Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A matter of the heart.

One of my greatest blessings is also my greatest curse.  In my life, I've exerted a lot of mental energy attempting to appreciate the moment as it is happening.  It started when I was at boarding school. As challenging as that experience was at times, I knew it was dramatically changing the course of my life and I wanted to hold onto that in the moment-- to appreciate it, to respect it for what it was.  Based on the way I go about things, some people would call me a perfectionist, some would say I care too much about what others think. I might say those things about myself. However, these are not what motivate me. These are not what fuel the fire of my spirit. For better or worse, what burns inside me is an almost manic desire to live without regret.  To never have to look back and say I wish I took that more seriously. I wish I tried harder. I wish I understood how significant that moment was. I wish I gave more of myself.

Operating in this mode has helped me do some really exciting and brave things in my life. I have achieved and exceeded goals. I have been excellent at times. But I've also been way too serious. Too emotional. I tend to over think things to a point of debilitating. Sometimes I miss the moment while I'm busy trying to make meaning of it. What I have come to realize is that I'm in a constant battle of heart versus mind.  Sometimes my thoughts suffocate my ability to truly feel. Sometimes my thoughts overwhelm my heart with emotion. In either case, as often as I've hit the mark, I've missed because of this.

Motherhood has been no exception to this tendency.  A bond between a mother and a baby is so simple and beautiful, yet I find myself constantly thinking ahead to when Carolina is older and things grow more complex.  How will what I am doing now effect our bond, for good or for bad, later on? Will we always be as close as we are now, as our relationship changes?  How do I control this? I've found myself putting way too much pressure on it.  I’ve been telling myself our relationship is what will make or break my life. Since I found out I was pregnant, I promised myself that I would be as intentional as I can be when it comes to Carolina. I do not want our relationship to just be what it shall. I want to cultivate it. I want to think about her. I want to truly know her for who she is. I want to be as close to her as I possibly can. 

I need to remind myself constantly that I do that not with my mind, but my heart.

I got to thinking about the people in my life who have come to mean the most.   I realized that my brain has been highly impressionable. Lots of messages have been written on my brain. Different ones every day. Good ones and bad ones. My brain is where my insecurities and fears live. My brain holds a lot of chaos. Sometimes, I am embarrassed to admit, it seems that my brain is willing to listen to the message of anyone.  But my heart is of a different strength.  It has sifted out the madness and holds on to the brightest beauty and the deepest pain. It is not nearly as impressionable as my brain is. I might be able to count on my hands the people who have written their message on my heart.  And after thinking through this, I find myself asking: What was it about these people? How can I be that?  What is my message to my daughter and how will I be sure I write it on her heart? 

The truth is, I can't answer any of that right now. I cannot devise a plan to be sure this happens. Sometimes I wonder if we are so close to the messages from our hearts we can't even articulate what they are. From the people who have written their message on my heart, I have learned this- they first showed me their heart.  The only conclusion I can make from any of this is that the first step to writing my message on my daughter’s heart is showing her my own. I can know her by first letting her know me.  So rather than over think the message, I am going to try to tell myself to give my heart to Carolina every day. And trust that eventually, she'll give hers back to me too.