by Mary Pat Champeau, IHE's Director of Educational Programs
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I am quoting Thoreau above not because I think we should all borrow an axe and head out of town, but because I sometimes consider parenting to be a long, daily process of finding a path through a deep wood -- not just any path, but a good, solid, generous and beautiful path -- wide enough for all who wish to tread. Living deliberately as a parent is no easy task. We have decisions to make at all levels of life every single day. I remember once asking Jing (5) to bring me the dog's water bowl and she said, "Sorry. I can't. I'm too busy. I have thousands of jobs." Oh dear. I'm sure she has heard me say thousands of times that I have thousands of things to do. In that moment, I thought: Am I really saying that out loud? I thought I was just thinking it! We cannot hide from our family. They see us at our best, our worst, and everything in between. They know where the gaps and excesses are in the way we live our lives, and they know how we act when we're stressed, sad, joyful, moody, afraid, excited -- just like we know all those things about them. Family life is humbling, and transcendent.
I am crazy about this bumper sticker: "Love makes a family." In the modern era, we have succeeded in redefining what a "family" is. We live in families created, built, forged, blended, birthed, fostered, extended, and I really believe that always, at any age, in any culture and by any means: a family can work if love lives at its heart. I have seen a number of grandmothers raise a whole second set of children; and I've seen single people become parents of babies, toddlers and teenagers overnight; people from one culture or ethnicity parent children from another; teenagers responsibly and lovingly raising tiny siblings; a mother who lost a child raising a child who lost a mother. Family is what we decide it is.
Like our blog? Please share it with others, comment, and/or subscribe to our RSS feed.