Tuesday, April 1, 2014

spread your wings

There are those small moments in the life of your children that you are privileged to witness but that scare you at the same time: to see them take a risk, to try something hard. To fail. To dare.

When they're young, it usually consists of their chubby little fingers letting go of your hand to climb the slide for the first time, or to venture away from your side to get a closer look at something irresistibly fascinating. Their searching glance back in your direction as they inch away becomes quicker until it's nights away at sleepovers and summer camp and college.

What do they want to see each time they turn back to look for me? That I'm still here, they're safe. And mostly I think they're searching most for that look in my eyes that tells them, Yes, go spread your wings.

Starting from the earliest days of infancy as they grow into rambunctious little humans and morph into independence-seeking teenagers, our children are searching for the ways we say, Yes, spread your wings, with our actions and words and our behavior. The smallest details to a particular toddler (red cup or blue cup?) or the car keys handed over to an ecstatic teenager (home by curfew) mean the same thing. Spread your wings.

Oh for certain, they'll crash land over and over, losing feathers and hearts and the trust of parents. The dust is a humbling place to be, but it's where life is formed, too. After all, I was not so long ago a child and oh, do I remember those spectacular falls, knowing I had dirt smudged all over my face and so many repairs to make.

My little toddler takes a tumble on her way from one activity to the next, and I slowly help her up, knowing acutely that I won't always be able to break her fall or cushion the blows of the mean world - cause and effect is something we humans cannot get around - and sometimes in the darkest moments I want to bundle us all away from everything but the cocoon of what we know.

But instead I help her up with a smile and a hug. She takes off again to join her sister in their mess-making and turns around for that quick moment. I will myself to wave and give her the nudge she's craving with a happy nod. Spread your wings!

Day 1 of ALM Writes April Prompt-a-Day. Join in! 

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