Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
My childhood home was set back ¼ mile from the highway on a dirt road. It was a beautiful, old farmhouse that my mother painstakingly restored. But it was secluded. I didn’t have anyone next door to play with. Then, the summer before fourth grade a new development went up. Some of the homes were already complete. Since it was paved, it was the perfect place to take my roller skates. One day while skating, I noticed another girl who looked my age–also on roller skates. We smiled in that shy way kids do. We did the “dance”…skating, then looking at each other, then skating some more. Eventually a “hi” came out. Then a “My name is…What’s yours?” Before I knew it, we were skating around the circle together.
Kirsten is my oldest childhood friend. Our lives grew apart, but she is one of those people who I can pick up where we left off. She married a Mexican man and made a life for herself in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico. She has three beautiful boys. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we have that history.
None of this is interesting to anyone, but she did send me this email the other day and her words were so wise, I had to share. I posted recently about how hard it is to let go as our kids grow. But her words were a source of comfort and strength to me. They always have been. Here goes:
Kirsten and Alex post-trip
I just survived Alex’s 10-day long school trip to the Caribbean. I didn’t go; parents aren’t allowed to. Of course, I’d have been a willing chaperon but that’s against the tradition. At the beginning of the year, we were informed that part of the graduation celebration from elementary school was a trip all around the Yucatan peninsula visiting Mayan Ruins, Cenotes (sacred DEEP water sources where the Mayans prayed and sacrificed people), Eco parks, and historical cities. I didn’t have such an indulgent graduation even from University! Pepe and I said, NO FREAKING WAY!! It’s 2012 and between the narcos and the kidnappers, potential tsunamis, malaria, and the fact that Alex has never had a swimming lesson and can only kind of, sort of, tread water, the chances seemed slim that he’d make it back in one ”tweener” piece.
Well, to make a long story short, I just lived through a parental milestone moment. Not only because of the courage we had to muster up to let him go, but because of the level of discipline I had to apply in order to put into practice all the “life changing” focusing techniques, which I preach about. Where we choose to center our minds after we catch ourselves diving straight into our deepest fears, is just that, our CHOICE. I did manage to lure myself out of those dark spaces most of time, where every stranger was a potential threat and every wave could bring with it the riptide that would carry my 12-year old out to sea. It wasn’t easy, but it was a testimony to the fact that we really do choose how we live our lives based on where we allow our imaginations to linger.
What drove me to finally agree to the trip came from moments spent in quiet and solitude. I would sit and ask, “Is this trip necessary for my son?” The answer I received was always an immediate and indisputable “YES!!” I could feel it penetrating my whole body with a sort of WHOOOSH of certainty and peace.
We usually think of our “Motherly Instinct” or “Motherly Intuition” as being a built in warning system that helps us swoop up the baby just in time or to take the long way home today rather than the freeway “just in case.” It’s often our personal, physiological hotline to the Big Guy or Gal who helps us keep our little chicks where they belong–in the nest where they are safe and warm. But this new stage is teaching me a whole new realm of Motherly Intuition which I’m betting will help me through Alex’s adolescence, which in essence, is a gradual letting go of the sweaty little hand which once clenched mine with fervor and insecurity.
Rather than maintain our antennas on full alert looking for dangers, we can allow our intuition to work for the positives as well. We can ask “God,” our “higher selves,” “our guides,” our dead grandmothers, the purple elves–whomever it is that we tend to connect with in our deepest moments of silence–whether something is right for our kids. “Right” doesn’t mean that they will never get hurt or have problems and challenges. But if it’s done in the highest interest of our children’s growing process, then don’t we need to honor that? When we receive a “Yes,” as I did, then we have a space of knowing and faith to come back into when the unavoidable monkey talk starts up, reminding us of all that could go wrong.
So Alex returned sun-tanned, a little taller (at least he seemed it to me), and completely decided to be a world traveler someday. And maybe he will be. What role this trip will have in his life, I can never know, but I am sure it will have one. We can’t know our children’s destinies and I believe that it’s wrong to try and define the subtle edges of their gifts. Our role as mothers is to hold their hands as they discover that for themselves.
There will be more than enough people out there who will try to tell our children what they are and are not capable of. Meanwhile, developing and trusting our motherly intuition is the greatest gift we can offer in a world so steeped in fear. It was the true reason I was able to let go of Alex’s hand last week as he boarded the bus in the school’s still-dark parking lot at 5 am. Not without tears of course, but with the surrender that only comes from the gentle grace of knowing.