Thursday, August 27, 2015

Things I hope my Children Never Unlearn




As is often the case on lazy mornings the kids seem to eventually make their way to our bed for some morning snuggle time. Last week during an end of summer snuggle sesh Lamp says, Mom, I love our whole family so much. I even love myself! She giggled a bit at her bold declaration and then said, Is that OK?

Is that OK? Is that OK?  I did my best to explain that it was more than OK. It was really, really great and I'm so glad she that she loves herself.

And then I silently half-thought/half-prayed, Please bless that she will always love herself. Please don't let the world ever take that away from her. 

Which is a similar prayer I seem to utter in my heart quite a bit, Please don't let me screw up the amazing people my children already are too much. 

If my children are any representation of the population at large I feel that most people come into the world with so much goodness, love and wholeness in tact. Children naturally crave and freely give all the best and most important things in this world--love, comfort, peace, laughter and affection. But at some point being human requires that we feel pain and sorrow in a variety of different forms, from a variety of different sources. And then somehow we unlearn how to crave those most valuable things and we re-learn to crave their counterfeits--lust, money, popularity, power and comfort in the form of food, drink, shopping or some other pain-numbing addiction. Even sadder still is the fact that so many people mistake these counterfeits for the real thing.



Children, if somewhat well cared for, are little receptors of love. They have no ego, they simply cry for their needs--including love and security--and release that same goodness back out into the world as freely as air. When people talk about the commandment to become like a child I most often think of this purity and complete lack of ego as the most natural traits children possess. We're born pure and without ego, but ever so gradually we unlearn these things because mistakenly we think that survival in this world means a total lack of vulnerability. And for some people, sadly, it is purely about survival.

And so when Lamp declared that she indeed loved herself my first thought was how precocious and amazing this little girl is. And then I realized, oh wait... I think most of us knew how to love ourselves at age 5. But then I quickly returned to thinking she is precocious and amazing because Lamp is not most kids. Lamp is very aware of her differences. She has been on the receiving end of a social scrutiny from other children--her peers--all her life. Thankfully she has also been on the receiving end of love and acceptance all her life as well.

For fear of being misunderstood I'm going to break this down.
Here's what I'm not trying to say: Well if Lamp can love herself even though she has limb differences boy howdy, then you can too!

Here's what I am trying to say: Lamp is doing something every one on this planet has the right to do--she loves herself just the way she is. She does this despite living with the kind of scrutiny that makes people question their self worth. To me, this is both impressive and noteworthy.



So often we say things like, if we could just all love and accept each other the world would be a better place, but maybe it's got to start earlier than that. Maybe if we could all just love ourselves the world would be a better place. I don't mean being selfish, but really love ourselves. Accept, feel gratitude for, embrace and care for ourselves in the best way we know how.

Lamp, like all of us, is going to unlearn plenty of things in life. All my girls will go through their ups and downs, that's part of the process. I always bristle a little when people try to boil life down to one single answer or principle--so forgive me--but as of right now the one thing I hope Lamp and her sisters never unlearn is to love themselves. If they can do that one thing, I think they'll be alright.

What innate qualities do your children already possess that you hope they never unlearn? 

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:57 AM

    lovely post and I totally agree....kids r amazing, pure and we all can learn so much from them...

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  2. I think there's a gender thing here, too. Women learn at an early age that expressing self-satisfaction is "wrong". A women wrote about the unfair advantages she'd received throughout life from being "beautiful"-- a slender, blonde caucasian with delicate features and good teeth-- and nearly broke the internet. Not because of her exposé of lookism, racism, and classism in our society, but because she had dared to pronounce herself "beautiful", thus breaking a major social taboo. Do you remember the scene in 'Mean Girls' when Cady-- upon being complimented on her looks by the reigning Queen Bee-- says "Thank you" and is immediately attacked with a "So you think you're pretty, don't you?" It's like that.

    If a guy assesses himself as handsome or good-looking, he's perceived as being self-confident (unless he's truly delusional in that regard). Women who do the same thing are considered vain and arrogant. This spills over into other areas of life; women are expected not to "toot their own horn" about their educational and professional achievements, yet a man is seen as an assertive go-getter for trumpeting his qualifications. A study showed that a female job applicant who negotiated a higher salary for herself was rated as being pushy and unpleasant to work with, while a man who did this drew no such onus.

    Now, I may well be wrong, but the fact that Lamp asked if it was "okay" to love herself makes me think she's already encountered this belief set.

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  3. Anonymous12:26 PM

    Good question, Miggy! I'm someone who struggled with my weight from middle school on, I wished I had loved myself all that time. It wasn't just about my body per se, but what a screwed up view of your body does to your entire being. Not feeling I deserved certain things, hiding out, not thinking I should "do" anything until I reached my goal weight. So many diets and when I finally reached my goal weight (several times!) I discovered that everything didn't magically become okay. I was still lonely. Lonely and hungry.

    So that said, I hope my daughter never unlearns her innate optimism and enthusiasm. I hope when she reaches her teens, she doesn't lose that as so many girls do. For my son, I hope he keeps fighting for the underdog. He's in middle school and often puts his own "status" on the line to take up for the kids being picked on and teased.

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