“It’s no trick loving somebody at their best. Love is loving them at their worst.” – Tom Stoppard
Since I’ve been trying to be more conscious, I’ve been more conscious that I am very often not consciously in control of my mind. Not only am I not in control, but more often than not, even when I try to regain control, I find myself resisting, preferring the well-worn, often negative, yet strangely comforting, path of a victim. A path that so often leads back to my first-born. The one whose existence started me on this journey by her daily presence – a presence that can be so often wild, aggressive and confrontational – that brings out the worst in me and shows me how far I have to go to be the mother I want to be. The one who my mind consistently refuses to accept as she is, spending precious moments wishing she were a happier child, an easier child, a nicer child, a more loving, peaceful child, instead of accepting her for who she is and working towards being more patient, playful, caring and self-controlled.
Before I became a mother, I imagined my daughter would be a little me; a miniature version of myself. She would be quiet and introspective. She would love nature and books. We would run together and go to Mommy and Me yoga classes. We would start out close as mother and baby, and continue to be close as she grew.
Then my daughter was born. And she was nothing like me.
She screamed from the moment she was born and continued for two and a half years. She could be loud, volatile and abrasive. From her early, every-third-day “colic,” to her refusal to sleep, to her visceral panic at anything new, I was often at a loss as to what to do with her. As she has grown, she has matured in the ways children do – learning to walk, talk, play independently, socialize with other children, and yet her strong personality remains. She is nothing like me. She is loud and intense. She feels every emotion with a strength I don’t possess. She is dogged and determined. She hates to be told what do to and refuses to be contained. She is argumentative and fights fiercely for her rights. She lives in the moment and won’t be rushed.
She is my daughter. The daughter I have.
Some days, I still find myself mourning the daughter I didn’t have. The daughter who would cuddle in my lap and run to me with open arms. The daughter who would sit with me on a blanket daydreaming and watching the clouds go by. The daughter who would run laughing, hand in hand with her brother. The daughter who would, after a hug and a kiss, tell me she loved me and lay down to sleep. But this is not the daughter I have.
Because of my difficulty accepting and celebrating the daughter I have, we have had a rocky start, she and I. But it is because of her that I am on this journey towards more conscious living and more conscious parenting. I am determined to move towards conscious acceptance of who she is, because in truth, she is my teacher, my sage towards a better self. Had she been the daughter I’d envisioned, life may have been much more peaceful and smooth, but I would not have been forced on to this path, to confront my demons (or become one) and to (hopefully) come out a better mother on the other side.
Now I just need to keep reminding myself of this when my mind starts down the darker path…
Any parents of strong-willed, spirited children who can relate? Any stories of inspiration to share?