It hit me tonight, (as I was talking to my 17yr old at 10:45pm about the 10:00pm curfew we’d agreed upon for school nights) that by the time said 17yr old child graduates from high school in May of 2017, I’ll have been a single parent for thirteen years and seven months.
Over 13 years – that just boggles my mind – and in nine months it will all be over, give or take…
Now, as any parent knows, you don’t STOP being a parent just because your kids grow up. The relationship just moves to a different level. I already have two children who are out on their own, one of them is married. My last is hoping to be in the military in a year. All children eventually walk their own path. I’m reminded of a poem by Kahlil Gibran that I read for an acting workshop I attended while my kids were still young.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you, they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
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.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
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 hands be for happiness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
So He loves the bow that is stable.
I remember barely being able to get through the reading I was so choked up. “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth” So very poignant, and heart wrenching, and inspiring. I pray I’ve been a stable bow, that I’ve done the best I could do. There’s much I regret not being able to do for them, but the one thing I always tried to do was show them plenty of love and support for where they saw their lives heading.
I have not been a “perfect” parent, not sure there is such a thing. There were plenty of times when I lost my temper, especially at the beginning of my single parent journey. There were also plenty of times when I asked for forgiveness and gave it, asked for a hug and got it. Forts were made in the living room, chocolate cake was eaten for birthday breakfasts. Kids did their chores (or not…), we watched movies, went out to eat when the budget allowed and did our best to live together in happiness. Discipline was meted out when necessary, from spankings to groundings to sitting in the middle of the living room with knees touching saying nice things about the other sibling (the last one seemed the most painful for them).
Did my children learn anything from me? I would hope they learned that none of us is perfect but with compassion and love, happiness can exist wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
In the end, after all is said and done, we turn the last page of our children’s books and watch with expectation at where God leads them. We keep praying for them, we may even hear from them every once in awhile. We have done our part.
“And though they are with you, they belong not to you”
This was not the post I was expecting to write tonight, but it’s what came out. Some other time I’ll write more about the single parent thing. For now, though, I’ll sit with the realization that a very big chapter in my life is nearing its end, and while I watch with hope as my youngest prepares to start her journey into a new life, I also look with anticipation at my OWN life, and the new possibilities God has in store for me as well.
And life goes on…