A prayer for the motherless daughter

logo that hopefully doesnt change colorLesehu was her name. She was only 18 months old when her mama — like so many in Botswana, Africa — died from AIDS.

I met her at the daycare center that my friend Marie Jose, a Catholic nun with 20 years of service in that country, had quickly put together to address the emergency of the alarming number of orphaned children as the pandemic took more lives each day.

As the numbers of orphans at the center grew, the children took care of the toddlers while the overwhelmed volunteers worked to give them all a good meal and make sure they were safe for the time they were there.

Sister Marie asked me what could be done for this little baby, Lesehu, who was so despondent that she barely moved at all. She did not eat, would not walk, and she had the expressionless face of a person in deep shock. Her mama was gone. Her world had completely changed in the most incomprehensible way. She was like a boat whose moorings had been severed, floating with nothing to anchor to, adrift in feelings that were too much for a tiny person of such a tender age.

I gently put her in my lap and hummed softly to her heart. After some time, she let me feed her while my concerned friend watched and nodded that this was good. Soon after, the traumatized child fell asleep in my arms. When it was time to go, I left some Bach Rescue Remedy with the caretakers for her. I placed a feather light kiss on her little forehead with all the force of my love.

No parent wants another family’s child to be left in a bad situation. So we make donations where our contribution will help. We might sign petitions or call our representatives to try to have impact on the conditions that cause such calamity. These actions have important value. But in this world of ours, there will always be those little ones who find themselves dependent on the care of strangers since their mama is no longer there.

rope heartWe know from emerging scientific study that the energy, the potent essence, of thought and heartfelt concern does indeed travel across time and space to reach the ones for whom we are directing our attention. The field of nursing has a substantial body of research about the positive impact of prayer on the recovery of patients after surgery. Plants grow measurably better when someone has sent them positive energy. The Institute of HeartMath conducts pioneering work on the reach of the quantifiable energy of the human heart as it communicates to others across great distances.

Yet, independent of what science has to say about it, whispering a deeply felt wish on behalf of another person is just something we instinctively do. It’s built into us to focus our caring into a prayer for another’s well-being, to keep them safe, increase their happiness, or to bless them.

From my side of the world, I have thought of Lesehu often and wished that there was a way I could ease her sorrow. So it was a great relief when I realized that I could — this is my prayer for her:

May the love of the Divine Mother soothe your sorrow and dry your tears. I offer my piece of that energy to you now with all my heart.

May you be certain that the Mommy who gave you life wanted you to live and to thrive. She watches over you still.

There is nothing you could have done that would have changed how things happened, so let that doubt rest.

May you always know that you are worthy of love and deserving of happiness.

May you have thoughts that bring you peace and ease the longing for that which you do not have because of circumstances beyond your control.

May you reach for healthy relationships that fill you up with the sweetness of sincere caring.

May you make the best choice for your highest good in every instance so that your confidence in yourself grows as you grow.

May you believe in yourself, because I believe in you. 

May there always be someone kind nearby to encourage you, to celebrate your successes, and to comfort you when you need it. 

May a kind woman’s hands braid your hair with tenderness and let you know that becoming a woman is a wonderful miracle.

May you draw to you people and experiences that nurture you, that delight you, and that show you that you are creating the life of love and happiness that is your birthright. 

When you become a woman, may you have the confidence to pass gracefully into all that will come to you in this lifetime.

May you find true love with the soul who will adore you and cherish your true essence.

May you know that in your belly is the spring of life that connects you to the woman who brought you into the world.

May you laugh and giggle freely — I will hear you and smile, little daughter.

May this love I send out reach all children everywhere who can benefit from it. 

What if we do have the ability to shift the suffering of another person by sending our love and concern to them via the “quantum telegraph service”?

I am going to respond with that human instinct, because it feels true to believe that though I cannot touch this precious child’s face, perhaps my voice can be a whisper of love that touches her heart.

I never worked harder to stay-at-home

I wish I had known how much I would love being a mother.

How could I have anticipated the depth of this love?

