I met an amazing man in Bali, a life counselor and spiritual healer. He said so many things to me that I think about every single day, but one message of his stood out loud and clear and I am so grateful for all the many times a day I hear his voice saying, "You don't need to worry so much about your children. Worry less."
We worry. Oh, don't we Mamas worry! There's something to worry about at every single turn in parenting, I think, and then multiply it times five children and I could honestly worry about something all the live long day. When they're little, the worries are too many to count, and as trivial, but seemingly important, as can be. Cloth diapering, breastfeeding, and when should we start solids? What's in those vaccines? And what about school? And they grow, and it becomes about peer influence and should they have an iphone and what about video games? And on and on. And on.
But I've been noticing something as my eldest shifts well into his teen years, as he is out and in the world more and more all the time - beyond our doors, beyond our reach, beyond me whispering in his ear about manners and advice and all of that. He's in a place in his life where more and more, he is standing on his own, holding his ground. Doing the work that it takes to get where he wants to go, what he wants to do. And the thing is, of course there are bumps and struggles and always will be, but for the most part, I am feeling a deep and real exhale as I watch him, standing there on his own. He's going to be fine. Just fine. I could worry less. He shows me that.
I suppose that is the burden and the gift of the oldest child, and one that his younger siblings will someday hopefully appreciate. Because as I exhale just a little bit - in relief and pride at watching him soar, I turn to the rest of them, worrying a little bit less, letting go a little bit more. And that, is the gift that the younger ones receive. A mom with a little bit of experience under her belt, so much more relaxed in my role with each passing year.
This weekend, after three dance recitals for her big brother, Ani had a small little birthday gathering with some of her friends (fittingly, as it was in between recitals - literally - that she was born four years ago this week). I didn't make any decorations or party favors - but Adelaide stepped in and took over on that front without me asking. There were no party games or craft projects, but every child played beautifully and peacefully together for the afternoon. And I didn't make the tofu cake with kudzu frosting that Calvin had for his early birthdays (though that was a tasty cake, no matter how much that boy will never stop teasing me about it). Instead, and because she is the fifth child, she got just what she asked for - a chocolate cake with cupcakes, raspberries and lollipops on top.
Worrying less feels so good.