Reflecting On “The Passion Of Parenting”


For a few days, I’ve been obsessed with an op-ed, which was published in the New York Times last week, entitled “The Passion Of Parenting.”  You can read it here:

The author has been a single father for thirteen years, and his children are all getting ready to leave home.  For good.  He is struggling with letting go, and shares conversations he has had with his mother.  The first passage that struck me was this one:

“And she taught me that my children are not truly mine. They don’t belong to me; they’ve simply been entrusted to me. They are a gift life gave to me, but one that I must one day give back to life. They must grow up and go away and that is as it should be.”

I went back to work part-time and while I have found a nice balance between working a little and still enjoying motherhood a lot, I have struggled too.  My youngest is in first grade now, and while you would think I would celebrate this time to myself, some days the extended periods of silence in the house or in my new office feel unbearable.  For what seemed like an eternity during the first decade of motherhood, I struggled through the hours, wondering when my life would feel like my own again, if ever.  My friends and I would trade stories: a blow-out diaper here, a case of reflux there.  There was never a dull moment, and often it felt so intense that it was impossible to believe the dust would ever settle on the chaos brought about by having three babies under the age of four. On more than one occasion I felt certain I was going to need to be committed, and that the taxing requirements of motherhood were well outside my realm of mental coping skills.  Even my dignity seemed lost, and I was unable to even catch a moment alone in the bathroom or get dressed without a full-on interrogation by my children: “Mommy, what are you doing?  Mommy, what are those? (Picture me racing to get my bra on). Mommy, I didn’t know where you were and I was scared.  Mommy, can you please come wipe me NOW?”

A life that once moved at a snail’s pace evolved into life on a carousel, circling around through one year and into the next, and spinning just a little bit faster at each rotation.  Most days now I feel like I’m on The Twist, (definition from Wikepedia, in case you don’t know what this is: The Twist is an amusement ride in which suspended riders spinning in cars experience the illusion that they will crash into other suspended, spinning cars. Riders are seated in small carriages clustered together and connected by beams at the top to a central point. The clustered vehicles are spun in one direction, while the ride as a whole spins in the opposite direction).  In other words, things feel so crazy and fast-paced now that sometimes I feel sick to my stomach over how time is speeding by.

I see my kids:  now ten, eight, and seven.  They are funny, caring, independent, and still fiercely loyal to our tight-knit family unit of five.  It won’t last forever, and I’m acutely aware of that.  We have seven summers left with our oldest, and then the world awaits her.  I even looked at the dog today, who is three, and thought about how he will be old in seven years.  My kids will be teenagers by then, vying for a turn with the car,  whispering in hushed tones so as to avoid my hearing every last detail of an upcoming party, or texting classmates with questions about an exam.  Like the author of this article, I will catch myself looking at them time and again, to have them glance back at me, asking me what the heck I am staring at.

The last line of the article left me reeling:

“Life gave them to me. I’m preparing myself, as best I can, to give them back to life.”

In the moments where I feel as if I’m in over my head emotionally, I think about my grandmother, even in her final days, always reminding me that “God never gives you more than you can handle.”  Around every corner, there are always new things to learn, new hurdles to cross, new moments of falling flat on my face, and new victories to celebrate.  “The Passion Of Parenting” reminds me of the fragility of what is in my hands, and that I won’t be able to hold onto it, or them, forever.  In the meantime, I focus on what I can control: being a better person, a better friend, a better mother.  In the words of the Indigo Girls, “The closer I am to fine.”




One thought on “Reflecting On “The Passion Of Parenting”

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    From: the suburban chronicles Reply-To: the suburban chronicles Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2013 03:22:15 +0000 To: Gordie Spater Subject: [New post] Reflecting On The Passion Of Parenting

    The Suburban Chronicles ~ The reward is in the journey. posted: ” For a few days, I’ve been obsessed with an op-ed, which was published in the New York Times last week, entitled “The Passion Of Parenting.” You can read it here: The a”

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