My grandchildren are growing up so fast…way too fast for this GiGi. Even though I live close and am able to see them several times a week as I drop off things to their mom or she comes by to visit, I am astounded by their changes. Max and Isaac, the twins, are now a little over a year old and have started standing, with Isaac taking a few tentative steps here and there. Max is more quiet, watching the world, and steamroller Isaac, move around him. He looks like he is always contemplating something or someone, and seems to be the “thinker” of the two. Although he is the first born of the twins, he is more sedate, content to watch the world…and his brother…go by. Isaac on the other hand is a rip and tear kind of kid. He is busy, moving, inquisitive, and very dexterous. He is the one who finds the bugs on the floor, the strings on the furniture, that piece of paper that missed the trash can. Nothing gets by him at all. He does have his moments of sitting and playing quietly, but they usually don’t last very long as he loses interest quickly.
Lorelai is still the reigning princess of the home, the big sister and mother substitute. She is always watching, taking care of her brothers, reading to them, giving them toys, calling Mommy if Isaac tries to chew up a foreign object or Max falls over behind the desk chair trying to get to the computer cords. Then there are those days when she reverts a tiny bit, will crawl into your lap and ask to be rocked. I’ve seen a lot more of this in my visits over the last few weeks. As her brothers are getting more mobile, they are requiring more from the adults in the family, including GiGi. I imagine she is making her silent statement now that SHE was the first grandchild and SHE is still here.
I have found through my own life experiences and outcomes, as in my grandchildren, many can be raised in the same household and same environment with the same opportunities and educational avenues, and still be so diverse in the way they respond to life in general. We choose to live our life out in one of three places…a cage, a coop or a cradle.
There are those who choose to live their lives confined. Much of the time, they live imprisoned by how they were raised or by whom. If they are told they are stupid or fat or unworthy when they are a kid, often they grow up thinking that is their true self. They never achieve, never break free of the chain someone placed on them and never allow themselves to say “ I am a decent and good person, and I have a great life that is worthy of being surrounded by other great people and things.” When someone comes along that is wonderful, they will shut the other person out right from the beginning because they think they are not good enough for them. This person only allows others in their lives that uphold the truth they believe about themselves and that is usually the old words of “you are no good.” This person lives their entire life in a cage, not so much to keep themselves in, but to keep others out. They never go beyond the words of their past to find that they have something good to offer others, and they are in reality a person that can be respected and acknowledged and affirmed. Those who reside in cages end up living alone with the one person they respect and love the least, and that is themselves.
Then there are those who are living in a kind of partial prison. They may have been told the same thing as the caged person, and raised much the same way and experienced many of the same things, but they know they can leave their confinement any time and often do. They listen to enough good things about themselves to realize they have something to give in this life, and the giving starts with themselves. They involve themselves in projects and big dreams, events and epiphanies their whole life through. But these are also the ones who end up as addicts of all kinds and people pleasers. They will spend time, money, relationships and most of their life hopping in and out of that little box they have placed themselves in. Every day is a new day…today I am succumbing to my voice of the past, and I will live a “no good” life, I don’t deserve grace, or mercy, or love or any other good thing offered to me. Just close my door and leave me alone, I will sleep, and drink, and eat, and squander my life in this pit I have created for myself because I don’t have what it takes to change it, or me. Then this same person reads a good book, or hears a great sermon, or has a wonderful person enter their life, and they let the door open just a crack, walk out gingerly into the expanse of their life and realize it can be different and wonderful. But alas, because they are a person who is conflicted inside, and listening to both voices saying opposite things about who they are, they will get frightened or uncomfortable and turn and crawl back into that partial prison because it is safe and familiar. These are the coop dwellers…those who want to live outside in the freedom, but cannot get past the comfort of their chains.
Then there are the cradle folks. One of the definitions of the word cradle is “small low bed for an infant.” It is the one we most often see and hear about, but there are others. A cradle is the term for the support underneath a ship that is being repaired. It is also the word used for a place of origin like “cradle of civilization”. An apparatus called a cradle protects an injured limb. A boxlike item that is used by gold diggers to wash away dirt and leave the gold is also called a cradle.
It is interesting…all these things are the starting point of something, someone, or some great work, but not expected to be the end result. It is simply how it began and a place to begin nurture, growth, and stabilization. There are moments in each life where we come to a crossroads of decision, and we have to choose which way to turn with the rest of our life. We choose an adult path of nurturing, growth or stabilization for ourselves, or we choose the opposite child’s path. The crossroads come for all of us, and it is the time to leave the cradle and be a big boy or girl…and this choice decides how the rest of life is supposed to be played out.
When life gets hard or changes come and we am not prepared for them, it is easy to be a Max and just sit and watch it all happen, and never really participate outside of the little “cage” we have drawn around us. Or we might respond like an Isaac and bounce from one thing to another, in and out, all about, and try and find what it is out there that will make us happy and content, but never staying in one place very long.
But I have decided to live my life as a cradle person and self-nurture, grow and stabilize without the aid of anyone or any outside extra source…just me and God. Just like Lorelai crawls back in my lap, I need to go to a safe, comforting place, and crawl into it when I am having a bad day or need a little extra nurturing. That’s when instead of choosing to go back to a cage or coop of old heartaches, addictions, and unhappiness, I can cradle my needs with a good book, a quiet devotional time, a trip to the beach, a cup of coffee with a friend, or a walk on a star-dusted evening. And the best part is when someone or something comes along that enhances those wonderful things already in me, it will just be a friendly and comforting hand rocking my cradle, not the cradle itself.