I have never been the perfect parent.
I never WILL be the perfect parent.
I vacillate wildly in mood.
I am impatient.
I expect far too much of myself and others.
I am critical.
I am sharp-tongued.
And a host of other failings.
This all comes back to me as I stare in wonder, anxiously awaiting updates, from a blog that has sucked me in and caught my attention. I’ll admit, it is my eldest daughter’s blog, The Accidental Parent.
Danielle is 23 now, almost 24. A year ago she met and began dating a widower in his late 20’s with a son who is just four months younger than Emily. As the relationship progressed and she began to relate the details of the challenges and love she had found I silently cheered. I wanted happiness for her – and she had quite apparently found it in this grounded man, this somewhat instant family. As they arrange to move in together – as they discuss marriage and shared parenthood and the future – Danielle sent me the link to her new blog.
This was a few weeks ago. I wanted to wait until she had posted a few posts before saying something. But I urge you to first read Why I Started This Blog and read About Me and then start at the beginning with the first post.
It’s worth your time.
Our Values Return to Us
Imagine the values that you hold dear. Is it kindness or honesty? Is it intelligence or honor? We try to instill in our children the values that we hold most dear. For those who are athletic, it might be a life that has a strong center in sports or outdoor activities. If it is academics, we strive to surround our children with opportunities for cerebral exercise.
Just think about your core values for a moment. What’s important?
Now imagine having those core values, the one you will spend nearly two decades reinforcing, come back to you in adult form. And while our children are not, and should not be, exactly like us. It has been rather…surreal…seeing some of those values and ideals return in adult form. Distilled through the years, now put into practice and heading towards the future of a new generation.
Weird and wonderful and surreal and beautiful and awesome and…and…
So this is what the second half of parenting is like. Seeing the result of all of your arguments, parenting, stress, love, and time.
Standing Outside the Forest
As she battles with her own fears and doubts, standing within the forest, hugging onto a tree for dear life and wondering if she can do this awesome thing – be a parent – love and raise this child – be a partner and a lover – I stand outside and smile.
I smile because I know, without a doubt, that she can do this and do it well. It reminds me of a song by Kate Bush, which I have always thought spoke of pregnancy…
Pray God you can cope
I stand outside this woman’s work
This woman’s world
Ooh, it’s hard on the man
Now his part is over
Now starts the craft of the father.
I remember, at 17, waking up in the middle of the night, crying and terrified. I was pregnant with Danielle and would give birth just a few months past my 18th birthday, but I was scared to death. Scared I wouldn’t be a good mother, scared I would screw it up.
And I did.
And I didn’t.
And I held onto a tree in that forest for a very long time – not knowing what direction to go – not believing or relaxing or letting go and letting whimsy and love take its place.
Future is Beauty
As a parent of a grown child, I can finally add my voice and say that within the future lies beauty. Beauty in words, thoughts and deeds. It isn’t always picnics and flowers, but there is strange unearthly beauty in seeing the future unfold, take root, and create a new life, a new generation.
The Best Mother’s Day Gift is One That Lasts
One of my greatest pleasures has been reading and writing. The power of words is an amazing thing – reading them can make you scream, cry, laugh, sob, bellow…and even take action. Danielle once described how she learned to read, “I wanted to know what the big deal was about, you ALWAYS had your nose buried in a book!”
As the years passed, both of our writing skills have evolved. I’ve been working on these two blogs for over a year now, and there have been other projects over the years that have shaped my writing in unique ways. I know that I do not exist in a vacuum, so it makes sense that others writing, in particular my daughter’s, would have also evolved and changed.
However, I was struck, genuinely struck, by the beauty I found in her words. And I recognized it – it was quite clearly LOVE. She wrote about this boy, this future grandson I have not met, with such a clarity and emotion, that I could see it clearly. My child is all grown up. My child is in love. My child is…
And somehow, that is the most beautiful realization I have to share with you today.
The future rolls on. One big wave after another, slowly building, pulling and pushing us forward. We make way for our children, love them, raise them, and they in turn grow to make way for theirs.
And that is the greatest Mother’s Day present (albeit a few weeks late) that I could ever have. The clear vision of how I, you, we fit into this grand scheme, this unending sea of birth, growth, and eventually death. I am a daughter, a mother, (and soon) a grandmother.
Read the blog. Pass it on.