It is the birthday of a very dear friend’s daughter today. I never forget the day of her birthday (unlike most people’s birthdays…apologies to many family & friends for the belated wishes that often come your way) because it was also the day that I discovered I was pregnant with my second child.
J will be 4 this year; such a short time has passed since he came to our family, but he seems to have been here forever. I still remember the day that I found out as clear as if it were yesterday. And I was desperate to tell my friend, but when I received her text as I went to send mine, I knew that my news had to wait.
Blessings come in many shapes & sizes, but pregnancy felt like such an honour. This baby chose me…I am truly grateful every day for the blessings that my children are, for the blessings they bring with their passionate kisses & heartfelt hugs, for the blessing that is watching them grow and the blessing that is the opportunity to grow myself as I see reflected in them the best of me, and the worst.
When children “misbehave” it is easy to assume that we have done something wrong, that we have only ourselves to blame. Tantrums, untidiness, noisiness, rudeness…society teaches us that even the most minor misdemeanours of our children are a reflection of our poor parenting.
But if we take a moment to count the blessings our children bestow, it doesn’t take long before we realise how much of the good in ourselves they also reflect. Those hugs were learned in our arms; the depth of feeling in that kiss is feedback, an exuberant return of the energy you put into your love; those whispered “I lub you”s are echoes of your quiet goodnights as you sneak out of your sleeping child’s room; the fascination in their eyes as you create dragons from blu-tack mirrors your wonder when you saw what you had created as your newborn was in your arms for that breathtaking first moment Earthside.
Their smiles, their open, friendly nature, their love for each other are reflections of the joy in your heart as you watch them grow, of your ever growing, expansive love for them…it spills over from you…
Nothing that your children do is wasted, if you just take the time to see the blessing in it…angry, shouty children remind me that I need to take a deep breath and count to ten some days before I react…sad, pensive children tell me that I need to be grateful for their presence in my life and find ways to show them how much joy they bring…scared, shy, cautious children remind me to embrace new experiences and take good risks…ungrateful, demanding children remind me to appreciate what I have instead of coveting what I think I want…
Children are a privilege, a precious gift. We are entrusted with new souls to raise and guide, and yet if we really look, we will see that in the short time that they are “ours” they are also here to guide us, never completely ours, always a gift from God, always to be set free one day, children are a true blessing in every sense…
PS Kahlil Gibran said it much more poetically than me ;D
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.