Passing down a legacy of love
“Every act is an act of love or a cry for love.”
~ Stacy Morgenstern
When I first heard this truth it resonated deeply within me. Here is the bottom line when it comes to pregnancy, birth, children, parents, siblings, the whole human family: every loving, hateful, fearful, crazy, silly, scary, desperate, heartfelt behavior is an act of love or a cry for love. In other words, every blessed thing we do has a positive intention behind it.
It is easy to see the positive intention when someone is acting out of love. It is a bit harder to see the positive intention when someone is crying for love.
So let’s look at what crying for love is really about.
When your child throws a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, maybe she is really telling you that she’s exhausted, overwhelmed, and needs a hug and a nap. She is crying for love.
When your partner shuts down as you try to pour your soul out to him, maybe he is protecting himself from the terrifying conversations he remembers his parents had that led to their divorce. Maybe he knows no other way to try and keep things status quo with you. He is crying for love.
When you think back to all of the times your Mom or Dad put you down or made you feel like you weren’t good enough, maybe they simply wanted the best for you, wanted you to be tough enough to make it in this world, and they wanted you to reach your full potential. Their parents taught them how “to make it” this way and they were passing on what they had learned. They were crying for love, for your love and wellbeing, in the only way they knew how.
Where have the people in your life been crying out for love?
I’m curious, does this awareness change the way you see their actions? Where have you been crying out for love? What positive intention have you been trying to achieve? What does the legacy of love that you want to pass onto your own children look like?
I’m curious, does this awareness change the way you see their actions? Where have you been crying out for love? What positive intention have you been trying to achieve?
I know that you, and every human being, are trying to fulfill some positive intention, a need for safety, love, and belonging in this world. When these most fundamental needs are threatened (in big or small ways) we find ourselves developing habits, patterns, or ways of acting that help us feel safer or more loved in the short-term. However, some of our old patterns or behaviors become outdated, no longer serve us, and leave us feeling empty, unsatisfied, and farther away from what we really want in the long-term.
I’d like to give you an example of how this process has played out in my life.
When I was eight-years-old, my Dad had stage 4 cancer of the stomach. It was a traumatic time for our whole family and to help myself cope and numb out how scared I was, I took on the method of emotional eating.
At the time, eating mindlessly in the afternoon when I came home from school took my attention away from the pain I was in and helped me feel like I could survive the potential of losing my Dad. Through eating, I didn’t feel everything so intensely and it worked really well. However, as a teenager and adult, this method or pattern of helping me feel safer became outdated and no longer served me. I have struggled with this old pattern and I am still on the journey of discovering and refining new methods and behaviors that will bring me the same positive intention of feeling safe.
With everything that I am, it is my mission to pass on healthy methods of feeling safe and loved to my two girls.
When I became pregnant with my first daughter, I found myself all the more motivated to get really right with these truths. I want to pass down a legacy to my children that is based on my own loving awareness of my positive intentions and ability to act on them from a place of love, rather than a place of fear. When I am in the place of fear, I am crying for love and falling back on old patterns and behaviors that really don’t serve me anymore. When I am fully grounded in myself, taking good care of my mental & physical health, and self-aware, I find that I am acting out of love with my girls, my husband, and everyone around me. What a good place this is to be.
How do we get to a place where we appreciate the positive intentions underneath a behavior or pattern that is difficult for us? I think a good way to begin with this is to look more deeply at the positive intentions in our children’s behaviors. I know that I approach this from a much softer place in my heart than I do when it comes to me judging my own behaviors! So let’s start with how you may want to respond to your child in need.
- When your child is acting out, breathe deeply and relax into what is unfolding before you. See through your child’s behavior and ask yourself, “What he is really crying out for?” Once you have moved from your own emotional reactions of anger, annoyance, fear, etc., and see the positive intention behind his behavior, lovingly guide your child to the activity or comfort that he really needs to feel safe, loved, and know that he belongs.
