To be FREE or not to be … that is the question

As we round the corner of Summer and the new school season begins to slip into view, I find myself summing up what the last couple of months has meant to me, my daughter, our family. The one word that keeps coming to mind is freedom.

Raising a kid in the city, the word freedom does not initially suggest itself. But no matter where I am, I equate summer with a shifting of the usual routines, a time to shake up the regular rhythms of life. Gone are the steady bedtimes, ice cream is regularly consumed, and a new set of summer time customs invade our day-to-day existence.

In my household, we spend our summer visiting family in New England and as work slows in August, we take a vacation to Upstate New York. It’s within these flashes of time when I leave behind the hot pavement, the noise, and the smells of the city that my sense of freedom really sets in. To see Adelaide run far into the distance on a long stretch of beach, or scramble unassisted over rocks in cool streams in search of toads and snakes makes me doubt my obligation to my city. She is free to be in space in a way that is impossible to replicate in an urban environment. She spends hours outside, liberated from my watchful gaze, released into in her own, wondrous world. To me, that is FREEDOM for both her and me.But I know this is simply one form of liberty and there are other, indeed more essential ways, for children and parents to be emancipated.

I recently received a newsletter from my acupuncturist Margaret Hallisey that spoke of the Bantu Tribe in Africa. She wrote that when the Bantu children fall asleep, the parents say a simple prayer over each sleeping child: “May you be you”. This moved me greatly. I think about the pain of how much we struggle to be something other than what we are, and the pain we cause our children wishing they could be different.

There is tremendous inner freedom to be found in accepting who we are, and who our children are — in that moment, in this phase of development. Acceptance doesn’t mean we stand idly by while they refuse to brush their teeth, or fight with each other or behave unkindly. Acceptance doesn’t mean that as parents we stop trying to stretch and grow. Acceptance is not passive, it’s BIG.

May You Be You.

Now that’s freedom.