Archives for posts with tag: mother

“When are you gonna love you as much as I do?” – Tori Amos

Who’s worthy of love? If you answered, “everyone,” then congratulations! You move to the head of the class! And for the rest of you, looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us today. I suppose class is in session.

The topic of love is something concerning which I have an abundance of expertise. “Why?” You ask.  Well it just so happens that it’s been an ongoing issue for me. Yes, that’s right, Holl has her hang-ups. Who would have thought? (If you say you would have, then you can take your snarky self elsewhere;))

We’ve talked about the lack of self-worth so many people have and how that thinking can lead us to some pretty undesirable places, but I’m thinking more lately about unconditional love; about people hiding their true selves in an attempt to present the world with a facade. I think it’s probably a significant flaw of human-kind to feel so impelled to create persona’s for the rest of us to see and I understand the reasoning behind this thinking; we’re all afraid of people not liking us for who we really are. It’s fear that drives us to hide our precious selves from those who populate our circle; everyone from co-workers, peers, neighbors and acquaintances to the most valued loved ones in our lives.

It’s so interesting, this silly paradox of emotion. We lock away our secret selves in an attempt to protect ourselves, but what winds up happening, is we only throw tiny shards of ourselves out there for the world; these measly little bits and pieces that do not represent us accurately. It does us a disservice to withhold so much of ourselves out of fear of not measuring up; of somehow having deficiencies that outweigh our amazing-ness. (Yes, it’s been a while since I interjected some Holl-ebonix, but I knew you were all jonesing for a fix…;))

So Miranda*, a friend of mine I’ve had for the last several years, said something to me very recently amid a torrent of self-depreciating tears. It’s not an unfamiliar principle, nor is it something we haven’t already explored, but the fact that it seems so pervasive, only adds to the cogent nature of the statement. She said she didn’t know if anyone knew what she really was–all the mistakes she’d made and all the flaws she bore–if any of them would still love her. Really? I mean, don’t get me wrong I totally get what she’s saying, but I’d like to think the people closest to me have more to them than just some superficial appreciation of me. That they love me for all of me.

Here’s hoping that people won’t define me based on my greatest flaw; that I won’t be remembered for my most significant deficiency or my worst mistake.

Can y0u imagine if your name was forever linked to the fact that one time in the ninth grade you shoplifted? Or if people always associated you with the time you picked on a kid at school? I mean don’t get me wrong; these things are certainly not things to be proud of and actions that are harmful to others are likely to have a lasting impact on both them and you. The point of life is not to achieve some level of flawlessness and to live steeped in self-loathing and regret when that’s not achieved, but rather to grasp each opportunity for progression and affirmation as they present themselves, to reach out to those around us by first loving ourselves. It’s an invaluable lesson and an effective tool in building deeper, more enduring relationships with the people around you as well as healing the internal rifts caused by years of self-neglect and derision.

It’s kind of like when the flight attendant cautions you to not leap to the aid of those around you until you’ve first secured your own breathing mask. Wise words from the friendly skies.

This is, undoubtedly, easier said than done. I’ve been pretty blunt regarding my own inability to ease up on self-criticism. To give you an idea of just how insidious it is, I remember in the first grade attending parent teacher conference with my parents and listening intently as my parents discussed my scholastic progression with my teacher. My parents used a phrase that was then echoed by my teacher. I had never heard it until then, but it has chided me with regularity since:

“Hollie is her own worst enemy.”

Wow, I remember thinking at the ripe-old age of six. That doesn’t sound good.

No, Holl. It doesn’t.

It think it’s difficult not to scrutinize our actions and achievements and to often find ourselves lacking. In a world where a person’s worth is often measured by their resumes and people are constantly garnering respect and admiration by burning themselves at both ends, it can be challenging to remind ourselves that we’re each composed of something greater. That we’re more than our accomplishments and likewise more than our shortcomings.

To remind ourselves that as human beings, we’re good enough–sans resumes.

I think it goes without saying that achievement is crucial in contributing to the world around us and endeavoring to leave this planet better and the people in it improved for having humored us throughout the drama of mortality. Progression and productivity are essential in creating our best selves, however, to obsess about it–to feel inadequate when we don’t measure up to some ridiculous ideal of what makes a good man or woman–is counterproductive. I think it’s putting the cart before the horse.

Perhaps if we just concentrated on building character, then the accomplishments would fall naturally into place. We would find greater effectiveness in our pursuits, because we would be operating with greater intentions; motives of a better quality.

I think that God created each of us like vessels. That our spirits take on many forms. I imagine a table filled with crystal decanters, vases and glasses of varying sizes and shapes. And likewise of varying capacities. If you are represented by a small, eight-ounce juice glass and you fill it until it’s brimming wouldn’t that be a greater success than if you were a large, cavernous vase 14 inches tall with nothing more than several drops resting in its base?

