Last night, the screen doors open, the windows lifted, the dark like a black veil all around.

My four children sat around a white wood table on the patio with two of their cousins. The laughter swelled like a force gale. They ran and squealed, dissolving always into the happiest laughter.

My children are growing up and so I stayed inside, just beyond the curtain, listening. That’s my role now, listening. Fly on the wall. Be there when they need me but stay back in the shadows to let them shine.

It’s an interesting progression, parenting. It started with a constant desire to be with me, to have me hold them. At one point, Asher said, “I am always going to live near you, Mommy!” We had a theory that my mother would live in the middle of my sister and I, and our eldest children, very attached early on, would occupy the houses on our other sides.

Well now, Asher has plans to move to Washington. State.

(I’m sure he’ll visit.)

There were people who told me when my children were very little that it just keeps getting better and better. That as children grow up, the stages are more enjoyable, more exciting, more rewarding. Yes, little kids, little problems – big kids, big problems. Potentially.

But big joys, too.

Asher doing yoga on the beach with his cousins.

The sound of that laughter last night was so delicious. My children enjoying their cousins, staying up late, laughing uproariously.

This morning, when Shaya came downstairs to find me and Asher, he first said good morning to his brother. I won’t feel slighted. These bonds are the most important in the world.

A mother is always there, in the background, encouraging her children to fly. And fly they do.

But they always come home to roost, even if just for a small while. Look at this week. All of us took off work and drove north to be with family. That’s the magnet that draws us, again and again, throughout life.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.” — Desmond Tutu

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