Monday, August 12, 2013

What I Gave

I gave Noah my all – everything I had, everything I knew. All the fun of singing and stories and teddy bear picnics. All the appreciation of arts, nature, learning, travel, world events. All the ways of understanding and being with others, all the strong cultural and family roots along with the freedom to explore beyond. More love than I knew I had. I poured it all into this child, maybe because he seemed so receptive from an early age, so eager to engage in conversation. Maybe because he was my last and youngest. 

I gave him my all and it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to prepare him for the frightening abyss of young adulthood or to protect him from his own demons. 

Of course, I was not the only hand shaping him, nor would I want to be.  So much intervenes between a parent’s years of nurturing and who a child is as they move into their 20s, only some of which a parent knows. So much that we cannot fathom intervenes between the formation of a child’s cells and a parent’s attempt to form his character, though I still resist this idea.  

But within this messy web of influence, parents are the foundation, the source of core self-esteem and values. We try to give our kids the grounding they need to be resilient and believe in themselves. That life is dear and rich and worth living goes without saying; we show this by example. Do we need to actually say it? Maybe I assumed too much. I imparted many values to my children, from the political to the personal, but it never occurred to me that I needed to reinforce the life force. I thought self-preservation was human instinct. 

We give our children life and love and all the opportunities we can muster to help them make a life they love. When they throw it all away in a moment, we lose not only our child and our hopes. We lose our life’s project as parents, our faith in what we have to give.

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