November 1, 2009

Making and Owning Our Choices

The following post is dedicated to my daughter Miranda on her 9th birthday.

***
On my daughter's 8th birthday she was baptized into our church.  It was a wonderful day for our family, a milestone within our family's religious tradition, a day she described "as the most important day of her life thus far".  In addition (and as part of) its religious significance, this day marked Miranda's willingness to make and own her choices.

A, M, EMiranda is in the center with friends A on the left and E on the right.

Here's some of what I learned as Miranda prepared for this milestone day:

Allowing our children to own their choices makes their dreaming less of a dare
Miranda chose where and when she'd be baptized, who she wanted to baptize and confirm her (dad and Aaron Hutchins), who would speak (Jen Riddle and Kristy Richards), sing (Sara, Emma and Anna), play the piano (me), pray (her brother and Jeff), and what kind of food she wanted (Swedish cake, cherry cake, and cheesecake).  It was also her job to ask the speakers to speak, the singers to sing, etc.

In the myth of Psyche, a story which outlines feminine psychological development, Psyche's first task is to sort the seeds, a task symbolic of learning to make choices and prioritize.  How are our children learning to make choices and prioritize?

In not making obvious choices, our children are likely trusting their intuition
Miranda chose two people to speak that she knew, but they weren't the obvious choices.  The insights of these particular speakers made the day that much more special.  She also asked David to give a prayer.  As he prayed that "whatever scares her will go away", it was a tender moment.  He teases her and she knows he loves her.

As Psyche sorts the seeds, the ants, symbolic of intuition, come to her aid.   When was the last time you, or your children, made a choice that wasn't obvious?  How did it turn out? 

_D4O4453Photo courtesy LaNola Kathleen Stone

Be aware of the (seemingly invisible) hands that help us
Because I spend little time organizing meals, and certainly not for groups of 50 people, I was overwhelmed by the prospect of orchestrating a celebratory party.  Roger (my husband) and Kathy Dunnigan had prepared food, but once we were at the church, the food needed to be served, the kitchen cleaned.  Women such as Rachael, Lisle and Rebecca helped, and helped without my asking.  I was and am grateful, but it would be easy to overlook their contribution to making the day what it was.

As Psyche sorts the seeds, the ants are so small, she could have discounted their role.  What projects are you currently working on for which your contribution could be overlooked?  In turn, who are the ants, nearly overlooked contributors, in your life?

***
What are your religious traditions?  In Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist blog she writes All Career Issues are Religious Issues. Maybe.  Assuming you agree with her assertion, how can a faith tradition which involves learning to make and own our choices help us achieve of our dreams?

Any other thoughts?

  • Rachael

    What a tender post–the fact that we recently had a similar experience in our family makes your words resonate with me even more than they usually would. Oh, and I LOVE that photo of Miranda–she is a darling girl!

  • Lisle

    That IS a lovely picture of Miranda. I love to listen to your children, Whitney, because I’ve learned that they really do think hard before they speak. And that they’re true to what they personally believe, because they’ve sorted it out on their own. It’s a great thing they’ve learned from their parents, and I love that they’ve ‘got it’ so young!

  • Amy Jo

    Sounds like a wonderful day. I’m glad my family could be so involved when I can’t. She’s a great girl. I love being around her independence. It’s a fun thing to see who our kids pick. Hunter chose Chris Boyce as a speaker, because he loved when he substituted once or twice. Random, but he had been influenced by a good man.

  • http://mariacarr.com Maria

    What a wonderful way to make that milestone exactly what it is supposed to be by having Miranda choose all the details AND being the one to ask those involved. Brilliant, Whitney.

  • http://jennyvorwaller.com/blog j. vorwaller

    Absolutely beautiful! I love the comparison to Psyche.
    My son will be baptized this coming spring and I think asking him who/what/where are great ideas (and consistent with the idea that he is making big choices!)

  • http://www.LANOLA.com LaNola Kathleen Stone

    I hope Miranda had an excellent birthday! She is growing up so fast but I love that she’s maintaining the wonderment and tenderness of childhood magic within her. I think that’s the goal… listening to and trusting that voice inside. In that lies the magic and the wisdom!
    HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAY MIRANDA. biggest kiss to you, lanola kathleen :)

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