I am cheating this week. I'm quite unwell and dont really have the ability to write (or even talk), so I am pasting an old article. Its been published before so forgive me for that. Pls note that my daughter is now older and for the record, although I wrote this, I still have not learnt from her, and passed on my own negativity to her. But perhaps, it will give you all some food for thought.
My apologies once again!
Lessons to Learn
My daughter turned one year this month. As I pondered over the highs and lows of the past year, the personal growth her father and I went through, the absence of self indulgence and a new knowledge of our capacity to nurture, there remain many things that make me anxious. My daughter has her whole life ahead of her and I wish to be a mother she can be proud of. A mother who taught her all things right, a mother who had some thing of value to offer her. Luckily I have some faith in my judgment. I married a good man, learnt from wise and loving parents, live a wholesome life and have surrounded myself with positive people. However, increasingly the challenge of parenting worries me. This concern was answered when I observed that all I need to be a good parent is to learn from what my daughter teaches me today.
When she was handed to me, she was a bundle of dependency. God put in her this instinct of self preservation and now in one year I have this blessing of a child who has taught herself to sit, stand, crawl, walk, grab, hold, smile, talk, bite, chew and much much more. In one year she has learnt so much, on her own, with little help, by simply challenging herself and she continues to do so. She tries to stand without support, although she may fall many many times in her attempts, it doesn’t stop her. Her attempts continue. She doesn’t lose heart. She can’t walk without support now but she knows she can, and she will, because she challenges herself and she tries. And when she fails, she doesn’t cry and stop trying. She continues. Failure doesn’t discourage her. She doesn’t know the term failure yet. She doesn’t know what it is and that it even exists. She just knows she has new boundaries to break and she will continue to do that until she learns to give up, like the rest of us.
She has an incredible zest for life. An enthusiasm that is never ending, inspiring, her energy can move the people around her. Her vigor can make any day beautiful and she just uses a single smile to drive all my fears and stresses away. She gives. Unconditionally she gives. She gives love and all her time and attention. She has but few needs in life. Her food and hygiene taken care of, she will be happy with almost nothing. Her life is not about needs or things. She doesn’t need toys. She simply doesn’t need. I may give her gifts, but all she needs truly, is love. And this is what she can give in return. The simple pleasures of life. The give and take of love and attention, of smiles and of caring.
In the past one year she has been through various bouts of sickness. Prone to asthma and allergies, she has been up most nights, she has had trouble breathing, was nebulised frequently. She very often had fever, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lack of energy. But here is what is strange. In the midst of it all, she never forgot to smile. She never gave up. As soon as the medicines would begin their work and her fever would start to drop, her smile would return and she would find something to amuse herself with. While, her father and I moan endlessly about another sleepless night we watch with her with astonishment, amazed at her resilience, her strength. She has but few reservoirs of strength in her, yet she is determined. But more than determination, simply, she hasn’t yet learnt to complain, to whine, to ramble non stop over the tragedies that inflict her. She hasn’t yet learnt to be an adult and oh! How beautiful that makes life.
Today as she played with her favourite play pals, I saw one of them purposely hit her. As a protective mother, I yelled as she cried. The perpetrator, himself a mere child, hid in the arms of his mother. And as I carried my child to make her feel secure, within minutes, she was exchanging smiles with her friend. She forgave, she forgot, she was ready to play again, despite the risk of another injury. She forgave. And although I had my concerns, the same boy handed her his toy, a gesture of friendship, of peace. She accepted with a smile as I watched over. She forgave and forgot. I see her do this all the time. She forgives me for my neglect. She doesn’t complain when I chat on the phone as she yearns to talk to me. She finds something else to do.
As I look for various ways to amuse myself on an empty weekend, some cooking, some book reading, catching up with friends, she doesn’t need anything to be happy. Her self reliance is amazing. She can be by herself for hours and not feel disturbed. The contentment that is on her face I long to have. She enjoys her own company, her independence, without being selfish or self involved. She will jump with joy when I try to join her game. Always welcoming my attention, but never complaining at the lack thereof.
She can adapt, simple. Adapt to new people, new places. We have taken her to new cities, new homes, around new people, all kinds of weather and she has learnt to love them all and accept them all. She is far more comfortable in new places and new people than I would ever be. It is terribly easy to make her smile, to amuse her, to make her laugh. She giggles, crackles, and I am afraid of the time when amusement and laughter becomes rarer and life becomes complicated for her.
She is the most non-judgmental person I know. Despite her purity, her innocence, her impeccable nature, she finds no fault in others. Perhaps unlike adults, she doesn’t know what a fault is, what ‘wrong’ is, what ‘fake’ is. She will love all those who offer her love, will reach out to those who genuinely seek out to her. And although I have discovered her magical ability to assess between people who genuinely love her, and those who do not, she will accept them all with her purity of soul.
But her most incredible strength, in all her self reliance, social skills, is that she knows the value of family. To her, no one comes before her mother. And although she has formed other relationships, she knows who to call when she needs help, when she is sick. Her love is not one based on need and dependency. She gives love back. Not just through smiles, and gentle touches and communication but so much more. For instance, she can sense when I am sick and even at 12 months of age will help, by crying less, by needing less, by giving me space. She knows how to value her mother, some thing we adults forget too easily.
I never knew the wisdom God put in children. It’s like a default programme which is corrupted as time goes on. My daughter will change soon. Change because she will be influenced by her father and I, by her peers and by all our friends and family. She will learn to judge, to give up, to hurt, to be hurt, to let-go of the purity that she carries today. I don’t know whether or not I want her to retain all her wonderful qualities because the world is no longer a safe place for them, but I do know I’d like to take some of these from her and keep them in me, grow them in me. So someday I may be truly worthy of her.