Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stewarding my boys, not trying to shape them

Several years ago I read something which completely changed who I am as a parent. I was introduced to works of the poet Pattiann Rogers and the below poem tugged at my heartstrings. In an anthology of her work she acknowledged her sons: "who have been perfect in every way, enriching and broadening my life, never ceasing to fill me with wonder and amazement and pride,...".

What I took away from that was that my children have always been, always are, and always will be perfect in each moment. That doesn't mean I'll love their every behavior, nor that I don't expect change and growth, but at each moment they are exactly where they need to be, even even when they infuriate me most! That shift in viewpoint took the burden of approving of or even liking every moment. As a result I grew in patience and tolerance allowing them to "be" themselves--all I really need to do is steward them, to hold space for them as a safe container.

This shift continues to inform my parenting and even how I treat myself and others. I hope it might be useful to some of you, and that you'll enjoy the below work of brilliance.

For John A. and Arthur

By Pattiann Rogers

This is what I ask: that if they must be taken

They be taken like the threads of the cotton grass

Are taken by the summer wind, excited and dizzy

And safe, flying inside their own seeds;

And if they must be lost that they be lost

Like leaves of the water starwort

Are lost, submerged and rising over and over

In the slow-rooted current by the bank.

I ask that they always be found

With the same sure and easy touch

The early morning stillness uses to find itself

In needles of dew on each hyssop in the ditch.

And may they see everything the boatman bug,

Shining inside its bubble of air, sees

Through silver skin in the pond-bottom mud,

And may they be obliged in the same way the orb snail,

Sucking on sedges in shallow water, is obliged.

And may they be promised everything a single blade

Of sweet flag, kept by the grip of the elmid

On its stem, kept by the surrounding call

Of the cinnamon teal, kept by its line

In the marsh-filled sky, is promised.

Outloud, in public and in writing, I ask again

That solace come to them like sun comes

To the egg of the longspur, penetrating the shell,

Settling warmth inside the potential heart

And beginnings of bone. And I ask that they remember

Their grace in the same way the fetal bird remembers light

Inside the blackness of its gathering skull inside

The cave of its egg.

And with the same attention a streamer of ice

Moving with the moon commands, with the same decision

The grassland plovers declare as they rise

From the hayfields into the evening sky,

I ask that these pleas of mine arrest the notice

Of all those angels already possessing a lasting love

For fine and dauntless boys like mine.