Magnum Opus

To me, there nothing so sacred an office as parenthood.

But with every superpower, comes the great weight of responsibility.

Helping someone get from here…

…to here.

It’s the most daunting…

…most joyful…

..most challenging position I’ve ever held.

The job description is clear.  When they are tiny, love them.

Nurture them.

Love them some more.

We have a few short years to raise and guide them, and allow them to find their own way to shine.

To help them acquire the skills they need to paddle their own canoe.

To allow them to test their wings.

To give them every opportunity to make decisions and exercise their own power.

Even so, one of the greatest challenges we have as parents is to let them grow up.

A few years ago, with the kids’ encouragement, we stepped out of our comfort zone into the Amazon jungle.

To ride a zip-line over the jungle canopy we had to reach a platform 125 feet above the jungle floor.  Instead of letting our guide use pulleys and ropes to haul them up, they insisted on pulling themselves up, step by step.

As they dangled from a single rope a hundred feet up, I thought of the book Charlotte’s Web.  Charlotte considered her egg sac, from which her babies hatched, her ‘magnum opus.’  One by one, the baby spiders spun a fine web into a tiny balloon and rode the breeze, floating off into the world to land somewhere and build a web of its own.

I couldn’t have been prouder–or more relieved–when they climbed to the top under their own power.

We have all traveled well together…

but children must be free to choose their own direction, just as we did when we were young.

I quell my panic when one of my chicks…

..leaves the safety of the home harbor.

I trust them to stay calm, exercise good judgement, weather the storms…

…and any other unforeseen dangers.

We cut them loose from the mother ship, then hope and pray they find a soft landing place…

…and a bright future.

And that, every now and then, they remember to phone home.


All words and images ©2015NaomiBaltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Weight (less).


  1. I haven’t been around for ages so may have missed your posts. As always this one warms my heart and I smile like a mother bird, serene, knowing, and nodding.
    This is another fantastic post only you can illustrate with such care and make us feel all the emotions. Thank you. My daughter is married with two ducklings and is 37.More of my heartstrings added to her babies. Yes are but 8 and 12 and I DO try to let them fly but I am old school and it’s hard but I shan’t interfere…just watch and enjoy, or pick them up if need be.
    Happy New Year to all of you. You’re all a breath of fresh air to me. ❤ ❤ ❤

    1. Dear Tess, It is so good to hear from you! Thank you, as always, for your kind words of encouragement. I smiled and nodded when I read your comment, “I smile like a mother bird, serene, knowing, and nodding.”
      I think it will be a while if or when I have grandchildren–how wonderful that you are there for them and they for you! Wishing you and your duckies all the best for the New Year, Tess!

      1. Thank you, Naomi. Much appreciated. My grand girls are growing so fast…or is it time that’s moving too fast? 😀
        One of these days, you’ll be the favorite grandma. ❤ ❤ ❤

      2. You are a lucky lady, Tess! I was a late bloomer, and I suspect my kids will be too. I just hope that the grandkids come along while I can still build spaceships and go on Away Missions with them!

      3. I’m so glad it did, Tess! Maybe being a late bloomer isn’t so bad, because by the time we’re ready to settle down we have a better idea of who we are and what we want.

  2. Always love how you do your posts. I’m finding it hardest now with 2 grown children who are married. Letting go, not interfering with their parenting can be very challenging. Their idea of happiness might not be ours, sometimes hard to accept. A phone call home is very nice!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      The dynamics certainly change when the kids grow into adulthood. “Their Idea of happiness might not be ours” is really an astute observation. We’ve still managed to find times to travel and spend time together, but every trip I know could be the last as they have grownup jobs and commitments and relationships. I treasure every moment! Thanks for the visit–Happy New Year to the whole family!

  3. This is such a beautiful post. Thank you again Naomi,your words and pictures are always extraordinary. To “let them fly” the most important action …yet so painful. We all wish for “soft ” landings.