- With babies, the need for safety, love, and belonging is straightforward. They need to eat, sleep, be held, have their diapers changed, , stay warm, and have constant love and connection with the people around them. When one of these needs aren’t met, babies will cry out for love. You can relax into their cry and act out of love with an appropriate action that is grounded in your intuition (which is strong, just breathe and tune into it).
- When very young children cry out for love, it’s often as simple as needing to cuddle and read a book with you, needing a nap/quiet time, needing time in nature, or she is hungry or cold. When you understand these cries for love, your young child learns that her need for love, safety, and belonging are met through consistent acts of love and care from the people who matter most to her.
- Understanding cries for love gets a little trickier as our children get older and their actions and behaviors become more complex. Think of the adolescent who stays out late, doesn’t obey curfews, and doesn’t help out around the house anymore. These are trying times for parents. I am curious, if you have an adolescent right now, how would your methods of reacting to his behavior change or soften if you took a step back and truly understood the positive intention behind his actions? What if, in this case, he is seeking freedom of expression and trying to better understand himself as an individual outside of his family? What if he is really struggling with this? What methods can you use, acting out of love, to guide him to better methods of expressing his newfound sense of self?
- Stay with me here for one more phase in human development. Imagine yourself, your partner, your adult peers with all of the methods you and they have developed to attain safety, love, and belonging. These fundamental needs never go away. They are at the root of the patterns, addictions, and behaviors that we humans have been attempting to overcome throughout history. When we are able to recognize the positive intention behind whatever method we have come to despise (overeating, smoking, overworking, always reacting with anger or judgment, etc.) we can thank and embrace the hard work these parts of ourselves have been doing all of this time. We can make space in our hearts and minds for new methods, new options and paths to acting out of love for our deepest needs instead of crying out for them in these outdated ways that no longer serve us.
Your parents, with all of their good intentions, shared with you the best methods available to them to teach you about love, safety, and belonging. This is the legacy they left with you.
Now it is your turn. What legacy do you want to pass onto your children? I believe that pregnancy, birth, and the early years of motherhood are amazing windows of opportunity to look deeply into the legacy your parents gave you and thoughtfully, lovingly construct the one you want to leave for your kids.
COCOON TIME, those first six weeks after your baby is born, is the perfect window to move through as you gracefully find your own path to acting out of love and feel confident in your ability to meet your baby’s cries for love. When we humans are brand new, the only method we know is to cry for love. When those cries are met with loving, consistent, grounded actions, we learn our first lessons about acting with love, too.
I want you to have the best, most empowered, and peaceful start to life as a mother where you feel deeply connected to your maternal intuition. I want you to feel calm and confident in yourself as you embark on the mothering journey. I want you to know yourself and your needs so well that you take smashingly good care of yourself and begin the amazing legacy you know you can leave for your children as they grow.
I invite you to move forward, with courageous vulnerability, explore your deepest needs, and embrace whatever actions, habits, and patterns your truest self desires for a vibrant, healthy life. This is where you will proudly discover the legacy you want to pass onto your kids. I would be honored to help you get there.
All of the concepts, strategies, and techniques I use in pregnancy, birth, and parenting coaching (e.g., prenatal whole foods nutrition, healthy movement, learning to enter labor & birth without fear, setting up your home with safe, nontoxic products for you and baby, understanding your baby’s/child’s development and creating space and time for her to grow into herself, etc.) are important pieces to the puzzle.
AND, I believe that we all need to go deeper to understand our own needs for safety, love and belonging, these needs that were formed when we were children ourselves. When we understand those needs and see them for what they are, deeper change work comes easily.
It can be so easy, in fact, that you no longer have to remember to stop overeating or to live with anxiety or to stop yelling at your kids. When you do the deep change work and learn to meet your needs for love, safety, and belonging differently, the internal shift allows you to EMBODY the change you desire. When you embody those changes and your actions are deeply felt acts of love, you are giving yourself and your family the gift of a lifetime. So start now, when your family is young, and enjoy an amazing journey as a woman, mother, and legacy.
With warmth & light,
P.S. My Dad survived his stage four cancer when I was eight. He is healthy and strong today, sharing his amazing legacy of love with his kids and grandkids.