I recently posted this photo of my boy on my personal Facebook page. It got some unusual attention from friends and family alike - not because it's a particularly good photograph, but perhaps because of the caption I wrote with it:
"My heart. Just roaming this planet. All exposed to the elements and the cruelty and the joys of life. With no protective gear. Just some love from his momma. I do love him ever so much."
I think this resonates with all of us, doesn't it.
To me, parenting is a lot like watching my heart roam naked around the planet. All the vulnerability we have is exposed to the elements - joy, pain, fear, frustration, love - walking around with nothing to protect them. That's how it feels to be this person's mother.
When they are little it's easier. They stay closer. And the problems are more clear cut: I'm hungry. I'm tired. I'm wet. I'm frustrated. But as they grow and learn and start to spread their wings and fly, the issues life deals them aren't so black and white. Problems become more complicated. The topography of life changes - the dips in the road, the twists and turns, the mountains to climb...they are all there. And all you can do for them is sit and watch and hope you have done a good job at giving them a half-way decent road map to all of it.
As my son ages, the complexity of parenthood becomes more and more apparent. Gone are the days of kissing boo boos away, wiping the tears and giving him a Popsicle to forget his troubles. There are no more easy distractions from frustrations, pain or hurt. He is just there. Exposed to it all.
And learning to fly on his own.