Thursday, August 17, 2006

A bigger family

Today ends my newest parental odyssey—my daughter returns from three weeks backpacking through Europe with a friend.

I never did even hear what her itinerary was going to be. Instead I got periodic emails from Internet cafes dotting the continent. Amsterdam, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Barcelona, Paris, Dublin. I'm so amazed that she did this!

I'm feeling close to my friend Kim, who just wrote a blog entry about launching her first kid. She mentions the qualities "freedom, flow and growth" as key to her own decision-making about whether or not to go ahead. I think my daughter really got those right with her journey.

And today she comes back home safely and we have a few precious days until they both leave next week. These will be filled mostly with laughter, hugs, frantic packing, room scouring, eating and talking. Not much time for much else.

I love my family. I suppose when I look back, the time when I had them both to myself, when they were both small and needed me to get anywhere, to me represents my core years of parenting. We did everything as a threesome.

That ended when my daughter became self-sufficient in high school. I didn't realize those days were gone until they were over. Now the family is different. My kids are still simply marvelous, but we're spreading out. Our time now is about sharing what we've done away from each other rather than building new memories together.

I'm a spectator in my own family. It's an odd sensation. But what proud moments to see them carrying themselves through the world with grace and confidence.

Maybe I'm being invited to enlarge my sense of family, as Kim says in her blog. I now can explore the "universal family" Mary Baker Eddy talks about: "[The] human sense of Deity yields to the divine sense, even as the material sense of personality yields to the incorporeal sense of God and man as the infinite Principle and infinite idea, — as one Father with His universal family, held in the gospel of Love."

This morning I'm going to a networking meeting. I'm serving as president at my own chapter for the coming year term. I'm volunteering as a mentor for high school students, since my own have flown. I continue to make inroads into my community, getting to know my neighbors better, adoring the newest baby at church, hosting an inspirational women's group in my home.

My family isn't getting smaller, it's getting bigger. I have plenty of opportunities to nurture and be nurtured. Eddy also writes, "Man is the family name for all ideas, — the sons and daughters of God." If that is true, I have one big family of innumerable brothers and sisters! I better get started on meeting them all.

God setteth the solitary in families: …


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At 8/18/2006 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Kim said...

This is so good! Your post has underlined many things for me. I just dropped off my older son and could tell - an hour before leaving that he was hooked..Larger possibilities ahead but still lots of love for home.

Tonight I help younger son and husband pack for a ten day wilderness trip and tomorrow I get to go on a 3 day sea kayaking adventure with an old friend. We are all expanding! we are realizing the expansiveness of home that is, like Mary Baker Eddy said, the dearest spot on earth... the centre, though not the boundary of the affections.

Much love!



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