I found this photograph a couple of days ago in a drawer by the side of my bed. It’s my sweet little baby girl, about two months before her 2nd birthday. (Right now she’s less than a month from her seventh birthday). This photo was taken in Oakland, CA at my best friend’s home sometime within a day or two of the birth of her first child. Lila and I flew down to Oakland the moment I got the call that she was in labor.
Of course, as labors always are, it was unpredictable, and it ended up being several days before her son Eli was finally born. It was, as you can imagine, an incredibly potent time– for all sorts of different reasons.
I looked at this picture a couple of days ago, looked at the sweet expression on Lila’s face, saw the wisdom behind her eyes– the wisdom that has always been there, and I began to cry. At the time, I couldn’t articulate exactly what it was I was crying about– but as I’ve gotten a little distance from it– I am able to understand more clearly where my tears came from.
First, it should be explained that I’m a feeler. And often, being a feeler, means I cry. a lot. More than the average person. I cry because I am often overcome by the immensity of what I feel. I usually cry when I write. Crying is as much a part of the way I process the world as eating or breathing. I process the world by feeling it. It’s how I am able to help facilitate other peoples’ healing processes. So, me crying is not some huge, crazy deal. It just is. But of late, as I find myself in this massive reawakening process, everything feels larger– and the depths at which I’m feeling things is more profound. (Hence, a bit more crying than usual.)
What I realized about this photo– and my reaction to it is that one of the many parts of me that is reawakening is myself as a mother. Because of many combined factors in the last several months, one of which being the massive support and insight of a new and very dear friend, I have been able to step back and gain some perspective on so many aspects of my life– one of the largest being my role as a mother.
It’s a role that has remained largely unquestioned by myself for the entire time I’ve been playing it– about ten and a half years now. It’s a role that I embraced wholeheartedly and threw myself into with reckless abandon– as is my habit. And now, after a little more than two years of single parenting with very little outside help, I’ve taken several steps back and realized a few things.
One of those things is: I’m exhausted. I work hard at everything that I do– and one of my patterns is to give, without boundaries– so I’m well-practiced and very good at doing so. (it’s one of the many things I’m working on at the moment). I spend most of my days facilitating other peoples transformation– which is the most amazing job ever. It requires a lot of energy though. And then there’s the nuts and bolts of running my business, which also require my time and attention. And then, at the end of every day, on top of it all, there are those two highly intelligent, bright and beautiful beings that I brought into this world. They are my responsibility– and up until very recently they had begun to feel like a massive burden. My default reaction to my children had become one of annoyance and anger, rather than love and celebration. That doesn’t feel good to anyone.
What my dear friend has helped me remember of late, in all aspects of my life, is just how big and powerful I am. I’ve become lazy as a parent. I’ve gotten tired and I’ve allowed my children to manipulate and control situations which previously would have never happened. I’ve done this because it’s felt easy– and I’ve tuned out. And that fact alone is wholly unacceptable. My family deserves so much more than a tired, tuned-out mom. I deserve to be all that I am capable of being.
So, I’m beginning to feed all of the parts of me. I’m engaging in my own creative processes and nurturing parts of me that have been residing in the dark for years upon years. I’m working through my own healing process actively– and I’m remembering the importance of boundaries within love.
For the last two years I’ve allowed my children to operate with very murky boundaries– I’ve allowed them to press, and press and press with very little feedback from me. And one thing is clear now– i have reestablished my boundaries. I’ve remembered who I am as a parent– and they are also quickly remembering (with a fair amount of help from me, of course). And what is happening, literally right before my very eyes, is these two amazing beings are beginning to take responsibility for themselves– and things beyond themselves. They are beginning to understand that the love and support that I offer them unconditionally is something to be respected and appreciated, not taken for granted.
And very quickly we are all understanding that our lives are richer and fuller because of the fact that they are stepping up and supporting me as well. The emotions that overcame me as I looked into the sweet, wise eyes of Lila in this photograph were of immense gratitude that I am able to fully see her again. That I am able to take in the wholeness that is her being and love and celebrate it– rather than just feeling tired and angry and annoyed that she is yet another thing pulling at me.
My children deserve to be celebrated for their beauty and richness. They deserve to be acknowledged just as much as I do. They deserve to learn about the importance of boundaries within love. They deserve to see and know their mother as the truly powerful, fully embodied being that I deserve to be. All of us deserve that.