The Seven Principles

Here we are at the end of another year.  2010, where have you gone?  Why is it that life seems to fly by lately?  Before I know it my kids will be off to college.  Having twins will compact my time as a parent.  Whereas, parents with children that are different ages will still have years of parenting left once the first one is off to college (or otherwise out of the house,) we twin parents (and one child households) are done once that happens.  The thought saddens me really.  I mean, the first three and a half years of my kids lives have been a flash, a blink.  I try hard to be in the moment, to treasure each second now but it can be So. Very. Difficult.  What with the stubborn, boundary-pushing attitudes of three year olds combined with the everyday tasks of just living, being in the moment can be quite a challenge.  But then a subtle reminder, like an ethereal butterfly in the summer, flutters by.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my husband’s friends stopped over.  His daughter is now 14.  As he admired our children, he longed for the time when his daughter was the same age.  The pictures of his beautiful daughter were scary to me.  She looks so grown.  I remember when I was 14, thinking I was so mature.  The thought of my daughter (and son) being a teenager is frightening.  In so many ways, it is frightening.  Of course, the first thought is that I will be eleven years older.  Aack!  But beyond that, with each day that passes, it seems, our children need us less and less.  I admit that I have a tendency to want to baby my kids because I know that very soon they will not want, nor need my help.  Parenting is truly a process of letting go.  First, it’s letting go of control – when the baby eats or sleeps, we learn quickly, is not up to us.  Then, it’s simply letting go…of them.  Allowing them to explore, to discover, to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes.  It’s an awesome task really, this parenting thing.  In the truest sense of the word – the process inspires awe.  These little beings under our guidance will continue to grow and hopefully become balanced, happy, kind, compassionate and fearless adults.

During difficult times, I want to remember that there is nothing more important than the well-being of my children, of our family unit.  We are in the middle of Kwanzaa right now.  My family celebrates both Christmas and Kwanzaa.  Growing up as a child in a Catholic home, Christmas holds some of my happiest childhood memories.  There was a time when my husband and I, previous to having children, did not celebrate Christmas.  Mostly because neither one of us is Christian.  But after our children were born, I longed for them to grow up with the same happy memories that I have from Christmas.  Hence, like many others, we now celebrate both Christmas and Kwanzaa.

The seven day Kwanzaa celebration is a Black-American holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga.  It is a time to celebrate Black heritage and culture and to reflect on seven important principles.  I am probably one of very few Koreans who celebrate the holiday.  But I am more than happy to do so because it is a beautiful holiday and I know that my children are fully Black and fully Korean.  And the reality, is that most of the world will treat them as if they are fully Black.  Although I am neutral on all things Tiger Woods (except for the fact that he is an amazing athlete,) there will be no such confusion in our household.

Day one of Kwanzaa is Umoja – unity.  Day two is Kujichagulia –  self-determination.  Day three is Ujima – collective work and responsibility.  Day four is Ujamaa – cooperative economics.  Day five is Nia – purpose.  Day six is Kuumba – creativity.  Day seven is Imani – faith.  Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith; if my children grow up with these as their guiding principles, I have no doubt that they will be all that they want to be.

Happy New Year Everyone.  I wish for you and yours and for the world – The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.