The Owl in the Mirror

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Dear Seamus,

Sometimes we go to a community organised play group. I have seen you become more and more comfortable each time we go. You have become more interactive with the other children and independently seek out different toys to play with by yourself.

One of the Mothers approached me the last time we were there. She told how much she had enjoyed watching you interact with her daughter. She commented on your gentleness and your openly caring nature.

I have become accustomed to enjoying comments from people in different situations about your golden curls or sparkling blue eyes. In a society that values our physical appearance above our character, I graciously accepted this feedback knowing that you are so much more than ‘cute’  or ‘ handsome’. To have another Mum actively seek me out to comment on your beautiful nature was a treasured experience.

Your sister is almost five. Like you, she is a physical beauty to behold with sapphires for eyes and long blonde ringlets. When we sit together colouring in picture books of princesses with tiny waists and flowing ball gowns, I chat with her about what being beautiful is. Being a beautiful girl, I tell her, is not just about what she looks like. She agrees with me that a beautiful  girl is kind and shares with others, both of which come readily to her now. She also knows that a girl need only apply a happy smile to be beautiful.

I was tortured by images of beauty when I was growing up. I recall when I started buying magazines as a teenager, I would compare myself to the girls modelling swim suits and new dresses and shoes. If I compared myself to them I would feel depressed. I was not tall, or tanned, or thin. I did not have lustrous thick hair and flawless skin. If they represented what was beautiful then clearly I was not.

Looking back I wished someone had sat with me to tell me that beauty has multi-faceted meanings. To assure me that the physical form is a fleshy toy with which to play. You can add or subtract weight or hair or clothing and it will never affect the sum of who you really are.

So amidst all the compliments about how you are easy on the eye, the stand out was the Mum who saw the beauty of you. I was so grateful for that. To know that your true beauty is shining through for the observation of others.

I believe parenthood is 90% demonstration and 10% education. I see you watching me all the time. You began mimicking words and phrases some time ago however now you seem to understand their context and appropriateness.

In the weeks leading up to your second birthday you were quite ill with a stomach bug. Daddy and I took turns sleeping on the sofa bed in the lounge room with you. You had no appetite and I was very concerned about you becoming dehydrated. I regularly handed you a water bottle urging that you, my darling, take a sip. You would oblige before slumping back onto a pillow, weak with lethargy.

With a day to spare before your birthday celebrations you managed to shake off the virus and return to your usual lively self.

I had endured many late nights either tending to you or prepping for your party. You love owls so I sat up until after 1am hand making your card and crafting little owl toppers for your cupcakes.

After the gifts were opened on the morn of your second birthday, I was sitting at the dining table feeling a little weary as I was making a mental check list of what needed to be done. I was brought back to the present moment by the feeling of something cold against my arm. You stood beside me holding my flask of water that I keep in the fridge.

“Here are dah-win. Sip” you urged me.

With utter joy in my heart, I heeded your advice and drank some cool water. You then took the bottle from me and placed it back in the fridge.

As your Mother I am a mirror to you and you reflect back to me. I can gauge myself in your behaviour. Then there are times that you conduct yourself with wisdom far beyond your years. I understand why you like owls. You are my owl in the mirror.

My dearest Seamus, my little owl, may you always know your true beauty so you can spread your wings and fly.

Happy second birthday. I love you.

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart”Kahlil Gibran

Seasons of the Heart

Seasons of the heart

Dear Seamus,

Life is about change, constant and consistent change. In fact it’s the one thing you can be certain of. If you look to nature you will see that there is a natural ebb and flow. The most obvious example is the four seasons. Without fail year in and year out we will experience spring, summer, autumn and winter. Each season has a distinction to it and it feels and looks very different. An Italian named Antonio Vivaldi composed a set of four violin concertos in the early eighteenth century called The Four Seasons. Each piece beautifully captures the essence of each season and it is one of my favourite classical pieces of music.

You were a spring baby and you embodied everything about the season; new life, hope and renewal. The gardens at the hospital where you were born, were covered in flowers and vibrant leafy trees and bushes. The diagnosis coming hand in hand with your arrival was the ultimate opportunity for rebirth. I said goodbye to my old way of life and embraced you, my longed for boy. I blossomed as a first time Mother after being a closed bud for so long.

Before too long the season had shifted to summer and we were positioning your bassinet in front of the old water cooler at home. The days seemed endlessly long and hot. I would give you your bottle in the cool darkness when you cried out for your 4am feed. Then when you were finished I would hold you near the window to hear the birdsong and watch the colours change in the sky as the sun came up. Just when we thought we couldn’t take one more 43c day, things shifted again and the leaves began to change colour. Autumn had arrived.

The leaves fell and sprinkled the lawn and the street. The wind seemed to pick up and it blew away the memories of my tiny newborn. A chubby baby had taken his place. You had just started to discover your voice and your adoration of trees. Your Daddy and I would park your pram under the peppercorn tree and watch as you squealed in delight. The more the wind rustled the leaves and branches, the more you kicked your legs and flapped your arms. There is no doubt in my mind that you and that tree were having a conversation.

Before we knew it the days became shorter and shorter. Looking out the kitchen window to the foggy mornings reminded me of my time in London. I loved to brave the cold of January and walk to St. James’s Park. The trees always looked so eerie with their bare branches outlined darkly in the heavy mist. At home in rural New South Wales I complain of feeling cold and your Father complains about the extra blankets I am putting on our bed. Socks and slippers do not seem to want to stay on you so I am forever grabbing your cold little feet to re-dress you. Because we spend a lot of time indoors and out of the cold air, you amuse yourself with the pots and pans and the garbage bins. I bid farewell to your stillness and welcome the curious explorer.
You are hurtling through seasons of change in your first year of life. So much has reformed already and you are only 9 months old.

Throughout your life you will weather emotional storms along with the rumbling thunder and lightning that streaks the sky during summer. There will be moments when you are shedding your skin and withdrawing with the leaves of autumn. At times you will feel that your inner landscape is barren like the frozen fields in winter. You will evolve and grow and burst forth like the flowers blooming in the spring.

You are flowing with the seasons, in fact you are part of them and they are part of you. In my forty years I have seen many seasons on the exterior and the interior. They are all part of the grand vision that is the divine. I am learning with age and experience to allow those seasons, to move with them. Sometimes I am better at it than other times. Personally, I love the spring. In the heart of springtime you were born and internally I favour the spring climate in which my awareness flourishes.

However, all seasons are required and all are beautiful in their own unique way. Our growth comes through the seasons we experience at the centre of our being. Embrace them all Seamus, for the seasons of your heart will nurture the beautiful garden of your true self.

“And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy; And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields”Kahlil Gibran

To listen to Vivaldi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons, click here: