Sunday, August 22, 2010

hidden treasures revealed ...

I spent the day with my eldest son (almost 14) in the city yesterday. We went to the book fair and brought home creeds of wonderful used books for our family. Art books, children's quiz books, teenage reading and adult holiday fiction. The books were crazy affordable for $1-$2 each mostly and the money went to a great city service, Downtown Ministry who do so much social good in our city.
We then went to the art gallery. Viewed John Pule's wonderful exhibition 'Hauaga' (Arrivals). We talked about various aspects of his work together. Some grabbed him, some were just plain 'weird'. It was such a nice thing, being in one of my favourite environments with one of my favourite people in the world. Of course my children are used to galleries, but he's now more one of 'us' then one of 'them'.

His maturity is something others constantly comment on. He is also extremely private and quiet. Very very quiet. I took him around my favourite ceramic shop 'Vessel' (photos to come later) and we finished off with hot drinks on a chilly evening at the Lido cafe. It was a perfect day.

I cannot believe how big he's grown in the past year. I am also quietly humbled by his sensitivity and genuine heart for others. He is very special and I have so much pride in my heart when I watch him with others. There are so many good people in our lives, people who are helping grow our children including our extended families, grandparents and our church community. It does take a village to raise a child.

As a full time parent, there is a price to pay. Living on one income, going without, not getting ahead as quickly or much as our peers, not owning our own home, less opportunities like holidays and passing up career opportunities in order to be available to our family. My husband and I both go without and have often had to turn down offers to a better lifestyle and opportunities for personal advancement in order to be available for our three boys and to protect the well being of our family.

This has been an intentional choice, made willingly because it works for our family. It hasn't been easy and by no means romantic. There is however definite advantages for us as a family. It means here is always one parent available for our sick children (all three have had respiratory problems from infancy). There is constant surveillance that is unbroken. The kids are constantly on our radar should any needs or issues arise in any of the their lives. There is the opportunity to participate in their activities and get involved in their lives at whatever level of commitment is required. There isn't competition with our own activities vs our childrens. There is space for both to happen. I'm sure there are lots of other advantages and disadvantages, those are just the ones that run off the top of my head right now.

I haven't always been like this. Scroll back just a couple of years to my last pregnancy and you will hear a different picture. However as these significant milestones are revealed, like this amazing young man sitting in front of me, those things I thought I was going to lose and did lay down (like further art development, employment and community opportunities) are now dimmed and hushed. They are no longer worth my energy. This young man and his two brothers are, they really really are.

Parenting for fourteen years and I'm finally able to say I embrace the life I chose wholeheartedly. This life that unfolded before me quite unwittingly at times. Is it easy, no it isn't. Saying no to myself is the hardest thing I must do some days. And just because I can do something doesn't mean I should do it. I got wise to the fact that I was my worse enemy. Always looking back at what I had missed out on or looking forward at what I wanted but feeling defeated and denied. And while I was over there thinking about those things, I was missing NOW. Being present and appreciating what was right in front of me. And of course one doesn't have to be a full time parent to come to that bit of understanding. Lets just say I went the long route.

Any regrets? Only one, that I couldn't find peace earlier. I have it now though. In bucketloads. They say that as we get older, we become more comfortable in our own skin. I've found that to be true. And what's nice is that I look at my son and see someone who is comfortable in his own skin. And even though life will not always be smooth for him, at the very least, he didn't end up with the burden of my issues and at the most, he has had two parents who have poured their very best into his well being and up bringing.

And hey, I don't judge working parents because raising a family, being in a relationship, choosing a career pathway and whatever else makes us tick are very personal choices. Each person has to make the choices that are best for them. I know families with two working parents who have great adult kids. At the end of the day, for the most part, we're all trying to do our best by our kids right!

1 comment:

Sandra said...

I came on your blog via India Flints.I'm also a full time mother. What you wrote here went straight into my heart. Especially the following sentence "Any regrets? Only one, that I couldn't find peace earlier."

Sandra (the Netherlands)