It is Meera’s birthday, my only child’s ninth birthday, this day of her arrival here on earth and I feel tender. I am tender because I love her so much. I breathe and tears come because this morning she was at her Papa’s house and I did not get to wake up with her, or snuggle or make her a special breakfast of challah french toast with raspberries and whipped cream. My heart is tender and open as sobs emerge from deep within.
Having separated from Meera’s Papa almost exactly five years ago, I have become accustomed, as many of us have, to sharing my child with him and more recently, to sharing my precious girl with his partner as well. This is the reality of the situation and I am invited to open wider in acceptance as I make space for my “Mama tenderness”.
As humans, and in particular, as parents we make certain choices and I, made a choice to part ways from Meera’s Papa which meant stepping out on my own, as well as missing out on days, nights and some special moments with my child. In this, life asks me to let go.
We as parents are asked to let go continuously, to surrender control as we instill our values, reflect our child’s goodness, point them to their essential nature, cheer them on, be truthful with them without sharing too much about our own process, love them beyond measure and then, finally, we are asked to let them go.
Somehow, as my daughter crosses the bridge into this new season of life, moving into the “nine year change” I sense an even bigger letting go is called for. And, I feel how I love Meera, my incredible daughter, in a way that we, as mothers, love our children, a way that is distinguished from all others, in the realms of love and loving.
Being a mother feels like a radical training ground for the practice of letting go, of loving fully and then, in time, watching our children go out into the world on their own. In my experience, it is like being asked to give everything, to make choices that are no longer about just you and your needs, it is about being willing to share our life force, from as early on as in the womb and then, as we nurse our babies.
Or later, when we are so tired that we simply eat their leftover noodles and the woody broccoli stalks that they’ve declined. We eat the bruised parts of their apples giving them the crisp, juicy parts, we carefully cut the crust off of their toast and put just the right amount of butter and honey making it sweetly delicious to elicit a smile and a “yum!”. We stay up late tending to our home, to our adult relationships and work, and, then get up early to meet the day with our children.
We make castles in the sand or play tag, and when our children fall and skin their knees, when their feelings get hurt, we hold them close, their little heads resting on our breast. We sit on our knees with open arms, holding space as our children have tantrums, waiting patiently for the storm to pass, saying, “I’m here love. I’m not going anywhere.” We wait for them to crawl into our laps, then, stroke their heads gently, laying a soft hand on the back of their heart offering a feeling of unflinching presence, of unconditional love.
As they grow, we play with playdough, make “gack”, do science experiments and magic tricks, take outings into nature and dance around the living room as we listen to Meghan Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband” just, one more time. We do this because it is what there is to do. We do this out of love.
It is this flavor of love that pours forth from me on this day of Meera’s birth, nine years ago. Loving her deepens me profoundly, as it stretches and tenderizes me. It is a love I feel blessed to know, and, I offer full transparency here, because I did not intend to be a mother. A part of me was afraid to have a child, afraid of the vulnerability of loving so totally. And, now I am vulnerable. Vulnerable to the unfolding of life and its unknowns. Vulnerable to losing the one who is most dear to my heart. And, I as a parent, and a co-parent at that, experience a tiny loss each time my daughter goes to spend a night with her Papa.
Inside this loving container of parenting I learn to be selfless, disciplined, generous, discerning, playful, creative and alive on so many levels, as I let my daughter go. It is the natural course of things for our children to become more and more independent, standing on their own two feet, trusting their inner guidance and hopefully, staying true to themselves.
A parent’s love is one that wants the best for their child. In this moment, I am amazed by how quickly my child is growing and, by the person she is fast becoming. One who is bright, responsive, creative, strong and sassy, clear in her communication and centered as she walks through life. As I head off to be with her at school, to partake in a birthday celebration where her classmates will honor her by sharing what they appreciate and admire about her, with a cooler full of pink lemonade popsicles in hand, my heart is full. I am grateful to be playing the role of Meera’s Mama, as I expand to give her space to discover who she is, I let go just a little bit more, surrendering to the inevitable release of my little bird, who in time, will spread her wings and fly on her own.