The Worry of the Child

Parental Bird

Parental Bird

No one tells you about the worry when you have children.

The talk is of love, light, blessings- and so much of raising children contains these items and more.

The worry is the secret no one discloses when you hold babe in arms. People will “ooohhh” and “aaahhhh” and those who are parents will hold their lips in a sealed line and not reveal the legacy.

The worry…no one talks about the worry.

Growth. Development. Illness. Injury. The uncertainty. What is right? What am I supposed to be doing here? How poor can my parenting skills be and still be “good enough”?

You pray- “Please God, give me a resilient child, because I am pretty sure I am going to mess it up.”

You send your toddler off to preschool. The child looks at once so young and old to you as they run from your arms on their small legs in through that door.

And they will spend hours apart from you. Being free from the moment to moment contact does not free you of the worry.

The movement into school. More hours spent from home. More interactions. More possibilities. The child’s hopes and dreams begin to form, as you question, “Am I doing enough?”

A “graduation” marks the transition to high school- a sense of newness and hope ensues – while you also stand silently watching your child mingle amongst friends, looking SO MATURE.

And you can’t help, even while you hold a smile, to worry about what the future may hold. They are so much more on their own now, but they carry the mark of your parenting. Will it be enough?

The worry…no one talks about the worry.

Sleepless nights. Anticipation. Comparison. Prevention strategies. Proactive approaches. Coddling. Discussions. Hugging. Books. Holding. Seminars. Prayers.

A game to keep the child in your care safe.

The worry…no one talks about the worry.

You begin to understand this has been a secret all along.

The time between thoughts- when you are falling asleep, when you see them walking off to school, the time before bed when they disclose their heart ache and concerns- is when you understand wrapped in all the love, joy, and hope, the stone of worry has hung about your neck simply because you are raising a child.

I was reading an article in The New Yorker describing Edward Hirsch’s elegy for his son. And his words were the ones that alerted me to the silent secret so many of us hold.

How endless the worry can be.

My stepson is having some difficulties now and Lord, I tell you, I am weighed down.

Like any parent, I want to change it all for him, you know? I want to wrap it up, make it do-able, heal the wound and ferry him safely across to the other side.

They say worry is a waste of time.

I would say worry is the secret, silent, companion to all who parent.


The image is a play on this idea. I was thinking of a “Mama Bird” that must push here young out of the nest to fly, but perhaps even with their flight, she is never free. She continues to wear the weight of her heart and love for them around her neck.

It also plays with a reverse on the idea of an albatross around the neck and the image of a phoenix rising (the color of flames behind the bird.) Through our children, we are transformed and rebirthed in literal and metaphorical ways.

Ding! Dong! Your Life is At Your Door…The One Principle you need to Remember to Create the Life You Desire

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Basically, we get from life what we are willing to put into it. (Of course, I realize tragedies and horrors exist in this world that no one should ever have to suffer or witness. But for argument’s sake, let’s say that the energy exchange of life is equal.)

I frequently say to my stepchildren when they are in a situation, “Well, this is your life showing up at your front door.”

My stepdaughter recently went out for the volleyball team at school. It had been 9 months since she last picked up a volleyball. (She would argue that there was ONE day this summer when she had her volleyball out).

To no one’s surprise, but hers, she is not on the “A” volleyball team. She is on the “C” team. She feels this is unjust and that she deserves better.

Not I, though. Not I.

To me, and I told her this- this is her life showing up at the front door. How much time and energy has she truly put into VB? Basically zero. Given the energy exchange of life, how much is VB giving back to her? Well, the same amount. She is on the “C” team and receiving not a whole lot of attention from the coach, nor is she receiving rewards or accolades. She is getting from life exactly what she puts into it.

I remember another time when my stepson had a new Nintendo game that he “found” at school. Hmmmm…..He said he found it and I asked if he had done anything to return it to the rightful owner. He looked at me and said, “Well, no, not really…”

And I said to him, “Life shows up with exactly what we put into it. Don’t be surprised that the next time you lose something that no one makes a sincere effort to get the item back to you. Life treats you as you treat it.”

He returned the Nintendo the next day.

I use these examples of childhood because the connections are somewhat easy to see. However, we ALL work under this principle. I can look at my own life that has shown up at my door. If I am honest, I see that those places where I have put in little effort have given me little results.

Sure, I may talk “big” and I may wish and I may hope “big”, but unless I put in the effort, there is nothing for life to give back to me.

Life works with the energy we put into it. If you do not put any energy into something, there is nothing for life to work with to give back to you.

It’s a tough lesson and I am sure my stepchildren think I am harsh at times. But so be it.

We are entitled to what we put into life, nothing more, nothing less. Put a lot of effort into life and you may be surprised at the life that ends up at your front door.

Getting Real about What We Can and Can Not Give Our Children

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A Prayer for Every Child

My child-
If I could give you my love to use in this world-I would, I would

My child-
If I could give you my compassion to use in this world-I would, I would

My child-
If I could give you my peace to use in this world-I would, I would

My child-
If I could give you my grace to use in this world-I would, I would

My child-
If I could give you my mercy to use in this world-I would, I would

My child-
I would give you all of these and more to use in the world-If I could, if I could

But life requires more of us, my sweet child, than the use of the gifts of another.

