This morning, I woke up and I remembered I like to write.  Maybe it was the journal my friend gave me yesterday.  (Maybe, the journal was a hint.)  Maybe it was reading a blog post my sister texted me in the night, that struck a chord.  Whatever.  This morning, I woke up and I remembered:
Yeah.  This is a thing I do.

In June, I watched my daughter — little Babygirl!  almost six years old! — slide off the side of a pontoon boat in the Pacific Ocean to swim with sea turtles.  LittleMan screwed his courage to the sticking place and leapt from the deck.  It never stops blowing my mind, that we can do things like this now.  In some ways, our lives have been cracked wide open again: we are free from the constraints of baby- and toddler-hood!  The world is ours to conquer!

Oooooh, but are we ready to conquer it?  What dangers lurk out there, in this brave new chapter?

I am reminded that wiser women and men have warned us that it never gets simpler; it’s just that the challenges start to take new forms.

Don’t get me wrong.  We still haggle over finishing the vegetables and washing the hands thoroughly.  We still (ahem, this morning) have standoffs over whether the kids will, in fact, put their shoes on so we can get going for heaven’s sake. 

But we’re also having Big Talks.  Trust.  Honesty.  Money.  Strangers and when you shouldn’t and should talk to them.  We talk about homelessness and (in certain terms) mental illness and how to walk down the street in this city being cautious but not afraid.  These are nuanced distinctions.  We are up to them now.

Life has also thrown us some curveballs this year.  Illness (the kind that isn’t cured by humidifiers, hugs, and rest).  The spectre of mortality.  The end of relationships that were supposed to last forever.  There’s been a lot of fear.  There have been a lot of whispers and charged emotions.  We have struggled with how much to share.  I have become more honest:

“Its weird,” I confess to my kids.  “It’s sad.  It’s scary.”  What can I say?  “I bet you feel those things, and I feel them too.”  I don’t know if it helps or hurts to share like this.

When Babygirl packed her lunchbox with overnight clothes the other night and announced she was moving (!), first we went through the logical questions (Where will you go?  How will you get there?  What will we do when it’s late and we miss one another?).  But ultimately we came around to the most important question: Why?  It was a roundabout and trying conversation, and I will give my husband credit for the follow-up, but in the end, by listening to her reasons for leaving, we gained insight into more of her: some of the deeper, sadder feelings that she never articulates (and she’s an articulate little bugger).

We all have needs, you know?  And over the past year my children have moved from needs like naps, and snacks, and baths to needs like personal space, and moral and ethical counsel, and — this is hard one — independence.

They need independence.

I like words.  I like explaining.  I talk too much.  But I’m learning that there are lots and lots (and LOTS and LOTS) of things I can’t teach or explain.  Like when Babygirl asked me what it felt like to drive a car.  To push the pedals and have the engine come to life…I couldn’t really explain it; instead I defaulted to a boring lesson in “being very alert” and “making safe choices.”  LittleMan came to the rescue.

“It’s like when you’re riding your bike, and it’s you pushing the pedals that makes the bike go, and you can go faster or slower, and you have to be careful how you turn.  It’s like that.  But faster and more powerful.”

My kids need to go fast on their bikes, maybe a little farther than I’m comfortable with.  They need to be trusted, in order to know what trust is.  They need to face fear and overcome it, in order to gain confidence.  They need to make mistakes, in order to learn from them.  They need to experience disapproval, in order to know how much they value the respect and faith of others.

Sometimes the best I can do is just be there.  Talk less and listen more.

I can’t describe what it feels like to jump off a boat into the ocean.  I can’t prepare them for the thrill of the fall or the stinging shock of salt water up their noses or the bubbles all around as they kick to the surface.  I can’t say that I’ll catch them, because I can’t, sometimes, without getting hurt myself.

Sometimes all I can do is promise them that whenever they land, I will be somewhere in the water too.


I promised I’d never let anything happen to him.

Hmm.  That’s a funny thing to promise.


Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him.  Then nothing would ever happen to him.
Not much fun for little Harpo.


(Quote: Finding Nemo, Pixar Films, 2003)



  1. Chelene says:

    I ❤️This… so many good things to remember, practice and take with me.

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