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Donna Barker

Look at me, Mom, look at me!

Earlier this summer our Michigan daughter sent a video of her two daughters riding their bikes without training wheels. They were yelling back to their mom, “Look at me, Mom, look at me!”

I couldn’t help but smile as I heard those words that all parents hear probably numerous times a day, “Look at me, Mom, look at me.”

It seems like yesterday, when our daughter was riding her own little pink bike for the first time without training wheels and yelling for us to look at her, look at her. There is something so sweet and innocent about children wanting to be noticed and admired by their parents.

But kids grow up and become independent and mature and don’t need their parents to look at them any more … or do they?

I recently read an article, in a “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book, about a man, then in his 40s, who still wanted his dad to “look at him.” The father knew what his son did as a career, where he lived, and about his family. But the son felt his father hadn’t really “seen” him in a long time.

So the son arranged for a trip with just him and his dad. On that trip, the son started opening up to his father about some of his insecurities and worries, how he felt his work was never quite good enough and that he feared his creativity would dry up one day.

To make a long story short, through the course of that trip, the father began to “see” his son more clearly, as he really was, beyond the surface things he did. The father began to encourage and admire his son again.

I finished reading that article and couldn’t help but think about how I have three grown daughters, and I want them to know I still see them. I still care about what is happening in their lives, beyond the obvious things. I still care about their dreams and goals, their struggles and insecurities, those things that are intangible. I still admire them.

In some ways, I think most of us still want someone to “see” us. Even the most emotionally healthy of us, still have that need to be admired and really “seen” by those who know us best.

A couple weeks ago we drove to Michigan to “see” our daughter and her family. We watched our granddaughters ride their bikes without training wheels. We talked about jobs and the start of school. We also talked about other stuff, more personal stuff. And as we started home for Illinois, I hoped my family had felt they had been seen by me.

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at dbarker@bcrnews.com.