Do not fret, my child, for this is my prayer-

I pray with deepest hearts that you may be so touched and overfilled by my love, compassion, peace, grace and mercy

That you, my beautiful child, will have more than enough to give.

The beauty of our growth, my dear child, is that you will get to choose what is done with these gifts.

Choose well, my child, choose well.

I do not have my own children, but I help raise my stepchildren. This is my prayer for them. I try to lead by example and give them all of my greatest gifts, but ultimately, as with all things in life, the child will decide what he or she will become. My only prayer is I do the best I can to help them use the gifts they have been given.

Another way to look at this prayer- if you believe in God- is to imagine God thinking about each of us in this way. God has given each of us- love, peace, grace, compassion, and mercy. God can not control the use of these gifts- that is the choice for each of us.

Pieces of My Heart

In night, In dark,
In bath, In steam
I pray to God-
be near to me.

As if God in one
Galaxy,
and I in another-
Travelers unencountered

Of what illusion
Has my fog-brain
Crafted?

The warm temperatures,
I become
Porous and fertile
For awakening

My heart blossoms
In this mist
And there God sits.

Within the damp
Space, my journey Ends.

Returning to its
Lover’s embrace
My heart does not
Contend

In union,
My heart will
Not release,
And relinguishes pieces.

In the shattering,
It flings itself
Far-
shattered shards To Heaven-wide

In hopes they land
In the night sky
And hang on
Heaven’s arch

So others may
See what I had missed-
God’s love,
Forever in our midst.

Children and Disappointment

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For those of you who celebrate the Easter holiday- Happy Easter! Short, little blog today about something that happened yesterday. My husband, stepkids and I went shopping. It’s a big deal for us, as we live out in the middle of nowhere. We went in order to purchase my stepdaughter some new jeans. She is at the age where on-line shopping simply is not going to cut it given how much her body is changing.

During the day, my stepson began to look more and more dejected. He managed to mope and drag his feet, slowly walking 15 yards behind us, through an entire wing of the mall. Although he had been allowed to purchase one small treat, he wanted more. His moping and feet dragging were designed to clearly convey how we had failed him, in case the tears and pleading had been lost on us.

My husband was very concerned stating that “Henry” (not his real name 🙂 ) seemed so disappointed.

Yes, “Henry” was disappointed. But, I pointed something out to my husband. Our job as parent and stepparent was not to raise two children who never experience disappointment. Our job as parent and stepparent was to raise children to grow up understanding how to handle disappointment.

A wonderful gift we can give our children is to help them understand they are not the center of the world. Life provides and life disappointments. A person of awareness and grace (a hope I my stepkidds will be) is able to handle both with a sense of compassion and understanding.

The Beautiful Power When One Loves Another

All girls love their mothers.
The reverse is not necessarily true.
A young girl approaching her fifth decade- the wounded are always young- enacts her drama as if yesterday were today.
Life not envisioned with clarity, seen through the astigmatism of memories.
The young are not made for living lives of pain. Pain, the great disregarder, knows not of chronological boundaries.
The wound becomes the dance, playing with spirit and heart, the whirling dervish of the soul captures and heals.
Her soul sisters link her hands and pull, pull, pull.
They are her sisters whispering of her new birth.

I wrote this in honor of my stepdaughter. She hosted a party at our home yesterday. I was SO PROUD of her!! She had a wonderful day planned for eleven 12-year old girls. It went off without a hitch. She was a kind, gracious host, and I hope I can do as well at my next dinner party. This day was not ours to “have” her. She was scheduled to be at her Mom’s, but her Mom was busy, so we held this party.

And, then the party came to an end. My stepdaughter phoned her Mom to ask if some of the girls could spend the night at her home. She was told “No”. My husband then called my stepdaughter’s Mom. With eloquence, he said he would be willing to have the girls spend the night at our home, but he wanted to support her Mom. And, he was told “No”. It would not work with Mom’s plan for the following day (selling toffee, during which she expected my stepdaughter’s attendance).

My stepdaughter tried again- a friend, now, invited my stepdaughter to spend the night with her. My stepdaughter called her Mom. Now, she was really excited. She was not going to be bothering her Mom, and her Dad would not be getting more brownie points by hosting the girls overnight. My stepdaughter thought she had it in the bag. She called her Mom, spoke her request. And her Mom, her Mom, hung up on her. She felt there was nothing to be said to her 12 year old daughter- the one with the simple request.

One should never hang up on a 12-year old. Never.

But, my stepdaughter’s friends rallied. The hugged her, they said it would be o.k.. So importantly, they made my stepdaughter feel loved and wanted. They are her means to rebirth. They show her understanding that SHE is important and to be valued. The knowledge that her needs are important enough to be considered. They wanted to spend time with my stepdaughter and they wanted to make it work for her. For someone who has struggled socially, like my stepdaughter, this was such a gift. And my heart thanks these girls.