Monday, August 5, 2013
We hiked for about an hour and the sun grew higher and hotter. The need for rest and nourishment became apparent and we set down our blanket and enjoyed a small lunch together under the canopy of balsam and fir trees. Mosquitoes and black flies broke up our picnic pretty quickly and the boys were once again on the move. With sweat pouring off us, moving at a slower pace, the two mile loop was feeling more like a ten mile loop by the end and the boys easily talked me into a treat. Sitting on a bench next to the mooing cows and bleating goats, shielding our eyes from the bright light, my two sons shared a cup of fast melting ice cream, and even I got a bite or two. Sticky, pink sweet cream dripped onto chins, shirts and hands, my boys were content and in this moment, so was I.
As a new mother, there is a constant, nagging feeling of inadequacy and worry. Am I a good parent? Am I disciplining them enough or not enough? Why don't they listen to me? Of course, there is never a doubt of love. It surrounds us like a protective bubble. My love for my boys is impermeable but I wonder if what I say is getting through to them. Parenting is the most difficult challenge of my life and my most rewarding accomplishment. Having my babies after 30, cultivating a fulfilling career after college, marrying my first love and pursuing personal interests, left me with experiences I thought would prepare me for raising and guiding two spirited children with sharp minds and devilish grins. I want my boys to grow into kind, respectful, smart, compassionate individuals who carve a path for themselves in life that leads to happiness. How do I help them do this? How do other parents do this? How did my parents do this?
After our dessert, the sugar rush was creeping in as the giggles turned into screaming and our walk turned into a run. They were off and I was left wildly chasing them, towing a backpack and the stroller behind me, hoping they don't fall head first into the nearby pond. Their little heads barely visible behind the tall grass, dandelions and fragrant lilies. Feeling like a crazy lady unable to contain her children, I hollered, "Stop! There are cars, hold hands, wait for me! There is a road ahead!" Once I caught up with them, I was amazed to see they had listened to me! They stopped by the edge of the parking lot, standing there my older son leaned into my younger son reaching for his hand. "We have to stay together little brother, hold my hand and I'll watch out for you." My heart beat slowed down and we quietly walked to the car together.
In my private moments of insecurity, anxiety and fear as a parent, I need to remember these days. This was the day I started believing in myself and my children. I have to trust that the lessons given out of love are being understood. What I say and do impacts the reaction, response and experiences of my boys. Securing seat belts, wiping hands and loading up the car, I was offered a small validation in my parenting confidence followed by a lesson in letting go.
"...so just look at them and sigh, and know they love you."