Everything I do now is setting up my child’s vision of the world and how she will expect to be treated for the rest of her life. I keep thinking that. I know, there will be many other factors that will affect her affect (so to speak) and impress upon her a feeling of optimism or pessimism, self-worth or self-doubt but the roots of all that are laid down now.
With this in mind, when I touch her gently I am aware that she will grow up and expect (demand?) to be treated and touched lovingly and with respect. When I listen to her I know she will have high standards and know that people can and will be there for her, interested in seeing who she really is. As I play with her I hope this is instilling in her a love of carefree fun and laughter for its own sake that will last a lifetime.
I know she is also imbibing so much from what she sees pass between me and NinjaDad. Are we the perfect couple? Oh **** no but if watching us is forming part of her mental blueprint for how a relationship can be, then it ain’t all bad, either. But as I say, it is not only how she sees us treating each other but how we behave toward her that will influence how she goes on to treat others and what standards she will hold people up to when they interact with her.
I remember thinking about this topic when I watched an infamous episode of WifeSwap in which a spoilt brat pageant queen (allegedly) expects everybody to wait on her hand and foot. My first thought was “this girl will never find a partner that panders to her like that, she is going to have a rude awakening when she goes out into the real world”… Then I remembered that was not necessarily the case. She might just find somebody else with complementary neuroses, so to speak, perhaps a man who is looking for a trophy wife, doesn’t care if she can’t spell and hires a maid to take care of her every whim. My point is the world adapts to your expectations of it (to a point). When you think you are rubbish you attract people who will treat you like trash (or at the very least you don’t have the confidence and backbone to kick them to the curb when people like that appear in your life).
Conversely, confident, well-adjusted, centered people also know what they are looking for, they have the silence in them, the spaciousness to see through some of the masquerades and games and to step toward other authentic people. Look I don’t want to romanticise this too much. I get it, luck and other factors play a role… but so does mothering, your upbringing, the messages you receive (in word and in deed) from those around you – especially in these early formative years.
So it is that I say, be conscious of how you relate to your little one, put awareness into this task. Then again, I am sure you are loving and caring already, of course, so perhaps it is more about celebrating and being grateful for the great start you can and are giving your children just by being you and holding in you the space to make changes, to grow and step up when the opportunity presents itself, to break a chain of behaviour passed down through your family if it no longer serves you or your children. Be bold, take courage. Love yourself, love your daughter, love your son and know that that love will continue to show up for the rest of their lives.