And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
As the year progresses with Ann in preschool, it is bittersweet to see her make friends, become attached to her morahs (teachers) and generally be . . fine without me. Ouch. It's humbling to no longer be in control of everything she sees, hears and learns, but the fault was mine for ever thinking that I was in control. For thinking that as long as she was home with me, by delineating the parameters of her environment, I was somehow the owner of who she would become. When I come to pick Ann up at 2, I overhear her class benching (grace after meals) in song, the same song I know but was not the one to teach her.
My parents fell pretty high on the overprotective spectrum, and it was only magnified for me as the youngest and the only girl. I remember those struggles for independence (not that long ago!) and once or twice even considered showing my parents this piece by Gibran (teenage arrogance!) but decided against it - "It'll hurt them and they just won't get it and I still won't get to go!" Seeing Ann, and even Andy, start to test their wings and make their first tentative attempts to break away from me and their Papa, brought this piece to mind.