From the moment my daughter was born, I knew that I would be walking a process of letting her go. I knew that she is, as the poet Kahlil Gibran says, not my own. She is the daughter of life itself, exactly as I am. I knew that I would have to let go of my own wants, needs and desires in relation to her, so that she can grow up to be the person she needs to be, that she has potential to be, and because I will not accept myself to hold her back or limit her to serve my own self-interest, I’ve been watching out for seeing when I have stepped in to a pattern of ownership or fear towards her.
So, the other day, I had a profound realization about motherhood and my role as a mother. I realized that my ‘role’ or responsibility as a mother is not to create an emotional relationship with my child, or to serve an emotional role in her life. I started realizing this because I could see that I was starting to create such a dynamic within myself, projected towards her, where I, more or less subconsciously wanted her to be emotionally depended on me, to need my love, and where I basically wanted to create an emotional bond between us that would forever tie her to me.
I realized this by asking myself the question in a quantum moment: “What did I need from MY mother? Did I need her to connect with me emotionally, to ensure I wouldn’t feel lonely? To ensure I would feel loved?” And to my surprise I realized that, no, I did not.
When I looked back at my relationship with my mother I realized that, I most of all needed her to support me on a practical level, and to stand as an example of what it means to live effectively in this world and how to form relationships and communicate with others.
When I looked at who I am as a person am in relation to my mother, I realized that I am a sovereign being, meaning that I have my own life, independent from her. If I feel lonely, I sort it out on my own. Even when I felt lonely as a child, she was never able to sort it out for me, or take the emotion from my body and transcend it for me. I realized that I don’t need my mother as an emotional support or ‘anchor’ in my life in any way what so ever, because I am for all intents and purposes alone in this life, as are we all. I need to be that for myself. And so does my daughter.
Looking back, I could see that my mother also did not (at least to a certain degree) create the type of emotional bond to me that many parents do, simply because she’s not that type of person (for better and for worse). Instead, she always had a great deal of respect for my sovereignty and unique potential, and she has encouraged me become independent and stand on my own two feet (sometimes a little too fast and too soon). As I see it, this is one of the primary reasons why I am not particularly nostalgic or attached to things or people or places or even ideas – which I see as a strength I have. Because it means that I am willing and able to move and change and let go if I need to. It also means that I am able to realize things like these that can be difficult to swallow. Edited to add: It also means that it is important to me to show my daughter physical affection and to respect her boundaries, something that my mother did not do with me.
As I kept diving deeper into this realization, I could see that my daughter is already as a small baby, much more independent and much less in need of me than I’ve given her credit for, exactly because I had this hidden desire for her to be emotionally dependent on me. So I wanted her to be more weak than she is, so that she would keep needing me. Isn’t it incredible? I mean that’s how problematic symbiotic mother/child relationships are developed. And if I you don’t catch it and stop yourself, you’re bound to create that ‘bond’ from what is essentially your own self-interest, of wanting the child to fulfill something in you (through you being something for them) that is really something you are yearning to give to yourself.
But because I have worked on developing myself for a very long time, and because I have walked a process to become self-honest also for a long time, I have enabled myself to ‘catch’ or ‘unveil’ myself in moments of self-dishonesty and self-deception. There are many, many moments still where I don’t (that’s why/how it is a life long process), but this exactly the process of deschooling that is talked about in unschooling contexts, and deprogramming as it is called in the Desteni group.
It is about facing and seeing the parts of ourselves that are the very most secret and shameful and hidden away. That we have created gigantic emotional STOP signs towards in our minds and bodies so that if we were ever to even begin confronting ourselves with the fact that this exists within us, we’d ensure that we DON’T GO THERE – and risk actually being honest with ourselves and our own motives.
See, even though I have realized that my daughter does not need me on an emotional level or for me to bond with her emotionally, it doesn’t mean I am not going to walk a process of creating an intimate and mutually trusting relationship with her. It doesn’t mean I won’t kiss or hug her as much as she’ll let me, or that I won’t rock her and sing her lullabies when she’s sick or tired or support her to stabilize if she’s scared. I already tell her I love her a hundred times a day. But a lot of those things (especially the hugs and kisses) are things that I do for me. I tell her I love her because I enjoy telling her I love her – not because she needs me to feel anything towards her. If I were to die when she was 5 or 10 or 20, she would still live on and create her own life.
The love she needs from me is practical, direct, tangible. The love she needs from me is a DOING, not a FEELING. And more than anything, she actually needs me to love myself, because that is the example I will set for her that she will mirror and to a certain (and big) degree will mold herself after.
So in realizing all of this, I have felt a sense of mourning and sorrow, and within that a reluctance to letting this emotional bond go, because it felt like I was losing her, that she was no longer MINE (which she of course never was). She came through me, but she is not mine. But then I realized that this entire point, this whole time, has been about ME being disconnected from MYSELF, about ME creating a deep and rich relationship with MYSELF, about ME connecting with MYSELF – that is was never about my daughter, or my relationship with her or me as a mother.
So after I had this realization, I have noticed that I have been able to be much more relaxed around my daughter, I have been less scared of her having bad experiences and I have been more myself around her. It reminds me of a decision I made in my twenties when it was clear to me that my mother was never going to be the kind of mother I had wanted her to be as a child. I realized that if I was going to be able to have a relationship with her, I had to accept her for who she was, and accept that she was first and foremost a woman, an individual, and that being my mother was only a part of the entirety of who she was. Back then I also felt a sorrow in letting go of my desire for a particular kind of mother, but with letting that desire go, I also opened myself up to the real human being that my mother is, and I started to see and appreciate HER for who she was. This, I realize, is what I am busy doing with my daughter as well. I am busy getting to know her, and see her for who she is.
And as such, I have peeled off another of those infamous onion layers of deception and unauthenticity from myself, as a mother and as a human being, and I can breathe a little bit more easily as I have released space within me, space that is now occupied by me, my body, my being, and not by an idea about who I am supposed to be in relation to my daughter, that doesn’t only imprison her, to now be defined as my daughter, but that also keeps me trapped in always searching for that deep connection with someone else, all the while, what (or whom) I was looking for, was here all along, with/within ME.