Love, Loss and everything in between
#1 - limitless and perfect
If you have children in your life you know there are those moments of pure amazement and wonder. This little person might have come to you as a result of planning and conceiving, through adoption, fostering, in your role as Auntie or Uncle, or even as a teacher or coach. And it doesn't really matter what your connection is to that life, because regardless of how that bond was fostered, you have shared something special, a spark that binds you to them.
In those intimate moments you glimpse their limitless potential and you know that they are an individual like no other. There is a deep understanding, fleeting though it may be, that their path in life is boundless. Unfolding before you, you are witness to their intensity and passion, the essence of their character. You can look forward and imagine all of the amazing adventures and experiences you know they will have. You know they will develop a unique talent into anything they choose. You will see their compassion and empathy for others come so naturally. You see it all materialize in this small person who is yet to understand any of the things you are feeling and yet somehow accesses their truths more than any adult in your life.
Following very quickly on the heels of these magical moments, where you are a voyeur to their inner greatness, is the understanding that the very act of growing up will present obstacles. And you feel a great sadness for them and also for the child that you once were. Because that is what life and growing up, love and loss, disappointment and hardship....that's what happens to us all. What was once a grain of unlimited potential to do or be anything....some of that begins to get more blurry.
We are corrected for being unabashedly inquisitive. We are hushed and dismissed when we are desired to be seen and not heard. We are shamed by others and made to feel less with callous comments, and worse than that, by the intention ones. We begin to compare ourselves; are we as smart, are we as talented, are we has funny, are we as pretty or handsome? Perhaps it is an unwarranted comment. Ungiven love. We become fearful and shy as we learn to doubt our abilities.
Sometimes we witness terrible things, live in horrific situations of violence, extreme poverty, with addiction or abuse. And sometimes we are ignored by the very caretakers who we long to be so attached and connected to. A passing comment. Unheard requests. The voiced disappointment. Losses and death. These experiences add up over the passage of childhood and they change us. They push that spark down a little deeper. They form that harder edge that makes us less trusting and more cynical. They can snuff out our light and make dreams seem just a little further out of reach.
When my children were born, I shared many of these amazing moments of seeing their whole essence, unprotected and unapologetically present in every action and word. And now they are young adults. Amazing young people and I still revel in the what if's and when's, but they are different.
They are more guarded and more fearful of what comes next. Concerned about how they will navigate challenges to come instead of just attacking life head on. Where once they approached each new opportunity with the same vim and vigour as if it was the first time, they are now jaded, hesitant. They have learned valuable lessons along the way. Had life experiences that have built character. I do not disagree with that statement, "it builds character", but honestly, children already have plenty of that when they arrived. It's bursting out of them to begin with. What they needed was never to have lost that natural joie de vivre in the first place. All children, in that first moment of life, with that first breathe of air, are pure and perfect and whole. It is in the process of growing up and moving closer to being an adult that we also move farther away from those unfiltered glimpses of who we truly are. And then we spend the adult portion of our life trying to get it back.
A person's life experiences and challenges can help them know what they don't want to be like, can illustrate mistakes they don't want to repeat and can highlight things they will do differently; but my heart does break every now and again when I remember those moments before they really got started out with the business of growing up. When I was kissing the crown of their intoxicating baby-smelling head, breathing in the dusting of silky strands, warm and completely given over to my arms, I didn't hurt for any of their sadness's yet. I didn't have the burden of wanting to save them from heartache or loss. I didn't have to find ways to convince them that they are still amazing and perfect and unique and wonderful.
Watching them grow up has been a privilege, but at night when I am alone I imagine them in those other moments. I know they have become the people they are now because of the path they have walked to get here, but I wish I could have saved them all the effort. There is a cruelness to growing up. You spend your life trying to get back the essence you naturally had at birth but lost on your path to adulthood which is when you really need it the most.