Dreams of Kindness, Love and Grace by Carolyn Berry
Someone from half-a-lifetime ago recently reentered my life. One of many precious gifts of this reunion has been the opportunity to read lovingly preserved letters that I wrote more than 20 years ago-mesures of remarkable change in my life.
"I've decided that I'm never going to have children." I wrote with a strong blend of determination and cynicism in 1980, at the mere age of 24 . . . a time when I sincerely thought I'd figured it all out. "This just isn't the kind of world that I would want to bring new life into." I meant those words when I wrote them, as much as I had ever meant anything in my life.
Fast forward to the year 2000.
My son Andrew is 16-a compassionate man-child in a lean frame looming 6'1". Excellent driver, good student, awesome roller hockey player. Dependable, focused, laid-back-tender beyond belief with his aged, widowed grandma. I'm in awe of him.
My daughter Kim is 15-a brilliant mind, stunning presence, bolt of energy that lights up a stage. Compassionate participant in the web of all living things, quick to stand for justice and integrity. Her abilities and self-confidence leave me breathless. She still sees her best friend from 1st grade … in a personal ritual that connects past to present and future. I'm in awe of her.
So . . . exactly how do they fit in with the pronouncement I penned more than two decades ago? Only through a not-so-stunning confession: neither birth was planned. In fact, both were actively prevented. [YES, I know where babies come from! I'm part of the 0.03% prevention failure rate!] Their father and I had planned to wait five years after getting married to even start conversations about having a family, and I was clear through our engagement that I just couldn't see myself having children.
The arrival of these lives in my body years ago brought floods of memories that propelled me into critical windows of counseling. Their presence in my life since their births has presented me the most glorious path of personal healing, as they generously offered me the opportunity to choose to parent them in ways I longed for as a child. Had they not been unexpectedly interjected into my life by the wisdom of the Universe … at the exact times when they were born … I would not have enjoyed the grand metamorphosis they initiated for me in my spiritual journey.
The critical lessons I've learned in my path of motherhood are vital for every relationship I have ever embraced. Consider these basic concepts-try them whether you are a parent, a committed partner, a friend, a manager, a co-worker, a teacher, whatever! They are keys to relationships that work … the foundation to love that honors the unfoldment of the "other."
Treat others with clear recognition and acknowledgement of their own unique genius-that personal brilliance that only they possess-that deserves to be loved and respected no matter what it is!
Provide those you love with sincere and meaningful help/encouragement to find out what they want to do - in this particular moment or in the long-term - and support them in learning how to do it or holding the belief that they can do it.
Encourage them to discover their own talents and interests, even if those things change remarkably from day-to-day. Life is a blend of play and exploration. We become "old" in that nanosecond when our curiosity dies.
Allow those you love to complain when the going gets rough! Empathize and encourage rather than telling them to quit or telling them what they should have done differently. Pursuit of dreams can be hard.
Support them when they get in over their head-and do it without reproach or judgment. If we don't make chances in life, we never learn!
When they achieve recognition or attain a goal, be genuinely pleased for them! Be liberal with standing ovations. It is so much easier in this culture to feel envy because it didn't happen to you . . . so revel in the successes of those you love.
As my eyes mist at the thought of day within reach when these two beautiful beings will leave my home and start their own individual journeys, I know with renewed certainly that there are no accidents and that life is a miracle.
Carolyn Berry directs a community mediation agency in Salem. She is also a writer, a social/environmental activist, and a popular public speaker.