Cherishing Our Children

Today marks the end of the 8th month of this miraculous journey Hubby and I are on together called parenthood.

Baby is crawling now. She has two teeth and gets taller by the day. She’s eager to explore everything, pull herself up onto everything, climb everything. She seems to think she can walk; she’ll pull herself up to standing, turn her torso, and let go of her support as if to take a step. Thankfully, Hubby and I are always there to catch her … or hold her up as she “walks” safely in our hands.

I’ve been noticing more and more the differing parenting styles that exist, which makes sense because with each parent comes a different style. This has made me want to clarify more and more my own style, my own values, so I might never lose sight of the compass guiding me to my own parenting true north.

Then I stumbled upon an article entitled “Cherishing Your Child and I discovered the word “cherishment.”

“…the precondition for giving is receiving… It is natural to say ‘That is a well-cherished child’ or ‘There is a child who wants cherishing.’ We think of cherishment as the emotional equivalent of nourishment. Soul Food.”
-Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl and Faith Bethelard are authors of the book Cherishment. That’s the next book on my eternally long list of books to buy and read right this very second … as soon as I have time, of course. Ha!

Below is an excerpt from the article:

Babies expect to be cherished.

This cherishing, this affirmation of the infant from head to toe, teaches the baby who he is. In interaction with the parents, the baby learns “Yes, these are my toes, how good they feel when Dad kisses them!” and “Mom makes that happy noise when I smile at her!” The baby also learns “Mom and Dad love to bathe me, to nurse me, to care for me: I am worth taking care of. I am lovable.”

Cherishing our babies is natural, if we listen to our instincts. It is our secret weapon, the nourishment that helps them grow inside, the source of self esteem, the foundation on which their ability to love and be loved rests.

This expectation of being loved is what allows our children to learn so quickly, to risk bumps and scrapes and hurt feelings: the security of knowing that someone who adores them is watching out for them, supporting their growth. Cherishment is the security of unconditional love.

For the parent, cherishing is reveling in being this baby’s parent, being grateful even in the middle of diapers and sleeplessness and colic that this baby was sent to these arms.

*Sigh*

“I am worth taking care of. I am lovable.”

I have to admit, those are not feelings I enjoyed in abundance as a child. Those are ideas I left behind long ago, in my youth, only to claw my way back to them in adulthood over years of trying, failing, therapy, much introspection, and countless tears.

So on Baby’s 8-month birthday I’d like to say … this is my hope, my dream, and my greatest desire. To cherish my child. To adore her unconditionally, no matter what. To remind her that every part of her is lovable and worth loving. Every.Part.Of.Her.

And to grow into a person who knows how to love deeply and cherish completely. To come to the end of my life and know I gave all I could to that end. My husband and daughter have given me the most perfect opportunity to realize this dream. I look forward to many more months and years of working to accomplish it.

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