It was my daughter’s birthday this week and while she lives in another state, I spoke with her at some length on the telephone.
Though it was not spoken, I sensed that she did not want to hang up any more than I did. Though there were pregnant pauses and uncomfortable gaps, the conversation ended with “I love you.”
I later realized that perhaps we had reached yet another relationship destination, one of many that have occurred along the way. As parents, it is a curious paradox in that we bond with our children through their dependence on us but at the same time we encourage and hope that they are becoming their own person, capable of taking care of themselves and ultimately finding their way in the world on their own.
My daughter arrived in the world easily, a very short labor and there she was. At home, it soon became a ritual to look at a book or rock in a chair and then I would play a song accompanied with my guitar,putting her to sleep right away. As I found myself having to attend conferences for several days at a time for work I made tapes so she could hear me sing before bed. She could not go to sleep easily without hearing me sing.
I did not know how special that need made me feel until one day, she didn’t want me to sing to her at night anymore. Ah, the paradox, she was making her own decision about a bedtime ritual, a first destination; letting go.
Being an only child meant that just about every weekend, we had one or more extra girls with us. At first, games included adults but not for long, her friends became her focus.
It was a fabulous time and the many young girls that came to visit greatly enriched our lives with many unforgettable and memorable moments. The house was filled with sounds of children running, laughing and singing. They made themselves up in makeup and made short videos that they then watched.
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