We cradled them in our arms for hours as they slept and nursed. We were attentive and vigilant to their every sound and every breath. We existed, it seemed, for the sole purpose of ensuring their survival. Early on, we learned that parenting is all about being present for our children - throughout their lives for always. It is about never letting go and never letting up.
Frothy waves washed sand dollars, seashells, and stones onto the shore as I held my four year old daughter's hand. As ocean rushed in and receded out, she would laugh and be thrown off balance and sand would swirl around her feet. I was her anchor. Like an explorer temporarily moored to steady her vessel, she is charting the waters, readying to ply the open sea.
Our eldest son, at nineteen, does not need the physical tether of his father's hand, or his mother's arms. He got plenty of that when he was a young boy. Captain of his own vessel, he is now plotting his own course and finding his own treasures. But even navigators need reliable and unchanging landmarks. Like the lighthouse on a rocky promontory, we are a beacon of safety. We are the penetrating light that gives guidance in stormy weather and the reliable, comforting silhouette in sunny skies.
Throughout our children's lives, whether in the physical closeness of hand-holding or in the ethereal connection that binds us , attentiveness and vigilance for their well-being remain our parental duty. Providing comfort, enrichment, and encouragement. It does not have to be 24/7, it does not have to be sensational. We just have to strive to be mindfully present all along the journey - never letting go and never letting up.
Venturing out to sea, the children will know that they can drop anchor anytime and the lighthouse will always beckon them back home.
Author's Note: We took a day trip to Point Reyes National Seashore and spent part of the day at Limantour Beach where the photos were taken. It happened to be the same day of the bombings in Belgium. This post is dedicated to those whose families will not see their children ever come home. So never let up - brave parenting will bring world peace.