Friday, 7 June 2013

On Children

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.

~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Since starting back at work and having Nate in nursery most of the week, my mind keeps flitting back to this poem. I first read it many years ago and thought it was beautiful, but now that I have a child it really strikes a chord with me. 

The phrase "they belong not to you" especially resonates with me. I feel a primal attachment to Nate, which was forged during my pregnancy and during his first few months, which were difficult for me. The struggles we went through together makes him feel like a part of me; mine.

But I know deep down that he is not mine - that I am simply one of his protectors, creating a safe environment for him to grow and discover himself. 

This poem captures that bittersweet feeling of parenthood to me and the idea that our children are not ours to control, only to guide in a certain direction and let go, like arrows shot from a bow. 

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