Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Parenting analogies that help

I was thinking today, in light of too many deaths too close together (six in the past month, none close friends or relations, but still...) how helpful it is at times to think of feelings as textures. It gives you a different insight into how to deal with them.

Grief, for example, is like mud that you have to swim through. It weighs you down and forces you to concentrate on even the simplest things. And if you think of grief this way, you know that the thing you need to do is take things slowly, to focus on breathing, to keep your strokes smooth and as steady as possible. Fear is more like an electric sander against your heart. You need to turn it off and calm frazzled nerves before you can function again.

These kinds of descriptions remind me of how, when my children were younger, I searched out ways to describe their beauty:

Eldest is like a diamond: dazzling, multifaceted, a beautiful reminder of the comfort of solid relationships.

Source: James Allen
Big Guy is more like a painting by Caravaggio, where the interplay of light and dark creates a fascinating beauty.

Betrayal of Christ, National Gallery of Ireland

Dancer is absolutely a Balanchine piece, weaving people and movement into a flurry of music and movement and smiles.

Source: Pacific Northwest Ballet

Snuggler is a larger than life collage, perhaps a Matisse mixed with the whimsy with Miro, full of bright and unexpected shapes and swirls.
Matisse: Creole Dancer

Little Guy is an excellent and humorous novel, full of word play and well-developed characters.
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Not a novel, but a very funny book (some ribald humor).

These kinds of descriptions help me because they articulate something true about my children that mere adjectives do not. They describe beauty in a way that expands my understanding of what is good and wonderful, allowing me to notice it more easily and nourish it more readily. Try it. I'd love to hear what you come up with!




  1. Thank you, Julia - Here is my take:

    My youngest is like a circus. There is energy, excitement, enthusiasm, and risk at the big top. Blink, and you might miss something. Laugh so hard you remember not to take yourself too seriously, gasp in amazement at the bodies in flight above you. You may be tired, exhilarated, even a bit frightened at the circus, but you are always, always, glad you went.

    My oldest is like a field of wildflowers. Beauty and peace that can take your breath away, and make you remember that the world is a beautiful place. Sit awhile with the flowers, and what at first might have looked delicate, can really be strong. Stems that bend in the wind, blossoms that shield themselves from chilly weather, then stand open to the warmth. Stand back and you can see the flowers dancing with joy in the sun. Happiness is yours just to be there with them.

  2. Julia-- it's so great to see your name on the comments on my blog!! How are you?! Are things going well? I've been looking out for DG4NM and I can't wait for my first glimpse! Will it be on shelves soon?

    Now, as far as analogies:

    My oldest is like a Thunderstorm: Powerful, bright, can wreck havoc in seconds but also brings brilliance and fun and excitement to my life.

    My daughter is like a bee: busy, quiet, small, you don't know she's there until she wants to be noticed, but then you notice her.

    I have yet to see what my newest will be like...