My daughter turns 22 years old today. 22 years ago I gave birth to a tiny baby girl, 7 lbs 11 oz, not really that small, and too big for me. She had to be delivered by c-section. I would do a lot of self-hypnosis while I was pregnant and would talk to her while she was inside, but in my mind, not vocalizing much. When we found ourselves home, at first I didn’t know how to talk to her. I would think things toward her but she wasn’t inside anymore. How could I express my love to her with words alone? When I finally would speak aloud I sounded weird to myself. I didn’t really know what to say. Still, we grew used to it and we learned how to listen to each other.
Being a mother has been one of the greatest joys of my existence. Now, while she is sleeping again in my bed, just as she did when she was born, I wonder how can I help her through this particular time in her life. I’ve learned I cannot make her decisions for her, I can’t tell her what’s the best direction to go. I can only try to encourage her to trust her heart and to believe in herself as I have finally begun to do. I look back on my life and I can see that the times when I did trust myself and acted despite the status quo, despite what made the most sense. Those times when I listened to me worked out just fine. If I would have trusted myself more often it’s likely life now would look a lot different. God, I love my children. Having them all at home is wonderful. But, they aren’t supposed to stay here forever. They aren’t mine to keep.
How do I express my pride in who my daughter is becoming? How do I tell her that my heart aches when hers does? How do I acknowledge that I can’t fix everything? I can only hold her when she cries if she’ll let me. I can only encourage her to hold herself high and to believe in herself.
The life she grew up in, the emotionally devastating home? Oh how I wish I had taken them and left sooner. I wish I had known how closely they were watching. The damage done to their psyches, mine too. How do I help them to heal as I have healed and continue to heal? I want them to see themselves as I see them. I see them as miracles, gifts directly from God. I see them as amazing, intelligent human beings with hearts of gold. I see their potential to be anything they want to be. I see their struggles and yet I have to watch and wait as they work through things. I’m an action kind of person, I want to fix everything. But fixing things isn’t my job often times. My job is to love them and that I do well. Now to continue to teach them, but this time I shall change the curriculum to one of self-love and pride. The world will teach them enough about hate later. Let them learn to love themselves and then they will be able to love others better.
How is it the church which teaches about love forgets to teach the love of self? Jesus himself said we must love others as we love ourselves, meaning we are also supposed to love ourselves. Self love is not the same as selfishness and yet they’ve been equated too long. In our rush to be selfless we have turned into a world of depression and abuse. Might this have something to do with our upbringing? Might we learn to acknowledge the beauty in ourselves first? This is what I want to teach my babies. I want them to know it’s OK to love themselves and that a little bit of ‘selfishness’ is healthy. I want them to learn that depression isn’t something they have to live with. I want them to understand that it’s only a sign that things need to change. (This is not to say that those who are depressed are in any way wrong, but that the best way to treat something is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.)
How can I show them what love is? How can I show them to love themselves? I’m newly loving who I am. The power that comes with acknowledging that life begins inside me, love starts with me? That’s pretty awesome. Children are always watching, everything, all of the time, whether we know it or not. Show them love, show them they are worth loving. Show them this and show them how you love yourself as well. They will follow your lead so lead them well.
thanks for reading,