Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Parenthood: A Drama Not Of One's Own Making

This time of year is always fairly dramatic in our family. With twelve kids -- and now the addition of two "significant" others in the lives of a couple of our older kids -- and the final hours of expectation for a first grandchild, this is a strangely unusual year for us. Add to those nuances the reality that two of our children celebrate birthdays this week as well ... and the fact that a major winter storm is headed our way in the next three days ... and it's quite a drama in our home.

We experienced an additional drama tonight. Our two wrestlers, Ricardo and Leon, both won their respective matches tonight (it marks Ricardo's 12th win with a single loss this year) to the roaring cheer of their fans. It was a marvelous evening, and sentimental old fool that I am (now that my status as grandparent is imminent I can be an "old" fool) I found it hard to hold back tears of joy as I watched my sons wrestle themselves to victory.

I couldn't help but think about how their lives would be different if they were not our sons. Ricardo joined our family directly from a Guatemalan orphanage at the age of ten, and Leon joined our family two years from foster care at the age of twelve. They are now sixteen and fourteen and almost always blessings to my heart. They are respectful, low maintenance and warm and engaging young men. Until Leon moved into our home he had not ever had the chance to be part of competitive sports or much of anything, actually. For whatever reasons his foster parents did not allow participation in those kinds of activities. And Ricardo by this age would have been "set free" from his orphanage to live on the streets of Guatemala City.

But tonight there is excitement in the air, multiple dramas. And none of them my own making. Perhaps that's one of the benefits of being a parent of older children. When children are younger the parent assumes the role of entertainer and enforcer. While I loved the stages when a couple of children were toddlers, I remember how physically exhausting those years were. The constant supervision, perpetual direction and need for direct care become overwhelming.

These days, though, I can kind of sit back and experience drama -- most of it good, but not always -- as an observer, not as a director. My wrestling sons work hard all week, I encourage them at home and affirm their discipline, and then I get to enjoy the drama of watching them do what they do best. My daughter will be bringing a new life into the world, and I will not have to do anything about that process but enjoy the outcome of the experience. We will celebrate Christmas together -- with whichever of our children can be here for that time -- and I can happily enjoy our time together. My role in that experience is less direct than ever -- I simply help buy a few gifts, pay those bills, and take responsibility for the holiday meals and niceties. Not such a bad deal.

I am grateful that once again I have sense of peace within my soul. It's only day two of enjoying that newfound contentment once again, but I think I'm going to like this!

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