Thursday, September 11, 2008

Three Boys

At work, I stop often to look at pictures of my children. I love them so fiercely and am amazed at the things they have been able to accomplish this fall with a greater nonchalance than their parents who worry over every aspect of their lives. Ellis rode the school bus by himself this morning for the first time and told the teacher "It was great!" Charlie maintains his reputation as mellow little man at childcare, confirming my opinion that he is the easiest baby on Earth. Nate seems to be making great strides from last year on the school front, and I take our recent need to upgrade our cellphone plan to unlimited messaging as a good indicator that he is building a good group of friends.

What was officially meant to be a summer for Charlie and me, was also a summer for Ellis and me, and Nate and me. My relationships with each of these boys opened me up to things hard and wonderful and furthered along my development and theirs.

First, Charlie. It started when I was pregnant with him - this overwhelming feeling of inner peace and tranquility. It's good to live in Charlie's world because Charlie is unruffled by much of the drama of everyday life. He set the tone of quiet easiness that marked this summer and I feel like carrying him and mothering him has created in me a freedom from worry that didn't exist before.

Next, Nate. This summer Nate managed to put me back in touch with an earlier version of myself - the me of my late teens and early twenties. And while, there was definite turbulence to that time, I look back at it fondly because those were the years that I spent defining myself as my own person. It seemed every time he got into something new, it was something that I liked in the early 90's or evoked something I liked at that time. I have passed two treasured mementos onto Nate from that time - my dog tags from high school and the corduroy jacket that I wore in college that I inherited from my stepfather. Quintessential Charlotte, quintessential Nate.

Finally, Ellis. This summer was a rough transition for both of us. Ellis went from being my one and only baby to an insecure and needy older brother to a brilliant self-possessed kindergartner all in the course of three months. This summer I learned that even the best relationships have rocky points, but they grow because of that. I learned about the horrible conflicted feeling that comes when you like and dislike someone you love at the same time. I learned that the voice of insecurity that makes you grasp at people desperately is a voice that needs to always be checked against reality. Above all, I learned to work harder to be patient and to not let the voice of worry and concern be expressed through anger.

It is hubris to think that our main job as parents is to teach our children. Better to remain open to learn all the things they can show us - the lessons we didn't learn the first time and the things we've never noticed before about the world or ourselves.

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