Parenting in the Dark

I have often come to new understandings of parenting during my down time.
It is understandable that at times when I am at rest, I have a little time to put things in perspective.  The beach and ocean are special places of reflection for me.

The kids and I love the water. Getting them out of the ocean after an afternoon of swimming is always difficult, mostly because I hate getting out too.

A few times last week, when the hurricane warmed waters allowed, we started a new habit of swimming at night.

The first night, it was pitch black. Foggy and dark, there was no moon to illuminate things.  We jumped in and were delighted to discover plankton can be seen when it is that dark, we emerged from the water, with neon dots all over us, the fairy lights spread out from our ripples.  But the waves were dark and unpredictable. Out of nowhere a big wave would suddenly loom in the darkness.  At first this was thrilling, but one by one, it spooked each of us until we eventually lost our nerve.

If we had not come at night, we never would have seen the plankton.

The next night, I was with my kids on a better lit night, but I was on my own. One kid is more cautious and felt like playing on the ocean's edge, the other stayed a bit off shore.  I didn't want to be too far from either of them in the dark. So I toggled between them.

I have been in this position many many times as a parent, in and out of the water.

In parenting, we are often in the dark, relying on the half light of knowledge, sometimes there is no light at all.  Waves surge up in the dark, sometimes they are playful, sometimes they are too much to handle. There is an infinite stillness in parenting and a constant motion.  Sometimes, we crawl to the shore for comfort and others we leap forward, hand in hand, into a dark foamy wave.

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