Reflections of parenting – we are the pilot boat driver.

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately looking within about our role as parents. 

When our children are little. It is intense. Physically intense. I don’t think I had a proper night’s sleep for about a decade. I did not realize how sleep deprived I was until I wasn’t anymore. Four children under 6…and the eldest had only just turned 6 a month before our youngest was born was physically tough.

Then they start to grow up and the physical intensity wanes but the emotional load can hit you like a ton of bricks. 

This last 12 months has really challenged me on who I am as a parent and how I parent. 

I have learnt that you can’t actually stop the ‘bad stuff’ from happening. You can’t protect them from it. 

You can’t protect them from feeling the feels and experiencing the experiences. It is impossible. 

We have had times this last year where it felt like we were watching a train wreck and had no way to stop it. We threw ourselves in the path. We jumped up and down. But we could not stop it.

Then I started to think. Maybe we are not meant to stop it. Maybe the lessons our kids learn are their lessons to learn. It is their journey to have. Their experiences to experience. 

It does not make it easy to watch though.

We want to fix it.

The insane drive to make it right and to protect are incredibly hard to resist.

Then I wondered if perhaps we are our children’s pilot boat.

The pilot boats role is to gently guide the larger boat out of the rivers and ports of the world. 

In my home town a few years ago we had a big flood and a large chunk of concrete walkway came adrift and was dangerously heading down the river and one of the local pilots hopped in his little boat (I think of them as little tug boats) and he guided that concrete away from our bridges and out to the ocean. He was a true hero that man. I remember being glued to the TV watching this unfold. 

We are our children’s pilot boats. 

We can’t drive their boat.

We can’t be their Captain.

We can’t protect them from the storms in life but we can gently guide them away from the catastrophes. Well we can certainly give it our best shot.

Before we had kids, I would have said that when I have them I want to raise them to be good people who would go out into the world and make their mark and be independent.

But the journey of letting go is hard.

The journey to realising you are in the pilot boat, is hard.

But I believe that it is what we need to do.

Different stages of life require different skills and techniques from the pilot boat driver.

At the moment we are navigating adolescence, finishing school and parenting from 16000 km away. Talk about jumping in at the deep end to learn how to get out of the Captain’s seat and into the Pilot boat.

There are days I just want to wrap us all up together and just BE.

As we head into the new decade I find myself thinking about where my family will be in 10 years. I don’t have a clue.

We will be done with primary and high school.

The one thing I know with certainty is that by then I will be a semi-retired pilot boat driver. I may not even need to be gently guiding all that often anymore. 

They will be out at sea safely travelling their own paths. Learning their lessons. Creating their stories. 

I am just glad I had 4 of them.

If there are any of you out there looking for some guidance in supporting your young child’s language development to be part of your skill set as a pilot boat driver then I will be here looking forward to supporting you in your journey.

Much love.

Thank you for being here. See you in the New Year.

Enjoy the ride in the pilot boat.