I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times, in life after life, in age after age forever.
Posts tagged ‘parenting’
“I told dad what you said about him,” my fifteen-year-old daughter said to me the other day. A stab of panic gripped my stomach. Had I said something derogatory? I knew I wouldn’t have, couldn’t have, especially to my daughter. But that irrational thought still crossed my mind and my heart. Maybe I had made a joke about him and she had taken me seriously? Maybe I was feeling some residual guilt from a time in my life when I was often careless and callous with my words about others. (It still happens, I’m no saint, but I work hard at being more aware of harsh words before they pass my lips.) She must have seen the worry on my face, because she quickly explained;
“I told him what you said about him being so good and kind and funny, and how you felt grateful to have him as your husband. When I told him what you said, mom, he smiled.” As she told me this, she smiled too. So did I.
It is so easy to tell our children how much we love and appreciate them. Through this conversation with my daughter I learned how important it is to tell them what we love and appreciate about others too, spoken from an easy and casual place of truth and sincerity. Out loud.
I think this may apply to how we speak to others too, not just to our children.
What do you think?
There is so much Divinity in the Everyday.
Quotes from birth mothers to their babies:
“My darling, my other self . . .”
“I touched your cheeks and nose.”
“You were like an angel who had come from heaven.”
I am a mother to five children. To three of them, I am not their only mother. They have birth mothers, and they have me. Today, as I write this on Mother’s Day, I can feel those birth mothers wondering about and remembering their children, our children. On each child’s birthday and on Mother’s Day I always stop to whisper a silent thank you to them, sending good thoughts to lift their spirits. I imagine these days must be as hard for them as they are joyful for me.
“I call your name quietly in my heart.”
“Know that your spirit is within my spirit.”
“From far away, I will pray for your happiness.”
In the beginning when my children were babies, fresh and new to the world, I often wondered if they carried the sadness of parting from their mothers, like a ship pulling away from the dock carries travelers from tearful families left on shore.
“It grieved me that I had to let you go.”
“You cried in a loud voice as if you knew your mother’s heart.”
As years pass, I imagine the expanse of ocean growing wider and wider between that metaphorical ship and that very real woman left standing on the shore, and I wonder if time ever lessens her pain.
“I love you from far away.”
I wonder if she ever stops searching the horizon, hoping to see a glimpse of that ship returning. I see her in my heart, the woman to whom I owe so much of my own happiness and I send her my prayers of love and strength.
“I cannot give up my wish to see you again.”
“Is it possible we will meet again?”
“I call your name quietly in my heart.”
After adopting our third child, a son from Korea, my friend (also a Korean adoptee ) gave me a book called “I wish for You a Beautiful Life,” by Sarah Dorrow. The book is filled with letters Korean birth mothers wrote to their little babies as they sent them sailing into the arms of joyful, ecstatic mothers like me. It is a wonderful book, heartbreaking and beautiful in turn.
”I want you to be a happy person, with a big smile.”
All the quotes included here are from those letters. They remind me of the great sacrifice each woman made for my happiness and for the happiness of her beloved child; and I never take that for granted. Never.
“I’ll pray that you meet the most wonderful parents.”
Happy Mother’s Day to each and every birth mother. So many of us owe you such a deep, deep gratitude. ”Thank you” seems so feeble a phrase to encompass such an enormous feeling in my heart.
“Dear adoptive parents . . . Please lead my baby to be a righteous and happy person. . . Please love my baby.”
Yes. I promise. I will. I do. Thank you. I wish for you a beautiful life too.
Mammaste~There is so much divinity in the everyday.
There is a sweet little drawing of a smiling face scribbled on the wall next to my bed. The artist is my youngest child when she was about three years old. At the time I calmly told her that walls are not for drawing, and then complimented her on her artwork. I left her original graffiti there on my wall because it is beautiful, and because it reminds me of the lessons I’ve learned since being a new mother of one child, to a seasoned mother of five children–a span of 19 years between the oldest and youngest.
When my oldest daughter first drew on a wall, first cut her own hair, first filled the toilet with non-toilet items, first lied to me, I did not yet know that all children do these things (or some facsimile). I did not realize then, as I do now, it’s part of growing up; of curiosity, testing, exploring, imitating or avoiding. I was harder on her because I was young and didn’t know better. Her actions were not personal, but in my own immaturity as a parent I perceived them as direct affronts. I would overreact and make a big deal out of ‘bad’ behavior by shaming or lecturing her at length for what I perceived as big infractions. By the second, third, fourth and now fifth child I know better as a mother. I don’t claim to know best, it’s just that I know better the mother I choose to be.
As I sat on the edge of my bed looking at the smiling graffiti, I was thinking how much I wished I could change the parent I sometimes was to my oldest child. Then the phone rang and there she was, on the other end of the line.
I shared with her all I had been thinking about. I told her I was sorry that when I was raising her I wasn’t as calm or as mature or as wise as I am now. I told her I wished I could talk to the mother I was then and tell myself all that I have learned so I could do better. I apologized. She laughed and acknowledged having to “pave the way” for her siblings and she told me I was forgiven. In turn she apologized to me for her teen years. We laughed together about pay-back. I loved her for the grace of absolution she blessed me with so easily.
