Monday, August 6, 2007

TO BE A PARENT

Today, I ran across the following reflection that I wrote a few years ago, when our oldest child, Abby, was in middle school and our youngest child, Sam, was entering elementary levels. Abby and Jared are now at University (Abby's a Senior) and Molly and Sam are in high school. I continue to be fascinated by each of them and with my role in their individually unique lives. Even though I have more time and terrain within my experience since writing this piece, I still approach this privilege and these relationships with awe.


What does it mean to be a parent?
With each new day I enter
personally unexplored territory;
I am still trying to chart the terrain.
But I am learning and living into it.

It means to fix my child's well-being
prominently in my mind, time, and action.
To endear and win him.
To discover what lies in her;
discern his possible trajectories.
To challenge her;
to urge him toward his best.
To enthusiastically champion her
and vehemently defend him.

It means to be sensitive to his independence;
to respect her pride,
and, through it all, to not get in her way.
To distinguish between my own needs
and his.
To cultivate confidence.
To find a way to talk with, not at;
to be quick to listen.
To find a way to reduce the heat of conflict
and correct for training amid calm waters.

It means to be aware that my child watches,
hears, notices, and senses my
words, moods, and moves.
What I am, what I do, what I value,
influences, as much as anything, her life.

It means to demonstrate value for the mystery
into which I have entered.
To try prepare him for a future that is beyond me.
To try to root her in the best of history.
To try to be faithful and authentic in the
present generation.

To be a parent means, at least, these things.
It means, in a word, to love my children.
And, desiring for them far beyond what it is
within my ability to give, to pray.

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