Friday, December 25, 2009

I Believe

This might be the last Christmas that Abby believes in Santa. This saddens me because I vividly remember my own heart break when this cold realization fogged my brain. In a valiant effort to prolong the magical wonder for my daughter, I've employed the efforts of Santa's elves. I, too, have been Santa's helper. Surprise candy canes adorned the trees and whimsical elves mysteriously moved 'round the house, playfully relocating from room to room. After we got a beautiful nine inches of snow, Santa himself delivered an early Christmas present of sleds. Abby explained that Santa must've used the Christmas winds to send the sleds down to us. I breathed a sigh of blissful relief.

In December of 1979, I deduced that my parents had been parading as Santa. (That same Christmas Eve, I spent several hours in the ER getting stitches in my chin. I secretly wished they could sew my faith and belief in the magic of Christmas back in at the same time.) When I rebounded, I started to craft the same veil of wonder and joy for my much younger brother.

I now get to do the same with Abby and Henry. I've got time with Henry. But Abby's current inquisitive line of questioning indicates that her logic is getting ready to trump her beliefs. She might be ready for this but, alas, I am not. I hope that if her tangible belief in Santa begins to fade, she will fuel the magic and spirit of Christmas for herself and others. I still get goosebumps when Christmas magic occurs. When the kids are hypnotized by twinkly lights, when they act selflessly, when strangers think of others before themselves...all these form a Christmas knot in my throat. Tears filled my eyes when Santa wished me a Merry Christmas this year. I was transported to 1978, once again a little girl, filling my heart and mind with the wonderment of the season. I hope Abby keeps that center of her heart open so she continues to give and receive the gifts of the season. So she will always say, with conviction, I Believe.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

As A Mother

I am my children's compass. My thoughts, actions, talents, responses, quirks, beliefs and flaws all act as a compass guiding Abby and Henry. I provide nudges this way and that. I teach through the filter of my personal beliefs. I accept the truth of this foundation but must admit that it terrifies me. I want Abby and Henry to derive their beliefs from their own personal truths--not mine. I strive for them to fold my tutelage into their own personal mix of them and us, and encourage them to always edit for their authenticity.

As a child, I initially lit my light by the thoughts and energy of my parents. Later I fueled my fire with ideas from others, including both the bad ("you're awkward and ugly") and the good ("you're a breath of fresh air"). I've realized that I still tightly grasped some of the mistruths others crafted for me along my path--and found it much easier to glom onto the negatives than the positives. Fortunately, I now fully embrace my fabulousness. It took me 37 years and counting to learn this--how do I instill my children with the self-confidence to do the same? Right now?

How do young children, so pure and absorbent, mitigate the intricacies of not only their parents' lives but also their own? Take, for instance, the recent media coverage of the tragic bullying cases--the insidiousness of other's cruelties shake me to my core. How do I teach my children to not just persevere but flourish?

In what ways do I misguide my children? (Although I don't yet know exactly how I've fumbled as a parent, I know that when Henry and Abby are in their 20's and 30's, they'll fill me in.) I hope that through the truthful sharing and celebration of my life, I will ground them. Ground them with the understanding that mistakes and missteps are all part of emerging into a strong, competent, positive young adult.
They must be dutiful editors, only embracing their personal truth. Yes, they can spark their light by my belief in them but I'm just the fire starter. They must develop their own light and pilot their path with their own, truthful, wobbly compasses.