“Your eyes should light up when your child enters the room.” – Maya Angelou

Long before I was a mother this quote informed the kind of mother I wanted to be.  Maya Angelou was being interviewed by Oprah and these few words made a profound and lasting impact. I was not yet a mother, but the child in me quivered at the depth of their resonance. That insatiable yearning to be loved, noticed and wanted touches a deep part of every child’s soul. To have someone acknowledge it out loud is to have our deepest desires safely validated.

Here is the rest of the quote:

…We adults often feel let down when children don’t make the progress we wish they would. This eventually affects the relationship between the child and parent or teacher.  After enough negative interactions, whenever the child and adult walk into a room and see each other their eyes roll in grief. How many of our students go from class to class, from teacher to teacher, consistently getting disapproval? Wouldn’t it make a huge difference in the lives of these students if instead of getting disapproval, they saw our eyes light up? Johnny, you’re here! I was hoping you would make it today!”

She was like the grandmother standing up to the bully. She was defending all children, big and small. Her profound wisdom could outwit the brawn of society.

It is our role as parents to see and know our own children. We need to pay close enough attention to know their heart. When our children feel that their most vulnerable self is loved unconditionally they learn how to accept and love themselves. When their mere presence lights us up they feel special for all the right reasons. Our love is not a reward for good behaviour or proud achievements; it is an acknowledgement that they are enough, period.

Maya Angelou lit up the world with her wisdom and her words spoke to my own truth. She was like a spiritual grandmother and I took great comfort in knowing that as a child of this world, she believed that we need not be or do anything in order to be loved.

Let us continue to shine her light on our own children – let them feel our eyes light up every time they enter the room.

Rest in peace Maya Angelou and thank you for the precious gems you have left behind.