There is no right way.
This is perhaps the hardest thing to believe and trust in our epic journey at becoming parents. Even when we believe we are right in some decision, some tactic, there is no proof until we choose hindsight, years later, and we decide to see, suddenly, that what we encouraged has solidified. Is it disruptive? Is it beautiful? Was it necessary? Not that it really matters, for all we know then, is that it is there.
I read a quote once that slapped me in the face and my first reaction was to slap it back. “Most children grow up to just be people.” ‘No,’ I wrestled, rereading the little black letters with narrowed eyes. ‘Not mine. They will be special, and different, and magnificent, and decidedly wonderful.’
So then, with that goal in mind, what is right for these small creatures our lives are wrapped around? Is what feels right for me, right for them? We spend so much of ourselves on setting the stage as they slowly unfold, and deciding what is right for a future we will not exist in, but like forces of nature, demand to shape.
I’m ruminating on rightness because I sit here filing old photos and decided to dust off a trip that I would love to repeat someday but don’t see in our immediate future.
Almost directly across Kachemak Bay from Homer is a little spread of sand and rocks dubbed Right Beach, that we visited years ago.
There is a yurt available for rent, but even better camping is found under the trees.
Back then, we had such littles that we did not take advantage of the hike into Grewingk Glacier via the hand tram (and maybe a polar bear dip in the lake!), which today sounds like such a good adventure. Instead we just played on a beach that we had entirely to ourselves.
Finding sweet water, that source of all life, was more like bushwhacking. We had brought some over on the boat, but this was one of those nagging unknowns that had to be satisfied quickly.
And then suddenly we were not alone. This beautiful umiak, constructed by a wilderness summer camp, appeared, along with campers. But the area was big and they were busy enough that we saw very little of them, besides their hand washing station.
Kachemak Bay has some massive tide differentials, which we didn’t account for very well. Here is our sailboat being flooded and battered by the swells coming in. Nothing like swamping the boat to maroon us!
But despite the damage we were left to sort out from our own mistake, the tide is what brings in the wonders of the sea and drapes them across our shores. Much as we’d love to be creatures of that vastness, we really are earthbound.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh once whispered in my ear, not to worry so much whether the tide is in or out, but just to accept its motion. “We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom…”
And that’s just it, isn’t it? Our children are islands in the same sea as we are; islands that commune with each other when the tide flows up both our shores and islands that bear solitude with learned grace when it drains away, and we, wandering the tide line, exclaim over the treasures our communion has left us. In the high tide we can see ourselves, hungry for life, participation, inclusion, and in the ebbing waters, we find acceptance, release, the acknowledgement that our lives are the only ones we are given to live.
So the answer the sea gives us, is that there is no right way, except to respect that we are raising our children by living our own lives meaningfully. My children are still young, and of course I hope that some of the opportunities they are given by our attempt at deliberosity will be looked upon fondly by their adult selves. But that is all I really can do, isn’t it?
A few years after reading the quote about children that I originally sniffed at, I decided that since most people really are just good,
And just special and just different and just magnificent and just plain decidedly wonderful,
may my children grow up to be just people.