My youngest (of 8) has been “almost reading” for 5 years. At just-turned-eleven, it’s finally clicking for her. Shouldn’t shock me (although I kept thinking/hoping/chanting “this time will be different”), because several of her siblings, and her father, were all on that same timeline. (Divergent learning style/timeline runs in his family.) Hasn’t held them back at all, but still – it’s just so much more … *comfortable* … for me when sooner happens, rather than later. But then, it’s not about me, is it?

Just last night my 89yo mom, who is with us for six weeks, asked me in sotto voce if I had spent more time on her education than the other kids at her age. Nope, not really. Feels like less to me, to be honest, all things considered. Mom asked, it turns out, because Miss Eleven seems to her to be SOOO smart and aware and knowing so many things that are beyond her years. I have to wonder if something’s wrong with me, because, while I love Abi to pieces, I hadn’t seen in her what my mom is seeing. Or, rather – more accurately, I hadn’t imagined that what I see in her was so readily seeable on the surface, to others.

Oh, sure – she casually, confidently and correctly uses words that aren’t “normal” for her age. She is my day planner, keeping me on top of where I’m supposed to be, what I was supposed to drop off where, when the next appointment for this or that is. She has magic hands for art and healing, and sings like somebody on the radio. She wears thick nerd glasses that actually favor her because her small-side eyes then take center stage on her face. Sometimes I can’t decide if she’s fearful or brave, because she has so many worries, but she is so good at pushing through them in the crunch.

Not for the first time I was grateful that my kids know that if they’re waiting for me to hand them an education, they’ll be waiting forever. They know that I am their cheerleader, exemplar, facilitator and pocketbook for learning, and that I am anxiously engaged in projects that stretch me and give me a chance to offer up my gifts and efforts to try to make the world a better place.

They look to their older siblings as competitors, critics, friends and mentors – each at different times, and sometimes all at once in a complicated relationship, as the younger ones seek their place among the adults, the adult children seek to grow up for real and nurture the youngers not as littles, but as bigs-in-training.

They all perceive our family culture as one where each one has something unique to share, and the expectation that we support and love one another, and do what’s ours to do in the world.

With our family and professional life being so involved and intertwined, I rarely get such an intimate, objective eye on our life as Mom offered yesterday, and it was a welcome invitation to step back and see, not from the trenches, but from more of a bird’s-eye view, how things are going in my home.

Not gonna lie – I have a peaceful smile on my face right now. It’s not all perfect. There are things I need to do less of/more of/better; the kids – same. But somehow those little insufficiencies and excesses aren’t of the sort that divert us from the path we mean to be on, and this journey is SO rewarding.

Good morning, TJEd! Just wanted to share my morning exhale. <3 <3