We live in a house that’s about 114 years old. Above the front door is a window which I’ve now cleaned. Our view; an overhead light under the porch roof, and atop a column holding up the roof is a robin’s nest and several baby birds.
I find myself going over to the door to observe frequently when I’m home. After the adult bird flies off, the babies, 4 or 5 of them, sit in the nest with their neck’s extended and their mouths open in silent plea; oh please come back… Their heads bob, I believe they have not opened their eyes yet, and their slender fragile-looking necks seem too slight to support the movement, yet all appears well with these newborns. It is completely fascinating to me.
Those baby birds remind me of the fragility and uncertainty of life. We are born into we know not what. We grow and attain our “wings” to fly off from all that we have known into the great unknown of the adult world. If we are lucky enough, as I was, to only have a small bit of benign neglect, some typical sibling fighting, two obscene phone calls during my childhood, and a loving set of grandparents who gave me a safe and secure world in which to grow up. And my sense of the world as non-threatening was rewarded for the most part.
“They” say we don’t know what we’re missing. For me that was true until I found out. I discovered the vast amount of love I had for my children, the extreme sense of responsibility for them and the desire and push to help them have good outcomes as adults. The profound shock of becoming suddenly divorced hurt so deeply because I did and still believe that 2 parents can make a better job [having more rest and someone to share duties and fun family time] than one worn out parent slogging to get through a day of too much work and more responsibility than one adult should carry.
And yet… and yet. Ask my youngest child if I was a good parent. I was his only parent at home from the time he was 3 and a half years old, right through his college years, and now past into his adult life. I remained focused because I had some great help from people, mostly women friends who cared a great deal for me and my own life outcome.
–I was told to be the best person I could be, be happy, find fulfillment and joy– and all of this would make me a better parent. So I did, AND found my artist self that I didn’t know existed. Wow, what a revelation. And oh what joy!
–I was told to remember to be grateful, and first I wrote lists and then spoke prayers and later wrote stories that encompassed gratitude, and finally found peace from my self-nurturing which has become part of the air I breathe- a necessity.
–I was told to dig deep and work hard to be my best and also to find resources for the empty parts. My dear friend Deb once held her hands together in a cup [while talking through my sobs over the phone] and told me to pluck each heavy responsibility off my shoulders and place them, after naming them, into her hands. She held them for me until I could resume. And she taught me that a friend would listen to the ups and downs of my children’s lives with appreciation and insight- and cover the lack of another parent in the home.
I share this with you, I give this to you. I hope it helps. This morning I rested from last week which was way, way too busy for me. Quietly sewing and watching something labeled a comedy which was not funny, yet touched me as a very human drama of life; making choices and mistakes and trying to figure out where to step next, what to think and believe, and how to let go and love. I think we can change, or else why would all those people be drinking coffee at AA meetings?
I believe we can change; I’ve learned to be my own mother to myself and try to be whatever my children need from me; supporter, source of encouragement, giver, fount of love, and sometimes even of wisdom. And for one child I remain on hold, quietly loving and … in the background as that child requires of me. I’ve known 2 people with similar life stories of profound neglect, some abuse, and one has made self into a functioning and loving adult, and one stumbled for a very long time and maybe finally has found out how to approximate same.
–I was told; when the pupil needs, the teacher will appear. The trick though is to recognize the teacher. Who or what is the teacher? A person, an idea, an ongoing abuse, a need unfulfilled or filled to much or with terrible results. There are so many ways to the teacher. Open yourself up to it.
Believe in yourselves. Love yourselves. Be grateful and give back to others.
Life is indeed a very fragile and finite thing.