Willow is a super sweet, very smart, very helpful little girl. She loves babies and younger kids, and talks about wanting to be a mother. She likes to help Grace choose and put on clothes, to get snacks for her, and lead her in all kinds of games.
I love how kind and helpful she is, and feel grateful when she helps me with Grace. But some days it drives me crazy, too. Because five year olds think it's ok to jump off the sofa half way across the room, and teach the (much less coordinated) two year old to do the same. Because five year olds make new snacks for little sister by stacking peanut butter sandwich crackers between layers of yogurt, which makes a mess and no one likes and, guess who cleans it up. Big mama, not little mama.
But as I'm exiting from my parents visit, existing so immediately between the generations, I'm reminded of why I wanted to have children in the first place. A big reason I decided to have children is to deepen and enrich my spiritual journey, to allow myself to learn from a child and be taught by the future. One of my favorite songs is Sweet Honey in the Rock's rendition of Kahlil Gibran's poem "On Children". It's been a favorite since I was barely out of childhood myself, long before I had decided that I definitely wanted to be a mother.
The bit that I come back to over and over is the following:
"...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."
Not even in your dreams. I've had dreams of visiting other planets, creating whole worlds, flying and building and living in places I can't fathom well enough to even remember when I wake - but even there, in my dreams, the most fantastical places of my mind, I cannot hope to visit the home of my children's souls.
Lately I've been feeling a little old, in part I think because my hormones and body are shifting after weaning Grace. I'm noticing little wrinkles and sags where they weren't before, and starting to feel on the waning side of life. As I was thinking of this one night, and talking about it with Brent, I suddenly realized exactly how I can begin to feel young again. Dive in, let go, really do the thing I've wanted to do, the thing I had children for in the first place: Let them teach me. Really open up, listen, and allow them to show me their world.
|Willow and Grace Looking at an Injured Crow|
Which brings me to the last few lines of Gibran's poem:
"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."
Time passes. Wrinkles encroach. Bands appear out of nowhere that I should have known about. Yet, if I can be that bow, allow myself to be stable, allow my "bending in the archer's hand (to) be for gladness", I can know that there is some little bit of me entering onto the "path of the infinite". And that, on a good day, can be enough.