Holding Our Children, and Letting Them Go
This is the weekend to remember our fathers.
Fathers struggle. We know this. Mothers hold onto their children, sometimes too closely, sometimes for too long, but once that wet, naked child is placed in their arms they know instinctively what to do.
Fathers don’t. We have to learn this stuff. We’re not so comfortable holding our children. “Madonna and child” is a universal icon. Imagine “Signore and Child.” You can’t. So we fathers have to learn how to hold our kids in ways that feel right. Reminds me of a splendid little poem I read about a girl remembering her father teaching her to ride a bicycle. Running beside some Schwinn, a hand on the rear fender, that’s how fathers like to hold their children. We can do that pretty well, maybe even better than mothers. Holding while running, moving, striving—fathers do that on soccer fields and baseball diamonds, on March hills flying a kite.
So here’s that poem. About holding on, and letting go.
Happy Father’s Day.
by Sheila Packa
I learned to ride
the two wheel bicycle
with my father.
He oiled the chain
clothes-pinned playing cards
to the spokes, put on the basket
to carry my lunch.
By his side, I learned balance
and took on speed
centered behind the wide
handlebars, my hands on the white grips
my feet pedaling.
One moment he was
holding me up and the next moment
although I didn’t know it
he had let go.
When I wobbled, suddenly
afraid, he yelled keep going—
Beneath the trees in the driveway
the distance increasing between us
I eventually rode until he was out of sight.
I counted on him.
That he could hold me was a given
that he could release me was a gift.