Do Your Eyes Light Up?
I’ve just returned from spending Christmas with my 93 year old mother and my heart is still full. My mother’s always been an amazing woman. When she was 89, I took her to one of the foremost acupuncturists in the world, and she was proclaimed to be a very rare case– a woman of that age whose spirit was still completely bright and vital.
Things have changed over the past year, and her spirit has dimmed considerably. She’s no longer able to live on her own, and is not often even fully conscious. But when she looks at me, there’s such light in her eyes, and such pure love, that I just feel totally cherished by her.
On my flight home, I was reading an interview with Oprah, where she talked about author Toni Morrison saying that what every child wants to know is, ‘Do your eyes light up when I enter the room?’ This is the gift my mother still gives me and I’m so very grateful.
When I was writing The Wisdom of Your Child’s Face, I did a lot of research into the latest discoveries in our Western understanding of child development. I was surprised to learn that the most important thing a child needs from his or her parents is not heaps of praise, and not even frequent “I love you’s,” though of course those things are essential.
But in fact, the single most powerful predictor of a child’s happiness and success in life is how much they feel recognized and understood by their parents. To me, this is what’s happening when a parent’s eyes light up at the sight of their child.
And I don’t think that need ends with childhood. I think the people who we feel most connected with and loved by are the ones who recognize us for who we really are, without layers of judgment, and without conditional love, which has strings attached.
This isn’t always easy to achieve. We all have different personalities, different patterns of perception and behavior, and these can really affect our ability to feel that pure love for and acceptance of another person. We misunderstand why someone in our lives is behaving as they are, or has the needs that they do. And over the years, these tiny misperceptions can build on themselves, until that light in the eyes goes out.
My mother and I are not at all alike; in fact we’ve always been very different from each other. Face reading has helped me so much in understanding her as an adult, but also in looking back throughout my childhood to give me insights about why she was the kind of parent that she was, and why I had the experiences I did because of this. It’s what has allowed me to stay as clear and free of unresolved issues as possible with her, and to just be fully present with her, with that beautiful light in her eyes, and the same reflected back in mine.