Gifts from My Children (adapted from a piece written in 1985)

Gifts from My Children  (adapted from a piece written in 1985)

We are the beginning of the gifts that come back to us from our children.

Children give us many gifts; one is to reveal to us who we truly are.

When I was just a child, a daughter growing up, I reflected my mother’s image—her habits, nuances, even her opinions.  I was a mirror.  She could look at me and see aspects of herself.  I, however, didn’t truly know who I was becoming.  I changed, advanced, fell backward, tried again, grew.  Others saw the changes.  I did not as growing up is equal to change.  I was just me.

When I became the mother of two little girls, they began to reflect and mirror my image, my words, ideas, habits and actions.  Gazing into their faces, listening to their speech and observing their choices revealed things about myself.  I could see my tendency to be over-cautious in one daughter.  “Mom, you shouldn’t carry all those books down the stairs.”  The other sometimes reflected my crazier moments, “I’m punk today, Ma, just call me Punky Weirdo.”  One liked her room neat and tidy (so me).  One liked a sunny corner to read in and another would cry easily when hurt by a friend.   That’s me too.  They were both tender to our cat and any child who visited.  So okay, I am doing something right.

So much of what we do and say around our children and now our grandchildren, they take into themselves.  Listen and you will hear phrasing, tone of voice, and word choice.  My daughter remarked recently that she gets why she uses the word “literally” as emphasis.  “Both you and dad just used it in the last five minutes.”  To underline her statement, moments later four-year-old Keegan walked in and said, “It’s really hot out there, Mom, I mean literally.”

This word usage thing is generational, stretching forward and backward.  Sometimes when I am speaking I have no control over what comes out—it is my mother: her inflection, her vocabulary, and often her ideas.  I can be my mother, so kind and gentle with a sick child, and so impatient when things aren’t flowing my way.   Is that a good thing?

The answer: we finally all decide, I want to be myself.  My own self.  Not my parent.

And luckily, for both parent and child, I think, we don’t become exact copies.  We make our own decisions and alter the paths of choice.  We bring along parental things, but we change things up too—we grow more and more to be just ourselves.

I guess we are all like pieces of glass, catching beams of light and casting them off into the darkness or bouncing them into other pieces of glass.  We affect and reflect one another.

If we have performed our parental tasks well, our children give us back the gift of seeing the best part of ourselves.  They change others’ lives for the good.  They earn a degree, a paycheck, start a company, make a good marriage—and there is something of us in each event.  There is also something of us in the first argument or maybe a divorce, or a job loss.   When we parent, we bargain that most of the gifts from our children and grandchildren will be positive and confirming.  It’s always been our responsibility to be good models, so that the mirror we eventually look into—the lives of our children—will be positive, the light they are beaming out bright and positive.  It’s a light that we started and that will be carried along to the generations that follow—it’s that gift from our children.

Thanks to Google Images

2 thoughts on “Gifts from My Children (adapted from a piece written in 1985)

  1. I loved this article. It is so full of insight and poignancy… you capture the essence of being yourself and a being a parent in smooth flow. Thank you for sharing, I am going to share this as well. It’s truly a beautiful piece.

    • Natalie, thanks so much for your support. My son was sick on Mother’s Day and also far away from me. But he gives me gifts every day as he lives his life as a good person, a strong worker, a friend, a great musician and fun to be with. All gifts from one of my children. Beth

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