What I know now is that is not the greatest gift I have to offer. The greatest gift is seeing her, freshly, over and over again in a new light.
When I first met my daughter through adoption, It was like I had a pair of glasses that were clean and innocent. I was deeply aware, looking through the eyes of fresh love, the profound gift we both received just being in each other’s presence.
Over time the glasses got a little foggier and I fell back on my habitual pattern of seeing through judgment and labels. I found myself categorizing, saying things like, oh, my daughter never wears skirts. And then, sure enough, the next day, she would have a skirt on. Once labeling her though, it stuck in my mind.
Conditioning through our upbringing and culture is a given. Unconsciously we take the deep divisions and dislikes we feel inside and about ourselves projecting them outwards, especially onto our children.
Projecting my stuff onto my daughter, she becomes the location of the disliked parts in me. When I perceive something is “wrong” with her I believe I am helping her if I can work to change her behavior. The truth though is I’ve been conditioned to believe I am “wrong” when I perceive that behavior inside myself. I’ve seen myself through the foggy glasses and therefore take out my pain on my daughter.
I’ve learned if I see something outside that causes discomfort, turning inward I’m able to witness the trait in me seeing it in the deepest innocence and kindness.
Longing to be seen is a desire we all recognize. To be seen in our beauty, rather than our disabilities, our neurosis or our difficulties, or whatever lens we are being seen through is an experience to behold.
I’m going to give you a little practice this week.
Take one of your children (or your partner), whoever irritates you a bit to practice with. Someone whose character or the traits they exhibit trigger judgment in you. Try taking off the habitual glasses seeing them in their core vulnerability, their core innocence, underneath any labels. Remember, they are a reflection of you.
Just this week, see if you’re willing to continue to see yourself innocently first, and then your child. Look at them when they are sleeping sweetly in their bed. Sometimes it is easier to see the innocence and beauty of being at that time. Do that tonight, and then when they wake up, continue seeing them through the eyes of innocence as if you are meeting them for the first time, just as you did at birth.
I’ll never forget the moment, seeing my daughter for the first time. It was such a deep moment of awe and wonderment realizing with my whole being that I had the privilege to walk with this beautiful soul for the rest of my life.