Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day

"Anything, any loss of sleep, any loss of ease, was worth the sweet, and too, too brief time of holding little ones until they burst out of your arms and into the world." --Rafael Yglesias in Only Children

Last year on Mother's Day, I wrote a post honoring my mom; this year I want to honor my kids. As any parent will attest, having children changes you forever. But what I've been realizing lately is that having kids keeps changing you. Like most children, I learned a lot from my parents as I was growing up; much of who I am was shaped by who they were.  It wasn't until I had kids of my own that I realized the current runs both ways--children shape parents just as much as parents shape children.  When our kids are young, we teach them how the world works.  We share our favorite foods, places, and hobbies with them.  We try our best to help them develop good manners, strong faith, and healthy habits. But then, somewhere around the time our kids hit middle school, the balance shifts and we start learning from them.  As their worlds expand, so does ours. They start to share their favorite music and movies with us; we follow their team buses to places we've never been before; we learn about backpacking, guild auditions, and cross-country running. When they get to high school, our kids bring the world to us--they show us pictures and tell us stories of their trips to France, Italy, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Australia.  They help us see and feel and understand things we never even imagined.  Then they go off to college, and they begin to live the lives we tried to prepare them for as they were growing up in our homes. When they come home on breaks, we are surprised by the changes: the new maturity, outlooks, attitudes. In some ways, they are the children they've always been, but in other ways, they are young adults who feel more like friends.  All of a sudden we realize they are showing us how the world works (especially the world of technology!). We admire and learn from their generosity, their fearlessness, their stamina and self-discipline. They remind us that it's important to have fun, to take risks, and to dream big.  On this Mother's Day weekend, I want to thank my kids--not just for all the breakfasts in bed and Mother's Day gifts over the years, but for the many ways they've changed me, and for all the things I continue to learn from them.

"I would like them to be the happy end of my story."
--Margaret Atwood

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