Friday, July 2, 2010

A visit from the Poison Pen

Recently, She of the Poison Pen, my anti-muse who hides in the dark crevices of my psyche, has come alive and quite active, thrashing around, obscuring what I thought I knew, and binding me into a narrow, blind, lightless crawlspace. I wanted to come here to cry out about everything she said ... lucky for you, I didn't have time, and did not give her voice.

At least I can understand why this dark turn came and I found myself in a pit, for a while. A letdown from returning from a particularly meaningful vacation; having to say goodbye to my sister after all too short a time together, as always; not enough exercise to sweat out the demons this week.

But mainly, I see that I am in the midst of a wrenching, long goodbye to the children I raised these past 16 years, as I watch them transforming every day in their journey to adulthood. It's something too deep to explain, but it's like a part of my body is being torn away. They are no longer an organic part of me. More and more, they are a new creation; they have developed parts of their personality, their selves, that are strange to me. I shouldn't be needing them to be a part of me so desperately, anymore, but it still hurts so deeply to have to give them up.

A large part of the transition was my oldest turning 16 and getting his driver's license. Overnight, I was no longer needed as a chauffeur. Wonderful! Yet, it's one more way my kids don't need me anymore.

This is the dance of raising children. You start by clasping them so close, rocking together, not knowing whose heartbeat is whose. If they hurt, it passes seamlessly from them to you, and you hurt. But even from the earliest time, children are asserting their own distinct personality and learning the skills they need to dance off into the distance, away from you.

If you are successful as a parent, your goal is to let them go -- to become more independent, to learn their own painful life lessons -- and you must also let them go emotionally and realize that they were never "yours" to begin with. They were placed in your care, for a while, and the whole purpose has been for them to become well-adjusted, independent people.

Other people tell me how much they enjoy my children, sometimes, which is a joy to hear. And yet, with a pang, I think to myself how much I miss them. Even when they are here, they can be very distant; but then they dance back close to me or Dwaine, on their own terms. Not for a smothering embrace. Now, as teenagers, for a laugh, a story, sharing a memory, making a new one, or for a word of encouragement or advice or reassurance. Just one word, that's all they want, heaven forbid any long lectures.

The hidden gift in this transformation is the gift of my own life, returned to me! But it's hard to recognize that just now. Give me some time here, because at this moment, my body and soul are aching over something that seems lost.


  1. Oh! I just kind of wrote about this, too. Read my walking with fruit post :). You said it in a much prettier way. Yikes! My veritification word is "devil." On THIS blog? Scandalous!

  2. Today I am celebrating the beauty and surpassing mystery of my children! What a wonderful gift they are ... endlessly changing. They never leave, really; but they do change.


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