On Raising Children: A Poem I Love

I wouldn’t coax the plant if I were you. 

Such watchful nurturing may do it harm.

Let the soil rest from so much digging

And wait until it’s dry before you water it. 

The leaf’s inclined to find its own direction;

Give it a chance to seek the sunlight for itself. 

Much growth is stunted by too careful prodding,

Too eager tenderness.

 

The things we love we have to learn to leave alone.

 

-“Woman with Flower” by Naomi Long Madgett

 

This is a poem I love about raising children. The thing that happened to me when Trevor was born was that I learned the real meaning of the word “anxiety.” Holding baby Tru in my arms, I had before me something more helpless and precious and fragile and miraculous and precious than I had ever known. And yet, here Trevor and I lived in this world where I witnessed cruelty and unfairness and tragedy all around me. Mostly, I’ve only ever wanted to surround him in a bubble of protection. All the time I want to shout, “No! Don’t even try that … You can never be too careful! Don’t risk anything … Let me do it for you … Better yet, let me keep you locked up safely inside our home…” But trying to shield him from every possible mishap or accident is not the thing to help him gain confidence and grow strong and sure of himself in this world. We have to fall before we can rise back up.

“The things we love we have to learn to leave alone” – this will probably take me the rest of my life to fully master…

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