Easter weekend was hard. Anytime my children’s father and I have to split up holidays, it’s hard. There is a new term I learned recently. The term is “alternative family.” According to Huffpost, “Alternative families come in many shapes and sizes. Each is to be celebrated as at the end of the day it is the formation of a loving family unit. Each journey is unique.”
We are a loving family unit. And we are unique. But in my life experience, every family is unique. We are all having our own “alternative experience.” I am happy for the transition from the term “broken” to “alternative.” We are not “broken.” We are whole human beings experiencing normal human trials. This is our “normal but alternative” experience.
My 7 year-old daughter is really struggling with custody exchanges. She wails, hides, says, “I don’t want to go!” through sobs. The pain on her face will forever be etched on my heart. I am watching her childhood scars form.
“I failed her.” That thought runs through my head like a slow moving train on a regular schedule. Next stop, Self Loathing! All aboard! But our babies see us. They see all of the cracks. They are wise and perceptive. And my daughter sees me.
She sees me judge myself. She watches as I internally berate myself, though I try to hide it. And she has begun to do it too. I can tell she is judging herself too harshly. I offered her an opportunity to share honestly with me what she was feeling, and she did. It took so much courage for her to tell me the truth. Thankfully, I was able to draw on my own life experience to help her. I told her that I sometimes have those thoughts about myself. But when I do, I try to remind myself of three good things about me. I reminded her that she is kindhearted, generous and smart. I couldn’t help but feel that she had inherited this negative self perception.
There is a pattern of belief systems that we pass down from generation to generation. Some call it karma. My mother never told me to disapprove of myself. But I watched her. I watched her struggle to love herself. I watched her seek approval outside of herself. I learned that if I were to love myself, I would be betraying her core beliefs, though I know that was not her intention. My mother is a champion. She has always shown up for me. I can tell her anything. But I wish she loved herself the way I love her. I wish she saw herself the way I see her.
When I was inside of my mother’s womb, all of my eggs were inside of me. That means my babies were also inside of my mother. We experienced her joy, her suffering, her struggles, and her victories. And I was inside my grandmother’s body. The women in my family have experienced a perpetual cycle of abuse. They all were made to believe they would not survive if they truly loved themselves. From the time I was an egg in my grandmother’s body, I felt the suffering of a woman who had been deeply hurt. My daughter has felt the same suffering. And so has my son.
So how can I create value from all of this? How do I rewrite the legacy of the women in my family? I must actively pray to change my family’s karma. I must take action to help my children feel empowered. And even on the hard days, I must show my daughter that I am a trailblazer for a new kind of life. My children and I are actively breaking the hard outer shell of suffering so that we can live a peaceful existence in which we truly love ourselves. The act of self love is revolutionary in my family. And we are the rebel children.
So, as I watch the scars of an “alternative” childhood form in my daughter’s heart, I do my best to show her that I am confident in her ability to turn poison into medicine. I see her, and I know what this powerful, kindhearted miracle of a human being is capable of. Our babies make us better. My daughter has raised the stakes in my self-love quest, because I will not stand for her feeling anything less than amazing about herself and her beautiful life. So I must show her by example.
I am a miracle born of the determination of unbreakable women. This is our legacy. The blood of women, who were lied to about the incredible power they possess, flows through the veins of my daughter, my son, and myself. This blood contains the antidote to that poison within it. We know what it is to fall down 9 times and get up 10. The secret of resilience has been passed down to us. They say practicing Buddhism is like polishing a tarnished mirror so that you can see the true nature of your life. I want to polish my mirror, so my daughter can see her true nature reflected back to her when she looks at me. Even if my self-love comes from being so proud that I created these amazing creatures, I am determined for them to shine. Because my babies are the brightest lights I have ever known. It’s my job to protect their light. I will continue to polish my mirror so I can reflect their light back to them.
Originally published at frecklesndreams.com