I love my kids very much.

Parenting is very humbling work. Parents whose skills as a parent I admire, regularly confess to being stymied by the combination of intense devotion and mind numbing repetition that is required for your child to sit on the edge of the nest and finally fly out of it.

Don’t slam the door, don’t leave your shoes there, please pick up your toys, books, clothes, keys from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, hallway floor. Cover your mouth when you cough, don’t pick your nose. Say please. Say thank you. If I had a penny for every time I uttered those words, or others like them, I’d have my villa in Italy several times over.

The counter balance to that – is the 16 year old agreeing to give me a kiss on the cheek – in front of her equally 16 year old friends. Without a trace of irony or inducement of any kind. Placed along side is some of my 14 year old telling me that if she were raising kids she would do it exactly the way she was raised.

The scale metaphor is an apt one. We exist best if we can find a balance and you must test for the balance to maintain it. The kids are testing the balance quite rigorously these days.

My children saved my life. I’ve said that before and I’m not afraid to say it again at the risk of being redundant or boring. They opened my spiritual eyes to the needs outside my little emotional prison I had built. They made me human, when I was only partially that. We have developed a depth of trust I never thought possible. I eat sleep and breath their steadiness and their hormonal craziness. The testing part is normal, scary and funny. I’m taking it as more of a game of Spy vs Spy. Who can outwit who, with a comical twist. I never know what they will come up with and it requires all of my wits about me to play.

And, my kids are really straight arrows. I can’t imagine what it would be like to play with kids whose arrows travel a rougher, less steady trajectory.

My life is weathering some high seas of my own making. I’m stretching to make connections with people and to let go of my expectations as I do so. For someone who has been so solitary it’s an excruciating transition at times. I confront my own thorniness and push through until I rest up against the thorns of others. If I were more trusting, this would be so much easier. But life arranged a series of lessons for me that made me believe that trust was a dangerous thing. I’m wanting to unlearn that.

I’ll let you know how it goes.