Two Orders of Cellulite, and One Order of Teen Acne, Please

August 28, 2010 at 9:20 am 1 comment

There is a theory out there, and bear with me because it can seem pretty crazy, that when a new being enters this realm they choose everything about their circumstances. They choose their parents, their physical appearance, their level of intelligence, everything. The idea is that a soul will be born into a different body thousands of different times in order to learn everything possible about the human existence.

The tall blonde cheerleader that lives in the midwest, born to a bank teller mother, and an iron worker father is just one specific experience. The ranch house, the knees that knock, the severe acne during the teen years, the dog allergies, the week chin, all of these aspects would have been chosen ahead of time to gain the specific knowledge of what it is like to live with those qualities.

If you are to embrace this theory as a parent it certainly results in less guilt. Not just on behalf of the children at the end of the block that are screamed at by their mother on hot summer nights, although any kind of balm for that kind of powerlessness is appreciated, but on behalf of your own children as well. In our family it would mean that two of our children chose to have two homes, that the experience of separate households, contrasting parenting methods, and a patchy residential schedule was actually sought after.

Like I said, it’s a wild idea, and  the parental cogs in my head question it critically: That doesn’t seem right. Since one home is by far simpler, easier, and more beneficial to the child, certainly the responsibility then lands on the parent to CREATE that for the child. The parents could, for the sake of their offspring, not separate, stick it out, and work through their difficulties. But that’s just it, if the new being wanted a single home experience, or the experience of two parents that stayed together despite the disharmony and grief, they would have chosen that very thing.

I agree, it’s a bit like the chicken or the egg, an easy way to explain away poor choices or give up our parental aspirations but I don’t think that’s exactly the point. I think the theory can actually be taken as a call to action, not to do anything in particular, but to be the most authentic possible version of yourself. If not for your own personal comfort, then for the sake of your child. If you believe in attachment parenting, empathy, or home-school then by all means act on your beliefs, as this is what your child, before they were even a microscopic speck, chose for himself.

(And before this gets out of hand and misinterpreted as pro-life propaganda, think again. Under this theory the being that “lives” just weeks as a teeny embryo, only to be lost to miscarriage or abortion would have chosen that unique experience as well.)

If your ten-year old would rather stay at her other house eating sweets and playing video games instead of at your house working on math sheets or practicing the hula hoop, then so be it. Although you have other wishes for her, although you have an entirely different set of preferences, although your heart breaks at the very thought of seeing her less, how can you know that this isn’t the precise experience that her little soul requires?

I know, it’s heady stuff.

On the micro level there can be great comfort. Instead of pangs of guilt for having passed on my tangly-hair gene to Echo, I can assume that tangly hair was part of her cosmic order. Instead of dreading the teen years because you know the acne that sprouted all over your own cheeks will surely make an appearance on your boy, you can rest in the thought that a spotty teen complexion is what your boy’s soul selected from the menu of human existence. Instead of swimming upstream, fighting the tides, or submitting hail mary court filings, you can try on this theory, pull your perspective back to the widest lens and trust that what is happening is just what your child requested.

If parenting this way  is too passive or fluffy for you, try it on yourself. Maybe those particular thighs, the ones with the stretch marks around the sides, the cellulite along the back, and vericose veins near the knees are the perfect fit for you in this lifetime. Perhaps that heartache you suffered as a teenager, throwing yourself onto the thick pink carpeting of your childhood bedroom, is precisely what your soul needed at precisely that time in your life. Perhaps everything you see and feel is exactly right, and because you embrace it, because you let it in all the way, you will wring every enriching drop from its fabric and not have to do it again.

Maybe this is all just a convoluted way to get us to simply accept the circumstances of our lives, the shapes of our bodies, and the fate of our children. Maybe. But in any case I like to think that, at least with this theory, there is something to be gained. Peace of mind, certainly, but more than zen awareness there is also the notion that you are serving your children by honoring their own custom path, that you are putting check marks on the boxes of a cosmic experiential checklist, that you are not standing in the way of what is most needed by everyone.

And really, it’s interesting to think about.


Entry filed under: life lessons.

Ear Plugs Required Two Loves

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jessi  |  August 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    when i got my now 3 year old dog he most certainly was the one picking me out. he claimed me the minute i walked in the door, he peered up at me with his big puppy eyes and said, “you’re here for me, take me home, i’m yours.” and i did just that.
    so in the last 3 years as we’ve lived day in and day out, gone through multiple routine changes as my classes and jobs change, experienced 100 degree summer heat and 20 below winter chill year after year, we have had many days where i fail to meet his Siberian Huskey energy needs, or he decides to dig yet another hole in my rented yard or eat a 70% pure chocolate bar on christmas sending my whole family into a toxic panic. there have been a few times when i failed to meet my own high expectations and standards as to how i interact with my dog, some days i just can’t fit in the time to go to the park, some days listening to him talk at me for over an hour pushes me past my patience limits, sometimes when i’ve overextended myself yet again i justify being impatient or missing out on taking time to play with him. in the dark of the night as i’m preparing for bed i reflect on my day and find guilt heavy on my heart when i’ve made the decision to skip the dog park, cut the bike ride short, or loose my patience with his decision to run instead of come that day. it’s at those times of greatest guilt that i try to remember that he chose me, that he loves me regardless of how well i did as his mom that day, and that i love him just as equally regardless of how big that hole in the yard is getting or whether he caused me to be late to my appointment. it’s at that point that i find the greatest sense of faith in fate, in his choice to be my dog, and in my choice to be his parent-figure. we do the best we can each day and in the end we both love and accept one another for our short comings as well as our brilliences. i say to myself, he’s lucky to have me cuz he could have gotten stuck with someone who beats their dog for barking, or who doesn’t care when he last went for a run. and i could have gotten a dog that behaved a whole lot worse or failed to love me quite as much. i am thankful for his companionship, and give him credit every chance i can for picking me.
    having such a dynamic and intellegent dog has been great practice for one day having children. he pushes me to practice patience, empathy, and reason (reason to myself if not reason to him). i think everyone would benefit from treating their dogs in this respect as well as their children. we are all sentient beings who need and want love.


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