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Being in the Moment
by Celia Straus
As any woman knows who has ever been pregnant, communication with our children begins long before they are born. From the moment of conception, we begin continuous and often intense dialogues reflecting the widest possible range of emotions from overwhelming love to anger and resentment. When I was pregnant with my second daughter, Emily, a prematurely aging placenta, seen on a routine sonogram during my second trimester, put her at grave risk. My pregnancy became a race against the clock. Would Emily mature fast enough to be delivered and survive before my placenta calcified and basically "shut down?" Without saying a word out loud, I found myself in constant conversation with my daughter, encouraging her to grow, to thrive, to develop those lungs! I alternately prayed, sang, pleaded and even threatened. I have no idea if Emily actually heard these inner monologues, although in my heart I believe she did, but she was delivered almost two months premature, as healthy as any four pound baby could be, and spent only a week or so in the intensive care nursery.
Today, as then, I am often unsure whether Emily hears me or not, yet I continue to build the connections between us as if she does. At thirteen, she is exactly the age my older daughter Julia was when I began writing the prayers some of which would eventually be compiled in the books, Prayers On My Pillow and More Prayers On My Pillow. With both girls I have found that, even when they were toddlers, if I could simply be in the moment with them, connecting to what they were feeling without judging or superimposing my feelings onto theirs, we could maintain our love for each other through the upheavals that growth and change bring to all our lives.
The prayer-writing project began in October of 1996 and continuing, on a daily basis, for the next two years. I first began writing them because Julia was beginning to distance herself from me. The prayers, written in the first person, from her point of view, were designed to bridge the gulf that was developing between us as she confronted the confusion, the changes and the pressures of growing up, and I confronted this accelerated pace of life that leaves all of us parents with little time for heart-felt conversations with our children. The prayers were an indirect way for me to let her know I understood how she was feeling and what she was going through. I believe that only if we keep in touch with the child within our very grown-up body can we keep open enough to recognize the inner selves, and thus the very essence of our children as well as God who is Love itself.
In order to help our children nourish their spiritual part, their inner selves, as well as living our lives to their fullest potential, I believe we must grow up and remain a child. That message happens to be the theme of the very first prayer I ever wrote for Julia entitled, "I think I'm afraid to grow up, God" which states:
I think I'm afraid to grow up, God.
For I see how much pain there can be
I want to stay young and protected
I'm scared that I'll lose what is me.
I know in my life there's no choice, God.
That each day that goes by is a change.
So I pray that my soul grows with You
Then my world as I grow won't be strange.
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