Nearly 18 years ago I gave birth to this magnificent human being. I can’t believe it’s been 18 years. This birthday feels bigger than most. When she turned one, I let out a cry of relief that I had been able to keep her alive for a year. I had my doubts. I thought that I might forget to feed her, that she’d fall or otherwise die in some freak accident. I couldn’t believe that I managed to keep a human alive for a year. Here we are almost two decades later and I can’t believe the way that this human has given me life.
My children have been my primary teachers in love and relationship. Because the role of parent had felt out of reach, I never tried to be one. Instead, I made room for me to be an ever-evolving self; and I made room for them to be who they’ve needed to be. We’ve liberated each other in that way. They taught me how to be reliable for other people and what it means to stand in every season of life with another, neither holding on or letting go, simply loving with an open hand as we watch one world die and another be born. They’ve stretched me beyond what I knew was possible and showed me that my capacity to love has no limits. I also learned that my resources do have limits and that where there’s love, what’s needed shows up in the right time and way.
Our relationship is a perfect demonstration of all relationships, which is that it begins closely and gradually ends in letting each other go. Sometimes after a few years or a few decades; sometimes in life or in death. But we always let the other go. I’m liberating my children into adulthood and I'm preparing for them to liberate me into death.
They’ve taught me that love isn’t about trying to get the other person or the relationship to stay the same or to perfectly align with my needs. To borrow the sentiments of Thich Nhat Hanh, it’s about loving in such a way that the other person is free.
Photo of Ella ca. 2020 by Photographed by me, Windy Nicely Photography