A young mother once confided in me that months after her first child was born she already had begun envisioning the day her child would leave home. And then the tears would flow.
Now it would be easy to attribute this emotional response to post-partum hormones. And surely some of it was. But, it also speaks to the immense bond between parent and child and in this case specifically mother and child…a bond like no other.
It is hard not to get overly possessive and protective after childbirth. They are so vulnerable and dependent on their parents and usually more so with their mothers. And as much as we want to keep them close and safe, there will come a time when all parents have to let go. It won’t seem natural but it is.
Whenever a baby is born to someone I know, I remember this angst that my wife and I went through three times. It gets a little easier each time but not by much.
So instead of giving them yet another sleeper (which are usually too small or big or the wrong color), I give them a verse by Kahlil Gibran called On Children. What does a Lebanese/American poet, painter and philosopher born in 1883 know about children? Just read it (every few years after your first child is born) and find out.
On Children by 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.
I have read this verse throughout my children’s lives to keep me grounded so that when they eventually leave the nest, I will be as prepared as I can be. Sniffle, sniffle!