I stood on the corner of 83rd street and Amsterdam and admitted my biggest secret. “Do you know that my daughter is 7 years old and I have finally come to a place where I can honestly say I love her.” My wonderful friend says, “ha, your lucky it took me 16 years.” We both start laughing and I recognize again how often we lie to each other to look good, how we accept certain things as true and then believe them wholeheartedly to the detriment of our lives so that we can pretend that we are doing it right. More often than not, (don’t tell anyone) I don’t have the loving feelings I am “supposed to.” How interesting? Where does this belief, that we are supposed to love them all of the time, come from? Who said that as soon as they come out we will feel this amazing amount of love?
I have learned this year, that we all share similar experiences but are afraid to admit it. I wonder on this day whether many of us feel like loving our children sometimes feels impossible but the guilt of saying this out loud emits such stress that we hold it in and pretend. We believe that if we don’t admit the truth, then eventually our feelings will change and we will fulfill the “responsibilities” we have as parents.
Today I am here to offer a new opportunity, an opportunity to admit that maybe, just maybe, the belief that we must love our children all the time, is false. In my experience when we can recognize the truth of the situation, we have an opportunity to truly love them. Not because we are told we must, but because the guilt from not always loving them can dissipate and we can be free to see what is actually here.
Tonight I spent 30 minutes journaling about all the mistakes I made today as a parent, the guilt on that page was dripping in tears and anguish. And then, a light bulb went off and I realized that all of this guilt I was creating, all of the punishment and all of the beliefs that I am supposed to be the perfect mother who loves my children in every moment, was unnecessary. And then I changed my tune. Rather than writing down all of the mistakes I made, I began writing down all of the good things I did and do you know what happened? I could see the good in my children rather than the bad in myself. You see it was in the moment of letting go of the belief that I must love them that I could actually see the truth. The truth was, that there is a lot of love for them. Not because I am supposed to love them but rather because I can.