Standing in the sunbeam that forced its way through our slider door, I know the warmth of winter, hibernation and family. My boy crawling along the floor, exploring, examining, experimenting with each of his toys as he pulls them from his orange and white toy basket, wrapped in his own world of play and understanding of his world around him. My girl, curled up on the futon, exploring, experimenting, creating in Minecraft, wrapped in her own world of play and understanding of this world she is growing into.
And then there is me. Sitting, watching. In awe of their curiosity and determination. Breathing in this lesson of theirs to dig in, to examine, explore and find deeper understanding. To allow my own curiosity to take over and to seek and find what is me and mine.
I watch my son throw a toy to the wayside and pick up another. His endless exploration, wanting to taste, touch, know each object in his little basket. I laugh as he shakes one toy and as it makes noise it looks like he starts to dance. He hears his own music and I am grateful for my own cracking open so I can hear the music that bubbles up from within me.
Dancing to my own beat and shedding the story of not making a spectacle of myself. Allowing the music, my music, to fill my soul and push out the voices that tell me to calm down, sit down, be quiet, don’t move, don’t feel, don’t experience my own body, my own inner music, my own innate wisdom.
I was never good at listening to those voices for too long, though I would obey for periods of time. Just long enough to allow the volcano to build up and eventually I would crack and explode, gaining disapproving looks from my grandmother. At times my mother would encourage me, when she felt strong in her own dance and at others, when she was filled with her own fears of loss and abandonment and good enoughness, she would put all her energy in silencing me. And the cycle would begin again.
I look over at my girl, sitting quietly on her tablet, and I know the pattern I have adopted from my mother: at times encouraging my girl’s voice to be loud and bold and at others, in my weaker moments, demanding her silence and even giving the same disapproving looks of my grandmother. My hope as I sit here in this winter sunbeam is that the encouragement outweighs the demands, that she keeps her voice and dances to her own music always, regardless of my parenting failures.
As I sit and observe and reflect, I know the stories handed to me by my ancestors, and I know the ones I am passing on to my girl. And while I am sad at what I am passing on, I also know what I am not passing to her, and I dream of the day, in thirty years or so, when she sits in a winter sunbeam and reflects on what she is passing on to her children and what lessons she is allowing them to teach her.