What Were You Taught/Told When You Were a Kid That in Adult Life You Wished You'd Listened To?
Remember your child's whole life is moulded in the first few years, even months...
told me once:
"Everything you need
for parenting is already inside you.
Trust your intuition
and follow your heart."
When I was eleven years old,
who I didn't know,
came to collect me
from my grandmother's house.
I will never forget my first doctor's visit
with my mother.
"Any childhood illnesses up to five years of age,
that you know about?" he asked casually.
"I don't remember," I looked at my mother.
"Me neither," she nodded quietly.
"Granny would know," I shouted.
The doctor looked up from his notes, alarmed.
"I don't think so. She is too old and didn't write
anything down." my Mum replied.
"What about her father?" the doctor asked.
"He emigrated when she was still a baby.
He is an enemy of the state now."
I ran away from my mother –
back to my grandmother's house.
I found her lying in her bed with her eyes closed.
"Do you remember me when I was a baby?"
I shook her violently, but she didn't respond.
"I will never have children of my own,
just to become a 'mother' like mine." I cried next to her.
She whispered something. I put my ear close to her mouth.
"I don't believe you," I ran out, banging the door
loudly behind me.
‘Parenting helps children to build their creativity and self-esteem,
to express their innate joyful selves
and prepare them for leading a fulfilling life.’
I had memorized this while preparing
for my teaching degree when pregnant with my first child.
What about the feelings of security and love?
I wondered for myself, but then,
I hushed my thoughts away. 'Knowledge is the key.'
Before my first child was born, i was worried.
So many questions to answer:
"Will I be a good parent. Will I manage?
Can I ever prepare to do enough to help my child
become a well-integrated and joyful human being?"
I collected all the books about parenting
from the local library and studied late into the night.
I woke up exhausted and sick the next day, none the wiser.
Early morning sickness caught me unawares
While commuting in an overcrowded and
slowly moving bus.
I asked the grumpy bus driver to stop
so that I could get out –
ending up in the grey cold winter drizzle,
finding refuge in a rundown bus shelter.
I waited an hour for another slow and overcrowded bus.
The shelter's walls were painted red,
With a huge 'hammer and sickle' sign.
A Russian flag dominated, like everywhere else.
Then my eyes rested on a little placard with a Chinese proverb:
'Life itself cannot give you joy, unless you really will it.
Life just gives you time and space - it's up to you to fill it.'
Back home, after a long day work,
I opened the book - 'Your First Five Years'.
I started to write - expressing love for my neo-natal child,
and added the Chinese proverb on its cover page.
I smiled. Somehow more confident.
Preparing the family surrounding,
to be similar to his or her seed bed -
warm, quiet, safe and comfortable,
but filled with love and impulses -
the best gift I could give to her.
And then my daughter was born,
in the tiny hospital somewhere in Eastern Europe.
I just heard her tiny cry and had stretched my arms towards the sound,
only to be told by a strict nurse that every baby must be first weighed and washed.
Then had drops in the eyes, dressing on the cord stump,
and examined physically before he had a cot to lie in.
"All these things must be done, I agree.
But why must they be done right now? I pleaded, to no avail.
The emotional attachment was not a priority
in that Communist age and time.
That first week, I wrote in her special book.
'You and me in hospital.
Seeing you only at feeding time.
Still, the way you behaved,
taught me how to be more gentle,
before you were snatched away.
I taught myself to be more relaxed.'
"To recognize the cause of crying is the first thing
which should be done." I copied these words down
from one of those many books that I finally piled up and returned to the library.
In the second week, I drew a happy face in her book.
'You're at home when I realized that your crying
is your way of communication. I use my voice,
and my heartbeat to calm you down.'
'In six weeks you have changed from a totally unpredictable being
to a person with tastes,
preferences and characteristics of your own.
You are settled. You are who you are,
and who you will be, for the rest of your life.'
'As these first few weeks passed,
your interest in people becomes increasingly obvious.
Faces fascinate you. Every time a face
comes within your short focusing range,
you study it intently from the hairline to the mouth,
finishing by gazing into the eyes.
One day it finishes with your first true social gesture - A SMILE.
This is the page that my daughter liked the best,
asking me to read it over and over
when she was growing up from a toddler to a very inquisitive child.
Long after passing five years of age,
and with the last page of her book lovingly filled in,
she turned twenty-five, and was pregnant with her first child,
when she opened her book again.
Gently touching gently my handwriting.
Looking at the many black and white happy snaps that
I had taken while she explored the world on her own.
'Feeling joy is a choice we make. It's a natural choice.
As a parent, I can't do more than encourage you to connect with your inner joy.'
My pregnant daughter looked at me with a question in her eyes.
I whispered quietly into her ear:
"Everything you need for parenting is already inside you.
Trust your intuition and follow your heart."