Recently, in a dream, my youngest daughter and I were rolling around in a glass ball powered by our peddling. The balls glided over the surface and we smiled at each other, waving as we crossed paths. We were tooling around and it felt easy, relaxing and even productive as if were accomplishing something, seemingly intentional in our directions.
Decades ago, I took a workshop about interpreting dreams, read some books and have since maintained a curiosity about what my brain is doing with these experiences. The night that followed, it wasn't the dream that I recalled as much as the "lesson" I recalled learning in my dream. I woke with an analogy; my mothering to my children is like a pacer (and / or rabbit) to a runner. Parenting as a pacer and coach, someone who can see and set safe pace, but reflects the child's experience, eventually more and more, dropping off the track to let them find and run their own races.
This doesn't mean we aren't invited back on the track, maybe it's a new race like their own version of mothering, nor does it mean that we aren't still near(ish) to watch their race (journey, Life, adventure). As I've "run" (completely figurative - I'm a walker, not a runner) with my babies, my youngest is "running" more and more independently. I am embracing the opportunity to find my pace as it includes theirs less and less. For more than 33 years now, I've chosen to hold / mold my tempo to honor and keep theirs too, gratefully have been invited in after some have stepped away and back again.
I suppose the awareness comes with a greater intensity partly because my youngest finishes elementary school this year. (a school my kids have attended since 1990!) She is, more and more, learning about self-management. She tells me when she's ready for bed, that she's bathed and brushed teeth. She monitors what homework is due when and what supplies she needs for school. Next year, she'll use a locker and by all indications, will be ready to succeed in a middle school setting of class changes and 7 teachers.
Please don't misunderstand, we watch to ensure that she (and we) are practicing healthy choices, but the "management" of it is very different. Remembering to stop tying their shoes when they can do it themselves can be challenging (and painstakingly exhausting as we wait for them to do it). Same for setting bedtimes and other important practices for well-being. Personal responsibility that we want our kids to grow up with not only has to be taught and modeled, but also has to be practiced.
This isn't an unfamiliar shift. Her siblings (4 of them, some in their thirties now), all made these leaps, but she's the baby and there isn't someone behind her that I'm walking in those closer "paced" seasons with anymore. More and more, I'm walking at my own pace and not embodying their races inside mine, but rather able to cheer them on.
This comes too as I miss my Mom, my biggest cheerleader. We "ran together", having some kids near the same ages, and I'm learning to count on her Sprit, more and more releasing her form. (that's another post for another day)
I know that I'm not alone. I never have been...especially not when I chose to leave her pacing me as I set out away on my own adventures decades ago.I had to find my pace, my authentic expression of this Life. Our mothering is like that of a pacer, yet we have more responsibility to know ours than controlling theirs. We are, after all, more than a Mom.
Do you have reminders of what works for you; what your healthy "pace" (and energetic, physical, emotional, spiritual space) is? If you need help determining your healthy (s)pace, especially relative to including your work, kids, creativity, health, self-care, etc., please reach out. You're not alone in this, but you are responsible to learn about what you authentically thriving and healthy looks like; responsible to adapt and adjust to the changing terrain of your Life.
I'm allowing myself to be curious, not critical about the changes happening in my (s)pace, especially regarding my participation with my kids. Having held the awareness of "running" along side them, sometimes pushing or pulling, sometimes sitting and resting talking through a challenge, I'm trusting their inner wisdom as I am reminded that I had to find mine...and still am responsible to cultivate my relationship to it, .
May we all be well and run a good race.