This past week my husband and I received a very special surprise gift from our children: a beautifully framed family photo from our daughter’s wedding this past summer. It was a remarkable moment, captured on film, worthy of goosebumps.
My husband and I were so grateful for our gift and had the perfect place to hang it in our home. All we had to do was remove the existing framed family photo taken more than a decade earlier and replace it with the new one, a simple, almost transactional exchange. But what transpired was quite different, as emotions imploded, and I found myself overtaken by feelings of joy. As I stood there then and as I pass by it now, I find myself very aware of the passage of time and the blessings of life.
How appropriate it felt to change the photo at this time, as I find myself enamored by my children, watching them grow as they enter new stages and chapters of life. I have always found it fascinating to watch them evolve, but nowadays what I am truly appreciating is observing my children step into the stage of committed relationships and marriage, as they embark on the journey of building homes and families of their own.
And this is the story behind my newfound appreciation. As our children step into adulthood and parenthood, we now have more in common, more ways we can relate and deeply connect. We discover shared values and observe full-circle moments as they begin to take on roles that we took on ourselves many years ago. As we experience these “firsts” together, our divergent paths converge.
This month I experienced several full-circle moments where I sat back and fully appreciated what was unfolding before me. I will share one of my favorites with you.
My daughter, a newly married beautiful woman, blessed with a dear wife, a precious dog, and a lovely home has taken on many new roles over the course of her life. Her newest one is supporting her friends who are becoming parents.
Recently, while on a Facetime video call together, my daughter paused to ask if she could read me a storybook she had bought and was about to wrap for her friend’s newborn son. She expressed how much she loved the message that it imparted and knew I would appreciate it as well. I was delighted by the offer.
As my daughter began to read this book entitled The Rabbit Listened, I found myself lost in admiration and adoration; for her thoughtfulness in reading this book aloud to me, for the beautiful content, the sweetest illustrations, and for the manner in which she read it, so delicately turning the pages, allowing me to appreciate every detail.
Although I was immersed in the moment playing out before my eyes, I too was transported back in time to our nightly, mother-daughter, bedtime reading ritual. It was our favorite pastime, reading storybooks aloud together. We appreciated every word and illustration in the books we read together, day and night.
Some of our favorites were The Balloon Tree & Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman, Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Such beautiful books with such important life lessons that we would read, discuss, and re-read. At the time, I would purchase a new book almost monthly at my most-loved bookstore, The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe.
Wow! This felt like a beautiful full-circle moment for me. Reading a book aloud to me, my daughter was now carrying on this tradition. She was giving, and I was receiving. How special it felt to see my daughter stepping into this role, one that God willing she will in time fully embrace, as she reads to her own child one day. In that moment my daughter reminded me of our shared values of love and connection and our passion for reading and learning.
How I look forward to being with my children as they embrace parenthood and build sacred families of their own, with G-d’s help and guidance. How excited I am for us to experience the “firsts” together—the seconds and thirds, and then some.
And how I welcome the day I will be with my precious grandchild, snuggling together, with a beautiful book in our arms, turning the pages, one by one, slowly, adoring the words, appreciating the images, and discussing the lessons. It’s a vision I hold, even now, in anticipation of what I consider to be some of the most joyful moments that lie ahead.
My prayer for you, dear reader, is that you stay present by embracing the moments of your life. Allow the realizations that unfold to be opportunities for growth. Find your positive full- circle moments and feel into them with love, gratitude, and acceptance.
Sometimes we are not as connected with our children as we’d like to feel, but that’s the truth of life. We give birth to our children and hold them tight, only to one day set them free. We have moments of connection and moments of disconnect as we are separate souls on a unique journey. But as time passes and our children become adults, the connection can feel deeper and more meaningful.
Then, magically, our seemingly divergent paths can converge again—and come full circle.