It was a mere split second, an instant. I looked at my angry-red, colostrum-covered, squashed and wrinkled new-born little girl and thought…’that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen’.
And then I held her, my heart melted, and my eyes were opened to the absolute magnificence of her, the most beautiful baby ever to set foot on the world.
Why? Because she was mine.
That’s the one and only time I have ever had a negative thought about either of my two beautiful princesses. How can I possibly see them as anything other than perfect, my own flesh and blood.
I am in love with my daughters. Unconditionally.
“What a beautiful baby” I hear your friends and family say. Quite frankly I think they’re lying and just saying the right thing. A beautiful moment maybe, a beautiful number of fingers and toes even, but not a beautiful looking baby, I just think that all new-born babies are terribly ugly – besides mine of course.
My kids can break my favourite mug, paint my white linen with nail polish, I crack up laughing when they fart in the bath and they can even pick my prize petunias to play with their Barbie dolls.
In fact, my first born was a projectile-vomiter of note and suffered from reflux. Instead of feeling disgust at being covered in sour breast milk puke, I marvelled instead at the distance she covered and the obvious talent she possessed at this skill.
Try as I might your kids won’t get the same reaction when they do something offensive to me. I wish I could get angry and then melt after a short while with that overwhelming feeling of complete love welling up inside me.
But that feeling is reserved for you with your own brood.
Nor can you expect that of me with your kids.
But I can love them objectively and care about them, nurture them even.
And that’s why we rely so heavily on teachers, coaches, and third party influencers. They are exactly that, a removed third party, and that distance allows them to be objective and see our kids in a light that we never will.
I coached swimming for many years and produced some fine swimmers. But there is absolutely no way that I will ever be able to do the same for my own kids. The relationship is just too close. I can’t be tough enough on them, and they don’t respect the authority I need to turn them into a swimming superstar.
On the other hand I was blamed more often than not for Jordan and Byron’s lack of swimming talent and lack of work ethics in the pool. Their parents just couldn’t accept that their kids were responsible. There had to be another reason.
We battle to see our own children’s faults and short comings. We accept their moods, their teenage imperfections and their idiosyncrasies. When others don’t we defend them vociferously. Right up into adulthood.
That’s the way it should be. Our kids need more than anything else to feel loved unconditionally by us. It’s a safe and secure feeling that can only be derived from flesh and blood.
However, I have always valued immensely the outside influences that have had a profound and treasured impact on my life. The special teachers, hard but fair coaches, mentors, and people who have shaped me into the person I am today.
So respect the other people in your children’s lives, because they bring a balance and temperament that you never will, no matter how hard it is to accept sometimes. And the love they feel for your children is no less valuable than your own.
It just isn’t the same…and that is a good thing!