I Am Who I Am Because….

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

― Kahlil Gibran

This passage from Kahlil Gibran brought such light to the complexities of being a parent. The urge to hold on tight and recreate myself with them, was torn apart at the river’s edge. It was this writing that brought clarity to my children’s magnificence in the universe on their own terms and in their own time.

I have reminded them often… “You are not me, but you are a part of me”, allowing them the freedom to make life choices from their inner calling. I wanted to give them the structure they needed with the space to find their own way. It was a jungle gym of swings and falls with always a safe place to land.

In the wake of them growing into young adults, I have embraced every loving moment and hard choice realizing I am who I am today because of them.

To Ethan, Hannah, and Sean, this is for you:

I love you… Individually and collectively, you have shown me what love looks like when it’s easy and when it’s hard. You have shown me the power that love has in transforming any moment and how much love my heart can hold from loving you.

Thank you for shaping and transforming me in every way that is possible. I am a different woman today because of time and space, but mostly I am who I am because of you. Every precious and challenging moment brought me closer to myself in the wake of nurturing and loving you.

Thank you for those sleepless nights, drowning in exhaustion when you were babies. It was all a complicated and complex set of emotions that no book or advice can ever prepare you for in the moment. I was stepping into an arena of pure self-doubt in every action and utter confidence in my maternal instincts.

You taught me to trust myself…resist overthinking and to stay present with you in the moment.

Thank you for those precious and stressful moments when you were young.

Morning wake you up songs, snuggles in bed, breakfast routines, outfit meltdowns, Sunday dinners, homework wars, baseball practices, dance recitals, carpool coordination with predetermined playlists, and countless bus stop and school drop off memories.

You taught me how important routines are to help manage the unimaginable chaos.

Thank you for the one-on-one quiet talks we had before bedtime. It was a chance to connect on a different level, with a vulnerability behind the tiredness. It was the perfect time for me to slow down and ask open-ended questions that provided a safe space for both of us to share the moments that defined our day.

You taught me the secret behind connection is in the stillness.

Thank you for every difficult teenage messy scenario and bad choice. Lurking behind every corner was some unpredicted fall from grace that was age-appropriate and frustrating beyond measure. It was the give and take, the building up and breaking down of everything we knew to be right, wrong, and everything in between.

You taught me larger threads of patience and expanded my level of compassion of your struggles in real-time.

Thank you for sneaking out your bedroom window and running away. Thank you for the middle-of-the-night calls from the local Constable. Thank you for the formal intervention and the introduction to rehabilitation. You helped me understand the importance of a calming presence. Frustrated and disappointed, yes… but all would be OK. A call to the highest order was necessary and non-negotiable. What could I possibly say or do in that moment that would make a loving impact on future choices?

I was stretched, pushed, rolled over, bruised, and battered with my own self-talk. I learned to stand strong for you… and with you always.

Thank you for growing up to be amazing humans and giving me this opportunity to parent adult children. The lines are sometimes fuzzy, and boundaries are critical. When is my voice needed? When are my words welcome and where does the silence empower your own thinking? Just as you were babies, this is somehow the best and the hardest.

I need you to know that my love for you is endless and unfaltering. Thank you for being you… You have made me a better human.

What relationships helped you grow into you?


Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn Lebanowski
Carolyn began her professional career in retail and grew to become an experienced and respected senior-level executive with expertise in strategic development, organizational communication, and executive coaching. After nearly three decades of career growth in corporate organizational development, Carolyn was ready for a career change—and a life change. This led to a new role and the most challenging, enriching, and rewarding work of her life, as a Strategic Business Leader for nonprofit spiritual institutions. As Executive Director and Chief Opportunity Officer for 2 large organizations, it gave her the opportunity to fuse the professional and the personal, aligning her business acumen with her spiritual identity and passion for the development of human potential—in her colleagues, in her community, and in herself. Carolyn is a writer who seeks above all to share from the heart. Her impulse to write began 20 years ago with letters to her children and grew into journaling that was unedited and life-affirming. Today she writes with a focus on raw, authentic, and lived experience, to explore, express, and make sense of the pain and joy, and struggles and triumphs, of life. In all her endeavors, she champions connection, integrity, and radical positivity. Today, Carolyn is a published author and a Columnist/Featured Contributor at BIZCATALYST 360° and is living in Cascais, Portugal.

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    • Karin,
      Thank you Thank you!
      I just read this 5 times:
      “My 2 sons are grown now and I love how they are such bright stars for themselves even as I am the forever dark, loving night behind them.”
      That is the most beautiful visual image… the forever dark, loving night behind them. #bestillmyheart

  1. Thank you so much Laura Gray!!!
    It is truly the next chapter in ‘motherhood’ but no one really prepares us for this role. I know for me, it is only in reflection that I can see the emotional and spiritual growth. Some days were harder than others when I was living it in real time.💜

  2. Oh Carolyn, it’s as if you felt my heart calling out to you, another mother, when you sat down to write this piece. Although written for your children, I felt this so deeply as my youngest leaves for college in less than 2 weeks. Your words sparked so many memories and head nods from me. Thank you. What a gift and truly just what I needed to hear at this time. ❤