When my eldest daughter was starting grade 1 I read a book that I think was called “Life Long Learners.” I forget the title because the part of the book that stuck with me was a line from the introduction – credited as a Jewish proverb – it said: “to have a child is to forever have a part of your heart running around outside your body.” Gulp.
Anyone who’s a parent knows this is true.
With the births of our two daughters I remember suddenly being intensely aware of my own mortality. Not for selfish reasons, but worried “what if I’m not around for them.” This haunted me for about five years.
We have all known someone that’s lost their life too soon and left a family behind — I started panicking about who would love, nourish and cherish these pieces of my heart if for some horrible reason, I couldn’t?
Who would cheer from the stands? Who would cry their eyes out at graduation and be overbearing in planning the wedding? I needed to be “there”, here, when they needed me.
I’ve come down from that edge thankfully. It takes a village to raise kids and luckily I know we have a village… just as I would be there for any of my fellow villagers.
It took a while to feel comfortable enough to know this, trust it.
I’m not a helicopter parent (at least I hope I’m not!) but I am involved in my kids lives. I unapologetically love hearing the daily recaps: “what went on?” “what they played at lunch” “with who?”. The stories, the dramas, the everything.
My eldest daughter Pippa started grade 8 and last week my husband and I were treated to a, very acclaimed, speaker presentation who is all about “raising teenage girls”. Step One: prepare for them to pull away and let them.
What? You mean this little piece of my heart that runs around outside my body is now going to pull away?
(No, really, I get it. It’s all ok with me. I get it.)
Everything has led to this – I’ve always known it was coming – now it all starts to move in another direction. It’s a weird notion…and….I’m sure I’ll get used to it, eventually.