I remember when I finally got it, really got it, that my mother had been a child once too. I had heard my mother’s stories about her childhood and understood intellectually that she had been a girl, had had parents, had grown up. But in my mind’s eye, she was always and only my mother – important and yet only tangential to my needs.
That childish view continued until I moved away from home and disengaged from the complicated child-parent relationship. I began to see my mother as another human being in her own right. When that happened, I could also finally understand that she too had been a child once.
And there, for the first time, I found a common ground with her.
I remembered what it was like to be a child – small, vulnerable, dependent, innocent, evolving. Seeing her in that light allowed me to love my mother in a new and unconditional way.
I live in the downtown core of my city where all the social services are housed. I see a lot of people, many of whom are referred to as the “the dregs” or bottom rung of society. They are the homeless, mentally ill, elderly, physically and mentally handicapped, poor, addicted, immigrant.
And they too were someone’s child once. That thin, dirty man picking cigarette butts out of the gutter and arguing with himself was someone’s baby boy. The meth-addicted prostitute whooping in the moonlight was someone’s little girl.
When I encounter people (particularly people who may be challenging to be with for whatever reason), acknowledging the child that was and the child that is still within them helps me to find our common ground.
It’s my version of Namaste, except in my version the child in me recognizes the child in them. The result is still a divine recognition.