My heart opens with wonder when I watch my 18-month-old son lift his arms, snap his fingers, and gently sway to music. Any music. We could be in the check out line at Walgreens and if he hears music, he lifts his arms in praise.

Oh, the world is good to him. Despite the little, blue bruise on his forehead from a sad encounter with the edge of an antique bureau, it’s a loving world overall. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be a gentle and consistent source of kindness as he learns to walk, speak, and jump. May he internalize this love and bring it forth as an inner light in days to come, days when I am no longer by his side to wipe away the tears of sad encounters.

A foundation for trust is being built. I am his “secure base” and he then sets off to explore this magical world full of rocks, leaves, sunshine, and scrumptious raisins. We co-sleep. He nurses on demand. His organic rhythms are honored.

I love being a stay-at-home mom.

I didn’t anticipate this.

Because of my blindness, I scramble to make up for the financial mistakes of the past. If I only had known to save so staying-at-home would unfold with greater ease.

Today, I acknowledge choices made and make new ones. I find creative and wonderful ways of bringing in money whiles nurturing my son. And that’s including the fact that we already have sought the best iva company to repay our mortgages. We teach Mommy and Me Yoga together. We stretch, sing, dance, and play with other mamas and little ones. It’s delightful.

And when my son sleeps, I write.

I write and weave together story, philosophy, and gratitude. I knit the love I feel into the words appearing on my computer screen. I smile, marvel, and sigh as tears and syntax flow.

Being a mother awakens a fierce and gentle strength. I know I’m not alone in staying up late at night while my son sleeps to bring in extra money for the family. A “gap” exists between what my husband makes and what we “need”. It’s all about priorities. I won’t capitulate to pressure to return full time to paid work. Instead, I navigate as skillfully as possible, as fearlessly as possible, as boldly as possible, a way to give my heart , and my best, to our son.

These precious early years are priceless. They are worth more than all of the world’s gold. I’m investing in the future emotional health of this little one. I’m investing in the health of all of those who will one day cross his path.

I’ve never worked harder to stay-at-home. On good days, I smile at the irony of it.

I didn’t anticipate this and yet, I embrace it with determination and grace.

A Day To Live Again

 

Oh little boy.

If I could just pick one day in my life to live over and over again, it may well be today.

Why not? It was a perfect day with you.

We played in the ocean. You “swam” with my hands on your body offering support, guidance, and safety. You loved the waves! You tasted the salt water on your lips with wonder. The sunlight sparkled in your big, blue eyes. May you always nurture your connection to the outdoors and honor the mother ocean, a vital source of life on this earth.

When we got home, you laughed with me as you played tag around the brown arm-chair in the front room.  Deep, full, belly laughs emerged and your new teeth sparkled. You ducked behind the chair and popped out with a “Boo!” as if it was the most amazing thing in the world.  I bow in gratitude to this miracle of loving you play and find magic in the common place. That chair will never the same in my memory. A door outside of time opened up as we played. Our laughter built a bridge unifying and connecting us to all mothers and children across the generations. May you always relish the deep, life-affirming laughter found in the most simple of games.

After lunch, we went outside and you chased the cat clicking your tongue as you hear me do that when I call her. This reminds me to be ever mindful that you watch me with care. May I always speak, walk, act, and love with a gracious respect for all life.

As the sun set, we played in the back of your dad’s blue Ford pick-up truck. I drummed out a song on the steel bed. You spun around and around a few times dancing. A vast, immense sky of stars emerged above you. You are my star. My child of wonder.

Later, cuddled next to me, I surrendered to the beyond-this-world-tenderness of you snuggling into my arms and nursing to sleep.

If I could live any day in my life over again, it would certainly be a day when you breastfed. I love the holy kindness that comes from the way you suckle milk from my body. It nourishes your every cell. It’s completeness incarnate. Joy incarnate.

I just love you little one. My sweet boy. My courageous, funny, go-down-the-slide-yourself little guy. May you always know how precious you are to me. May you always trust that I’ve got your back. May you know how much your mother loves you, all the way through the marrow of her bones. Because I do.

