November 25, 2011
When our children are very young, we are active participants in their lives.
We feed and bathe them; clothe them and care for them.
We sing to them, talk to them and rock them to sleep.
As they age, they need us in different ways. We become less participants than active observers.
And sometimes the activeness of the observation varies greatly.
This week, I returned to active participant parenting: I joined my son in his volunteer life at Safe Passage in Guatemala.
No longer simply watching him from the high school soccer sidelines or from the bleachers at the baseball field, I was once again by his side.
We ate together; walked together. Travelled daily from Antigua to Guatemala City (and back) together. Rode the “chicken bus” to Pastorales with his friend Nico in search of red cowboy boots. Toured the Mercado, the artisan market and the catacombs of Mersed. Took photos of the volcanoes from the rooftop at Café Sky. Squeezed in tiny tuk tuk’s (micro-cab/motorscooters) together, to be transported over Antigua’s bumpy cobblestone streets.
Throughout the week, son introduced me to his friends and fellow Safe Passage volunteers. One morning on the volunteer bus, he even offered up my services as “stand-in Mom” to all whose parents were far away on Thanksgiving Day.
Then yesterday, the American-inspired “Dia de Gracias,” I took part in not one, but two Thanksgiving feasts: one offered by his homestay parents, Jose and Lucky (complete with pie made with green pumpkins), and one that my son created with Nico, to feed their fellow volunteers.
We sat under cardboard cutouts of Spanish Santa’s and blinking lights from the Mercado, with plates of stuffing and green beans balanced on our knees, and gave thanks for companionship and bounty.
And I realized (once again) how blessed I am to be a mother.
This Thanksgiving week, I have been with my son. Firmly back in his life, participating in his world.
Mi hijo, now my man-child, has given me a gift beyond measure. A gift his sisters continue to afford me as well.
Sometimes it takes a journey of several thousand miles to remind us how fortunate we are.
Dia de Gracias, 2011