Saturday, December 02, 2006
Saturday Cuppa: Ginger Tea
Last night I heard an inspiring quote that came, not from a spiritual guru, but from Nigella Lawson, voluptuous and beautiful celebrity cook.
“When you have children you are no longer the picture, you’re the frame.”
YES YES YES! In many ways, this is similar to Kahlil Gibran’s “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”
Parenthood changes you, for better or worse. Sometimes it certainly feels like it has been for the worse, but no doubt it is very much the same as the grain of sand in the oyster forming a pearl. Our children are gifted to us specifically to rub away until we gleam with beauty!
As a frame to our children’s lives, the focus isn’t on ourselves anymore ~ we’re always looking at the full picture. Does a frame enhance a picture or detract? It is so easy to judge other frames as we symbolically sit there on the great wall of life viewing each other.
I walked into a shop the other day past a women heavily pregnant ~ and smoking. I was stunned. The words were preparing to come out of my mouth. Head and heart were battling furiously ~ speak up, no shut up!
Who was I to say anything? I felt justified in being an advocate for her baby. Someone had to be, as she surely didn’t appear to give a damn. But in 2006, if she’s not aware of how detrimental smoking is to a growing baby she’ll never be. As I write this, I’m aware of how many people look at the frame around my children and wish to play lifestyle advocate. They too no doubt feel justified in their comments to me ~ which come thick and fast on occasion.
Sometimes it’s little things like when I was at a friend’s house recently and Bethany (jokingly) asked if she could have a coffee. My friend was about to get her one when I (eyes expanding to bursting point!) said that she was joking and they don’t drink caffeine. My friend thought *I* was joking. “You don’t let them drink coffee? God, you ARE radical!”
And sometimes it is bigger things like ‘send them to school’. People feel as justified in telling me how to raise my kids, as I did with the round lady puffing on a fag.
A frame is embracing. It is there to provide structure, give shape and allow the best of the picture to shine through. Whatever decisions I make for my children are also based on the long term implications. I’m consciously aware that once they’re older, they can do whatever they want ~ no questions asked. Until that point, I will do whatever I consciously can to give my children a solid, secure and loving foundation.
A lot of adults feel resentful because of the parents who inflicted stuff, even with the best of intentions. There was always an element of fear and lack of trust in the inherent goodness and love of the Universe. That lack of trust has been transmitted down the generations. One of our main tasks as parents is to break the cycle because almost without exception we have been shaped by a greater or lesser degree in this manner.
I know as some people read this, their ego will be screaming out at the idea they’re the frame, and not the picture. Ego likes to be centre stage. Ego is the one that insists on getting to the top of the career ladder; best house in the street or fanciest dress at the party. But you know, just because you’re the frame around your child’s picture it doesn’t mean you don’t have a life of your own! It’s just the focus is different, and rightly so. You see, all of us parents have a frame around us too. Many of us like to rip it off and be free of that restriction. Etherically, I don’t suppose it leaves us for the duration of this journey on Earth.
I recently had a bunch of black and white family photos from mine and Paul’s ancestors framed ~ all in matching frames!! They hang above the mantel piece. I’ve been aware of a ‘coming to peace’ with whatever each of them may have gone through in their lives, and knowing that their tragedy and triumphs belong to them, not me or my daughters. Every time I look upon the faces of our joined family trees, I see more and more that each of those people did the VERY BEST they could.
I know that as each year goes on, I am a stronger and better frame for my girls’ picture, for no other reason than that I’m integrating the very best of the framing which surrounded my own childhood and STILL embraces me every time I think of my mother, or feel her love; dream of her at night or hear her voice on the phone or receive her 'love letters' in the post. As always, I feel blessed.
One of the things I absolutely treasure about my girls is their ability to feel joy at what I consider to be very simple things. Yesterday we placed ivy and holly on the mantel piece in preparation for Advent. Each year we get a Pine tree with roots, for planting out in January. With not having our plot of land anymore, and a garden somewhat overcrowded with larger trees, I wondered where we could possibly place another tree. In the end I suggested to the girls we could cut some small branches off the beautiful spruce and put them in a vase ~ that way we weren’t displacing a tree or cutting one down. Well, we did, and then placed the three pieces into a lovely basket. And you know, it looks just like a tree! The girls were thrilled. Our decorations are few ~ just a handful of hand-made wooden and fabric pieces. I know with every part of my being, that Christmas for my girls isn’t about presents. Over and over again they say it is about being together; singing carols, eating nice food, the candles glowing as we celebrate together on Christmas Eve.
Maybe they won’t always see it this way, but for now (which is all that matters) they make life such a joy with their brightness.