I sang my sons to sleep tonight for the first time in a while. I regret that I have to indicate that it has been a while, but as they get older, it seems less and less important. I get distracted by schedule demands and forget, or I think about the fact that they are getting older and, in the very near future, will probably be annoyed with my affections and adorations. But, we experienced a tragedy today and comfort was needed. One of my sons (whom I shall not name to protect his reputation) has become a little unruly at school as of late. So, I grounded him…from his Valentine’s Day candy. Too harsh? Maybe. But, it was a most grievous offense. And when he realized that I was not just threatening, he broke down. I wanted so much to take back the punishment to appease his cries, but I knew that this was an unfortunate lesson that I have to let my kids learn sometimes. So I just held him and assured him that it was alright, that this feeling was temporary. It didn’t calm him. I held him for almost half an hour, at which point I remembered that singing to him had always succored him before. I sang my sweet boy a love song, while his brothers listened, and he started falling asleep.
When the song was over, one of the other boys said, “Mommy, I’m starting to cry.” I wondered whether he was playing for attention at first, then quickly found that was not the case. “Are you crying because you are happy or sad?” I asked. “I am crying because I am happy that you sang.” And that is how my Valentine’s Day ended. It warmed my heart and soul.
However, the beginning was much different.
I know that talk of loving oneself can sound a little simplistic and, perhaps, cheesy. In a world of fear, pain, and chaos, there are those who are shouting from the middle of the crowd, “Peace!” “ Love!” Some of us would like to dismiss them as pot smoking hippies, and maybe that is true in some cases. But, I feel a serious shift in perceptions on this subject, and have decided to explore it. I came to this decision last night, on the eve of the day of love. I decided that I would take the opportunity of being single to start dating myself. I am embarking on a journey of falling in love with myself. Yep, I’m a cheeseball and proud of it! And, of course, Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to start. Now, I have not usually been one to put great emphasis on Valentine’s Day. Granted, when I was in high school, I might or might not have fantasized about getting flowers from whomever I had a crush on, accompanied by professions of having been admiring me from a far since the first day he laid eyes on me. But, I would defy anyone to prove it. Regardless, my excited mind swirled around ideas of how I would treat myself if I were my own significant other. Visions of massages and hot baths danced in my head, and I planned my day out to start with some routine yoga and meditation while focusing on feelings of love for myself. Oh, how easily good intentions can turn into, well...
One of many goals in meditating is to tap into the energy of the world. I generally feel that we are all connected, and I visualize different parts of the earth and different peoples while trying to feel how we are all one. It’s a great way to start the day, most of the time. This time, creating awareness brought on an epiphanal moment that I did not expect. Instead of feelings of love and acceptance for myself, I felt this lingering emptiness, and knew immediately that I had no idea how to love myself. Not only that, I could easily pinpoint how that had affected my choices and relationships throughout my whole life. It sucked. I was staggered by the power of that knowledge and didn’t know what to do with it.
The day marched along as it always does. We got dressed, ate breakfast, brushed our teeth, and I drove my three sons to school. I went to my own classes in an unshakable daze. I was able to participate in the class discussions somewhat, but was constantly distracted by thoughts of love and humanity and social evolution and fear. What if the need to feel loved was one of the driving forces of all human behavior? Is the need to fit into our society based on the need to feel worthy of love? When did the human race stop feeling loved and start feeling that we have to earn it? What if every single one of us just started feeling entirely worthy of love?
Alright, so I have a ton of questions. I usually do. I never grew out of the “why” phase of human development. I do have a few suppositions, though. First, we are all connected, and therefore all are different parts of a whole. Whether one classifies that as we are all made up of particles that have energy acting alongside other particles at all times, or as a global family created by a higher being, or a combination of the two, it does not matter. We interact with people every day, and our actions affect those around us. I like to think of the earth as a big organism like a body. And if I am part of a whole, and the whole is beautiful and wonderful and worth everything, than so am I. And so are all of us. And in loving myself, I really am loving the whole world.
We run around our lives, begging everyone around us to show us our worth. We feel the need to be accepted by our peers so that we can feel loveable. We think, “Maybe if I dress a certain way, lose weight, get the “right” kind of job, get good grades, have a big house and a nice car, then people will see me as deserving love.” Balderdash! One of the mass delusions we suffer from is that we have to perform or behave a particular way to deserve love and joy and peace.
By the time I made it through the labyrinth of my thoughts and the roads leading to my house, I prepared for Parent Teacher Conferences. Interesting day to have these meetings, but c’est la vie. Oddly enough, they became the balm of the day. As I sat perusing over the artwork and letters that my boys had prepared, I came across an assignment that required one of them to write about what he saw as a treasure to him in his life. It was me. He actually wrote at the end of his paragraph, “My mommy is my treasure.” The next conference revealed a writing assignment in which another of my babies was asked to write about someone that has touched his heart. Me again. He wrote of how I made him feel better when he was sad, fed him healthy food, and made sure he slept enough. Yep, I am loved.
These reassurances were definitely comforting, but the profound quality of these simple, honest expressions was enhanced by the fact that I had already started down a road this morning. I was already starting to see that I was worth being loved no matter who reflected it back to me, and my sons just drove it home. As I love myself, I can receive and reciprocate it more fully, with less need and selfishness. And I will remember to sing again.
Love you all, Casee Rhys