This week has given me a lot to think about.
We're nearing the end of summer, and with the last few weeks on the horizon we've been making a concerted effort to be outside, to spend time with Matt (that does not involve spending money, buying stuff or any other commercial interests). It's meant a lot of picnics, a lot of time at playgrounds, and in the end a much happier child.
One of the changes we've made is that we leave early every morning to take Matthew to the payground in front of daycare. He loves running around. And, I'm not quite sure if it's because we are paying so much attention to him or because he's just having fun being a kid. But whatever it is we are seeing a happier child. And, what I've added to the end of his daily routine is that I let him play at the playground when I pick him up.
We don't always spend an hour. Sometimes we only spend 5 minutes. But the point is that we are doing it. I've begun to understand that postponing dinner by a few minutes to play with my child is worth it. And, I wish I'd done it earlier.
But I've had lots of stuff to think about this week too.
Follow me if you will - one of my favourite bloggers has been talking a lot about the physical aspect of children. It is beautifully written and I love to read what she says, and what people say in response (badladies.blogspot.com).
It's not fair for me to try to paraphrase her because her writing and her knowledge and just general wisdom is on a level WAY above mine. So go read it. But, the point I think she is making is that we should be comfortable celebrating our children however we can - including their physical selves. It's beautiful and eloquent and well thought out.
But, at the same time, in my e-mail this week I've been following a story of a girl I used to babysit. I have kept in touch with her mom through e-mail for years. This family is one of the most wholesome loving families I have ever met. They have raised their children well, and I have consciously or unconsciously taken some of her parenting techniques and applied them to my own life.
And, awhile ago she sent me an e-mail telling me about some issues her daughter is struggling with. At the moment she is hospitalized with a severe eating disorder and going through extensive counselling, etc. In the last year she's fought this eating disorder and depression. At the same time she finished her first year of university with phenomenal grades, and was planning to spend the summer in China.
I don't think anyone really knows.
I have my own thoughts on depression. And I'm not for a second suggesting or implying that her parents have at all contributed to any of this.
But it all makes me wonder how all of this is all tied to together. Here we are as new, young moms trying to love our children as much as we can, do what's best for them and help them to succeed. We're admitting our failures and applauding our successes. And, our kids are pretty cool.
The other day my husband said that he sometimes thinks Matthew is a perfect kid - he has his faults, but he's just so pure and fresh and full of love.
And then something happens. What? And how do we protect them? How do we let them go out on their own and grow up while still keeping them close. I don't know. And how do we try to take care of them while letting them struggle with their own battles.
The mother I was talking about whose daugther is literally fighting for her life ... I think she would tell me that you love them and keep loving them and trust that all of these challenges make them stronger.
I really hope that's true.