No matter what happens in this world. No matter what happens at all. These days are holy and precious beyond money, beyond gold, beyond anything. I love offering you the best of my time and energy. I honor each stage of your early development. How blessed we are to spend these days together. It’s perfection through and through. My heart fills with gratitude to your daddy who works long hours in the week to make this possible. We want to give you the best. We choose a life of simple things on the material level and offer you the deepest grace we can muster in the realm of what matters most.

If I could live one day again in my life—this precious, fleeting mysterious, challenging, and holy life— it would be a day like today with you.

Sleep well angel.

Mom

A Tribute to My Father

My father was a mystery to me.  He had issues of his own that I really never understood until after his death in 2003 when I had the wisdom to see him as a person separate from his role as father.  He grew up during the Great Depression — born October 5, 1929 —  his birthday month ringing in the Crash; his family lost everything. He had to sleep in the enclosed porch of his Southside of Chicago home, as his parents had to have boarders to makes ends meet.

 

My father stopping to smell the roses on my wedding day

 

My father’s father was an alcoholic –a singer and musician who played in Chicago nightclubs. Some nights he was funny and charming, other nights cruel and mean. I think of my father as a little boy and imagine what he may have gone through.

 

There is a story that breaks my heart and a story only told to me by my mother, with direct instructions to never let my father know I knew.  My father, 6’3, black curly hair, green hazel eyes, filled with pride of his first car, eager to share his pride with his own dad. My father must have been 16 or 17.

 

Instead of sharing in this proud moment, my father’s father berated him, cutting him down and assaulting him with insults about his crappy car.  All my father wanted was his father to be proud of him.

 

My mother told me this story once to help me understand my dad.  It made me sad to think my father went through that.

 

My mother also told me this is why he bought me a royal blue 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia in mint condition when I was 16 years old.  Man, that car was cool! And I will never forget the pride in my father’s smile when he showed it to me, surprising me by ushering me outside to have a look.

 

Betty and John were special people. Anyone that ever met them knew this. They were storytellers and magicians. They made people feel good. Sure, like everyone, they had their problems, but deep at their core, they were the pot of gold. My magic - my love.

 

My mother didn’t tell me this story until I was in my late twenties. My dad was an alcoholic and quit drinking cold turkey when I was born. I imagine he drank to tame his demons from childhood and from the war.

 

He fought in the Korean War.  He was a member of the Frozen Chosen, the Battle of Inchon, where he saw thousands of men murdered. It was so cold during this time that men’s eyeballs froze — their own tears icicles upon their own eyes.

 

I never was able to look at this as a reason for his own depression and anger.  At times, he was down right frightening, flying off the handle in a rage I did not understand as a child nor a young adult. He did not physically abuse me, but there was mental abuse at times.

 

The thing is, now as a parent, I am able to forgive him and understand him.  I love him and honor all the good about him.  He went to work everyday to support his family and had a boss that berated him and put him down.  He brought me home paper to draw on as a child from the bank where he worked as one of the mobile patrol security guards in downtown Chicago.  He worked the second shift and never missed a day of work.

 

I think of him struggling to drown his depression and sorrow in a bottle, but he never did.  He soldiered on.  I imagine him discussing the horrors of war and his own childhood with his therapist, a very kind man he saw for many years.
My dad during the Korean War on a ship. He was a Marine.

 

I think of my father marching out of Inchon, knowing in his heart there was a family waiting for him on the other side of this awful war he witnessed.  Somehow, he knew in his heart that our family would make him whole even though he had not met us.

 

It would be almost twenty years after Korea that he would meet my mom.  They would go through so much.  The first night my parents met, he told her everything about his past, including the sad story of his father assaulting him with insults the day he showed off his first car.

 

My dad in Korea. He was a member of the Frozen Chosen who fought in Inchon in the Korean War. He is buried at Arlington Cemetery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My dad and his friend from Korea. This man called me shortly after my father died. He told me a story of how my father saved his life and how my father's thick head of black curly hair stuck out of foxholes because he was so tall.

