An Apology to My Indigo Daughter: lessons I’ve been taught

 

My daughter, Sarah, is a ray of light.  Every year since she's been born, I've declared: "THIS is my favorite stage of her so far."  When she was an infant, I loved her.  When she started to hold her head up and then sit un-assisted by 6 months, I loved her and delighted at her accomplishment.  When she was 2, with her sweet face framed by her precious glasses and blond hair, I sighed relief as her physical abilities started to catch-up with her frustration driven desires to do more.  Her independence of being able to fasten buttons, buckles shoes, climb higher piles of dirt, and run along with the dog seemed to bring a new level of contentment and smiles to her face.  I've loved every stage of our togetherness.

I loved her through Montessori pre-school, marveling at how capable and empathetic she was.  I provided space as a growing collection of adults recognized her incredible nature.  Her kindergarden teacher wrote in a note to the substitute, "If you have any questions, ask Sarah." 

She has always been true to herself, filled with integrity and compassion.

As a first time mother, truth can be buried deep under mounds of parenting books and advice.  Her gift has been to force me to put down the books, and to look within.  It is there that I found the path to raising an indigo child - and all children.  She reminded me that children need love, safety, encouragement, and to be heard.

It was a reminder that emerged through the opposite.  We experienced parenting moments where she felt unloved, not safe, discouraged, and silenced. As a parent should, I remember these moments, and I'm sorry for them.

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I'm sorry to her for believing that infants need to be taught independence through separation.  Her persistence in teaching me this lesson was difficult on both of us in those first weeks of life, I am so sorry.  But those constant cries when she wasn't next to me, struck a spot in me, and I realized quickly that while I didn't know what the heck I was doing, I did know that I didn't bring her into this world to cry and suffer.

The books I read didn't talk about baby wearing, but she quickly taught me that true independence can only be gained by first rooting in a foundation of security.  She forced me to face the reality that her need for me wasn't severed with the umbilical cord.  I was her foundation. I was her security.  From me, she was going to be safe to explore life; without me, she'd be crippled in taking first steps.

And so she became a part of me.  I found a sling, learned how to position her in it, and together we got healthy - me by doing the stair stepper wearing a child, her by gaining weight and joy.  As the first year past, and I fully integrated what it meant to "be there for her", I realized a larger truth for us: her needs continued between the hours of 9 to 5.  This prompted, in synchronicity with other life events, the next 15 years of me staying at home with her while continuing to work.  Those years together were critical in not only creating her, but also in creating me.  We both learned about the independence that can flow from a foundation of security.

As she's now approaching age 18 and the brave steps that that requires, we both know the depth of her independence that is our reward.

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I'm sorry to her, for the years of bedtime battles.  My sweet 2 year old, my sweet 3 year old, how I wish I could turn back time and guide her through bedtime the way that she taught me to subsequently do with her younger sister.  In my misplaced energy of creating a bedtime routine of quite time, pajama time, book time, prayer time, and kisses good night, I missed what she really needed.  We went through the "crying it out" chapter of the books I bought, both of us emerging more weary than when we started.  She would be so hot and sweaty and panicked.  I would be so sad, so self-damning.  It was a horrible experience.  And my "caving in" gave me little comfort as it perpetuated a feeling of my incompetence.  The vicious circle kept spinning until once again she demanded I find another way.  As I peered into her quite bedroom one night I realized that we both wanted the same thing: peaceful sleep.  With that heart spark, we started anew.

I realized that just like her needing to be on me as an infant, her need to be near me as she fell asleep was part of the "Firm Foundation Plan".  This wasn't about me enabling her to be dependent on me; this was about me recognizing that her independence blossomed through me.  What she taught me through that process helped not only her sister, but also other children whose parents have learned through our experience.

But it doesn't take away my recognition that it was hard on her.  For that, I will always be sorry.

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I'm sorry to her, for all the hurt she felt.  Her empathetic nature hasn't always been fully honored by me.  Recess was overwhelming to her, the public school was overwhelming to her, trips to the mall were overwhelming, concerts and fireworks overwhelming.  She felt everything: every hurt, misdeed, and anger that was directed at her or exchanged by anyone around her.  It paralyzed her and at times, hurt her deeply.  I was aware of her sensitivity and eventually I found my voice of protection, but it took practice.  I'm sorry for my delay, and her distress, as I learned to speak up, stand up, seek out, and create the most nurturing environment for her.

Thank you Sarah, for prodding me to find my voice in those years while you stayed quiet, suffering.  Somehow in her wisdom, I think she saw the larger picture.  We were on a journey together.  I learned from her cues, burning through the conventional practices and books, finding our truth - the whole time making it up as I went.

Now, to hear her voice -- one that is shifting people's perceptions about what they choose to put in their bodies, how they treat the earth and her creatures, how true business practices should embody the truths of integrity and compassion -- I see how important each step on the journey has been.  Her sensitivity to life and my voice that was needed to protect her from it, has become her strong voice of compassion in raising other's sensitivities.

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She has been a blessing to me, and she is a blessing to this earth.  I'm sorry for our trials at points where I lagged behind, and I'm so very sorry for her experiencing the earth's lag.  Her beautiful smile and light will prod others, as it has me, to dig deeper, uncovering more truths.  This I am sure.

As Sarah and I are moving towards the beginning of her next "this is my favorite stage of her life so far" - it's right for me to look back and recognize the journey that we've been on.  For the lessons that I needed to learn, "I'm sorry".  For her relentless prompting me to find another way, and her rewarding smile, "thank you".

 

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Ellen Kellner is the author of The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex.  In the book's dedication page it reads, "To Sarah […], You're so important to me that my love for you forced me to figure it out and keep doing it.www.ANewDivorce.com

 

 

 

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