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

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The Shining Son

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Dear Seamus,

I had the great pleasure of celebrating another birthday on the weekend. I have always enjoyed having a birthday but never so much as I do now. Its meaning has deepened and as I awoke on the morn of my forty-first birthday, life reverberated with a powerful richness.

In the past my birthday celebrations had been a chance to get my friends together. A dinner or some drinks, it didn’t really matter provided I could enjoy their company. I didn’t really care for the obligation of gift giving but lovingly welcomed many beautiful things over the years. The festivities always had an element of the care-free to them and the aging aspect never bothered me. A birthday would present me with an opportunity to dream big for the coming twelve months. To imagine one of my creative endeavours taking off or to be united with a soul mate. Perhaps a trip overseas or one of my writing projects being completed. There were so many things to yearn for.

Now I feel that the aging is the most important thing. You see, my dream is to get old. In fact I am often drawn to people older than myself as I felt they could offer me something more. I loved to hear the stories of someone who had been born at a different time to me. There was always much to learn about life.

I have pictures of old women on a vision board on my bedroom wall. There is one smiling woman that I am drawn to every time. Grey hair frames her weathered face. Eyes that twinkle with decades of memories and experiences. A smile that is innocent and knowing all at once. She has been the observer of a long life. Her appearance just reflects all the changes she has seen and her participation in a lifetime journey. For me that can only be beautiful. I do not see ugliness in aging.

That’s what I want. As I become long in the tooth, I will delight in being ‘no spring chicken’. Seamus I want you to look upon me in my antiquated form, knowing that we had time together. I want my golden years to begin right now and go on for many more to come because the currency between us is priceless. The currency is love.

It is my desire to watch you grow up and to participate in your life. To see you evolve into a little boy and a teenager and then into a man. To cherish those small moments of ordinariness that are the gems of our every day. To wonder who on earth taught you that swear word and ponder whether it may have been me. To dab a Dettol soaked cotton wool ball on a grazed knee. To ask you to get that jar from the top shelf that I cannot reach. To warmly greet that someone special that you have brought home to meet us.

I want to get to know who you are. To listen to your dreams and aspirations. To tell you my stories. To make memories with you.

Last year I had the idea of all of us making a painting with our handprints. Your brothers and your Daddy painted theirs while I helped you with yours. I then set about creating my own canvas. I was very pleased with my effort and as I stood admiring my work I did not notice you dipping your hand in some yellow paint. You thought you would make a mark on my creation and before I could grab you, you had hold of the top corner. Afterwards when I looked at your little hand print, I realised it looked like a sun. It was so incredibly perfect and I could not have planned anything better.

As the sun returned to the same place it was on the day I was born, I recognised that you are the shining heavenly body giving light to my life.

You are my Shining Son and I want to bask in your glow for many more years to come.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage”Lao Tzu

The Path to True Religion

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Dear Seamus,

To my utter delight today, I discovered that our neighbour had made up a sign in your honour for the laneway that runs behind our house. Looking up at the ‘Seamus Lane’ sign post, I reflected on how I will parent you so that you can forge your own path.

I have already written to you about rebellion and the importance of it if you are to honour yourself. An important step in this process is the development of you as the individual. There is much power in learning to deny the well-trodden track so that you may venture out where others may never have stepped. There is a line in a song by Madonna which always resonated with me;

“Creation comes when you learn to say no”

When you can say no to the known, you can begin to explore the unknown and in effect, consciously begin to create your own reality.

This is the moment you will become the black sheep.

There is a well-known parable about a shepherd who has a flock of one hundred sheep. One of the sheep goes missing and the shepherd leaves the remaining ninety-nine to search for the one that got away. Osho spoke at length about the meaning of this. He explains that the sheep that left the flock has become the individual, has developed an ego and is in effect, the rebel. That makes them special, important, powerful. They cannot be led, they cannot be coerced and they are dangerous because they see beyond all limitations.

“That’s why the shepherd left ninety-nine sheep in the forest, in the dark night, and went in search of the one who had gone astray: because this one had become individual, this one had attained the ego; the other ninety-nine were without egos, they were a crowd”- Osho; The Mustard Seed.

I already see how you are forging your own path. You are determined and fiercely curious. I have discovered your persistence if I try to steer you away from something. You will return to it every chance until you have satisfied your inquisitiveness.

If I see a child in a public place having a tantrum, I always watch the reaction of the parent. The parent who is chastising the child, or yelling at the child, is having an ego reaction. They are worrying about the judgement of others. That is understandable as there is never so much judgement in our society as the subject of parenting. There is always someone ready to point the finger and tell you that you are doing it wrong. You see, children are seen as a reflection of their parents. If the child behaves in a way society calls ‘unacceptable’, then the parent is viewed as inadequate. That is a real blow to the ego.

Yet you are not a reflection of me Seamus. You are a human being, in all your incredible wonderfulness, currently wrapped in a very small package and here for an amazing adventure. The challenge for me is to drop my ego while you develop yours.

I expect your rebellion so when I see it, I see it as an opportunity to observe myself. Do I react, or will I respond? It all depends if I am present or not. I have experienced both but I know that when I respond to you, from a present moment of love, resistance dissolves. Then there is no battle of the ego, there is no tussle for you to do as you are told or for you to yield to me as your parent.

