tamarjacobson

Looking back and thinking forward

Month: May, 2015

Gratitude

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Quote of the day:

When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. Eli Weisel

I sink my teeth into a meat-loaf sandwich neatly cut diagonally in half, and slightly flavored with a smidge of ketchup. It is one of three food items perfectly prepared, separated, and packaged each in a small plastic bag: a hard boiled egg, two walnut fudge brownies, and the meat loaf sandwich. I sit in the airport lounge early in the morning; my eyes still drooping with unfinished sleep, while hundreds of people bustle to and fro around me coming and going between food stalls and airline flight gates. I feel warm and cared for. Like a child, whose mother stayed up late the night before, placing in a brown bag all the food she had carefully prepared for me while I slept. She was thinking of my tiring journey ahead and wanted me to sense through her tender gifts of special food that home was never far away, even as I chose to stray far afield. I sit on the hard chair by the table outside the security check point, where I had come through rushing chaotically with hundreds of others, frenziedly pulling off shoes, jackets, and dragging out laptops and plastic bags of toiletries to place in large, plastic, grey trays on conveyor belts. Walking through the screening gate, machines beep and whistle as security agents pull me aside to full-body check me only to discover I had forgotten to remove my necklace in the mad dash through. Exhausted and drowsy from rising at the edge of dawn to make it in time to the airport, I munch on the sandwich staring vacantly ahead at nothing in particular, and as I start to relax an overwhelming feeling of gratitude envelops me to the point of tears. I realize that I cannot remember when anyone in my own family had so lovingly made me such a food parcel to take on my way anywhere. Indeed, I fended for myself – alone – from as far back as I can remember. I silently give thanks to my mother-in-law for the care she has shown me with my goodie bag – not only for today in the Seattle airport on my way home to Philadelphia – but for all the tins of Christmas cookies she sends me year after year in December just because she knows I like them so much. Gratitude in that moment gives me renewed energy and exhaustion drifts away. In its place I discover a stronger sense of self-worth, and now when I stare ahead I notice women and men, young and old, families with children, a man walking his dog, and a couple hand in hand. I feel a part of the human family around me, knowing that home in Seattle is never far away even as I set out for my own in Philadelphia.

Gratitude is key to a sense of self-worth and belonging, I realize. There is joy and hope in feeling grateful for who we are, what we have, and how we give and receive. It washes away bitterness and ancient wounds, and helps me open myself up to love.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: Countdown to 65

Mother’s Day 2015

Driving down the road the other day, reflecting on this or that personal situation happening in my life, I suddenly experienced a rush of emotion that tapped into an old feeling from childhood. It brought tears to overflowing, and surprised me so much that I exclaimed out loud alone in the car: "Please don't hurt me. I want you to love me." I realized then and there how much I had longed for my mother to love me even when she disapproved of my behavior, or if my self expression was not what she wanted to hear. Perhaps I needed her support especially because I was struggling to find my own identity even if it meant pushing against her will. 

Mother's Day is upon us, and it has me thinking about mothering in the broadest sense, especially since the other day at a coffee shop where I had gone to write, I witnessed a young mother being harsh with her young child.

One of the core challenges in parenting or teaching young children is creating boundaries for them without repressing their authentic emotional selves. Please don't hurt them – they want us to love them. That's the dance – the constant negotiation.

We want our children to be safe and successful, and act like we know the way to get there. We have learned from our parents and our own mistakes. We have learned what to fear and what not to care about in order to survive and become successful ourselves. We have developed a perspective and world view about how children should behave and what constitutes success in general. We pour our fears, biases and survival skills all over our smallest children, and try to formulate little people in our own image. We do all of this with good intentions and love … whatever that is. Because what do we know about love other than the way we have been loved?

Are we loving in the same way we were loved, or are we trying not to do what was done to us? Whatever all that amounts to – do we really know who our children are? Or what they aspire to? Or what they fear or long for? So much of what they do is either to please or push against us depending on their developmental age and fears. At the core of a young child must be a feeling that they cannot express: "Please don't hurt me. I want you to love me." For young children need our love to survive, but they also want us to love them for who they are – for their unique constellation of characteristics and personality – for the complex configuration of genes from generations ago and from right now.

Can we love them fat or thin, shiny or sad, angry and grumpy, joyous and loudly enthusiastic? Can we rejoice in their independent thinking, sexuality and smarts, support their confusion and insecurities, and not take it personally? As they find out who they are, what they need or desire, and how to express themselves emotionally, can we be there for them with full attention, love and support for that exploration? 

The process is complex to be sure, for how much do we really know ourselves? Are we aware of how our own early childhood affected our world view, or are those memories already repressed somewhere deep in our psyche? What do we do to get in touch with those feelings, and if we recognize them, how much do we allow ourselves to face them?

How do we allow our children to follow their heart all the while loving them for it, even when they are so different from who we are?

Please don’t hurt me: I want you to love me

Driving down the road the other day, reflecting on this or that personal situation happening in my life, I suddenly experienced a rush of emotion that tapped into an old feeling from childhood. It brought tears to overflowing, and surprised me so much that I exclaimed out loud alone in the car: "Please don't hurt me. I want you to love me." I realized then and there how much I had longed for my mother to love me even when she disapproved of my behavior, or if my self expression was not what she wanted to hear. Perhaps I needed her support especially because I was struggling to find my own identity even if it meant pushing against her will. 

Mother's Day is upon us, and it has me thinking about mothering in the broadest sense, especially since the other day at a coffee shop where I had gone to write, I witnessed a young mother being harsh with her young child.

One of the core challenges in parenting or teaching young children is creating boundaries for them without repressing their authentic emotional selves. Please don't hurt them – they want us to love them. That's the dance – the constant negotiation.

We want our children to be safe and successful, and act like we know the way to get there. We have learned from our parents and our own mistakes. We have learned what to fear and what not to care about in order to survive and become successful ourselves. We have developed a perspective and world view about how children should behave and what constitutes success in general. We pour our fears, biases and survival skills all over our smallest children, and try to formulate little people in our own image. We do all of this with good intentions and love … whatever that is. Because what do we know about love other than the way we have been loved?

Are we loving in the same way we were loved, or are we trying not to do what was done to us? Whatever all that amounts to – do we really know who our children are? Or what they aspire to? Or what they fear or long for? So much of what they do is either to please or push against us depending on their developmental age and fears. At the core of a young child must be a feeling that they cannot express: "Please don't hurt me. I want you to love me." For young children need our love to survive, but they also want us to love them for who they are – for their unique constellation of characteristics and personality – for the complex configuration of genes from generations ago and from right now.

Can we love them fat or thin, shiny or sad, angry and grumpy, joyous and loudly enthusiastic? Can we rejoice in their independent thinking, sexuality and smarts, support their confusion and insecurities, and not take it personally? As they find out who they are, what they need or desire, and how to express themselves emotionally, can we be there for them with full attention, love and support for that exploration? 

The process is complex to be sure, for how much do we really know ourselves? Are we aware of how our own early childhood affected our world view, or are those memories already repressed somewhere deep in our psyche? What do we do to get in touch with those feelings, and if we recognize them, how much do we allow ourselves to face them?

How do we allow our children to follow their heart all the while loving them for it, even when they are so different from who we are?