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Monday, April 18, 2016

The Two Most Important Words To Teach Your Child

For my three children, it was among the first of each of their first words, probably right after they said Da Da. And, as I have watched my children grow, I have come to realize that they are probably the two most important words to teach your child.

Perhaps, it's really more like just one hyphenated word than two, but the truth remains that the words Bye-Bye are very important. From the first sounds of bye-bye from our child's lips, we will begin a process of needing to understand the meaning behind those words, and we need to learn how to adjust. And, perhaps, the one who needs to learn to be ok with those two words are really us as parents.

Recently, I have been adjusting to saying bye-bye to having littles in my home. I really am a happy mom of babies, toddlers, and early elementary children. I no longer have any of those. I cherished every minute of every waking day, even the tough days, I embraced. Yet, still I struggle to embrace saying bye-bye to my children's littleness.  Also, I have become aware of grief in many other areas of my life. This last week, my best friend from high school lost her dad, and a friend of ours who helped pray for the life of my miracle baby, lost her battle with cancer. I am grieving as I learn to embrace bye-bye. I was not ready to stand at the door and wave bye-bye to her yet. But, other than death, I have waved bye-bye to old cars that once I relied upon for travel, one I brought home my babies in. I waved bye-bye to a water heater, a broken garage door, and some pieces of my children's toys from childhood sold on eBay. There are a lot to say bye-bye to. Funny thing is that I have never had trouble saying bye-bye before. It was always more of a chance to begin new.

I don't mean to sound morbid, but from the moment we are born, we begin to prepare for death. The reality is that every new breath is one breath closer to the end. While we live our lives with gusto, we are really proceeding through a series of griefs.

One day, our child will say bye-bye to someone they loved and will need to know how to live with all of the emotions and how to live their new normal so life can go on. Besides, the ultimate bye-bye of death, there are plenty of moments in between the cradle to the grave that learning to say and understand how to cope with bye-bye comes in handy.

Our child rolls over, and we grieve as we say bye-bye to the days we could place him or her on a blanket and not worry about them rolling off. We say bye-bye to these days as we move toward greater freedom for our child as we exchange our concern for their safety.

Our child learns to walk, and we say bye-bye to their need to be carried or their contentment to stay confined within the safety of a stroller or baby carrier.

Our child learns to potty train, and we glady say bye-bye to diapers. While, some bye-byes don't initially appear to come with any grief, there is a slight chunk of your parental heart that is yanked away with each new move toward your child's freedom.

As a homeschooler, we have a few less bye-byes. We never feel the grief of watching them board that big yellow school bus or head off to school. Still, as each school year passes, we grieve slightly.

We say bye-bye as we realize our children are no longer little. While still not completely launched into the world fully grown, this loss of neeeding our parental cuddles and care is a process of saying bye-bye. Forever, their childhood will remain only a memory, a photograph, a video, or whatever we journaled into a baby book.

One day, it will be us as parents standing by the door waving, bye-bye. We will one day say bye-bye as they go off to college, get married, or simply move out of the house to begin their life as an adult. 

It's important to learn that bye-bye is never the end, but usually a sign of a new beginning, a new normal. Some bye-byes we wave off with gladness. While, others we grieve. It is those bye-byes that we grieve the most that need to be embraced as talked about openly with love.

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