Does he know what this means? I don’t know, nor do I care, because it’s just wonderful to hear. He says it joyfully, authentically.
I’d like to think he’s picked it up from me. I tell him I love him all the darn time. I tell him in the morning when he wakes up, when I drop him off at school, when I pick him up from school, when I tuck him into bed at night. I just want him to know, through my words and deeds, that he is loved no matter what. No matter what. More importantly, I want him to learn to love himself, no matter what. No matter how often and how badly he screws up in his life, I want him to be sure of the core of his basic humanness, his basic goodness.
This is not an easy task for either of us. We live in a conditional world. We are all conditioned to want people and things to “make us” happy. The concept of being happy, or just plain old accepting life, regardless of what anyone is doing or what is going on– is a very revolutionary one.
Scott Noelle, my parenting guru, writes a lot about “unconditionality.” He says:
The idea that you can’t enjoy this moment because
of unwanted conditions is a LIE perpetuated by our
conditional culture — a lie that serves no purpose
other than to keep people feeling powerless!
Unconditionality says, “Enjoying the here and now
is my top priority, so I’m not going to use these
conditions as an excuse to separate from my natural
state of well-being.”
I have been thinking a lot about this concept of unconditionality. I need to teach it to myself so I can pass it on. I catch myself all the time expecting people and things to “make me” happy, or railing against them for “making me” sad. I see this same expectation in Sami every day, which as far as I can understand is the process behind every temper tantrum. It’s the extreme disappointment at thwarted wanting that we adults go through all the time. We have just gotten better at modulating our responses (at least some of the time).
How can I learn to accept life on life’s terms, even if it’s not what I always want it to be? How can I truly know, on a gut level, that I am not a powerless victim of circumstance? I may not be able to affect the world around me, but I have the power to shift my internal reaction to whatever is going on. That is where true freedom lies — not in being a football to the whims of the surrounding world.
I think that unconditionality could be construed as complacence: whatever happens, it’s all good. Let the world crash and burn, let McCain win the election, and I’ll just sit here on my cushion. I don’t think that this is what it’s about. It’s about accepting the world as it is, people as they are, things as they are, and letting our efforts come from that natural place, instead of forcing the world to bend to our will. It can’t be done, anyway.
I see that so clearly in my interactions with Sami. When I get all negatively bound up in what he is doing or not being, when he ”falls out of my favor” temporarily for screaming, throwing things, whatever it is he is doing that I don’t want him to do, when I get “conditional,” I tend to react in punitive ways that only further fuels him doing what I don’t want him to do. Conversely, when I get quiet and take a few moments to center myself, to accept what is going on in the moment, creative ideas for handling the situation come. Generally, Sami calms down much more quickly and we get back into a groove.
This brings me back to unconditional love. Yes, I have my moments of frustration with Sami, but it’s pretty easy to love him unconditionally. It’s much, much harder to love myself unconditionally. To love the world “out there” unconditionally. So I am guessing that this is where my real work lies right now. Learning to catch myself if I am not accepting life just as it is, and seeing if I can try to do that just, if just for a few short moments. Accepting something doesn’t mean that I like it necessarily. I may need to act to change what I can. I may need to protect myself.
If I need to act, whenever I can, I’d like to act from that place of acceptance.
Welcome to this blog - my chronicle of the illuminating, character-building path of single parenthood. I'm making this up as I go along. My life is my practice, and my five year-old son is my greatest teacher.