Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Thank you, child!

Last night I watched a video about a young woman's gratitude towards her mother for all she had done. I see many posts on FB too about how important gratitude is and I understand the concept of it, but it jars me when I see this expectation that we as parents have that our children should be grateful to us for bringing them into the world, for raising them, for being there for them, for taking their tantrums and their rebellion. 

I wanted children for me. When we were planning our family not once did we say "We need to bring a child into this world so he/she can be born." Was I doing it wrong? I remember saying to my husband, "My life is incomplete if I cannot be a mother." I am therefore, grateful that my life was completed by the arrival of my children.

I raised my children for my own pleasure too. Yes, I did want them to be comfortable and I wanted them to feel loved - but that was just a by-product of my need to keep them happy and loved. It was about me! They filled me up. They were born from me and they gave me the opportunity to be a parent and feel accomplished and today I feel if only I had known some of what I know now, I would have done so many things differently. I did them an injustice by not educating myself enough about parenting and simply following instincts. I am fortunate that my children turned out as well as they did despite having me for a mother. They saw through my mistakes and acknowledged my love instead. For that I am grateful.

To teach our children to be grateful we first need to show them the grace of being grateful to them for being amidst us. The gratefulness will come to a child who knows what being graced by gratitude is. We learn so much from our children - as much if not more than what they learn from us. The basics that we claim to teach them would have eventually come to them. How to put food in the mouth, how to walk, how to say Mom, how to bathe, how to clean after a bowel movement, how to dress - these eventually can be learned. We send them to school and educate them because we want to be considered good parents of successful children - wanting them to be successful for themselves comes much later.  

From my children I learned about goodness, about compassion, about love, about joy, about guilt, about those butterflies in the stomach when they got on the bike for the first time or bungee jumped! I learned about weed and about computers and 3D movies and about the soul. I got to read amazing books and watch great TV shows & movies that may never have been part of my horizon if my boys had not been in it. I learned about dorms and about bullying and about watching ones child fail and letting them be. I learned to treat them as babies and as adolescents and as adults by watching how they adjusted to me as they grew older. Most importantly I learned to let go!

I am fortunate to have two amazing sons. Very different from one another and yet perfect the way they are. They truly are my biggest joy. Then I have a beautiful soul as a daughter, thanks to my younger son who brought his wife into our family. I am learning new things from her and am grateful to her for teaching me about following through on ones convictions and doing so with grace towards those who do not have the same belief. For one so young she is wise!

So how about a video on parents showing gratitude towards their children? Anyone?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A Brand New Year!

Moving into January 1st 2016 was in no way different than say moving into March 21st 2012. Yet there is a lot of pomp and splendour like there is every year on January 1st. This year I decided to let it be. I wanted to figure out why there was the need to stay up to watch balls drop and confetti fill the air and fireworks light up the night sky. I have figured out that January 1st 2016 did arrive and all of the things that happen did happen and my non-participation made no difference. That is how insignificant we as individuals are in the larger scheme of things.

April 19th 2014 had immense significance for me. I let April 19th 2015 come and go without celebrating the 1 year anniversary of my husband's new lease on life. He was significant on that day as was I, the surgeons, nurses and nurse aides. That is the day that deserves the pomp and splendour because it decidedly changed the course of our lives.

We are social beings and follow trends to define the direction of some aspects of life, but with making every social trend so important maybe we are leaving behind our personal victories and celebrations, the ones that are significant only to us as individuals or maybe to a select few.

Both my husband and I have been changed by that one event and it continues to teach us something new about ourselves and each other. The lessons maybe small, almost insignificant, and sometimes we are blown away by them. It has opened our minds and taken us into spaces within that we did not know existed. We are closer today than we have been in a long time and it has nothing to do with physical presence.

As individuals we have both grown and that has taught us how to function as a couple. We have been connected for almost 44 years now and today we take each other less for granted than we did 20 years ago. The companionship that we share is something I was always afraid we would never have because we are so different. That fear came from thinking we needed to be similar to make good companions. Today I am celebrating our differences, I am appreciating his quirkiness, I am enjoying his uniqueness. Most of all I am celebrating me. I am no longer trying to align myself to him or getting him to fall in line with me. As an individual I am enough, I am complete.

I have changed as a person not necessarily because of his cancer but because that diagnosis, treatment and recovery pushed me into a direction that I would not have otherwise taken. The path I took led to major changes within me as a person. I discovered things about myself that were evident to many but I was completely blind to. Fortunately I had the unconditional love of my family - especially my very astute children - who helped me on this journey by being kindly critical and openly embracing. As for my significant other - I am in awe of the depth of this very simple hearted yet immensely complex man.

I wish every one a Happy 2016, but encourage you to also celebrate your special days - the ones that push you to grow, or to simply be.