Friday, August 19, 2005

Tomorrow she leaves...

Today is my daughter’s last day at home. Tomorrow we’re driving her to college, and from now on, when she’s here, it will be more like she’s a guest than a roommate.

Yesterday I got a phone call from someone who had just interviewed her for a project, and his first words were: “You should drop everything and write a book about how you parented such a radiant and spiritually minded young woman.” A wonderful thing to hear just before sending her off into the world!

So this weekend will probably contain a lot of introspection on my part as we drive, unpack and go through orientation. Sure, there were things I did intentionally, but also she has always been amazing material. How much was nature and how much was nurture isn’t easy to define.

But what I do know is that consistently since she was in my womb, I haven’t thought of myself as her parent. I gave all that credit to God. For 16 out of her 18 years, I’ve been single, so I knew there was no way I could do it all myself. God, the divine Father-Mother, has been a presence in our home, guiding me both to make good decisions and to apologize for my mistakes.

And I’ve made many mistakes. But when I admit them, and let on to the kids that this was MY mistake and not theirs, they have the opportunity to forgive me. We all grew from this. I knew I was going to make mistakes, so I made a commitment to diffuse them as I went by noticing them and apologizing. I suspect that learning to forgive my admitted mistakes has also allowed them to get beyond the faults in myself I haven’t yet recognized, but they know only too well. Bless them for their resilience.

For it can’t be easy having me for a mother. I have high expectations, not a whole lot of patience, and the circumstances have forced them both to grow up much faster than many of their friends. There is no way I could be ushering them into adulthood without the holy Father-Mother to smooth my rough edges and support them as they grow.

You’ll most likely hear more about this on Monday (and maybe Tuesday… and Wednesday…)—it’s that time for me! And I’d love to know from any of you who have parented children, either your own or others: What qualities do you think make the best parents? What qualities are essential? What should we avoid?

And for all of you preparing your young ones to take wing into the world: you’ve done your best, they’re extraordinary people, and all will be well. Really now, we can sit back and enjoy watching them take to the clouds.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 8/20/2005 07:28:00 AM, Anonymous Rev Myron said...

My baby is in college, too. He is a junior this year and goes to school in New Orleans which is about 3.5 hours from home. It was hard to see him go because not only was he my last, he was such a joy to be with. I am so proud of the man he is becoming.

He paid me the greatest compliment I could ask for when one day I last year I came home to find a scribbled note on my desk telling me I should write a book on how to raise children. Once in a while he reminds me of this. I think he wants me to write this book before he has kids of his own. But I just don't even know where to begin.

Really, I think it would be this really short book. It would say love your children completely and unconditionally. Don't put any expectations on them; just let them be who they are. Model for them the kind of person you want them to be. Don't pretend you never make mistakes because it is more useful for them to know how to recover from mistakes.

As you said, forgiveness is the most valuable lesson. I forgave them, and gave them many opportunities to practice forgiveness with me. I didn't start in the spiritual place I am in now, so they had the opportunity to see that growth, and know it was something they could do, too.

I always knew that he wasn't mine to keep, so I didn't try to raise a perfect, obedient child. I tried to raise him so that he could be happy, effective adult. I didn't try to make him a spiritual person, but I tried to show him what a spiritual person was like so that he could choose that for himself if he wanted to. I didn't try to get him to make the right choices. I taught him there were always choices, and that each one had consequences. I taught him that the wrong choice was just a choice and not a reflection on who he was. That way he would never be afraid to choose.

Well that is a few of the things I think are important. Thank you Laura for your website and for sharing your insightful thoughts with us.


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