I have spent most of the last 12 years working with women – preaching the gospel of self love, guiding them into going back in time to rewrite the stories that started in childhood – stories of not being enough; lacking; somehow flawed and unworthy of being cherished and loved – the stories that so wounded our innocent hearts.And it was healing.
For them and for me.
And it was sincere.It was learning to love ourselves in all the places we weren’t loved.
And as we gazed at each other with love and spoke the words our hearts longed to hear, it was transforming and empowering.
But despite all the work I have done on myself, despite all the ways I have grown in coming to a place of loving myself, there has always been something missing - some small place that stayed empty. Maybe because most of that healing work focused on all the ways I wasn't loved, I inadvertently left out ways that I was by the people who did.
As those of you who've read my blogging know, my life was profoundly blessed by the birth of my granddaughter, the (precious) Princess Olivia last March.
Mondays I get to babysit - it's "Grandma Day" with the Princess, and I get her for the whole entire day. There isn't a lot that gets done on Mondays, nor do we necessarily do anything special. I mostly dote on her - feed her pancakes for breakfast (her favorite food), let her empty my kitchen drawers (her favorite pasttime), haul every shoe I own out of my closet (her second favorite pasttime) laugh at her antics and overall cuteness, and tell her over and over again how much I love her.
I love Mondays with my little Princess.I love how I love her and she loves me. I love scooping her up in my arms and smothering her with loves and kisses. And now that she’s about to turn one year old, she’s interactive. Like when I ask her, “do you know how much your grandma loves you?” she will pause from whatever she’s doing to come to me and hold her cheek out to me for kisses. She knows. And when I say, “I love you” she nestles in close saying “mmmmmm” which I know is princess speak for “I love you too, Grandma.”
And we both giggle in our delight of each other.Although she didn’t sleep for the first 6 months of her life – she likes her nap time now, which is a good thing because I get to sit down in the peace and quiet or do some of the little tasks I have on my list to do without taking precious time away from her. But I have to admit that after about an hour, I am constantly at the doorway looking in on her for signs of stirring, fighting the urge to grab her up out of her crib before she’s ready to wake up just because I’m ready for her to wake up and play.
Monday as I stood in the doorway and watched her sleep (is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby?) an epiphany came to me:In the act of loving her, I am loving myself.
In the act of loving her, I can feel how much I was once loved.
My paternal grandmother doted on me too and loved me beyond measure. Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and the memories I have of her and I together are some of the happiest I have. When she died, I lost the greatest love in my life. And although I have memories, up until my own granddaughter was born they were just memories – without my grandmother here, I could remember how much she loved me, but I couldn’t remember what it felt like.
But now I do.
I feel the love my grandmother had in her heart for me as deeply and profoundly as I feel the love I have in my heart for my granddaughter now. It is a sacred and holy revisiting across time and space. A full circle. A moment of grace where I become my own grandmother and my granddaughter becomes me and the lines between where one ends and the other begins are muted. Where the words of love I say to her are the words of love said to me and the love I feel for her is the love that was felt for me and it sinks deeply into my thirsty soul.
And I gotta tell you, it’s all a little awe inspiring.To feel how deeply I was loved then by the love I feel now.
It was there.
I was loved and cherished.
I so was.
Almost exactly one year ago, my oldest son proudly placed his precious newborn daughter in my arms and said, “Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, Grandma.”
I had been waiting.And she has turned out to be everything I had been waiting for in ways I didn't imagine.
For her and for me.
I didn't expect that in loving her as much as I do, I would be reconnected to how much I was loved. I didn't know it would be another pathway to loving myself.
I am blessed.