 

Now that I am a mother myself and understand how overwhelming it is to be a parent at times, I have so much respect for my father for not continuing the cycle he saw.  He did the best he could and he was torn up from war, childhood, and a hard life.

My father and I on my wedding day, November 23, 2003. My father has cancer and my husband and I got married in my parents' bedroom so he could give me away.
Photos from my wedding

 

So instead of remembering the bad things and his imperfections, I remember the kindness and courage I saw on a daily basis.  He taught me so much and I just wish I had the opportunity to tell him that I am proud of him.

 

My dad around Christmas time 2002 -- his last Christmas
He died 9 years ago in the middle of the night, technically December 11 at 4 am holding my mother’s hand. December 10, 2003 was the last time I saw him and had to say goodbye to the father I loved for 29 years.

 

Death sucks, but it is a part of life.  But you see I miss him. I miss him, and as grief has numbed the loss – a hole that death leaves, gaping in concave fragments of the heart, a sense of longing has replaced this. This sense of missing him, knowing he is gone.

 

I miss him.

 

I miss seeing the veins on his hands, crossed in a holding pattern on his lap, a cigarette always tucked puffing solo in his lips. I miss his morning silence and two cups of coffee minimum rule: “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”

 

I miss him.

I miss watching his gait, heavy to the left, limping, shifting the weight in stride to his other leg — the leg I now know had significant damage from frostbite from Korea. I miss his odd sense of humor and his incredible intelligence. I miss how he could talk to anyone. I miss his pride. I miss his pats on the back and how awkward he became when I insisted on hugging him.

My dad smoking his cigarettes thinking. I miss him.

I miss him.

I miss the way he could pack a car, no matter how large with flea market finds. I miss his Cuban wedding shirts. I miss his scarves which he always called mufflers and reminded me to bundle up on cold Wyoming winter nights before I left the house. I miss his anger, sometimes dark and black. I miss his garden and the flower pots he filled them with — stacked in neat rows around the brick wall around our house on Maxwell. I miss seeing him peaceful with dirt in his hands.

I miss him.

I miss the way he wrapped his shoelaces around his ankles, tying them pragmatically in double knots as an old man. I miss his grey hair comb over. I miss his kindness and Irish pride. I miss smelling Corn Beef and Cabbage every St. Patrick’s Day. I miss the strong scent of coffee in the kitchen of our home. I miss having a hell of a hard time trying to buy him the perfect Christmas gift.

I miss him.

I miss his voice and his ability to speak only when necessary in a conversation. I miss his knowledge and the statistics he could whip out on any baseball team in this century or the last. I miss that he could give the biggest compliment to me through a third person like when he told my best friend Heidi that she had to make sure I write because it is in my blood — “Make sure Megan writes; she is a writer — a journalist a poet. She is related to Percy Bysshe Shelley, you know? Make sure she writes — it is in her blood.” I miss his smile, sometimes rare and sometimes wild.

I miss him.

I miss watching him read thick books and biographies. I miss startling him if I walked up on him unexpectedly, giving me a sense he knew fear in the strongest sense of the word and I miss the sense of relief he had when he knew it was me. I miss his car — a long maroon Lincoln Continental plastered with proud Semper Fi bumper stickers.

I miss him: John Shelley Miller, my dad — the first man I ever loved.

Photo Title: "Fence" -- I send messages to my father through the birds. Cardinals deliver same day mail. My father loved cardinals and I can't help but think he sends me messages back when they whistle by me. My yard in North Carolina is filled with cardinals. I see one weekly -- at least.

 

 
My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and community of Newtown. There are no words, only grief.

Four Principles To Use In Raising Children and Creating Peace In Your Family

Love. Patience. Presence. Respect.

Our role as Parent is constant…ever-changing and ever-growing. We each have different parenting styles and we each face challenges differently as well.
As an attachment parent, four of my fundamental principles are Love, Patience, Presence and Respect. There are many others but these four will sum up an important message I’d like to share today.

