As mom to an adolescent girl, I regularly come face to face with the socio-political and religious gender constructs that make growing up female today so complicated. Often times, I get lost just trying to figure out where these inescapable constructs are permeating my self-concept as a woman and a mom, let alone how to liberate my daughter from these intertwining oppressive systems. I want to equip her for survival and well-being. I want to be present to her in ways that illuminate how our own practice of being aware through, for and with each other may liberate us from the systems that impede us. Our way of living and being offers us opportunities to hold an awareness of the world’s oppressions and yet, still imagine authentic ways to co-create be-ing with each other.
These are complex ideas and the notion that as a parent and child we can navigate below the surface of these waters and not lose sight of each other is frightening. My daughter sees me as a kind of mermaid – one who likes to go deep and is comfortable in the depths. I see my daughter as an amazing and emerging artist whose self-knowledge and self-concept permeate her creative work. A font of untapped potential. She beckons me to surface and splash around in the shallows for a while. I beckon her to dwell more comfortably in uncertainty, holding her work and experience lightly as she grows.
Our life together is punctuated by lively conversations, emotional meltdowns, creative stresses around school or work and testing the fabric of our connection. And yet, we start each day and end each day with a hug and simple expressions of love.
Recently, we had an impromptu opportunity to do some window-shopping and stroll around town together. This included stops in different shops and pleasant banter with the shop clerks. My daughter chose to buy something for herself. A bit later, while walking together my daughter stopped and hugged me. “Mom, I love you. I love so much the lovely way you always speak about me to others. I feel so cared for -so seen for who I am. I know that it makes me feel more confident in who I am.” “I also know that it isn’t always the case with moms and daughters.” I hugged her back and said, “I love you too honey and everything I say is just how I see you. And I am so happy you can say this to me as not every daughter does that.” In this moment – holding and speaking our truth to each other, we see each other clearly, meeting only briefly in a place of infinite possibility. A place deep within us both. A place that expand us and furthers us.
It is said that those who understand forgiveness and forgive do so from a deeply held understanding that they are forgiven. In that construct, one is able to forgive as one belongs to forgiveness and forgiving becomes unitive. Perhaps the same can be said for love – those who love, do so from an authentic, primal appreciation that they belong to love and love becomes unitive.