I am the god of my child's life. Some may think it is blasphemy to ever say such a thing, but others will recognize the truth in these words. It wasn't my intention when I became a parent to hold such power over another, and yet I now realize how absolute (even if unwanted) my influence over this young person in my care. And how utterly powerless I become when her own free will asserts itself.
I am there at the beginning and the end of each day. I provide sustenance for her body, opportunity to her life, education to her mind, and nourishment to her soul. Her fragileness at times frightens me, as does her sometimes total disregard for safety.
Yet there were other gods before me.
When the day has passed, and I silently stand above her, smelling the freshness of her still-damp hair and watching as her lips make tiny puffs of exhalation, I sometimes think of these other gods. Her birthfamily, caretakers and foster parents, each once gods in her life and whose influence and mark remain permanently on her in various ways.
The other gods are more than shadows. There actions have left enduring impressions on my child, and inculcated beliefs into her that I do not share or support. After many years, I have finally come to realize that it is not within my power to erase these marks upon her soul, but only to offer her the healing power of love, safety, acceptance and stability.
Where once she knew hunger, now there is food overflowing. After much time I have accepted that it is not within her to know a perfect trust in abundance. She must always carry with her the reassurance of a granola bar or have an extra snack within her backpack. By providing this security, and not demanding a blind trust in only my words that there will always be food, her trust grows in me.
I would like to believe that my view of our coming together is as beautiful in her mind as it is in mine. I remember clearly waiting with the other excited and anxious parents for the children to be brought to us. I can almost feel again the purest joy ever experienced when I first saw her face and reached out my arms to her. She remembers the moment quite differently. At first terrified and frozen, the sight of her caretakers leaving mobilized her into hysterics, and terror is the emotion she most associates with our first meeting. A sense of abandonment stayed with her so deeply, that for the first year I could not leave her alone in any room. She believed she would be left again and life would once more become uncertain.
I once wished to also erase the memories and influence of the other deities of her life. Those who were unable to give her body the nourishment that it needed, or recognize the amazing humor she possesses. How could she have been left alone and uncared for hours without love, interaction, or food?
I have come to realize, after a decade of loving my sweet daughter that we humans are not meant to be perfect gods. I received a photo taken over a year before she became ours. She is standing in a crib with her hand reached towards the camera. Someone cared enough for her to take that picture, and even more so to want that photo to find its way to her again.
I am, in the most real way, a fallible human, broken in my own ways and healed by the love of others and of myself. I have also had adults and mentors in my life who have formed and contributed to the person I am today, both in good and not-so-good ways. Each of us, adult or child, bears a unique set of marks on our souls, left there by former experiences.. These other gods, my child's caretakers and first parents, left both pain and beauty.
When this gift of a child, my beautiful daughter, looks upon me with such pure and honest love, my heart quivers with her great faith in me. And I know that I must be my very best self, accepting of the other gods and their marks upon her, and giving her my greatest gift of all: never ending love.