Reflection: Guides and Witnesses

Reflection: Guides and Witnesses


I may not ever be a guide. But I can be a witness.

Last week I spoke with Nicole Gulotta about the meaning of motherhood and making space for writing while raising a toddler. Among the many things that struck me about my conversation with Nicole was her observation about the meaning of motherhood. She observed that the meaning comes from being a guide to a child's becoming.

But there are guides, and there are witnesses. Unless you’re a primary caregiver, I’m not sure you can be a guide without being asked. But you can be a witness to a child's becoming.

I was fortunate as a young person to have plenty of witnesses. What I remember about the role of these extra parents is that they saw me for who I was becoming and they supported me. 

I realized that it's what I've been trying to do all along for my nieces, for the children of my close friends, and for my boyfriend’s daughter. I want to give them what I had. I want to be a witness to their becoming. I want to see them and appreciate them for who they are.

So, this one is for the aunties and the grandmothers and all the other extra parents who play significant roles in children’s lives. You give children love and attention and you give their parents a break from the intensity, just for a little while. You are a witness to a child’s becoming.

That matters, a lot. 

Did you have extra parents to witness your growth? Are you acting as a witness for children now?


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