Parents traditionally delight in their children taking their first steps, demolishing their baby size birthday cakes, dressed up in a costume… a bow… a little baby tux.
As a mother, I know the feeling of delight when I am delighting in my children. I have actively stayed still in present moments to strictly observe whatever they are doing – watching the game they came into on their own, watching their slow waking moments, watching them watching something all on their own.
Matter of fact, this ties into an early intention I set for things like outings to the zoo: let them sit as long as they wish. It doesn’t matter to me how much ground we cover, we can sit in front of the hippos, we can camp out in the birdhouse. Dwell. Delight.
This made for many childhood younger year memories but also, last year, when my 13 year old stepdaughter came to live in St. Louis for 6 weeks in the fall. Prior to the official move, the marriage; David and I let her give it a shot. I took her to the zoo and was mesmerized by how long she could sit, watching… observing. So I, too, sat… watched… observed.
I remember one time I delighted in Ellen; a time so uniquely unconventional for typical delighting that it was formative to my way of parenting. I was sitting on the couch, she was playing on the floor – maybe 2 1/2 or 3 years old. She got up from where she was playing, walked to the end table, grabbed a tissue and wiped her nose.
I cocked my head, squinted and smiled. Did she just get up from playing, aware of a tickle in her nose, know to get a tissue, get one and care for herself? Did she help herself become more comfortable? Surely, she was aware of herself.
Fast forward five years later, she is 7 or 8 and her parents are divorced. I moved out into a small apartment and – though I was experiencing a tremendous amount of relief and freedom in my life – I was naturally processing grief, specifically in relationship to the loss my children took in the break up and the definitions that were shifting for them.
There was one night I went into the bathroom to get ready for bed. It was a peachy-pink tiled bathroom with a big deep tub, stained glass window and warm lighting over a big huge vanity mirror. On the counter was my toothbrush, resting on a fold of toilet paper with toothpaste on it. Next to it was a note, “From the help of Ellen”.
From the help of Ellen.
My heart, to this day, flutters when I think about this – this concept of each of us having a reservoir of help. Bounty of help, reserves of help, to offer ourselves and to offer others in this world; specifically those we are doing life with.
I think about her early demonstration of helping herself with her runny nose. I imagine a tank of help, swirling with awareness, from which she took a small withdrawal and then the experience of being cared for depositing more back in. Likewise, that night, kissing her sleeping soft cheeks – I deposited back into her tank.
I wonder about this concept a lot. That we have help (noun) instead of we help (verb). When we live in a way where giving is the action and the helping, the hoping stop and instead we have help to give, we have hope to give – does this shift the way we feel? Does it impact the way we consider ourselves able?
It’s a foggy grey day today and I have a few things to button up before starting up some work at 1p. I am curious if this thinking feels different to anybody out there. That’s all for now :) namaste…. erin