It begins like a slow dance or ballet. The music is beautiful and haunting. That baby we take home from the hospital, from the orphanage, or from the foster care system comes into our lives, and while everything changes it’s a slow change. We have anticipated this for a long time. The baby blankets and onesies are purchased and waiting. We have bought or borrowed a crib for the little one. The curtain goes up and the ballet begins.
Every movement of that first baby feels recorded in our hearts and memories, it seems like forever. The first smile, the day they sleep through the night, their eating, pooping, sleeping habits all weave their way into our lives.
As another child comes the music changes and the slow dance stops, replaced by the chicken dance where there’s little grace, just a lot of squawking and moving. It’s fun but it’s exhausting.
Middle years are the Macarena and Bollywood. There’s a rhythm and grace and fun. You got this thing. You can criticize other parents because wow – your kids are amazing and their kids? Better beware because they are headed straight to the state penitentiary by way of the principal’s office. But not yours. Oh. No. Yours are amazing and talented and oh you are so thankful for Grace. The Grace given to you of course – not that bestowed on others.
Every parent thinks they dance well during the middle years!
And then the teen years come and you bow humbly even as the dance changes from the Macarena and Bollywood (which you love) to that of rock and roll where your head is splitting and you don’t understand the words but you think you caught a swear in there. It’s so fast you are spinning. The activities, the angst, the long talks punctuated by angry silence, the fun yet exhausting dance of rock and roll.
And then comes parenting adult children.
And suddenly it all changes. It becomes like jazz music: you agree on the notes and then you improvise. Negotiation becomes a key word. The parental dance goes back and forth between being too worried and too involved and throwing your hands up saying “well, it’s their life!” But even thought you throw those words around, you are always there waiting. When the text comes at midnight you hear the buzz. When the call comes in early morning hours you know to take it. When they make decisions you disagree with, you know that you still love them and will love and pray for them until the day you die.
Slow jazz constantly in the background but no longer a central part of your life. The furniture is rearranged and the house echoes with empty. You miss them deep in your soul, but you know you’ve raised them with wings to fly and they are exercising those wings well.
There are times when you pour over photo albums and you remember when they were so little. And you think “I thought they were so big. I expected so much out of them.” But you realize now that they were so little and the world was so big.
And though the dance has changed so dramatically through the years, you pray that even as you occasionally stumble and fall you will dance every step with grace.
What dance of life are you currently in? What dance of parenthood?
Picture credit: http://pixabay.com/en/ballet-dancers-foot-slipper-dance-335493/