    1. Dear Jane,
      How good to hear from you. Thanks for visiting, and taking the time to share your thoughts. Wishing you and your whole family a Happy New Year, and may all your landings be soft ones!

    1. Thank you! It makes me smile and sigh to recall the sweetness of that magical time. Every age brings new adventures, and in many ways the possibilities just get better and better as your children grow into such capable beings with whom you can share adventures and complex thoughts and ideas. But there is something so tender, so visceral–indescribable–about the bond with your babies that requires no words, a relationship based solely on love and trust.

      1. In my dreams, my children are always toddlers and babies. My subconscious is very much still working with that visceral bond. I wonder if that’s about being anxious whether I’m worthy of that?

  4. Hope you give your children a copy of this. It is a treasure for them and you. Job well done.
    My daughter just put quotes from me in her graduate school application. It brought tears.

    1. Hi Carol,
      That your daughter should quote you in her application such a compliment, and it speaks to the kind of relationship you have. Well done. Best wishes to your daughter in grad school, and Happy New Year to your whole family. Thanks so much for your very kind thoughts and words.

  5. Perfect! We work to teach them to become responsible, independent adults, loving them, enjoying them – then they turn around and are those responsible, independent adults and venture out on their own. Say what? What did I do?!

    1. Isn’t that the way? But it’s a very good sign that your adventurous birdies keep coming home to share new adventures with you and each other. I’ve told the kids that I will come and visit them wherever they go, and I know they love the Pacific Northwest and will always come home, at least to visit. Nowadays it is easy and inexpensive to maintain good communication almost anywhere in the world, thank goodness! Bea and I still edit each other’s writing, and Eli and I are planning a spring break reunion by messaging and email and Skype. Thanks so much for the visit and for sharing your perspective. Sending my best wishes for a Happy New Year, Carol!

  6. All wonderful pic and observations. I love this one. Of course my personal favorite pic is of your whole family, Harry & Eleanor and the kids. Beautiful as you are.

    1. Howdy, Cuz! Thanks so much for the visit and the kind words. I couldn’t resist throwing in my Dad’s handiwork. Best wishes for a Happy New Year to you and your whole beautiful family!

    1. I really loved the connection you made with “Charlotte’s Web” This post also made me appreciate what must have been on my folks’ mind when I migrated to Australia all those years ago! There are More dimensions to love than I knew at the time. You know. I used to somber about that heart sign you made with your fingers…. You’ve just shown what you mean here!

    2. Thank you, Meg! Oh, my gosh, I can only imagine what it must have been like. But you always went back to visit your folks and, most importantly, they knew you were strong, independent, responsible, and careful, so they didn’t have to worry too much about your well being. But, yes, loving someone means being willing to let them go if that’s what they need to do.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Gilly. I think I was really fortunate–Thom was a good Daddy, and the kids’ natural temperaments were so laid back and easy, which helped make parenting so much easier than it could’ve been. Happy New Year!

  7. A beautiful montage of photos representing the process of parenting. This was a heartwarming post, Naomi.
    Hope your New Year 2016 is filled with more love than your heart can hold.
    May your family and you continue to enjoy the sweet blessings of life.
    Isadora 😎

  8. When I was younger and had small children I was asked by a person (who thought stay-at-home mothers were lazy) what I did for a living. I told them I produce and develop the world’s most valuable resource. They were really impressed and asked me what the worlds most valuable resource was. I said, ‘children’ 😀

    I love you posts, Naomi xxxx

    1. Dear Dianne,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story, and it’s perfect ending. My daughter told her teacher, “My mommy has three jobs. She’s a writer and a storyteller and a mommy. And she likes being a mommy best of all.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
      I really enjoy your posts as well. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, Dianne.
      Best wishes to you and all your little chicks for a Happy New Year.

    1. Thanks for the visit, and the very kind words, Jo. I do take it as a good sign that they like to come home, and even an better one when they are still willing to come travel with their parents! Best wishes to you and your kids!

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