Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Mothering Sunday - Cutting the Cord


                                            credit: idea go at freedigitalphotos.net

I have had worse partings, but none that so
Gnaws at my mind still. Perhaps it is roughly
Saying what God alone could perfectly show -
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.
- Cecil Day-Lewis from 'Walking Away'


I am brainwashing my children not to want to smoke cigarettes (dirty, smelly, they kill you), climb mountains (high, cold, they kill you) or ever get on the back of a motorbike (far too fast, far too dangerous - and - did I mention?  - they kill you). Their father, on the other hand, has now introduced them to the concept of speed as a god to be worshipped.
 - Judith O'Reilly, Wife in the North

Sunday morning -  all-age service and, empty-nester though I am, the 'presentation' of the loving mother nurturing and protecting their child, teaching, comforting, advising and step by painful step making themselves redundant, made me smile and weep (inside) in equal measures.

The poignancy brought a lump to my throat.  I glanced around at the young mums and thought: You really don't know the half of it, do you? So, you worry non-stop about child-proof medicine bottles, buggy hinges that nip little fingers,  bike stabilisers, bike helmets, car seats, SATS results, GCSE results, Piano Grade III results, Stranger Danger, cyberbullying, Parental Advisory Lyrics and computer games,  Uni entry, the job market. Oh and sex and drugs and rock 'n roll of course...

And do you know? It never lets up; you just learn to cope with it differently, you have to, else you'd go crazy: The first all-nighter, Reading, Glastonbury, driving lesson, solo  motorway trip, depression, the post GCSE jolly to Ibitha (or Newquay!), failed job interview, solo packpacking to far-off lands, the angst-ridden phone call when they're far away and you're in no position to help, the darker, seamier stuff you'd rather not think about or begin to imagine. It's a wilderness out there. 

It's also a big, wide and wonderful world and the only way they're going to be able to find that out for themselves is for you to let them cut that cord. Pass on your wisdom, morals  values and faith, yes, let them know you're there for them, yes, 'Ponder and consider these things in your heart,' after all, you're in distinguished company; the mother of Our Lord had to, but like her, you have to let them make their own way eventually.

This is in no way denigrating or glossing over the experiences of those families, where, tragically, a beloved child - and they're your children whatever age they are - did not make it... Words, especially glib words are inadequate...

I chose the two quotations at the start of this post because between them  they so perfectly capture this tension all parents have to live with. To be fully human is to struggle  to live true within our   vulnerability; to risk the heartaches along with the joys and to equip our children and other loved ones to do the same. I might be a grumpy old Mummy a lot of the time and am certain I've made no end of mistakes along the way,   but on Sunday,  as I looked out over the little ones, I remembered my 'big ones,' and felt so, so, proud...

                                                    Saying what God alone could perfectly show - 
How selfhood begins with a walking away,
And love is proved in the letting go.










2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and honest reflection. As a son it did me good to be reminded that being a mum, or dad, means you are always concerned; because sometimes I think they are over-concerned and a bit too intense -- the cord needs to be cut as you write, but that doesn't make it any easier for parents, or children sometimes!, to do.

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  2. Very true! It's not easy - there's always that tension, for both parent and child, I guess. Though I sometimes wonder if maybe fathers are a bit more laid back about it all!

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