I’ve got a pet theory. (I’ve got a lot of those actually.) But this one keeps coming up in my thoughts. And this space is where I get those thoughts out of my head and into the world, with the hope that they will do more good out there than they do floating around in my head making me neurotic.
The Center of the Universe Theory: there is a developmentally appropriate period of time in the life span of every human being during which they are most appropriately self described as the “center of the universe.” During this period, if the people caring for this person, understand the theory and behave in accordance with it, the human will develop a deep seated sense of well-being which will serve as a foundation for a happy, healthy, life. I am pretty sure that this period of time is the first couple years of life. And then it is over, at which point the person begins to look outward to the world, to develop all the wonderful social qualities that we hope for in a well-adjusted person.
When somebody with a chronological age higher than two or so years demonstrates a high degree of self-absorption then it is possible that somehow, the people caring for that person did not give them the unconditional deference appropriate for his / her age in those early years of life. And so, this person is now on an perpetual hunt to find that sort of treatment, often at the annoyance of other people. (It is also possible that the person has some other sort of mental condition determining his / her behavior – social theories are such slippery fish).
To me this means that in my days with my 18-month old son, I try to keep him happy. This is usually quite easy to do. Which sort of proves my point. If this assertion that I am making were beyond what is possible to execute than it would not me much of a theory. Sure, some amount of arranging of our family life does have to occur, but it is not anything that a competent adult cannot handle. And it is for a relatively short period of time in the scheme of how many years we will all live together as a family.
Over the years I’ve picked up tidbits of information that have all fed this theory. One of the main themes of these tidbits was that the very earliest years of life were very important. We are in danger of missing this information if we hamper the instinct of mothers, because by design mothers are the people who are primed to receive this important message and act on it. I’m speaking here of breastfeeding, mostly. Because if a mom nurses her baby, all sorts of automatic reactions click into place in her body. But at a broader level, this has to do with caring. Those who have been well-cared for pass that care onto others. Those who have not been well-cared for must find ways to care for themselves lest they always be starved for real caring and, in turn, unintentionally pass on neglect.
As I have alluded to in many posts, this has been a challenging year for me and for our family. I blame this on our career choices, namely that my husband and I are both in business for ourselves. As I think about our choices and consider the alternative of being employees, it is now an impossibility for either of us. We are each too far into the world of independence and de-institutionalization to accept the requisite boundaries of such a work environment. We are not so far along that we have achieved a desirable degree of stability, which is precisely the main source of my frustration. But we are far enough along that we cannot turn back.
And so, forward we go. With as much care for our son, ourselves, and each other, as we can possibly muster. (And yes, I am afraid that that is the order of caring in our home these days). And here, in turn, are the three ideas that support our action, at least in my mind: the center of the universe theory; if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything; and the old saying that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Time will tell how our bets pay off.