Being a mother is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to my life. Ever. I knew that I would play this role back when I was a small child. And I am so amazed every day with the way I have been blessed. It is always a bit disgruntling when people pity me or stare at me in awe as if I am some superhero because I have 7 children. I suppose because so many get it twisted in their head and think parenting is all about molding, training, teaching, discipline. They think I spend all day taking these potential globs of clay and shaping them into proper members of society. I must be sweaty and red-faced, determined and busy, exhausted and worn out. I obviously want for my children all I never had myself as a child. I must have a to-do list of intentions and dreams and plans for each of them in turn. How could I not? Isn’t that what being a good parent entails?
But no. Not for me, anyway. These young humans that came right straight through me and reside with me are not truly mine to shape and form and push and force. That is not my place in their world. I am simply here as a tour guide so to speak. I hold my own experiences in my hands and I can open my fists and show them, but this cannot stop them from their own choices. I cannot demand that they pay some penance for my past sins. They have just as much right as I do to make choices, to choose new paths. They have so very much potential and it is not my right to trample on that garden of freshly sprouted hopes and passions and wonders just because they may not fit into my pre conceived notions and beliefs.
So, I let them be. I let them grow. This is their journey. I wish for them experiences. Broken hearts and bruised wings. Beautiful friendships. Racing hearts. Rushing head on into a cave of lions with a holler of determination. A heart filled with creedance. A heart filled with empathy for humanity. Hunger. Desire. Skinned knees. Dreams that take shape and then change shape a dozen different times. LIFE.
These children are of me, but not OF me. They are not fragments of my very own soul broken off to roam around this world. They are their OWN soul. So, as much as is possible I allow them to think for themselves, read what fascinates them, listen to what moves their feet, decide for themselves who they are and fall madly in love with that person.
I already have. I have this great honor of watching them grow. And I am in awe. I love them so deeply that it makes my heart ache sometimes. In the most lovely of ways.
Zane, my eldest, at 13, is teetering uncertainly some days on the edge of unsung heroes and uncharted territories. He is a man already in some cultures and is shining through that way in front of me in many ways. He sees a need and is the first to jump in and fill that need. The other day I let him babysit for his youngest two siblings. I arrived back home to find the toddler playing contentedly, the baby sitting happily in her Bumbo seat in the kitchen watching her biggest brother wash dishes. He had cleaned the house and was finishing off the dishes. I had not even asked him to do anything more than change a diaper or two and feed a bottle if needed. I don’t worry about his future. I don’t fret over his teenage years. I can see what type of decision-making skills he has, how responsible he is. The boy has had his future planned out for ages now. He is teaching himself Japanese so he can move to Japan after college. It is amazing to me that a squalling pink 6 pound pile of potential can form into something this awesome. He is all awkward giraffe legs and arms and red hair that sticks up straight on his head as if it is shocked and appalled at the world. He is silliness and energy and motivation and mono-focus. He is my first draft and the final draft is going to be incredible.
Aidan is 11 now. That boy was born with fire water in his veins. He has always been fiery and determined and stubborn. These traits could look potentially negative but I know they were given to him by God to be used in beautiful ways. Someday he will be a litigator or those without a voice, He will fight for rights and justice. He will stand on the front lines of the battle fields of this life. He has an obsession for order and organization. He carries quite a bit of empathy within himself and will be the first to speak up when he sees someone being hurt by fists or words. He is a warrior.
Bailey is 9. Bailey sees details where no one else does. He tastes flavors in food stronger than most. He sees facial expressions, curl of lip, squint of eye in people a mile away. He picks up on other’s energies and is uncomfortable stepping into their auras. He considers things deeply, contemplates potential in everything. He will sit quietly in a chair in the living room with his thoughts while his brothers run around outside shrieking like banshees. He has a sweetness to him that draws people in in a way they are unaware of on the surface.
Creed is 7. Creed has decided that this world can be challenging, frustrating. He finds himself doing a lot of yelling, a lot of shutting down, a lot of feeling like he cannot fit in no matter how hard he tries. I can understand this better than he knows. I myself have always been a bit of a triangle trying so damn hard to fit into a circle hole. It can’t be done. He will realize this someday. His brain never stops, his thoughts tend to overflow and spill out of his mouth. He has a way of looking at things from a completely different angle than anyone else does. And for this, he has great vision.
Drezdyn is 5. Drezdyn, who will do a headstand as a way to deal with stress. Anytime he is being scolded or has been naughty, he will immediatly flip upside down. “Now Drezdyn, you know we don’t hit people. You need to say sor…” *FLIP* Now I am scolding an upside down child. His facial expression stays the same, he listens to me intently from his flipped perch. For some reason he is less overwhelmed by strong emotion in himself if he is head down, feet up. My walls have subtle scuff marks from his feet and I am okay with that. At 5 he has a coping mechanism. I know some adults who don’t have that. He has a memory that goes back forever. His Daddy passed away a week after he turned 2. He still comes to me and says “Remember when Daddy did this…?” He recalls things I forget. He holds me accountable. He brings me flowers and hugs. Sometimes when he gets really mad he throws things. So do I. We are learning together to stop doing that.
Blaze. Blaze is at the age of terrific 2. Yes, being 2 means he requires a bit more energy exerted on his behalf, a bit more attention paid. But I would NEVER call it the terrible twos. There is nothing terrible about it. Like all other things in parenting, it is all a matter of perspective. He is my little scientist. Curious. Fascinated. Filled with adventure and bravery and wonder. He is independent and dependent. A paradox of oxymorons and what-it-to-be-expected. He has baby dreadlocks in the midst of his curls and a smile to melt the coldest of hearts.My little hippie boy.
Lucy. Brand new Lucy. Lucy is 6 months old now. And she is a joy. She looks just like her oldest brother and her smile lights up whenever he walks in the room. She gives the best hugs around your neck with a slobbery kiss to the cheek for good measure. She mimes gum-chewing in her sleep. She has so many smiles to hand out. She is our little ray of sunshine in the middle of the house. She fits in nicely in our land of controlled chaos and we say welcome home.
Welcome home to each of them. This planet is their home. This life waiting to be carved out with their hopes and dreams. I am simply here to be sure no one leaves a light on when they leave a room, to remind them maybe it’s a good idea to bring a extra pair of gloves when they climb that mountain, or an extra bandage to help soothe an aching heart of a friend. My job is not to force or push or shove, but simply to let them BE. Be what they want, who they are deep within. To help them dust off what layers may be hiding their true selves. To never ever ever dull their sparkle or shine.
They are of me, but not OF me. It’s a world of difference.