Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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“Now That I Have Grown”

Res Publica

March 2003

by Lori Karam

A Cradle Song

The angels are stooping
Above your bed;
They weary of trooping
With the whimpering dead.

God’s laughing in Heaven
To see you so good;
The Sailing Seven
Are gay with His mood.

I sigh that kiss you,
For I must own
That I shall miss you
When you have grown.
— Yeats

When I first read this poem several years ago, I was struck by the poignant account of a parent’s love that is displayed in these lines. Though I am not yet a mother, I can imagine the aching sweetness of watching your baby sleep at night and knowing that one day he will be taller then you and desperate to leave home and strike out on his own. Of course there will be visits home on the holidays and maybe a call on Mother’s Day, but it’s just not the same. And I can imagine the joy of watching a baby’s first step, but I know that this joy must be accompanied by a tiny bit of sadness as well. For one day, this same baby will use those steps to leave the home in which he grew up; he will use those steps to become a man. I can imagine how wonderful it must be to raise a child and experience the world fresh through their eyes. And I can imagine the joy of a parent as they watch their nearly grown child enter into the world on their own. But, how you must miss the sound of their little feet across the kitchen floor in the mornings and the sound of their soft, even breathing in the night. How you must miss them when they have grown!

These were my thoughts when I first read this poem back in high school. I was at that age when all children are typically desperate to be on their own and away from their parent’s sheltering protection. I know that I was not unlike most children in this desire. Though I loved my parents then as I still do, I knew that the whole world awaited me just outside the door of the old brick house in which I grew up. And I was right. Upon leaving home for college, I discovered vast new lands that were mine to explore. I began life on my own and soaked in all I could of the world around me. During my first year of college, I didn’t have much time to miss my parents at all, and even less time to see them. Being young and eager for independence kept me far too busy for more than a phone call every few days. And to be honest, I thought nothing of it. I knew that everyone, at some point, had to leave home and begin anew, and for certain this was my time.

It has now been more than a year since I effectively left home to begin my adult life. But I find that things out here aren’t quite as exciting as they seemed, and that memories of home grow ever more dear as the days and weeks pass. Oh, I still visit home as often as possible, but all who read this must acknowledge that it is never quite the same. I am still welcomed by embraces and warm cookies from the oven, but I am more akin to a visitor now, instead of just me, the girl who lives in the purple room in the corner of the house who usually forgets to make her bed. When I see them now, my parents are as eager to talk to me as I to them, and the memories of the old arguments of my high school days have become so faded that they are nearly forgotten. And if, by chance, I do remember a heated argument or a slammed door, the memory is accompanied by a soft smile and the knowledge that those days were precious indeed.

I write this not to say that I wish time could reverse itself, for certainly I know that for all of us time marches relentlessly on. And, to be honest, I couldn’t be happier to be on my own and planning for my future. I know that my parents would have it no other way. It is just that sometimes I think of how many of my younger days I spent wishing to be in the very place that I am now. How I longed to be "grown-up" and on my own. I only wish now that I had spent less time in my room and more time with my Mom and Dad. I know now that nothing will ever again be like it was in those days, no matter how much time I spend at home in the future. The road ahead is exciting and promises many of the wonderful experiences that I dreamed of so intently when I was a child. But, I must admit to a small ache that exists when I acknowledge that childhood is behind me now, and life must be faced as an adult. Of course, my parents are never more than a phone call away, but I know that sometimes that won’t be close enough.

When I read Yeats’ poem now, after leaving home more than a year ago, I still view it through the eyes of a potential mother, for like most women I cherish the thought of one day having a baby of my own. But now I also read this poem from the eyes of the little child asleep in the crib. And I think about my parents and breathe a small sigh, for how I miss them now that I have grown.

Lori Karam is a sophomore from Mansfield, Ohio, majoring in Political Science

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