The Gift We Offer
“Only when I'm in possession of my own heart can I be present for another in a healing, encouraging, empowering way. Then I have a gift to offer, the best gift I possess—the gift of a self that is whole, that stands in the world on it's own two feet.”
Parker J. Palmer
Almost always when I am with women friends we talk about our children—their triumphs and their challenges, their disappointments and successes. In a very real way, our children feel like pieces of ourselves that somehow got outside us, and are walking around as independent beings. We do not possess them, nor do we have the capacity to make decisions for them. Sometimes, that's hard. Parents have typically lived a good bit more life than their children. They have had ample opportunity to find numerous pitfalls and sink holes, many of which they have fallen into. Most of us would very much like to spare our children the same fate.
There's wholehearted love in that desire to guide our offspring away from the treacherous riptide that comes with mating, marrying, bearing children, educating themselves and their children, working, and the many other complications of existence. We would, if we could, eliminate for them the setbacks and losses. However, they actually are NOT pieces of us, and often, they don't even see the world as we do. They have their own thoughts, their own ways of being and doing. Sometimes, the very best thing a parent can do is back off. Get out of the way, and allow that child to stand alone, even if it means they fall into the biggest sinkhole they can find.
The greatest gift we can give our children, especially our adult children, is to have our own life. And to have that life be geared toward our own wholeness and equilibrium. It sounds self-centered to the parent whose very existence is focused on making their children and grandchildren happy and successful, but truly, it is the least selfish gift we have to give. It is the gift of freedom to be who they are, and not who we want them to be. It lifts the weight of our expectations off their backs. When we can offer them the presence of a whole person, one who stands apart, and on their own two feet, they, too, may find that same firm ground. And, isn't that what we truly want?
In the Spirit,