"Bob, look what I made!"
Liz's daughter holds up a mini-pumpkin with a commercial cardboard cone taped to the top of it. "Oo, that's nice, for Halloween," I say.
"Nicholas, look what I made!"
"Uh-huh," grunts my middle-schooler.
"Mommy, look what I made!"
Liz is concentrating on two sizzling pans on the stove, and three cutting boards of chopped leaves, roots and fungus. She looks up and says, "I can look at it in a little while, honey."
The child leaves to find more people to admire her creation-of-the-moment. Relax, I tell her, in the privacy of my own thoughts. Enjoy the silly thing by yourself. And then I realize it's not really about the thing. The cone-topped gourd is a symbol. It's about her being part of the web of community. And then I am more gracious about it.
I've been my own cheerleader for years- who else "gets" what I'm going through? Yet I have been receiving some acknowledgments, lately, and I find myself powerfully restored by them. Caitlan comes home for a weekend, and instead of returning to her habit of seclusion, she leaps into the joyful chaos of the home and has a great time. Xena tells me in a side moment that she's proud of me. A friend tells me that I'm admirable. Nicholas laughs and laughs as he plays with the little ones. Raines asks me to speak at a cohousing event.
Although I try to be self-contained about accolades, I find I really need to know that my fellow people recognize how much effort I'm expending. I like knowing that they are enjoying the fruits of the labor, and the labor, too.