I don’t drink much these days, nor smoke, and yet I find myself at times in an elated state. As high as any substance could take me. A shoe lace tie, a mispronunciation, a school prize or a kiss on my nose. In those moments, it’s gratitude, peace and love mainly on my mind. It’s in those moments my heart sings. I’m free, and I’m still enough to feel it. Isn’t that the miracle of children, the way they soak you in love and pride, and slow you down long enough for you to notice the pattern on a butterfly swirling by? It’s in those moments I’m high, high on motherhood.
It’s also in those moments that I know what I must protect. It’s when I think of society and what it’s many-faced head might want with my little girl, that I take a deeper toke of motherhood. Talk to me, I whisper. You’ll have to get through me first. What do you want with my little girl?
I’m not raising her for you, Society. I’m raising her. Full stop. She’s not someone to be commanded, she’s someone to be respected. She’s not going to blindly commit to a script that society fakes. She’s writing her own. She won’t conform out of fear or hope for approval. She already has my blessing. She’s not a mannequin to be clothed like a clone. She’s free to nurture her own style. She is not to be judged according to standards we make up based on what looks like a perfect white picket fenced home, albeit rotting inside. She’s being taught to water her own soul.
I’m raising a little girl. Wild and shy, polite and disrespectful, forgetful and honest, kind and rebellious. A little girl so unique, one of a kind, who knows her worth. I’m raising a human being. I’m raising a unicorn. The last thing in the world I want to confine her to is society’s expectation of perfection. The last thing in the world I expect of her is perfection. The last thing in the world I want her to expect of herself is perfection. The greatest thing I could want for her is inner peace.
The rules on the playground have changed, explicit content available at a click, the environment our babes are growing up in is littered, and life-long races speed by full throttle. My father often refers to children as stars that have fallen from the sky. I’ve come to believe its our job to make them realise they inherently shine, especially in darkness. Society, I won’t let you dim her light.
While as parents we may feel we know what’s best for our children, truth is noone knows better than our children themselves. We may teach them to eat, walk, and talk, but it is only them who can tell us what makes their hearts sing, their hairs stand on end, their pupils to dilate. We note which careers are most lucrative, but what of their passion? You know that feeling, one when you hear a great song, and the words speak directly to your heart? Without realising it, you’re smiling? That’s what our presence as parents ought to do for a child, and all it should take is a glance. Look in my eyes, and you will see your reflection, smile baby, and trust your gut.
It’s their minds we need to unleash beyond the trivialities we all get caught up in. We need to encourage an exploration and inner dialogue based on trust and acceptance; acceptance by us which builds trust in themselves. In doing so we will be able to guide them to unearth their gifts, at their pace, rather than shackle them to our own limited ideas, or those of society, or those of discipline, or those of routine. How high can a sicimore grow, if we cut it down, we’ll never know? Sometimes, when we distract or discipline a child from being, well, a child, usually and unknowingly, we cut them down.
We cause offence and are offended far too easily these days, failing to see we have far more that unites us than that we let divide us. The insecurity breeds judgments, and we distract each other from the collective common simple truth; we want the best for our children and we love them just the way they are. So why do we care what anyone thinks? Mute the noise so you can hear their whispers. Pay attention to your own, without worrying who is watching. Don’t worry only about grades and nutrition while making presumptions about hearts and happiness.
I can’t shelter my love from society and it’s pressures and convoluted images pinned on online boards. What I can do is try hard to make sure neither she, nor I, develop habits in an attempt to try to conform to or escape from issues and expectations. Brands will beckon her. Tv shows will deceive her. Celebrities will bate her. Peer pressure will challenge her. Competition will push her. Love will distract her. As it all piles up like a mountain of unavoidable experiences and images, how do I make her realise she is a Unicorn?
While branding, propaganda and competition may be everywhere, it is me who is in her heart. It is me who is shaping her voice, nurturing the muscles of her mind and encouraging her to forgive you, love you and fly higher than you can reach. Our lessons, and our patience in delivering them, have to correspond to the maturity of the ears our words fall upon. Simplicity is understandable and appreciated at any age. As a result, I have just three simple rules in my home. They are our only rules, and they apply to us both. 1) Be Mindful (her conscience) 2) Be Grateful (her wings) and 3) Be Humble (her horn). Out of these rules my unicorn is born, and beyond those rules my unicorn is free. Her foundation is based on these three pillars, and I believe with all my simple heart that it will keep a clear channel open for my darling between her and herself. A little bit like Jiminy Cricket.
Our children aren’t designed to fit into neat boxes. I heard once obedience is the death of a child’s soul. It stayed with me, and I’m reminded of it more often than I want to be. We cant escape necessities, routine or schooling, but we can limit the time our kids have to be in straight jackets. Better yet, we can keep alive their inner dialogues, despite the flaws of the world around them. With a strong inner dialogue of what they know is right or wrong, they will have a confidence to tell the difference between what they must do and what they want to do. They will marry the two in their own beautiful way, while being mindful, grateful and humble.
So if you notice your child breaking from your comfort zone, don’t be afraid. If your child wants to do something, make something, sing something that makes no sense to you, encourage them. If your child talks differently, dresses differently, plays differently, writes differently, let them. If your child is walking with a smile on a path you don’t recognise, walk with them, don’t set them on your path, rather hold their hand on theirs. If your child is different to what you expected, or different to what society as you know it accepts, be there for them, and give society your middle finger from me. If we can’t tolerate our children for who they really are, how will they learn who they are, and how will they learn to tolerate each other? Tolerance is the glue we so desperately need for this world we all share.
Most importantly, how can a Unicorn realise who she is if the people she trusts the most don’t believe she exists?