When we operate from Love, I believe our intentions are for Harmony, for Peace, for Happiness. If we Love kindly and gently, we hope that these things will naturally be results of our Love. I have discovered that Love, combined with Patience, Presence and Respect, will not only guide me in the direction in which to handle situations, but will also carry me through the challenging times when I truly don’t have the answers.

Please imagine yourself, as a child or as an adult, experiencing frustration, sadness, anger, or any other emotion or feeling that makes you uncomfortable. When you imagine yourself feeling that discomfort, what do you believe could take that away or at least make it easier in that moment? I ask you to imagine yourself because many times in life, it is important to put the shoes on your own feet to gain the necessary perspective in dealing with others. I find this to be true and probably most importantly, in the way we treat and listen to our children.

So often, parents decide it is their way or no way. It is this way simply because “I say so.” You are the parent, they are the children, and for many, it is thought to be the hierarchy that sets the tone for discipline and commands. I don’t believe in those methods. I believe our children deserve to be heard. I believe they deserve respect. I believe they deserve an answer and an explanation. I believe they deserve our Love. Our Patience. Our Presence. I believe we all deserve this.

No matter what is going on, crying in the middle of the night from your newborn, a screaming tantrum from your two year old, your angry four year old making a demand out of frustration…these need to be met with tenderness, calmness and composure of mind. I’m not saying this is easy. I’m not saying you won’t be challenged and tested beyond belief, because you will. I’m only sharing what works for me. I’m sharing this because the alternatives are not only damaging to your children, but they are damaging to you as well.

When we don’t take the time to truly be present and listen…when we don’t dig deeper than we think is possible for patience in a trying moment…when your love turns to anger and you lash out or lose control with your children, damage will be done. I can assure you of that. The negative feelings and situations will be prolonged, everyone will feel worse than they did initially, and someone, if not everyone, will walk away feeling misunderstood, unheard and alone.

It is my goal to nurture, love, and create harmony in my household. I believe we all want the same. When that isn’t happening, we must have the awareness of these principles at our disposal so we can easily tap into and operate from them at all times.

Love.

There was an unconditional Love that was born in me that I never knew prior to giving birth. That in itself, is the source that guides me in everything I do.

Patience.

The source of Love will give you the Patience you need most of the time but there will be moments when you think you can’t possibly keep it together for one more second. You must remember in these moments that you are capable of endurance. You are capable of self control. You can do it. Just breathe deeply. Close your eyes if you can…just for a few seconds. Stay calm.
The short term and long term effects of losing your patience and lashing out bitterly will hurt your children and you. During conflict or stressful situations, our children simply want to be heard, understood and accepted. They are trying to communicate something. If we are able to remain calm in these moments, not only will it ease their stress sooner, but it will not let the situation turn into something worse because of the anger and negativity added on top of it. You will then be able to communicate and allow for both of you to learn from the conflict. Your patience will comfort them and your empathy will encourage them to resolve the struggles within themselves in just knowing you hear them.

Presence.

Physical closeness, level headedness and a choice to be present with your children will make a difference. Not only in the quality time spent together, but this will also allow the lines of communication to be clear and open.
Whether it’s reading a book together on the couch, or when your child doesn’t want to leave the park when it’s time to go, your presence is always important. They can accept when they are doing their thing and you are doing yours…most of the time. When you are with them though, choose to be with them. It’s so easy these days with our phones and technology to get distracted. We may physically be next to them but mentally, conjuring up our next facebook status update. When you are present, they feel it. They appreciate it. They cherish it. When they don’t want to leave the park, your presence in that moment will help them understand that it’s ok. Talking on the phone while yelling at them to leave won’t have the same outcome.

Respect.

