To Be Present, or President

Whether or not your children are biological, they are such incredible mirrors. We can view the mirror as an incredible blessing, or we can feel frustrated and angry with them without understanding exactly why we have this reaction.

My daughter is 13. She was born in Tokyo. Of biological parents she never knew. She looks a lot like my ex, who is also Japanese. And not at all like me.

But in other ways, she and I are very much alike. We both are incredibly creative, spontaneous and dramatic. And we both, for very different reasons, have felt abandoned at our core.

Herein is a gift of the mirror that she is - a gift that is, at times, very difficult to receive. It is a reflection that can make me feel insane. But the gift is in being able to face that mirror, to truly see the reflection, and to hold it, and heal it, as best we can.

It’s taken a long time to recognize this reflection. What it looked like was a child that would cling to me, pull on me and not let me go at the times when I felt the most exhausted and broken. I just wanted to go to bed, to curl up and escape. It would be late at night. She would grab the tie to my robe and cry, “Mommy don’t leave me” over and over again. I would explain that I was not leaving. I was only going to the next room. But it didn’t matter. She would grab more tightly.

It’s heartbreaking to peel the fingers of your child from your clothing so that you can escape. And sadly, escaping was exactly what I felt the need to do.

My daughter, K, is an old soul. Without doubt. The Little Buddha, some of my friends call her. K knows when I’m gone. Even when I’m standing in her bedroom with the tie of my robe clenched in her fist. She can see when I’ve abandoned myself and she calls me out.

Most of the time, if it is true that I’ve left my body, the last thing I want is for someone to be crying for me to not leave. All I want in that moment is to leave. I just want to escape the pain, the fear, whatever it is that is up for me at that time.

And she is there begging me to get present. Dammit! It is in those moments where the roles are reversed, where I am the child and she is the sage, the elder. And she is the mirror – the child crying out to not be abandoned. That reflection is the last thing I want to see when I’m feeling like this.

This whole scenario played out recently. K was sick and I was in a tremendous amount of fear around a number of different things. I had been doing my best at escaping all day. Over posting, over chocolating, keeping as busy as possible to avoid being present with my fear.

Toward evening, I knew what was coming, and I dreaded it. The Little Buddha was going to beg me to come back. To be present. I couldn’t tolerate it.

I just sat there on her bed and cried and prayed over and over in my head. She kept pleading, “Mommy don’t leave me”. I tried to breathe deeply. I didn’t know what to do. In that moment, I was the child, with another child relying on me and I couldn’t handle it. Finally, I fell asleep on her bed.

I knew what she was asking of me - That child in the mirror. That young girl who felt so all alone. That child, who was imploring me to stay, to be present, to not abandon her.

That child who is the essence of my creative spirit.

That child who sings and dances and skips down the street.

That child who just wanted to be seen. And found. And heard.  And cherished. For exactly who she was. And is.

She is the essence of Meraki. She is that seed that, if allowed to grow will bloom into miraculous possibility. She needs and deserves to be cherished and celebrated.

It is she who we must come back to.  It is he who needs to be seen and heard. That child. That essence that is the source of good and hope and love. That child, who when abandoned and trampled, can have a monstrous need for attention as an adult.

That child can be present, or be President.

If we attend to her now, with love, with gentleness and acceptance, perhaps she can feel free to blossom into the gift that she already is.