By Susan Govern
Judging by the title of this essay, you may think I’ve started a new hobby of raising parrots, or perhaps chickens. Not so.
My life for the last thirty years (as of this coming August) has been about raising my son and daughter. I am blessed to be able to say there has been more joy than heartache in those years.
As parents we have our babies come into our lives and we must do the best that we can without having been educated for the role of mommy or daddy. Most every subject we’ve ever been taught in school does nothing to prepare you for raising newborns into adults you can be proud of.
I’ve seen a look in the eyes of mothers-to-be and the dads too as the delivery date approaches – it’s a look that says “I’m not sure I’m ready for this.” They listen to advice (wanted or not) from those who have children and they read books by the “experts” but it all boils down to this – no baby is born with an instruction manual. Like their parents and grandparents they’ve got to learn on the job once that baby is born.
There’s a saying I’ve read on posters, on web sites, on Facebook…it pops up everywhere. I find it touching and sentimental. “A ____(insert mother or father) holds their child’s hand for a little while, and their heart forever.” Nice, and hopefully true as long as the child, when all grown up, has a close relationship with the parents; something we all wish for.
I like to think, now that my children are both adults, that they do have a close relationship with us. My husband and I have done everything we thought was right to teach our children to be loving, kind, respectful and to have Faith in God. We did what we could to teach them right from wrong, and to see that working for something makes it all the sweeter. Perhaps some day those lessons will help them when they face becoming a parent for the first time.
And so it goes, we raise them up and we “teach them to fly” – we “give them wings”. This is the nature of being parents. I’m sure one of my kids, if they were reading this over my shoulder right now would suddenly start singing “The Circle of Life” from the Lion King and get me laughing. A lesson they’ve taught me – don’t be afraid to be silly once in a while.
Like I said before, there’s no baby born with an instruction manual but that’s ok. Because life is meant to be an adventure and bringing new life into this world is probably the biggest adventure a couple can have together.
Our lives are about to change in a few weeks. My son has been moved out of our house for four years now and my daughter is making her move. She’s not only starting a new job, but moving to another state.
The “nest” will be down to just the two of us once she’s moved and settled. A new chapter of our lives will be taking flight for my husband and me. I guess you could say that now it’s our turn to have wings and see where life will take us.
Many people have a hard time dealing with being “empty nesters” and they don’t see the possibilities of new beginnings for themselves as a couple. My husband and I had a practice flight when my daughter was away at college. Granted, she wasn’t far away like she will be now and that made it easier to accept that she wasn’t living here except for the summers. Now, though, we can truly embrace a new experience – or maybe it’s really not all that new.
When we were first married it was just the two of us. We chatted while we made dinner and did the dishes after. We cuddled on the couch to watch some favorite television shows or old movies. We had the house to ourselves and so we listened to our music and cooked what we liked to eat. If we wanted to go somewhere we simply grabbed the keys and off we went.
Then along came our first-born. Suddenly we found our evenings filled with walking and rocking, diaper changing and feedings, bath time and bed time. Television was watched (if watched at all) with one of us usually standing up and doing the swaying motion while holding him. Forget eating together; for quite some time we took turns sitting down to eat. And listening to music became an endless repetition of nursery rhyme songs and Disney Song music videos.
Our trips out of the house took on the look of an army packing up to go on maneuvers. Forget just grabbing the keys and my purse. We couldn’t leave without a stuffed diaper bag with all the essentials. If we were popping over to visit the grandparents (or other family) we had to remember toys, high chair, playpen, etc. By the time the car was loaded, daddy who was in charge of making it all fit and still have room for baby was tempted to go get “loaded” himself.
Fast-forward four years to just when it was getting slightly easier to go traveling with a potty-trained preschooler, and baby number two put in her appearance. We were right back where we started.
For all that we as a couple had to let go of as we became parents, the rewards of being a family first of three then of four have been worth it. Still, now that time has moved ahead to this point, it’s going to be nice to get back some of what we let go.
Meals can be just the two of us again. The conversations can be relaxed and not revolve around the world events involving our children – they can be more about us and our plans. Listening to our music more often – heck – ALL the time now can be enjoyed. Our vacations will be geared to no one else’s time schedule and when we pack the car these days – it’s going to be so simple.
Yep, we raised them to have wings and now it’s our turn again to spread our wings too.
Cue the song from the Lion King…”The Circle of Life…” or maybe for us as a couple a more appropriate theme song should be “Hakuna Matata”.