If I am judged for this, that is ok. I am showing you the way to freedom through the experience of being yourself, authentically, whatever that may be. It doesn’t matter if you are seen as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ child, provided you are expressing your true self. I have seen your happiness and I have seen your anger and it is all exquisite to me because in that moment, you are expressing your truth.

I aim to continue to drop any expectations I have about you. I will Mother you with the intent that the only path you ever go down is Seamus Lane. There will be times that you are alone and other times when you have the company of someone walking their path parallel to yours. However remember, it is useless to walk someone else’s road, then your time is wasted. Not only that, but you are denying the expression of the divine through your uniqueness.

By becoming lost, by walking away from the crowd, you will not be blinded by illusion. Your ego will give you the daring to separate yourself. You need never seek a way to god because by walking your own road, god will find you. Then you will transcend separateness altogether and you will realise that we are all one. That is the only religion there is.

Ninety-nine sheep create all religions, and the real religion happens only to the one sheep who has gone astray”Osho

The Solar Return of Seamus

A special moment

Dear Seamus,

Seamus tomorrow you are turning one. There have been many moments, all strung together to link the 365 days from when you entered the world, to the celebration of being in it for a whole year.

In the days after your birth we were told I needed important, urgent tests and treatment which could not be performed at the local hospital in which you were born. They would find me a bed as soon as possible but the message from the major Hospital was that you could not stay on the Oncology Ward and your Daddy would have to find alternative accommodation with you. Your Daddy and I were distraught at the idea of being separated but resigned ourselves to it. When we arrived at the Canberra Hospital in the early evening, we were greeted by a beautiful nurse named Cheryl. She smiled and said how she’d been expecting us and we had apologised for being late. She led us down a rabbit warren like corridor and showed us to the room at the very end. It was the biggest on the ward and had a view of the garden. There was a hospital gurney close to the door, and a small fridge next to two armchairs beneath the window. She explained how the big leather couch folded out into a bed and asked what else we needed. When we explained that we had been told you were not allowed to stay she was outraged.

‘Nonsense’! She said; ‘You must stay together and if anyone has an issue they can take it up with me’!

With that she left the room and returned with extra bedding and a hot meal. Shortly after that a nurse from maternity left a cot, some baby blankets and a packet of nappies outside the door. Nurses were arriving to take my blood pressure and sneak a peek at your gorgeous little face. Strangers would knock politely at the door and hand me beautifully hand knitted booties. A lady doing pastoral care popped in to ask if I need to talk or pray with her and when she spied the empty cot she became very curious as to your whereabouts. She returned three times before lunch when your Daddy finally brought you back from a stroll to the shop. She gazed at you and put her hand on her chest.

‘Oh, so beautiful’ she told us. We already knew.

A gaggle of aunties, uncles and cousins descended to fuss over you and take a million photographs.

It turned out that even though I was the patient, you were the one everyone kept coming to see.

So you see, we were in it together from the beginning. You were such an amazing comfort to me. You were my light at the end of the tunnel. You were the dessert if I ate all my green vegetables. You were the golden trophy I would be holding as I stood on the dais.

This past year has been a challenge in so many ways. It has also been a real test of my limits; physical, mental and emotional. I have been exhausted from sleepless nights and the side effects of treatment. I have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reality of raising a child. When you were five months old I stood crying in your bedroom in a moment of deep insecurity, clutching baby powder and a size 1 coat hanger and telling your Father that I just didn’t think I was cut out for this whole Motherhood thing.

However, you power my will to do the very best I can. Your very presence is the force I sometimes rely on when I feel I cannot source my own energy. By looking after you I have been able to make some loving changes to the way I experience life. My pride and fixed determination to always do things for myself is softening and fading away. I am getting better at asking for help. I am getting better at letting others in. I am getting better at showing my vulnerability. I am getting better at being in the moment. I am getting better at accepting that I need not be nervous when I am experiencing happiness. I am getting better at knowing that I deserve it.

It was breakfast time and you were about nine months old. I was holding you and you were looking around the room. Suddenly your eyes fixed on mine and you stared at me intensely. It was like you saw the real me, who I am inside. My true self. I felt like we were experiencing a deep soul connection. Then you laughed and kissed me on the mouth. It was such an incredible and powerful moment we shared I felt like I would burst with joy.

These occurrences are laced with timelessness and beauty beyond my comprehension. They are the jewels that live in my heart and are fast collecting.
I am energised by your lust for life and curiosity. I am fuelled by the desire to provide a space where your tenacity and spirit can experience freedom. As your Mother I choose for you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are treasured and embraced within an extended family circle of incredible love.

Whilst there have been plenty of moments over the past year that any new Mother would call normal, there are many things about your year old life that have been unique. Yesterday it was my turn to get up to you in the morning. As I stood in the doorway I saw our hand reared baby Kangaroo, Ruby, was standing beside your cot. She had obviously helped herself in through the doggy door sometime through the night, so god only knows how long she had been in the house. You were having a lovely chat to her. Both of you looked up at me and I couldn’t help but smile.

I never wanted normal for you anyway.

Happy first birthday my darling, thank you for giving me the incredible gift of being your Mother.

“When a mother hugs a child, energy is flowing. That energy is invisible – we have called it love, warmth. Something is jumping from the mother to the child, and not only from the mother to the child, from the child to the mother also. That is why a woman is never so beautiful as when she becomes a mother”Osho