Yesterday, I watched a TED talk by writer Anne Lamott, in which she offers twelve life truths.
“Number one:” she says, “the first and truest thing is that all truth is a paradox. Life is….filled simultaneously with heartbreaking sweetness and beauty, desperate poverty, floods and babies and acne and Mozart, all swirled together.”
I’m immensely grateful that life in our family’s little bubble has been, for the most part, very good. Like most parents, I want my kids to be healthy and happy and kind. I want them to know love and trust and selflessness and second chances. I don’t want them to be hurt and I don’t want them to hurt anyone else.
All this talk of rainbows and unicorns is lovely, but, as we adults know, not terribly realistic.
My kids are growing up. They’re becoming more aware of the complexities and contradictions of circumstances and emotions. More aware that there’s a big, messy, beautiful, dangerous, exhilarating world beyond what they already know.
Despite my romantic desire to preserve their innocence, I know I won’t be able to protect my kids during their journey on a path strewn not only with joy and wonder but also with deep disappointment, pain, and loss.
It’s not my job to do that, though. As terrifying as it may be, it’s my job to ready them for that path, it’s my job to walk beside them as they navigate it. Until it’s time to pull back to the sidelines, that is. “You can’t run alongside your grown children with sunscreen and ChapStick on their hero’s journey,” Lamott says, “You have to release them. It’s disrespectful not to.”
In the warmth of yesterday evening, I strolled alone through the park. I followed the path beside the creek and made photos along the way.
Okay, so life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, kids. But sometimes, evidently, it is.