I can’t go back in time and give myself the wisdom of mothering that I have now, but I can share it with you. (Lucky you!)
First: It’s not always about us. Our children are growing, stretching, testing. We can love, guide, offer reasonable consequences and did I mention; love, love, love them? But there is no need to bully, shame or just generally freak-out. Second: If we do freak-out or overreact (because we all do) it’s okay to forgive ourselves and do better when we know better. Third: It’s less okay when we know better, and we don’t do better. That’s when we rationalize, make excuses for ourselves or place the blame on our children for how we choose to react. We’ve all been there, let’s just choose not to live there.
And lastly: There is great courage and love in risking vulnerability and humility. There is no shame in admitting fault. Fallibility is an inherent quality of the human condition, especially in parenting. Instead of defending our less flattering behavior to suit our need to see ourselves in a better light, admitting our mistakes as parents is important in validating what our children experience, of honoring their truth.
A close friend said to me after I told her this story, “Do you know how many adults would love to hear; ‘I’m sorry,’ from a parent? It would heal so much for them.”
Wise words from another seasoned mother.
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
It is the one book on parenting I feel absolutely confident in recommending. It’s short, concise, relevant, spiritual and practical. A good parenting book, like this one, appears to be teaching us how to raise loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded children but in essence it is teaching us to learn from our children how to become loving, balanced, well-rounded and grounded adults.
I have tiptoed across a dark courtyard at 2AM to spy on Greek Orthodox monks floating in black wool cassocks and high hats through a fragrant fog of amber incense. Chanting Vespers in the candlelit chapel of an Arizona oasis, voices carried to God on white smoke through a starry desert sky. My own soul seeming to rise closer to heaven on every note.
Dear people next door, Welcome to Minnesota. Please write your name here ___ then please send back the card, but before you do that, please write back. You can write whatever you want. From your neighbor Harper and Family. (It included a nice picture of flowers and clouds.)
The year was 1972. I was a shy, awkward eighth-grader at Fridley Junior High in a working-class suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. It all began innocently enough when my mother sewed maxi-skirts for my sisters and me one winter. Maxi-skirts were skirts that went all the way down to the floor and were high fashion in 1972; all the cool girls wore them.
Even though my mother warned me there would not be enough of the red fabric I picked out for my skirt, I insisted she use it anyway. The skirt turned out to be more of a red corduroy maxi-tube than the full, flowing maxi-skirt pictured on the front of the Simplicity pattern envelope.
Undeterred by the fact that my stride was roughly as long as that of a Geisha’s, I wore my maxi-skirt proudly to school that fateful day. I was shuffling down the hallway in a sea of my baby-boomer classmates, school books clutched to my chest when my friend Karen swept by me and gave me a slap-on-the-back greeting. That little push sent my torso flying forward at a velocity faster than my tightly bound legs could pedal. Factor in the weight of the books and my 80-pound frame and, well, you get the picture . . . an object in motion and all.
When I tell this story to my kids I insert a little lesson about the physics of this experience just to keep it educational. “Notice how ‘Turning Point’ becomes both a scientific statement as well as an understatement in this example,” I say.
My books flew ahead of me as I slid down the hallway on my belly. To the fast-moving current of students rushing up behind me, I was a rock in the rapids. They were stumbling and lurching trying to avoid stepping on me.
All the while, the tube-like geometry of my skirt and lack of traction supplied by my fashionable, but not-so-functional, ballet slippers made it physically impossible for me to stand up. I was flopping like a fish and polishing a nice, shiny clean spot on the dusty floor as my fellow classmates began parting behind me like the Red Sea, casting horrified backward-glances in my direction. My popularity, already weak and sickly, suffered its last agonizing death-throes right there in the hallway.
Enough humiliation you say? Oh, contraire my friends, this was just beginning. In the midst of my flailing efforts to stand in this sea of inhumanity, I felt two hands under my arms lifting me up from behind. Guess what? Yes, it was the guy I had a huge crush on. (My compliments to God and his impeccable comic timing.) He was a big, handsome, popular, red-headed football player who smelled like Brut cologne, or maybe it was HI KARATE. He was the lead actor in my romantic adolescent daydreams, all of them set to a score of David Cassidy ballads. (Heavy sigh.) What? I’ve already admitted I was not cool. Full disclosure.
After he placed me in an upright position, he steadied me for a moment to make sure I wouldn’t tip over again. He then handed me my books, gave me a quick nod with only the tiniest smirk passing over his dreamy lips before he quickly moved on. I scurried, face flushed red as my skirt, into the nearest girls’ restroom and tried to figure out a way to flush myself down the toilet.
Little did I know when I was experiencing my most humiliating middle school moment back in 1972, this story would become a favorite of my middle school daughter all these years later. She loves to laugh with me every single time I tell it, which she requests I do often. I like to think I am teaching her that seeing the humor in humiliation is all about not taking yourself too seriously, or some other equally noble life lesson. More likely she just loves a good laugh at my expense.
The moral of this story, you ask? I have no idea, but my daughter seems to find comfort in it during her own awkward middle school years, and that’s enough for me. Fortunately for her, I’ve got plenty more stories I’m saving for her high school years!
There is so much divinity in the everyday.
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