On January 25, 2001, we brought home a bundle of Anna Bauer. With great care (first child; I hope we were fairly careful with you too, Mary Jane), we put those tiny toes into socks that looked like they were made for mice, yet her feet were too small to fill them.
On October 3, 2015, Anna had another homecoming, this time at Memorial High School. For her first homecoming dance, she slipped her own feet into the first heels she’d ever worn. As I looked at those toes under the table while she carefully applied mascara … my heart hurt, but also grew a few sizes.
Kids. They grow up. It goes too fast. We’d like to stop time. I wish I had less trite phrases and more comforting words. But I could never be as eloquent as this:
by Kahlil Gibran
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.
When Anna and Mary Jane were little, we’d listen to a song version of the poem by Sweet Honey in The Rock. (You’re welcome.) At the time I thought, “Isn’t that a nice song?” Now, I’m like, “This song is flippin’ killing me! Why must these children leave us?!”
But ultimately, the message is soothing. This growing-up thing is part of a grander scheme; it’s natural and fun and rewarding. It’s beautiful.
Those toes are meant to wiggle and grow and walk away, but they can always come home.