Friday, July 08, 2011

Funny Thing About Large Families

Or, perhaps, a more suitable title would be "What No One Told Me About Raising More Than One."

In the league of "What No One Talks About When Your Grandchild Is Born," the phenomenon of how a parent might meander the myriad of emotions that accompany watching your child yet and still make choices and grow up isn't discussed.  Anywhere.

So, I'm here to talk about it.


I love my children, down to the last drop.  When my grandson Keeton was born, I was overwhelmed with a love for him that completely took me by surprise.  It was The Emotion That No One Talks About When Your Grandchild Is Born.  Oh, sure, grandparents joke about how they can enjoy the child, then send them back home, about how great it is that the grandchild is energetic enough to warrant a young person parenting him or her . . .

But no one says how captivated your heart will become the instant you lay eyes on that wailing, protesting piece of related DNA that they put on the scale to weigh and take vital signs.  The moment you hold that little on in your arms, you think your heart is going to burst, the love is so overwhelming.  The honeymoon phase doesn't leave, Choosers.  I'm here to tell you, that familial love only expands and expounds as that little grows up into a walking, talking specimen of related DNA.   I could swallow up my grandson in a bubble of love that he'd never find his way out of.  Oh, wait.  I've already done that.  :)

Well, so it is with your children as they grow and become and stretch their wings and find their place in this world.  As the first one leaves the nest and begins to experiment with this adult responsibility and that, your heart begins to let out, like a kite on a string.
The winds may blow, as you hear news of your child's life experience, and threaten to take your kite - your emotions - and dash them into a storm cloud . . . but then, through faith and hope, and because you are a parent given to prayer, the winds subside, and your kite - your heart - is happily flying again in a peaceful, contented state, as your child's circumstance settles into a happy ending or new normal.

Then along comes the next newly minted adult child.  Now, you are flying tandem heart-kites.  One is flying contentedly, and the other, flying nearby, gets caught by a gust of circumstance that grabs and tosses your heart-kite to and fro.  The complex maneuver of having to keep those two kites from colliding is enough to keep a parent on their toes.  More faith.  More hope. More prayer.  And then, peace once again in the sky of life.

Try adding a third heart-kite to your active group of heart-kites.  You thought you were cruising along and enjoying this adult child experience with little challenge?  Then you haven't yet crossed the threshold of having three adult children . . . each making decisions, finding their life-path, going from euphoria at successes to the depths of despair at adult realities and responsibilities.  Of course, on the surface, you are calm, and available to that child for wisdom, advice, and a shoulder to console upon.  In secret, you are in the prayer closet, seeking God's face and favor, His grace and mercy on their every move.

A nail-biting experience at times . . . a cacophonous swell of pride and love and excitement at others.

But wait!  There's more!  A fourth child-adult . . . a young man pushing at the adult gate a wee bit earlier than most, with special circumstances surrounding him . . . and the press is much more transitional than the parent would like; too soon, it seems, on the heels of having just launched the third heart-kite.

And so the parent juggles the accomplishments, the fears, the disappointments, the concerns of each of their children no longer in the safety and boundaries of the nest.  A typical day might have one of each of the aforementioned details occurring, one per child, per day!  The phone call from Young Adult One being exciting; hanging up to answer Young Adult Two in a state of fear; processing that, when lo and behold! Young Adult Three shows up on the doorstep concerned and needing to talk about this, that, and the other; while you open the mailbox to a note from Young Almost-Adult Four detailing the disappointment of heart they are feeling.

No one talks about parenting from this angle, that of the multiple adult-child syndrome.  I suppose that is because it's not fully parenting any more, is it?  No, it's the transition of the parent into a close confidant, a wise adviser or counselor who leaves the final decision to the Young Adult they've just spoken with.

No one said that when my children grew up that I would have to.

The transition into adulthood is just as much mine as it is theirs.

With one child, it's doable.  Two?  A bit of a thrill.  Three?  Complex.  Four?  Challenging.

Hanging on to my heart-kite strings with skill and dexterity is required of me.  Loving well my dictum.

Thank goodness I've got two toddlers hanging at my knee, that I might resort to the simplicity of those three year old encounters to still my soul . . . 


Missus Wookie said...

So true - and beautifully written!

Gram said...

And then, there was eight and a great! With plenty of room left to share.

The Reader said...

I'm not there yet but will hold these words near & dear as the day encroaches.

Yet again glad that there is space between my boys....may the ride be a bit less bumpy (I hope, I hope, I hope!).

Hugs to you as you navigate this.

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