Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thinking back.

As a parent, I guess all of us get up everyday and think about our children.
When they are little, you not only THINK about them, you try and create a life in which they can grow, be strong, become independent, warm and intelligent people. You sing songs for them, and dress them in what you consider a darling outfit, you make toast in little shapes and apple sauce from the apples on the tree. Then you watch them as they enter kindergarten as they trot off, lunchbox in hand, into the big world and realize that the control you have been given is slowly being taken from you.

When your child come home from a particularly trying day, with tears in their eyes, a piece of your heart breaks. You want to fix it. You want them always to be happy and never be hurt in this world. At times, thinking back on when you were a child, you realize hurt is part of growing. It is when someone can work through that hurt and come out stronger, that true wisdom and compassion is born.
It's hard, as they grow, to watch broken hearts, both theirs and the ones they break. It's hard to know that no matter what you do they are on their own road and you need to have faith that the path ahead will lead them where they need to go.

When I think back on my life and I replay my memories, I know that no where was there such deep contentment for me than when our two girls were curled up on a heater vent, or snuggled together under a table. My smile has never been as explosive then when they would do a play for us. Allison with her writer, producer, director hat on, and Katie twirling and performing away. Both of them in a mad dance of childhood that carries with it no fear, only pure joy.
Now, I am sitting here in the kitchen on a drab day and remembering how full our house was with them in it. But mostly how full my heart felt, and how grounded I was.

Yesterday I got a photograph from Allison. She is interning at the US embassy in Peru. She is on a tour with James Early, who is an expert in Black American History and currently works for the Smithsonian in Washington. They are at a town called Zana. I see her face in the photo thousands of miles away. She is on her journey and it is taking her so far away from the heater vent at home. But I smile with a smile that explodes from my face because, she is okay. She is better than okay.

Not long ago I got a text message from Katie, in the northwest. Her boyfriend's father suddenly died. My heart sank as I felt the fear and loss through the miles. I sat and worried about her and her friend. Because no matter where they are and what path they are on, you are walking it with them only from a distance. And no matter how hard you fight it, the urge to make it better, that urge never goes away.

Missing the mornings with Sesame Street and heater vents and little girls cuddled under quilts.
Allison, James Early in Zana