amazed at other parents' confidence that they have it all figured out. NO. A hundred times no. This parenting thing is humbling and emaculating. 

The days are long but the years are short. This cliche has never seemed more real than now when the days seem to be rushing by with indecent haste. He is driving. He is shaving. Soon he will start filling out college applications. 

In a little over a year from now, I will not know things that I have known with certainty every day for 17 years. When he woke up. When he left for school. When he had lunch (did he have lunch?!!). When he returned home. What he did in the evenings. What is his weekend schedule.

This one thought terrifies me. Knowing that millions of parents face the same choices some time or the other is irrelevant. I read that sending your kids off to college is "bittersweet" and I think - "How is it sweet? There is nothing but bitterness."

I take solace from these lines from Gibran.

"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."

NOW they tell me I have to be a stable bow, whatever the hell that means?

I have, however, been an excellent potted plant. Some years ago there was an article in the New York Times citing research showing the psychological benefits for teens of having at least one parent around in close proximity. “Importantly, the studies of parental presence indicate that sheer proximity confers a benefit over and above feelings of closeness or connectedness between parent and child.....Quality parenting of a teenager may sometimes take the form of blending into the background like a potted plant."

I have loved that metaphor and unreservedly shared this pearl of wisdom with all and sundry. I can be a potted plant, no problem! Our teens may act like they don’t really need us, and they often ask us to get out of their rooms, but they do need our simple and silent presence. I know it when Ads comes up to my bedroom every night and silently nuzzles me and I know we are communicating even though I'm not exactly sure what's being said :) Probably (I hope!) the things that have no words- I love you. I'm fine. Thank you?

Oh well. Thank goodness for potted plants and stable bows :)

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