Monday, May 20, 2019

Your Children Are Not Your Children

Last Thursday, my oldest child graduated from preschool. Those of you with older kids will probably find it hilarious that I basically ugly cried my way through the ceremony, but for me, it was a big deal. My daughter has been at that preschool since she was two years old. She's grown so much there. But more than the preschool itself, my daughter has, over the last few years, really grown into her self. She's only five years old, but she has made it abundantly clear that she is her own unique person, in many ways very different than her father or me. And I didn't weep at her graduation because I'm sad she's growing up; I wept because I'm overwhelmed with pride at the person she is becoming.

I wanted to share a poem I recently read by Khalil Gibran called "Your Children" that was a wonderfully powerful (and also admittedly somewhat painful) reminder that our children don't belong to us.

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, 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 hands be for happiness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,
So he loves the bow that is stable.

All serious sentiment aside, these photos of my daughter in all of her pink, sparkling glory are visual proof that she is her person in every way. When I was pregnant with her, I was quite convinced that she would only wear neutral colored clothing like I do. I bought her all the wooden toys and painted her nursery pale gray. And by 18 months she wanted fluffy hot pink dresses and glittery plastic mermaid unicorn toys and wanted her bedroom walls painted pink and I said YOU GOT IT BABE because there is genuinely nothing more incredible than watching her be her.

Thank you for letting me share these thoughts today. And if you have a child you're watching grow up and maybe feeling how I'm feeling (so many complicated feels, my friends), you're not alone.


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