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When Parents Have to Grow Up

You all know this kid.  It’s my beautiful daughter, Brighid – one of my Beauty Girls.  And many of you know that I’m struggling with some of the decisions she’s made.

When Jim and I got married, in our wedding programs, I chose to include a passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.  The poem moved me in many ways, as a young woman entering marriage.  But once the romantic part of being engaged, planning the wedding, and embarking on a new life gave way to 9 to 5 jobs, scrubbing toilets, and embarking on motherhood, the fascination with The Prophet was put aside for the reality of Erma Bombeck.

Until now.  I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this today, but I did, and I find wisdom in the words of The Prophet.  If nothing else, I recognize that even parents have to grow up.  We have to adapt from being parents to infants into being parents to toddlers.  And with each step, we are parenting our children so they become less and less dependent on us and more and more anxious to make their own way in the world.

So it is with these words from Khalil Gibran – the poet who’s words I chose to represent my marriage – that I am going to try to hold fast to as my daughter decides that now it is her turn to make her own way in the world.  There are growing pains to be sure, as the mother of an adult.  I pray these words will help ease the pain.

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.