Life is Messy but at Least I Earned My “Love Wins” Parenting Merit Badge
Posted on July 2, 2013
Dear mom and dad,
I felt I should share with you, that I have finally experienced what it feels like to be a parent, to above all, love. To give space while the verbal arrow sank into my heart, knowing that the lesson was more important than my wounded ego. I feel I’ve earned some sort of merit badge, in showing up and joining the ranks of millions who know that no matter what, love wins. That’s we do as parents, we love. We have one of the hardest jobs, in raising a little human, as the little human often protests the management. I just wish the inauguration wasn’t in the “life is messy “category. I prefer things nice, tidy and in an algorithm, if at all possible. Hey, I’m a pharmacist, it comes with the territory.
Today, your granddaughter, my daughter, turned to me and fired away those words I’ve been dreading since knowing I was having a girl. I honestly didn’t think it would happen this soon.
She’s only five, a wide-eyed, curious little girl who loves to climb the Japanese Maple in our back yard, and swings across the monkey bars in every way possible: one at a time, skipping every-other, backwards, and even with her eyes closed. She is fearless, a force to be reckoned with.
Pardon my naïveté but I thought it would be a decade or so more down the road before this happened, before I reckoned with that force.
I thought she’d be upset about me not letting her stay out until the wee hours of the night, or not letting her take overnight trips with people I barely knew, or allow her to get her ears pierced twice, or that I wouldn’t let her date that boy, because I wanted to date that boy and know that that boy doesn’t usually work out but breaks your heart.
But no, time is rushed nowadays; rather than be confronted with teen angst, I got mine served kindergarten style.
She turned to me, her eyes wild, her mouth fierce as she bit out the words “I hate you maman!”
She was in the bath, I was folding her clothes. I simply looked at her and said, “Words can hurt little love.”
I had to leave the bathroom, to give space for my aching heart and hers too. To not cry. We’re Mars et maman. The thing is, she’s too much like me, it’s like I’m looking in a mirror and that terrifies me.
The anger, the frustration, the simply wanting to be heard until it releases in a whirlwind, out of control, until the eye of the storm settles in and it all makes sense, even if but for a moment.
It’s in these moments I ache two-fold, because I ache for the journey she and I are taking day-by-day, but I also ache for the one we’ve been walking for 35 years.
I remember yelling such sentiment. Not really feeling that way, but wanting to get my point across, to be heard. In her cries and lamentations I hear the echo of the past, the resonance of my own words coming back to bite me.
It’s also in these moments, however, that I feel the depth in life. The moments I understand love and forgiveness.
Later today, I received a sorry package from her. The thing is I had already forgiven her; in fact, it was tandem to the moment she exclaimed the words. I knew she was passionate, upset and dealing with feeling like she has no control in this life she’s living as a five-year-old. But she didn’t know that, she thought she needed to do something to be forgiven, even if it truly was self-forgiveness she sought in carrying out the sweet gesture. I didn’t know I had forgiven her until she gave it to me, until I realized that love won.
Her package, however, made me stop in my tracks and realize life is precious. Life is so precious and fleeting as I clearly saw my reflection, knowing that no matter what I am loved and worthy to be loved. That I am forgiven without asking or doing anything special. I receive this simply because I am. It’s taken years to work through those walls I built, the cracks in self-worth and self-love, the consequence of living in a cruel and beautiful world.
In retrospect, I was always too busy waiting for the big moments you would sit me down and lay life out on a silver platter. Where I would see the lesson coming a mile away and be prepared to have my usual retort, because I knew it all. Even at a young age, even at 5, I knew it all. I remember being that young, and that freaks me out a bit. Each moment I wonder what she tucks away, what she’ll draw on as she grows up in this cruel and beautiful world.
But then I get it, I get you my dear parents. Life isn’t one big didactic lecture, it’s not connected dots, it’s a series of experiences and I embody the lessons of life, through my actions, my words and my love. And in doing that I shine the Truth.
From the Wholehearted Parenting Manifest by Brene Brown, ” I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.”
I see you, just as clearly as I see myself and my little girl – the embodiment of our generations combined.