the nest

the nest

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

musings on the nest

I've had so much activity in my head lately that finding a focus to blog about has been impossible.  Maybe if I just meander through my thoughts I'll find the focus. 
I started the week finishing a book called "The Descendants."  I haven't seen the movie yet and am not sure I will for a while.  It was an interesting book, but didn't really hook me until the last hour.  That bit focused on the father and his daughters waiting for the mother to pass away. 
I've only "watched" someone die once.  It was also a mother and wife who was leaving her husband and children behind.  She was a dear friend and it was time - the cancer was too persistent and wasn't going anywhere.  The last few days were difficult, but I was so absorbed in "being there" for her husband, who is a dear friend, and his children that I could distance myself from the reality. 
Reading about someone else deteriorating in a similar way brought back the events of 4 years ago like a wave pulling me under and I cried as I read.  I've been exhausted ever since.
How did families of past generations cope when death came more frequently to both parents and children?  Illnesses, accidents, wars...  There are so many things we think we can control, but aside from the benefits of modern medicine and an increased awareness of safety, we ultimately have no more control over death than they did.  We all die - it's just a matter of when and how.
I read the book for my book club and at our discussion, we ended up talking about keeping children safe.  How do you keep them safe without sheltering them?  Most of the other women in the group have younger children than I do, so when we talk about raising them, I'm often looking back rather than where I am currently.  So many awful things can happen to our young ones... They can get on the school bus and it could go over an embankment.  They could walk to school or a friends house and be snatched.  They could get to school and be offered drugs or alcohol or worse yet, killed by a tormented classmate. 
While we like to think we can protect them from the world by building fences and giving them phones earlier and earlier to keep in touch, and hovering over them, we can't keep them safe from everything and we shouldn't.  In many situations, natural consequences will be way more powerful than any consequences we might impose.  THEY have to learn how to keep themselves safe, and we need to trust them (and God) to be aware of the world while not being frightened by it. 
"Into the Woods" is a favorite musical in our house and a song I love and am always moved by, is "Children Will Listen". 

How do you say to your child in the night?  
Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white 
How do you say it will all be all right  
When you know that it might not be true?  
What do you do?
Careful the things you say 
Children will listen  
Careful the things you do  
Children will see and learn  
Children may not obey, but children will listen 
Children will look to you for which way to turn  
To learn what to be  
Careful before you say "Listen to me"  
Children will listen

We can talk all we want and hover and shelter and discipline, but at the end of the day we have to trust that THEY will be alright.  We need to watch what WE say and do as much or more than what THEY say and do.  That's what they learn.  From day one they watch us.  They learn trust when we meet their needs.  They learn empathy when they see us acknowledging and supporting others (and them).  If we Hate, they will Hate.  If we Love, they will Love.  If we ignore others in need, so will they.  If we serve - they will learn service.  If we choose to live a life full of love and joy, they will see the path.  We can't make them choose it.  We can't hang onto them and pull them down the path after us.  We have to trust that they have learned what we wanted them to learn so when they are choosing their path, it's one we can accept and embrace even if it is different than the one we "saw" them going down.  Be careful what you say and do - children are listening and watching.


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