Maybe we’re each just responsible for attaining the full measure of our own individual creations. That’s what I’m inclined to think.

I’ll extend a challenge–yes that’s correct–a challenge. When you get some time, flip open a newspaper and peruse the obituaries. It seems morbid, I know, but stick with me on this. Scan over the entries. Read the words of the loved ones of the deceased. Soak in the memories these people have of their friend/family member. Absorb the impact that life had on those around them. See what good people are really remembered for and the effect that a person’s life has on others.

I read one a couple of years ago that five children had composed regarding their beloved mother. I think of it all the time and I get that familiar sting in my eyes. Why? Because I’m a big baby who cries all the time when I hear something that moves me. The children recounted stories and memories. They listed some of the greatest, most relevant principles they had been blessed to learn from their mom. Then they shared the one thing she had provided that was of greatest relevance to them:

“She showed us the face of God.” they said.

Wow.

Not, “She made us do our homework. Or, “She made us eat our veggies.” Not that these things aren’t important. I’m a mother and I would feel no small amount of guilt had I neglected to set boundaries and be stern when necessary. But the greatest achievement this woman had was in rearing these exceptional individuals who, in turn, considered her greatest accomplishment to be instilling in them a deep appreciation for spirituality; a belief in something greater.

I’ve said it before: I don’t have all the answers. I am the Universe’s greatest work in progress. But there are things I know that resonate with me; that make supreme sense in an otherwise abstruse world. This principle, the idea that we are each distinctly unique and irreplaceable individuals, is likely the most crucial of them . Understanding this I believe is perhaps one of the great purposes of life; that our mistakes and faults may be facets of our life, but they are not what comprise us. Our humanity is more consequential than that. Our value is immeasurable. And yes, that does include each of you.;)

XOXO

hollie

“Each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.







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“I would give the world to you.” -Ian Axel

For some people who are not parents, becoming one can seem  not only daunting, but repressive; that the responsibilities it entails are so limiting that there’s no place for it in a life of excitement and independence. I won’t argue that parenting can be restrictive.

Gone are the late nights of freewheeling abandon and the ability to engage in social merriment at the drop of the proverbial hat. But that’s only because it’s how the Universe opens you up to something else.

Sacrifice is giving up something good for something better.

Trading in a bustling social life for early bedtimes and parent teacher conferences can seem, to many, to be a little…unappealing. But, if I’m being honest, those were some of the reasons I was terrified of becoming a parent. I knew I would miss the freedom to do as I pleased when I pleased. And, while this is not everyone’s reason for not having children, it was a particular fear of mine. Call it selfish, but there it is.

But those aimless years of flitting from one social event to the next, of having no one who relies upon you, become emptier with time. The  glitter fades. The ability to invest one’s time and energy according to whim and fancy is a vital part of the human experience; a crucial part of growing. But as a long-term goal, it lacks substance (George Clooney.)

Don’t get me wrong, parenting is not for everyone. There are plenty of people who lead richly rewarding lives who never foray into the adventure of parenting. And likewise, there are plenty of d-bags who become parents who I’d sooner seen drawn and quartered. The evening news is replete stories of abuse and neglect at the hands of undeserving parents.

But, ideally speaking, I wish every good person who wanted children, would have the opportunity to join the fray of parents far and wide; that every person of good character with a kind heart could bring a child into their home to raise. I wish that every wonderful person I knew who wanted children and couldn’t have them, for whatever reason, was able to. To have the chance to have a person depend upon you for–literally–everything is humbling and fulfilling.

It is nothing I would trade and something I often wish I could have had the opportunity to do again.

I have an indescribable love and appreciation for my daughter. She gives me purpose in a potentially rudderless world. She embodies the hope and optimism that seem to fade as we age. She is Prozac in human form; I take her daily.

Her blue eyes and smattering of freckles are priceless art to me. She grows and evolves hourly and as I become excited at this prospect, I daily mourn the loss of each stage of her development. I have these ridiculous moments where it hits me: she’s not a baby; she’s not a toddler. I might never have that again. Even as I type that I cry.

And when I clean out her closet and cast out the clothes she’s outgrown, I cry more. Because she’s growing and shedding those years of childhood. And because I’m succeeding to no small degree in achieving one of the main things I believe the Universe had planned for me: helping her become the incredible woman she was intended to be.

I may not be prolific in my mothering, but it’s quality not quantity that are imperative here–and in that quarter I’m doing a damn fine job.

She is everything good in me and everything good I wish was in me. I finally understand unconditional love. There is nothing–nothing–that she could do that would ever diminish my love for her.

I think that’s the gift of being a parent. That’s the gift she gives me every day.

XOXO

hollie

“In the end we have each other, and that’s at least one thing worth living for.” -Ian Axel

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