My daughter got the pictures back from her wedding and I looked through them first with a critical eye on how awesome I looked. After a moment of vanity I continued to look and I came across this picture of my three kids. I was struck by the passage of time. I just stared at it. These are my children yet not children anymore. They are grown and beginning their lives. They have become their own beings. This picture is a snapshot in time. Just like all the pictures of their youth.
I had my children young and through the years you live and move and have your being and time flows. I kept my nose to the grindstone busy living life. Every now and then I would look up. I looked up and my eldest was starting school I looked up again and my youngest was moving across the country. I look up I have a grandson I look up and my daughter got married. Moral is stop looking up! Time moves, things change. I look up and my kids are living their lives, great job Mom!
The really interesting thing about having children is watching how the DNA moves through each child, how they look, their mannerisms, and later their gifts. It has been like watching varieties of myself walking through three other people. But it was their father and I who shaped them and led them down certain roads and through our divorce some roads were dark. Some of life’s roads are dark no matter how you look at it. There is not one person who can get through life without dark roads. Though it hurts my heart terribly to think I turned my kids onto dark roads that they may never come off of, like the bipolar road my eldest son lives on.
As I have lived my life with many mistakes taking the dark road sometimes by choice it helped me handle my kids on their dark roads. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes I would tell them this while we navigated a dark patch on my road. It was always my children who saw the roads less dark than just a road. How were they to know then our life was not the same as others? They did not. It us what keeps them from being just ordinary now.
Many families with dark roads traveled theirs often in stupid secrecy, we talked of ours all the time. The dark roads we roamed on were the dark roads of many others. The dark road of poverty and lack, the dark road of illness and pain, the dark road of addiction and loss. Unlike some Moms I waved our crazy flag so they would recognize it within themselves and know it was ok. There is no life on this planet not hurt or consumed with dark roads and dark passages but it was always the children that made the journey worthwhile. I kept telling them there had to be a light road ahead. It is only a child who can find joy in such simply toys as my kids had and being ok with used clothing. It is children that think it is fun to walk to the park or stroll through the mall for fun. Children always see fun if we let them.
These children of ours have seen so much. And I admit sometimes I would go back in time and erase some memories. Those moments fill with me with such shame. How could I have allowed that to happen? said over and over again. But it is my own experience with my mother that brings awareness. Had she not been so hard on me over and over I would have never been able to deal with three such diverse children with diverse needs at such a young age. I made my Mom a grandma at 39, she was not impressed. My son made me a Grandma at 43 I couldn’t have been happier. Her dark roads were long and terrible and she drug me along a lot of them but those dark roads came to me again when my son began having so much trouble and before long I realized I knew this dark road and suddenly I had the strength to go on.
To this day the blessing of my children continues to strengthen me down my new roads. They continue to forge new roads for themselves some I have yet to see. When we walked together down long dark stretches of our life road they kept me company, they kept me going. So on any road they care to travel I will walk it with them when they ask, I will stand on the sidewalk and watch when I am not. But I will be ever so excited to see the new road they construct for themselves having learned that often dark roads are dead ends and once we know where they are we can stop traveling down them. They will have their own dark roads unsharable with me as they add husbands, wives and partners but with that much experience under their belts they won’t be old worn out roads but new unexplored roads. The light in their hearts will lead them on.
For me during this time it is the light within my children and frankly within every child I see that lights up the world for me. When I am near children I see such light in them it makes my heart leap for joy and my face hurt for all the smiling. As long as their are children in our world we are blessed whether they are our children or not, it is the blessing of children.