On the advice of a friend, I’ve been reading Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting by John and Myla Kabat-Zinn. Early in the book, John describes a homecoming with his college-aged son.
One passage quickened my pulse and clarified my parenting aspirations: Someday, I want a moment like THIS …
“First child off at college freshman year, arrives home 1:30 A.M. for Thanksgiving, driven by a friend. When he had called earlier to say he would not make it home from dinner as we had hoped, we were all disappointed, and for a few moments there had been more than a slight current of annoyance in me. We leave the door unlocked, as arranged, having told him to wake us when he arrives. No need. We hear him come in. The energy is young, vital, spilling over even in his attempts to be quiet. He comes upstairs. We call to him, whispering, so as not to wake his sisters. He comes into our darkened room. We hug. … He lies down across my chest, backwards kind of, extends himself, and embraces us both with his arms, but even more with his being. He is happy to be home. He lies here, draped over my body sideways, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Any trace of annoyance at the lateness of the hour and disappointment about him not making it by dinnertime evaporate instantly.
I feel happiness radiating from him. … It feels like old friends reunited, and beyond that, familial celebration. He is at home now, here in our darkened room. He belongs. The bond is palpable among the three of us. A feeling of joy fills my chest and is joined by a series of images of my life with him, captured in the fullness of this moment. This huge, nineteen-year-old, lying across me, who I held in my arms as much as possible until he could and would wriggle out and run in the world, now with his scruffy beard and powerful muscles, is my son. I am his father. Myla is his mother. We know this wordlessly, bathing in our different happinesses that unite as we lie here.”
That I might parent today so I can bask in my someday-adult daughters’ joy and pleasure at returning home? Such is the sweetness of my wildest parenting dreams.