Six months after birth, my daughter is beginning to realize that we are separate beings. Her mind has recently developed an understanding of the concept of object permanence. This means she’s just come awake to the idea that I can walk away, that she can be left behind. For the first time her heart is experiencing what it means to miss.
This realization reminds me of the sweet simplicity of her way of being when she entered the world. My daughter arrived without skepticism, without doubt, without withholding. She was always only fully present to her surroundings, never ruminating on the past or anxious about the future. Joy and wonder were always just behind her eyes. She would smile at the movement of her own hand, the way the Sun danced on the wall and at any face smiling back at her. She would cry out earnestly always believing that we, her parents, would be there to answer her call and tend to her needs.
Normal signs of brain development for a six month old looks like anxiety as she clocks the distance between us, boredom with the things that once would have left her in awe and skepticism when she’s found in the arms of someone new.
There was something so good, pure, perfect and sweet about her rare and unencumbered newborn way of being. She was born wanting, loving, living openly. My heart wilts as I witness her slowly realizing that perhaps all of life is not as safe as she once believed it to be. Already, and in spite of our best efforts to meet her every need, she is becoming acquainted with longing, disconnection and insecurity.
I am weighed down by sadness as I watch my daughter integrate more to the realities of this world the longer she lives outside of me. But I also sense pride and relief. She is negotiating with a reality that I cannot change. She is adapting to a world that will sometimes leave her longing. She is developing a sense of her surroundings. This new understanding may crowd out the simple goodness she once knew. Yet, it will create in her a intricate armor protecting the most precious pieces of who she will always be.
Remember the freedom you felt as a child? There was a time when you lived fully present to the joys before you, fully open to connect with goodness in the world around you and entirely accepting of every part of you. As we grow from the innocence of infancy, we all develop instinctual ways of shapeshifting to defend ourselves from a world that is not always safe. We create a protective shell, take up armor, develop ego and too often deny essential parts of us to negotiate connection and security.
My job as a coach, practitioner, mentor and in time as a mother, is to invite others back to a balanced existence. There is a way of being that engages your unique, complex and often necessary armor while returning to your most tender self in the safety of your havens. Rather than quieting your intuition, silencing your essences and punished the parts of yourself that pose a threat to belong, if practiced you can move consciously from armored to at ease as the situation requires. With practice, you can overcome reactive patterns that assume neglect or threat, instead using a lifetime of wisdom to assess the saftey of a space, time or person, touching back to the truest, version of who you are.
Gentle, slowly, with self-compassion and generous grace, you can create a world within yourself to encounter the younger, truest parts of you.
You deserve to be well + free. Ready? Let's begin.
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Photography by Tommy Grant