We all want to be respected, valued, recognized, adored, appreciated…
Children deserve this as well as we do as parents. When we experience this respect from others, we are empowered to be our best. We are comforted in expressing our voices. We are strengthened with Love and we are emotionally available. We discover that in times when we don’t feel respected, the walls begin to rise and the willingness to communicate and connect shuts down. This usually then shifts the relationship to “Because I said so” again where the parent believes they are the only one who deserves respect and the child’s feelings are dismissed. This will only leave your child feeling unheard, misunderstood and left without an explanation. Please respect them as human beings and by that respect, it becomes possible for you to earn theirs.

We are all doing our best and I believe these tools will help us do it better. 
Let’s all make more of an effort in dealing with our children and one another lovingly, patiently, respectfully… and let’s all make an effort and the choice to be present as often as possible. It will make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s day will be the day to celebrate love

“Mother’s Day is your day to celebrate the way you choose. This day for us single women is all about recognizing the amazing life we have created. Celebrate yourself. You are a strong amazing woman. Take pride in that.”

Bouquet 2
flickr/KazAndrew

 

I never wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day – I never saw much point in it. Not as a child and not once I’ve became a mother myself. What is there to celebrate? And yet – this year I decided to start celebrating it.

At first it seemed that a lot of women would agree with my negative attitude towards this holiday. For example, would you be looking forward to it if you were a single mom of a very young child? Would you celebrate this day at all?

“Mother’s Day as a single mom has been like a box of chocolates. And by that I mean the cheap kind.” One mom says. “It’s a hard day for me, quite frankly.”

Another woman shares, “because I have to do all of the work. I cook, I entertain, and I try to celebrate my own mother. I usually end up feeling exhausted on the day that I should be given a break”.

“I love my children more than anything, but to be honest, what I could really use on Mother’s Day, is a break!  A day alone.”

The number of moms dreading Mother’s Day is astounding. The grass is not greener on the married mothers side either. A survey by a gift retailer revealed that nearly half of mothers don’t like their presents, and according to ABC News, more married women join cheating websites the day after Mother’s Day than any other day of the year.

Are there mothers who actually enjoy this holiday? And if yes, what do they do or think differently? What is it that they are looking forward to? Breakfast in bed? Flowers? A recent poll by Babyzone.com asked their visitors this question. The overwhelming majority of nearly 2000 participants wanted to spend a great day together with the whole family (40%) or to treat themselves to a day in a SPA (26%), closely followed by an entire day of napping (14%).  Check out Spa Source they offer facial beds/massage tables that can be used in your day spa, salon or private skin care practice.

“With crazy schedules, school, sports, work, we use it as a time to be together, not for alone time. I can go to the spa any time I want. On Mother’s Day, I want to spend it with the person who gave me the opportunity to be a mother on Mother’s Day, my daughter!”

My best friend is a single mom of a 4-year-old girl. Her husband died two years ago and my friend is still not really over her loss. When I asked her about the upcoming Mother’s Day, I was quite surprised to find out that she was looking forward to celebrating it.

“Mother’s Day is your day to celebrate the way you choose. This day for us single women is all about recognizing the amazing life we have created. Celebrate yourself. You are a strong amazing woman. Take pride in that.”

When I looked around I quickly discovered that the group of dissatisfied mothers mostly was complaining about not getting the right present, or no gift at all. Those who felt that their families should thank mothers for all the hard work were disappointed quite often.

Women who were very positive about Mother’s Day focused on pro-actively celebrating their relationship with children, grandparents and friends. As one mom has put it,

“I think we should be celebrating our mothers, and even our sisters, daughters, grandmothers and aunts on Mother’s Day.“

The more positive accounts about happy Mother’s Days I read the more I want to celebrate it myself.

As one of the moms suggested to me, “go with your child and do something fun together. Go to a park and have a picnic. Talk with your child and let them know how much you appreciate them. Write a letter to your baby or child and tell them how you feel about being their mommy!”

And this is exactly what I am going to do this year – I will start a tradition in our house. Mother’s Day will be a day to celebrate love. The most selfless and enduring love on Earth – mother’s love to her children.

Content Protected Using Blog Protector By: PcDrome.

© 2008-2022 Attachment Parenting International All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright