Gifts of Love

tutus

I have been an avid student of all my children. Each one has taught me something I didn’t know I had in me, imagined I could do, would want to do, and so much more. My middle daughter’s mental challenges changed me. Her bipolar disorder also enriched my perceptions. I have been turned upside down, right-side up, yet enlightened in ways I can never express. Living with mental illness is a day to day wave and all you can do is surf it without restraints or expectations. When she arrived into my life at the age of 9 from Romania, I knew my life would never be the same. I have witnessed tenacity, perseverance, disorder, disarrangement, and complexity in myself. Our mirrors have reflected personal issues that I wouldn’t have addressed at other times in my life. I have been pushed to learn things of the human spirit I didn’t even know existed. She has taught me the meaning of unconditional love, surrendering, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and patience. I am not a patient person and she has been the button-pusher of constant reminding how much I can tolerate. I am always shocked by how much I can endure and where the lines are drawn.

My daughter, in her struggle for understanding while living with severe anger and mental disorders, has gifted me with the most precious experience of all. She has given me a child, my granddaughter, to raise again as a child of my own. I hope this seventh child will make the rest of this journey magical. This little girl has reshaped my reality. She has allowed me to throw all plans out the door. My daughter is very present inside of this little girl and I marvel at the preciousness of another generation teaching me more about life and myself. I am aware at this love that I wasn’t expecting in this time in middle years.

The mind is our most priceless commodity. It creates, modifies, regenerates, releases, and forces us to see past the boundaries of time and space. My daughter has taught me to love fiercely in a way that I didn’t know was available. She is not capable of understanding many of the issues that created the loss of permanency for raising her daughter. Her dissociative identity disorder does not permit her mind to see normalcy and stability. She will forever be stuck at 13 years of age. The older she gets the more noticeable it becomes. But, she’s taught me to see the exceptions to all the rules.

Recently while I held this two year old in my lap I told her what I say every day, “I love you, sweetheart.” She immediately responded as a matter of fact, “I know.”

My husband and I laughed out loud and she returned the giggles in exaggerated form. She has brought tremendous light into our home. I am grateful for this journey. I never imagined it in a million years. There are days I don’t think I will survive another childhood but then love is seen through the eyes of a sweet baby girl and I know that God is staring right at me. Who else is gonna join me to dance with tutus and tiaras? Who else will sit and listen to fairy tales and stories of unicorns and wizards? This journey is a pure gift of love!

Lessons from an Infant

infant

It has been 26 years since I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the intricate lessons from an infant. They arrive into this world with complete presence and a spiritual awareness that gets lost throughout the years. We, as parents and caretakers, mold a child and tarnish their essences from the openness to the deformity of what is acceptable in our society.  How very sad!  I am guilty and have been responsible for this as well.  Now, in my years of middle age, I can appreciate and marvel at the teachings from a little one.   It takes a second chance at raising a child to notice what was once dismissed in youth:

  1. Be present at all times.  A baby isn’t worried about anything but what (s)he needs.  They are completely living in the moment.  They poop and cry to be changed.  They are hungry and cry to be fed.  They are tired and cry to be put down.  Time is an illusion. Babies have no sense of an hour, a minute or a day.
  2. Vulnerability is strength.  Babies don’t worry about what you think.  You smile, they smile.  They ask for everything through a cry or scream. Their facial expressions are endless.  They show openness at all times.  A baby isn’t thinking, “What will they think of me when I crap? What will they think of me when I pass gas?”  There are no mixed signals of what they want and cannot have. They don’t make excuses for it their desires. They wear vulnerability as their main guidance and trait.
  3. The world is a playground.  A baby will marvel at a red bowl, a stuffed animal, or a sofa cushion with the same intensity of wonder. They study it with a beautiful bewilderment of learning.  They are constantly studying their surroundings.  You can leave the room and return and they will look at you with appreciation.   The acquired knowledge is miraculous.  Every part of their day is magical while they reach a milestone: whether it is sitting up, crawling, talking or walking. A baby relishes in playtime.  Their curiosity allows them to turn everything into an adventure.
  4. A smile is contagious.   Babies are pure joy.  They mimic smiles.  They smile, you smile, and the continuous action turns into laughter.  Their eyes even smile.  They are pure ecstatic energy.  Babies teach us to find happiness in every corner.   A smile is a mood enhancer.
  5. Touch is a means of survival.   Babies require touch.  They depend on it for their existence.  They require the hands of an adult to care for them.   They will grab on to a finger, a hand, a leg or whatever they can to feel the touch of safety.
  6. Love enters through birth.  You want to know God, spend some time with a baby.  They are the embodiment of love and spirit.  They are raw, without judgment, and full of divine light.  To be this open as an adult is a gift for our humanness.  It would benefit us tremendously to keep an open heart.  Infants are ego-less. They love and forgive every second.
  7. Every day is a miracle.  Each morning my granddaughter looks at me and her environment as if it was the first mystical moment of her life.  She coos and jerks with excitement.  I wake to this and for a few seconds think about how she is seeing her world.  I am reminded that there is always something to be grateful about during our day.  Babies live through the generosity of miracles and God.
  8. Never give up.  Babies keep trying to roll over, to sit, to stand and to walk.  With every milestone they keep moving forward.  They don’t give up.  They have the most tenacious spirit out there. Survival of the fittest!   They fall and get right back up as if the ground is their cheerleader.
  9. Don’t feel guilty for sleeping.   In our society we are scrutinized for taking naps.  I personally like to go to bed early and rise before the sun is out.  Those around me usually have some kind of sarcastic or negative comment about my sleeping routines.  For many years I would be frazzled by the judgments.  Babies don’t care.  They are the best teachers in how to sleep peacefully.  They are tired so they sleep.  They also teach us how precious sleep plays a huge role in our clarity, concentration, and personality.
  10. Be authentic to your knowing.  Babies are great judge of characters.  When they feel comfortable with someone they will let you know it.  They are at home in your arms.  If they don’t feel safe they will scream.  Babies teach us that we must follow our gut.  It is this divine knowing that gets clouded later on in childhood.

