Light and growth are two metaphors I am thinking about now.
We are between holidays. Between celebrating the light of Hanukkah and celebrating trees and the natural world on Tu B’Shevat. With Hanukkah behind us and the memories of the warmth and modest glow of the candles, I am remembering my meditations on the light and the ways in which each person in my family carries light and is light. As philosopher and writer, Abraham Joshua Heschel shared, “Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” For me, that is the abiding message of Hanukkah. As parents, Hanukkah came to remind us that each of our children is a light to witness, enjoy, revel in, and be amazed by in how they think, feel, and express themselves. Our children are worthy of love for the light they are, always. Even when that light can be blinding sometimes and its heat can burn too hot.
Most of us parents, myself included, forget that. We move into fixing, planning, and enriching our children. We are their teachers and guides through life and sometimes the guiding metaphor of light gets pushed into the background in favor of growth.
Growth is an important metaphor too. The next holiday on the Jewish calendar is Tu B’Shevat. It celebrates the potential of trees whose growth is not yet apparent to the naked eye, but the natural world is always moving. Tu B’Shevat is a holiday that celebrates the sap that rises in the trees over the winter months, ready to nourish growing trees before their flowers burst into full bloom in the Spring and Summer months. Our children are always growing and learning, sometimes from us, sometimes from their teachers, and definitely from their siblings, and peers.
During these darker and colder months of winter, I invite you to play with these two metaphors of Light and Growth. Does the light metaphor carry the day and do you find yourself playing with and simply enjoying time with your kids? Or does the growth metaphor win out, with every interaction as an opportunity to teach your child something new?
Whichever one dominates for you at the moment, try and cultivate an awareness of the less dominant metaphor.
For me, because I am guided by a growth metaphor, I found myself leaning into a few moments spent with my son the other day. He made a Bitmoji for me (I didn’t know what that was before last week) and we were laughing at what clothing choices captured me best. Last night, my daughter and I put on Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and we danced around her bedroom at bedtime for a good ten minutes before I went into a series of evening meetings.
When we make space for Light and Growth in what guides our relationships with our kids, they will feel the difference.
With blessings for the journey ahead,