Mothering around the bend


I find myself holding my breath as I round the bend and spot the two dilapidated rocking chairs in front of the home set back from the road. Just across the way, I try to catch sight of a pair of pet llamas, who may sometimes be seen next door. If I don’t hold my breath until I’ve passed this spot in the road, bad luck will reign. That’s the common lore, according to my now 13-year-old daughter, and if I miss it this one time and something bad happens, it will be my fault.

For the last four years, my daughter has become part of the fabric of a small tight-knit school that she will be leaving in June. Together, we’ve embraced its pillars of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship and it has grounded us. With high school right around the corner, and as we start to consider thoughts of the future, there are, of course, unknowns. But everything that begins must end, and with those endings come new beginnings.

When I first became a mother, I surrounded myself with books to help light the path. Louise Erdrich’s “The Blue Jay’s Dance” was sandwiched between Tracy Hogg’s “The Secrets of the Baby Whisperer” and Marc Weissbluth’s “Happy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.” I would write a schedule for everything. Rules were our friends. Structure would get us through. There are plenty of bumps, hills, and valleys, and somehow you make it… to adolescence.

As your child approaches high school, the idea of just four years – four – punches you in the gut. The realization strikes that you had better have used those formative years to build a solid foundation because the adolescent brain tends to shut its doors to parental wisdom and embrace those of its peers.

Driving along these back roads, I feel the ground is shifting under my tires. The terrain is one with which I’m both  familiar and strikingly unfamiliar. I’m turning a corner, rounding a bend, and confronting the reality that there’s no way to know what lies ahead.


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