I grew up in a very loving and forgiving family- the kind that ate dinner together and went on walks in the woods. Somehow, this didn’t protect us from tragedy. When I was 17- I came home from school and found my 15 year old brother after he committed suicide. After this shocking tragedy- I drifted through life for the next 7 years. After getting through the worst part of the grief- I felt numb and wondered if I would ever truly feel love again.
Eventually, I married and I remember the day that I first held my oldest daughter, Monikka, in my arms- my heart leapt in joy. It really felt like a circle of life type of thing. She was very easy to love. She always was a generous, cuddly, sweet person. Everyone who met her- loved her. I had two more children and no matter what was going on with my career- my identity was wrapped up in being a great mother.
When Monikka entered high school, she had a very rocky year. She went from being a person I had always trusted to a person who lied and concealed things. She let her grades slide, she got involved in an older crowd, and I could not trust her to tell me the truth about anything. I found myself wondering what to do and I was not only afraid for her, but I was hurt. I remember that after one particularly upsetting situation, I was talking with a close friend. This wise friend asked me, “ When your daughter looks back on your relationship, what do you want her to remember?” Instantly, I said, “I want her to know that she is loved, deeply-no matter what.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt a deep sense of peace come over me.
The next time I was alone in the car with my daughter (we always did have great car talks). I told her, “You know, honey, I love you, no matter what- you don’t have to do anything to earn my love and when you are a grown up- I want you to remember- that I loved you”. She started crying and crying- somehow- she thought that she needed to earn my love and that she didn’t have it any more.
It was a turning point for us- and the next year- she had completely turned around her grades and her social life. I feel steadier, now, too- as I know my most important gift I can give to my children is the deep comfort and knowledge that they are loved- unconditionally.”