As any parent can tell you, children don’t come with instructions, no how-to’s, or owner manuals; and at times you feel like you’re just winging it. I know I felt that way a time or two. I think everyone who becomes a parent strives to be a good one and when we do, we usually go off our own experiences as a child and reflect on how our parents raised us…maybe tweaking some things just a little to fit our own parenting style.
Children come with lots of questions, worries and challenges, but they also come with smiles, achievements, joy, and an unmeasurable amount of love. As parents we strive to instill some core values such as respect, honesty, compassion, responsibility, fairness, dignity and courage among all the other important life lessons we try to cram into the years that we are solely responsible for molding their lives. We nurture them and teach them how to think and be responsible adults; how to be a productive part of society.
I have worked at the same elementary school for the last 15 years in different areas, but for the past 10, I’ve worked in the library, so it’s easy for me to see all the new books and flip through the ones that really catch my eye, especially when we have a bookfair. A couple of years ago, I was feeling a little low when the bookfair arrived one Thursday morning. You see, my oldest, had just told me a few weeks earlier that he was moving out and getting his own place…he was leaving the nest.
Wow! I guess I wasn’t really ready for that, although I knew it would happen one day; I mean, I had taught him how to be independent, how to rely on himself, how to make decisions wisely, so I wasn’t worried if he could or couldn’t make it, it was my own selfishness…I immediately wanted him to stay, I wanted time to back up, I wanted him to need me like he did was he was little… that moment is definitely not in any owner’s manual.
I kept busy putting the bookfair up that day, getting things set out and ready for the sale that was to begin the following Monday and throughout the day one book kept catching my eye but never had the time to stop and pick it up… not until another copy of it literally fell out of one of the last boxes I was going through. It was “Love is”, and did it ever hit home!!! I opened it up to find a little girl holding a small ducking and page by page it showed her raising him up to the very best of her ability…from feedings at midnight and letting him sleep next to her in a box to messy bath times and teaching him that she is there for him when he needs her. They started out each day together, playing games and learning new things together, she was helping the duckling grow and work through its struggles as it grew stronger right before her eyes. Much sooner than later she starts to realize that the duckling has grown and is ready for a much bigger pond. She reluctantly but gently nudges and coaxes the once tiny duckling, who now stands in front of her as a beautiful part of her life to the edge of that pond and hopes that nature does the rest.
As he takes off and swims across the pond with the other ducks, she can’t help but feel a little sad. She misses her duckling, she thinks back to when he was tiny and needed her, wishing it would all be that way again, and then she wonders if her grown duck misses her too. She understands that change is a part of life but wishes it didn’t hurt as much, but then in an exciting moment she sees that love has lasted and grown…as her duck brings back his family for her to meet and love as she had loved him.
God surely put that book in my path that day…yes I still miss having my oldest at home, yes I see him often, yes he still needs me, yes he has a wonderful career and he’s doing great things and soon he will be married. Someday his family will grow just as the ducks did…and yes, I will have even more ducklings to love. I have been told that if your child is comfortable enough to leave you when its time, then you have done your job well.
So yeah, my oldest duck has been out of the nest for about 3 years now, and although I still have one duckling at home, I know it wont be long that I again will stand at the edge of that much bigger pond gently nudging him to join the other ducks and hoping that nature, naturally takes its course.
This sweet book would be a great gift for a special moment in your child’s life or a parent who is struggling with letting go… It made me feel better, and I am sure that it could help others, not to mention a good book to read to your children or grandchildren.
“Love is” is written by Diane Adams and illustrated by Claire Keane