Monday, March 4, 2013

Unconditional Love

A lot of parents talk about how deeply they fell in love with their perfect, beautiful infant the moment they met.  I was enthralled with the process of pregnancy, enjoying the entire experience of hosting a growing person.  Labor was wonderful, birth was miraculous.  Meeting this tiny crying creature that is called "my son" was a moment I will never forget.  From the time I knew he existed I started to feel love for this person, and seeing him certainly was amazing.  But I would compare it to when I met my partner.  I remember vividly the first time I ever saw Michael walk past me.  I had an instant, strong reaction that stuck with me, and I immediately had the seeds of infatuation and love growing.  The birth of that relationship began at that moment, and the deep, daily intimate, love I share with him now was present then.  But at that particular time, I didn't know him very well, I knew almost nothing about him.  I could feel love and it was real, but I didn't know very much about what made Michael, Michael.  It was a mysterious, magical feeling.   Very much like meeting Avian, my little golden haired son.  I did love him right away, but I didn't know much about who he was, what makes Avian, Avian.  Being a parent is a marvelous, challening, elating, frustrating, joyous, fulfilling process.  Recently, as Avian has approached two years old and has reached a developmental stage where he can express himself quite clearly, I have noticed a real shift in my relationship with him.  Now instead of just having a general infatuation feeling for him (which did sometimes wear thin in the wee hours of yet another sleepless night during his earlier days), I have a deeper understanding of who this person is.  I can have a relationship with Him.  We can talk, exchange ideas, I can listen to his requests, needs, demands, feelings, experiences and can more understanding about what this individual is like, what his personality leans towards, the kinds of things he is interested in.  It is wonderful.  His fits, screaming rages, his head-banging when he is frustrated, his flinging of the spoon because I mixed his granola before he got a chance to tell me to add raisins...all of that is so normal for his age, so appropriate for his development, for his individuation process.  It is a delight to see his feelings emerge, to know that he can clearly communicate them to me, and that I can support that process, help him handle things when he is overwhelmed, model alternatives and coping skills, and coach him on how to explain his ideas when he needs it.  I just read the exceptional book "Unconditional Parenting", and it came at exactly the right time.  I don't see his "acting up" as a battle of wills or him defying me.  He is experiencing the world, and it is overwhelming, he is feeling feelings and they are huge.  I am so glad I get to walk along with this incredible growing person and help him figure out life.  He is helping me figure out life at the same time.  The more I get to know him, the more I can love who he is, unconditionally.

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