The connection between parents and the children can be looked at as an inverse relationship measured over time.
While the parents are building a family support network, growing closer to their child day by day, the child is learning to be increasingly independent. As a result, that intricate network is ‘deconstructed’ a little bit everyday. Eventually, it is reduced to a minimal frame work which barely resembles what it once was.
The morning after I drove my second to college, I fully realized my parental routines of twenty four years became that minimal frame work in just the space of a day. Being in the middle of that routine, I did not make any kind of after plan for the final day.
It left a large hole in the center of my life.
Over the course of the next few weeks, this realization rolled through my mind and cast a heavy shadow darkening my conscious and unconscious thoughts. Eventual, my definition of the relationship with my children was reshaped from a mathematical formula of sorts to a fairy tale like metaphor.
The Gift of a Cottage
‘A husband and wife are given a tiny cottage of unique design. Immediately, they feel a deep and joyful attachment to it which grows stronger everyday. This attachment moves them to build a home beside it. Eventually, they enlarge their new home and it encircles the small cottage. All the doors and windows of that new home look out on the cottage making it the center of their lives.
One morning the couple woke up and found that the cottage was gone. They always knew that day would arrive but ignored it for years. They were so enamored with their gift, they could not bear for long the thought of losing it.
In the days after, they tried to fill that empty space with memories of what was there. They soon found that memories are like friendly spirits; welcome at first but eventually they haunt their hosts with what is ultimately lost to them.
They also found that memories, like spirits, can be translucent as colored glass or a morning mist. No matter how many memories they put in that space, they saw through them all and onto the doors and window of their own house; all reminders of the space they could not fill.
It was a hard time for them but together they managed to unwind the inoperative connections and close off the doors and windows they would never use again. Over time they filled that space with new things to celebrate, develop and care for. ‘
Since that day I have learned that at the right time letting go and moving on can be just as important as holding on and being present.
There are places in your heart you will never know exist until you raise your own children.