One of the more frustrating aspects of parenting is the futile attempt to try an impart some hard-earned wisdom to your child. I say futile because anything of value I know, I had to learn for myself through challenges and difficulties. But as a mother I still hold out the hope that I might be able to spare my child some of the more odious parts of the journey if she would just listen to me.
If I've learned anything, it is that the phrase "I found out the hard way" holds no credibility if it comes from a parent's mouth. I swear, she hears the "Wah Wah" voice of the adults in Peanuts cartoons whenever I try to tell something of value. It is the eyes rolling, head wagging gesture that gives her away.
But I discovered that lessons told through stories do sink in. In Mighty Girl art camp we listened to a story about a girl and a magic necklace and Cowgirl keeps mentioning that story. "Remember the mean girls mommy?" Some jealous and mean girls tricked another girl into tossing her beautiful necklace into a lake. We're really into mean people getting their comeuppance. The heroine of the story receives a magical necklace through her acts of compassion and caring. The mean girls end up drowning.
I'm not sure Cowgirl has grasped the complete moral of this story: in a quick jaunt through the farmer's market I was on a quest for fresh salsa and ended up with a $35 silver heart - a "grown-up" - necklace which she latched onto. It was day 4 of daddy being gone and I had one more day to survive and we were headed to my mother's next. We needed a magic necklace.
Cowgirl and I have started reading some of the ancient myths and legends. I had forgotten that it was Pandora who - by opening her box or jar - unleashed illness, suffering and evil into the world. What I didn't remember ever hearing was this bit: that Pandora attempted to close the lid but could not put back what she had let loose. She did, however, close the lid with one thing remaining inside: Hope.
I've been thinking about the ways Hope manifests in my life. On the night of the full moon, I made my way to our backyard fairy circle to make an offering. As I kneeled upon the bark mulch, I could see a hazy full moon through the branches of the crab apple tree - the tree where our prayer ties hang. I had more of an Eat, Pray, Love moment sobbing to the night for guidance and strength: to find the words, the love, and the space within myself to lovingly care for and support my mother, my daughter, my husband and myself. I then turned over my burdens to the Universe. If it is folly for me to believe I can control my journey, then it is madness to try to direct another's.
When I went inside, I discovered this note Cowgirl had left for the fairies:
It is a drawing of a Phoenix (we just finished the second Harry Potter book) which she was offering to the fairies. In exchange for her gift, she asks if she can have a wish.
|can I have a wish maybe - just circle yes or no or maybe|
The next day I asked her what her wish might be and she said she had to think about it. Later on she came to me with her wish decided: to fly! I explained to her that the fairies cannot make us fly in real life, but that they can teach us to fly in our dreams which is much, much better as then we can travel anywhere.
If I could make one wish, it would be this: to always remember Hope, in its many forms, is the foundation for my life.
Hope is watching my girl master the cartwheel and, at 49, finally attempting to cartwheel myself. Hope is all I have to offer my mother and it is what will support me in the days ahead.