Twenty years ago today my youngest daughter burst into the world. She didn't care that there was a nurse's strike. She wasn't concerned by the weather. It was her time. Her moment. Her destiny. She arrived.
It's how she's lived her life every day since making her first appearance. Filled with exuberance, Liseanne steps into each moment expecting the unexpected.
When I count my blessings, Alexis and Liseanne are golden lights casting a warm glow from the top of my gratitude list like a star shining from the top of a Christmas tree. My life sparkles in the light of their beautiful spirits lighting my path.
Being a mother has taught me more about who I am than any therapy session, group encounter or solitary exploration of my psyche. Being a mother has taught me the meaning of unconditional love.
Becoming a parent is a sacred trust. Holding my new born daughters in my arms filled me with awe, with joy, and with vast amounts of trepidation. What if I'm not 'good enough'? What if I make a mess of their lives? What if....
Like a mystery writer probing the depths of her characters as she reveals the intricacy of the unwinding plot with each turning page, being a mother has revealed for me my strengths, and my weaknesses, with every day of my daughters presence in my life. Being a mother came naturally. Actually after conception, being a mother wasn't a choice. I simply was one. Being a parent however, has been a constant journey of love, and of fear. Being a parent is not natural for me -- and in fact, there are times in my journey over the past twenty+ years with my daughters in my life, when I fought being a parent because I wanted to cling to my childlike belief that someone else needed to take care of business so that I didn't have to 'grow up'!
Fortunately, children love their parents. Unconditionally. From the moment of their birth until our last breath, children love us, in spite of ourselves. I know. My daughters loved me through dark times, happy times, through sad times. The one constant always in my life was their love.
Through their love I have learned to love myself, just the way I am.
Last night, while visiting my mother at the hospital, I sat in on a group session for the patients in her care facility. It was on Building Self-Esteem. One woman said, "It took me thirty years to learn how to love myself. At first, I didn't want to. It looked so big, [loving myself]. I kept hiding in my depression so that I wouldn't have to and then, I got tired of being sad and wanted to be happy with me."
She went on to explain how she broke loving herself down into small portions. She stuck sticky notes on her mirrors and fridge that said, "I love myself". She set goals of how many times a day she needed to say it, first to the air around her and then to her reflection in the mirror.
So many people I speak to struggle with loving themselves -- exactly the way they are. I see it everyday at the shelter where I work. Lives torn apart by self-abuse. And yet, loving ourselves is integral to our capacity to be loved by others.
I used to yearn to love myself. And then I'd do things that didn't reflect my desire.
Today, I love myself exactly the way I am. My daughters taught me how through their unconditional love.
Happy Birthday Liseanne. May your life be filled with the wonder and joy you bring to every moment. May your days be filled with love.