Ever since the birth of my first child, I have always written down quotes or underlined deep, meaningful words about children in my books, Bible or in my diary. Kahlil Gibran and his heartwarming piece about children comes to mind (one of my all time favourites I must admit):
On Children Kahlil Gibran
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 yet 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 hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
Mr. Gibran’s words are beautiful and have touched my heart profoundly on various stages of my children’s journeys through life. As have others, like this one by Dr. Jonas Salk:
Good parents give their children Roots and Wings. Roots to know where home is, Wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.
Or this one by Anne Frank:
Parents can only give good advice or put their children on the right path, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands
Just as a side note: This quote was a bit too close for comfort I must admit! I blamed my parents for various things that happened to me, for many years. It is only recently, as a true adult, that I realized what Ms. Frank knew long before I did. What , how and what I am and do is in my own hands, not my parents’ or anyone else’s, nor can I blame them for the person that I am. And the second I took responsibility for my own life and stopped the blame-shifting, my life changed.
I have been told on various occasions by different people that my children are opinionated, ‘stubborn’ (I won’t name names Nathin) and that they sometimes come across “too strong.” I thought about it a lot, and I never had one perfect reply to these observations, but then I read a quote on Facebook the other day, that made me want to jump up and shout ‘hallelujah’. I don’t know who the quote is from, but this is what it said:
It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.
How infinitely true and profound these words are!!
So yes, all three my boys are outspoken, sometimes too honest and I suppose may even come across as a bit arrogant. But I would rather build and bring up boys as strong children, than have them (and people they love) suffer the pain of having to be repaired as broken men.
I have made many, many mistakes as a mother – way too many to mention. And I know for sure that I will make many more. But one thing I know and that I know my children know, is that my sole (and soul!) purpose in raising them was to show them that they are loved, valued, cherished and appreciated. I have always been, and will always be, their biggest fan. I will always, ALWAYS take their side – even if they are in the wrong. (Please note: If they are in the wrong, I won’t hesitate to tell them that, but at the same time they know that I’ve got their backs.) I have one sentence that I have brainwashed my children with since the day they could say their first word. I still tell them this today, and if it is the ONLY thing they remember about me when I’m not here anymore, I would have accomplished this great thing called ‘mothering’. I tell them:
There is nothing, nothing, n o t h i n g You can ever do, that will make me love you less. Not. One. Thing.
And I’m sure a lot of people would think, “Ah, but that’s a given.” No it’s not. Think about those words, think about all the possible, impossible and unthinkable scenarios those words entail, including violence, rape, murder, drug abuse and any other vile thing you can think of. Think about disappointment, broken promises, lies, hurtful words and actions and abandonment. Think about a scenario where your child has done something unspeakable. Yes think about it. And then think about those words again and the true meaning of ‘unconditional.’ I know many people that say they love unconditionally but when push comes to shove, they really, really don’t.
Is it always easy to love this way? Hell no. Because what it means is that you have to live in forgiveness and grace and mercy – things that come easy some days but other days it feels like you are bleeding from the heart doing it.
But one thing I know for certain is this: I give grace to my children, because I so desperately need it.
So, to end off these scattered musings of mine today, after being a mom for almost 24 years (and counting) I can say that the bottom line about children is this:
a) they are not yours b) they are going to leave you (or you them)
Harsh, but true. This does not necessarily mean that they will not come back (hopefully, if you’re lucky, they’ll return with a partner who loves them as much as you do,) it just means that you have to deal with it. It’s the circle of life. Sometimes it sucks, but it is what it is.