Every new day I am learning from my sweet baby girl.  She is reminding me what is important.  I am blessed by the lessons.  Teachers arrive in all shapes and sizes.  Lately mine is a tiny 15-1/2 lbs. baby girl with a tender heart and a smile that melts me in seconds.

The Expansion of Divinity

I am exhausted.  I don’t know if it’s the new baby or the effects of this new mercury retrograde.  What I know is that yesterday I was pushed to the ultimate limit of my emotions.  I lied in bed at 6 pm with tears rolling quickly, soft sighs, and an intense heartache. I placed my hands over my heart and felt it move in a way that was foreign, yet familiar. My breathing helped ease the movement.  I don’t know how else to express the emotions. It could be the lack of sleep, feeding a five month old every few hours.  It could be the intense astrological and cosmic movements.  It could be that I just need sleep and rest and the comfort of knowing that my daughter will be okay.  As I hold her baby in my arms I am filled with joy.  As I put her down I am saddened that my daughter can’t feel the joyous privilege of understanding this little soul.  I don’t think she will ever cognitively live it.

You want to know God?  Hold a baby and look into their eyes.  They just came from that magical place.  They smell like heaven most of the time, and when they search for your eyes they demand complete presence.  It is no wonder my emotions have been topsy-turvy.  This business of raising a child is extraordinary.  I didn’t know I would be doing it all over again from scratch.   My youngest child graduates from high school this week.  And, yet, here I am starting over for however long it may be.

The other morning I spoke to a very good friend of mine who had been traveling through Europe.  We caught up within minutes.  As I related the events of the past two months she didn’t skip a beat, “It doesn’t surprise me…none of this surprises me!  You are meant to be a mother.  That’s your greatest job.  Apparently this is your destiny.”  To my dismay I understood her.  I have to believe she’s right.  I feel my heart expand when I hold the baby in my arms, even through waking every three hours in the night.  I see her little eyes searching for my acknowledgment, “Hey you, I am here.  See me?  I see you!”

Life moves forward but its lessons expand outward, inward, and every direction.  I don’t know how long this new phase and process of having her here will last.  Mental illness is not fixable.  There’s no cure for my daughter.  There’s rehabilitation, teaching, and many forms of adjustment.  My heart has been tugged, pulled and pushed to the extremes.  I am not alone in this journey. The only difference is that I have gone through the parenting trap and lessons before.  My anticipation, anxiety and humanness kick in because I have known this path and the things it holds.

I cannot “suck up” the emotions.  I have no way of keeping them inside.  I have to allow them to release when they need to be exposed.  I cannot ignore events like I used to for the larger part of my life.  I was always sick: emotionally, physically and spiritually.  This is a new dawn.  The expansion of love is endless.  Holding this baby is showing me what I never saw in my twenties: Divinity staring back.  When she searches for my eyes nothing else matters around her.  She expects my undivided attention, holds a haze and forces me to stop whatever else is inside of me.  In those eyes I see the universe.  In her smile I find the spiritual connection to life.  This is all that matters right now.  The mere simplicity of being present is why we are here.

So perhaps I shouldn’t blame it on the astrological movement of Mercury or the stars.  I shouldn’t blame it on the sleepless moments.  I am being rubbed and polished into anew. The expansion of my consciousness is in constant process.  As I write this she sits in her swing, our dog at her feet, the porch door is opened allowing the rainy morning to visit us with a breeze.  This is completely different from anything else…before…until now.  Everything is changing.  I am witnessing the growth and expansion of my soul with this presence.

Throughout the world people go to church, or religious establishments, to find God on Sunday mornings.  Today I hold God in the form of a child.  My sermon sits inches away from me.  I am moved by nature: that of a child and watching the earth unfold next to her.  I cannot imagine the divine speaking through any other way.  Have a blessed day, my friends!