It’s 46 degrees outside this morning, and my son has dressed himself for school in his normal chosen attire~ athletic shorts and a t-shirt. As I watch him sitting on the floor in his skimpy outfit tying his shoes, I make my routine protest: “Ezra, it’s cold outside now. It’s not Summer anymore. You have to dress warmly. Put on some pants and a long-sleeve shirt please.”
Ezra (8) looks up at me, makes direct eye contact, and says with strong, clear assertion: “Mom~ this is MY body, and my choice of how to dress it. When I run around outside I heat up. If I get cold then I will learn my lesson that way, ok? Please don’t be so controlling of me.”

What can I say to such well-reasoned sensibility and self-assured clarity? I look at him, humbled, and say: “Ok. Well at least put on a sweatshirt?” He nods compliantly, finishes tying his shoes, and jumps up to go grab his sweatshirt. So completely himself.
Meanwhile, Arayla (11.5) comes out of her bedroom brushing her long honey hair. We french-braided it last night while it was wet, so today it would have some wave. She’s frowning now, and says to me, sadly: “It’s all frizzy though, look…” I head to the sink, get my fingers wet, saying: “It looks beautiful! Let’s just run a little water through it.” As I run my fingers through her hair, I look down into her shining blue eyes… and then, oh no: “Are you wearing mascara Love? You know you can’t wear make-up to school.”
“Mom~ I’m NOT.” She attempts to mask a guilty smile, quickly turning her head away and scooting out of reach, disappearing into her room. I call after her: “Take it off please! It’s ok on weekends… but not to school.”
I sigh and think to myself~ really, what’s the harm with a little mascara?~ as I return to the task of making breakfast and packing their lunches. Sometimes I feel like I’m stewarding these ancient, wise, self-respecting souls temporarily housed in children’s bodies~ and all of us feel the ridiculousness of me telling them what to do and how to do it.
Such an interesting phase~ each of them stretching into new versions of their amazing selves, perfectly outgrowing my reach, discovering what calls them to independence and unique expression, while needing my ongoing containment, my vigilant tracking, my loving guidance as much as ever.
There’s a wondrous way in parenting we get to lean into the stretch, over and over again over the years~ through all the transitions. We get to feel the stretch pull on our hearts and minds, as we open wider to let life change us all, grow us all up more, always insisting we loosen the reigns without neglecting the road.
Mundane moments with my kids are my heart’s most treasured mirror~ where I get to see what’s current, what’s real, what’s presently alive in our living. Sometimes the mirror is painful and hard to receive, sometimes touchingly poignant and rich with love. Always it holds the key to evolution and the recipe for gratitude.

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