Sometimes I feel like I haven't really found my parenting voice.


Once upon a time there was a woman who had no children. She chased their spirits through the forest in vain, for they always eluded her at the last moment. Then one day, whilst she was running, a little voice called out and said, "I'll be your child." And she took the speaker into her arms and cherished him gratefully.

By and by, another child saw her with her son, and wandered out of the forest to join them. But her son was angry and could not control his jealousy. One day, over a petty grievance, he struck his sister hard, and she fell down, broken. The woman tore into a rage, and broke him, too. Then she wept for those two, broken children she had wanted so hard to care for, and cried out to the fairies to let her know what to do. The fairies appeared, their faces long and grim. They only had magic to restore one of her children, and they didn't know which to choose.

On hearing this, the woman wept harder. Her son was so precious to her. He had come to her when none of the others would, and she had loved him for so long. But she loved her daughter, too, and she was innocent, having caused no harm. As she wept, her tears grew thick and black, bitter like a brackish pond.

Then something strange happened. A tiny plant grew from the tear-soaked soil. One shoot, then two - then a whole carpet of yellow flowers, waving with the howling gale of her sobs. The fairies began to talk together, and eventually one came forward. "With these flowers, we have magic enough to restore both your children," she explained. And they did.

As the woman embraced her two children, she cried once again, but this time they were tears of soft crimson, and tasted of the earth. Red flowers grew, and blue, and violet and green. They spread throughout the whole clearing, as far as the eye could see. But the fairies left with solemn faces, because they knew there would never be enough magic to restore the woman herself.


Little Running Bear hurtled through the forest, down one path, then another, until he realised he was lost. "What shall I do?" he asked the air, and the air replied, "Did you take a wrong turn?"

I must have, Little Running Bear thought. Then he asked, "Who will tell me which it was?"

"Talk to the caves," the air said. So Little Running Bear talked to the caves, but he heard only echoes in reply.

"They haven't told me anything I didn't tell them first," Little Running Bear said crossly, and he sighed a deep sigh of despair. "Who will show me where I went wrong?" he wondered aloud, and this time the trees replied.

"Look to the pond," they advised. So Little Running Bear looked into the pond, but he saw only his reflection.

"The pond showed me nothing I didn't show it first," he protested, and he hissed a soft hiss of exasperation. "Who will lead me where I need to go?" he cried out to the hills, and the hills whispered back, as quietly as they could (for hills are very big and very loud), "FOLLOW THE PATH."

So Little Running Bear looked down at his feet and there, on the ground, was the furrow of his own footsteps, leading right up to where he stood. He retraced carefully, circling around and around, until he had explored every inch of where he'd been, and where he'd been headed. "The path took me nowhere I hadn't trodden before," he complained, and he moaned a soft moan of disappointment.

"Everywhere, there is no guide but myself," he concluded, and the leaves murmured assent. So Little Running Bear looked to the skies and to the streams, knowing only that he must leave, to find his way.



Esperanza said...

This. Was. Amazing. Thanks do much for sharing.

Ellen K. said...

Wow. Wow! You may question whether you've found your parenting voice, but your writer's voice is beautiful.

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