The absolute greatest thing we have to offer our children

Believe it or not, I have a teenage son who will choose to hug me in public simply because he wants a hug from his mom.  (Don’t ask him to show this off – that will make him very uncomfortable- but watch us and you’ll see that it’s true).  As difficult as it is to say this without playing my personal copy of “Who Do You Think You Are? & Other Greatest Hits of Your Inner Critic”, I have to admit that I’m a pretty darned good mom.  I know this because my kids tell me so.  Regularly.  Without prompting and not necessarily because they want something.  They’re generally happy people and given the opportunity to radically change things in their lives (which they have at all times), they choose the life we live now. You’d think that I have this mom thing down.  That I live, every second of every day, knowing exactly the right thing to do and feeling that if every parent could just find what we have, do things the way we do them, that there would be peace in the world and we’d reach the apex of human potential (or some stuff like that).  Yeah, um, not quite.

 Honestly, I don’t think that it’s possible to never have doubt, to always do the exact right thing, or that there is one way for every parent in the world to create a life of joy, peace and love with their children.  In my actual experience, it takes intention.  It takes commitment.  It takes awareness.  It takes mistakes, lots of them.  It takes the actions of love.

 The shocking fact of the matter is that I have days when I find it difficult to actively love my children.  Don’t get me wrong, I always love them in the sense that everyone loves their own children.  I truly believe that all parents, along every part of the parenting spectrum, LOVE their children.  What I mean by saying “actively” love my child, is to love that child in the sense of seeing the needs at the root of this small, inexperienced person’s actions and addressing these needs regardless of behavior, and regardless of how inconvenient addressing these needs may be to me in the moment.  I mean that I’ve found it difficult to actively love my children in the sense of knowing that my children are often most in need when they are acting in ways that push my buttons- when they are whining or yelling or stomping, when they are breaking things or attempting to hurt others, and even when they are imploding and turning their anger and frustration inward, against themselves.  Yes, this is attachment parenting 101 stuff that I *know* to be true and that I’m not here to argue or defend.  There have been times I have failed miserably- by denying these truths, by being unwilling to inconvenience myself, by being unable to overcome the stuff that comes up when my buttons are pushed.  There are also times I have failed because I wasn’t paying attention, was refusing to listen to my intuition, or because I was not seeing my child clearly. 

 Mostly, the root of these failures comes down to one thing. 

 It is impossible to give something you don’t have for yourself. 

 My deepest goal as a parent is for my children to remain whole- to reach adulthood as fully themselves as they were the day they were born, as complete human beings who, at the time, were entirely dependent on me and highly lacking in skills and experience. It is inevitable that these complete human beings will become less dependent, that they will gain skills and experience as they go through life.  It is not inevitable that they lose their trust in themselves, their ability to love unconditionally, their connection with their own deepest joy, and their inner radiance and brilliance.

 For many years I *tried* to be the parent I choose to be.  I tried to trust in them and support their trust in themselves.  I tried to love them unconditionally, to be an example of unconditional love.  I tried to support their connection to their deepest joys.  And I watched as on many occasions, my own actions or words dimmed their inner radiance and I didn’t recognize their brilliance in each moment.  I say “tried” because the fact is that I didn’t trust myself.  I wasn’t able to love unconditionally because I never allowed myself to experience unconditional love.  I was disconnected from many of my own deepest joys, in spite of the fact that my children’s very existence is one of them.  And the fact is that my own inner radiance had become nearly unreachable and I couldn’t see any brilliance whatsoever. 

 Luckily, I have come back to myself.  It has been my own unique path, but it did take the intention to find my own happiness, to feel loved and supported, and to trust myself.  It has taken commitment to these intentions as well as choosing in each day and each moment to keep or renew these commitments.  It has taken awareness of when I am moving away from my intention or have gone to place I no longer want to be, so that I can renew my commitment at these times.  I make mistakes and keep making them, which is why that awareness is so important.  But most of all I am taking actions of love- treating myself like I have value, like my needs matter, and as if *I* am my most important resource in my being my children’s mom.  Because I am. 

 And so are you.

 As parents, having the clarity of knowing who we are is what allows us to, at times, set our other priorities aside to attend to the needs of our children.  It is also what allows us to work through the times when we don’t have an immediate solution to a challenge.  It allows us to look for the “and” instead of the “or” when it may appear as if our own needs and those of our children are in conflict.  And it allows us to see our children’s truth and brilliance and radiance even if they are struggling to do so, to support them in connecting with their deepest joy and to love them unconditionally.  Which is why I believe that the absolute greatest thing we can offer our children is to be our own unique whole selves, and from this perspective, be their unique whole loving parents.

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4 Comments to “The absolute greatest thing we have to offer our children”

  1. Hello, Lesley! I love that you are honoring your wholeness as a woman as a foundation for your mothering. Brilliant!

  2. Lesley, wonderful message. I too made very deliberate choices when I was raising my daughter. And there were plenty of things I was lacking and am still working on.

    The important thing is that we model positive, healthy self-awareness and self-development behaviors. Our kids know we’re not perfect, and it’s the way we handle our “imperfections” that teaches them how to grow and development themselves.

    Thanks!

  3. YEYEY!! Lesley’s blogging!!

  4. I shared your post on FB and people “liked” it! 🙂 It’s so true and wonderful. Well done, Lesley!

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