My Grandma used to say, “home is where your hat is”. In that case, Hamburg is my home. My adopted home. I am happy here. I choose to live in Europe it was a life goal for me. I do, at times, long for Houston and all the things that are familiar. Long sits and sips in the backyard with old, school friends. The best enchiladas in the world at Chuys! Shopping the sales with my Mom and my sister. The little chats in my native language. When I am in Texas, I celebrate the everyday – the things that I grew up with as a child. The mockingbird chasing the cat’s tail, the smell of barbeque in the back yard, using y’all’s as an accepted possessive plural! I do not celebrate the craziness of a large American city. I do not like the fast-paced lifestyle it has become. Folks here sit down with a cup of coffee, in a real porcelain cup, and talk! In Texas, my Styrofoam cup is usually between my legs in the car as my sister and I try to get a sentence or two in before our next stop. Where are we rushing to? Since having twins 6 years ago, I am happy to live in my adopted town and raise my children here. Some women say they would rather raise their children in the States, that it is easier. I am not sure. I like the attention and care given to our children here without the paranoia. It seems that in the USA, there is a movement to keep the children safe and protected to the point of becoming a mania. When my godchild was in Hamburg, for his 18th birthday, my husband and I bought him a Weizen beer at a nice restaurant. He told me that if this was in the States, someone could call the Children’s Protection Service on us! In most of Europe, I believe the children are allowed to grow up on their own here. They are given the freedom to make their own decisions and use their judgment. Our job as parents is to plant the right seeds and let them grow. After all, our children are not ours to keep, but just to guide safely along in this world of ours until it is time for them to go out on their own. We can only do the best we can. One of the most beautiful poems I know is one known to many and I would like to print it here, so that we can enjoy it again as we think about our children and our home we make for them.
On Children (from Chapter Four of The Prophet)
by Kahlil Gibran
And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, Speak to us of Children.
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
you may house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that
His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.
originally published in Currents Aug/Sep 2008