11 Aug
See and Be Seen

"See and Be Seen" was first published in From the Cookie Jar on August 11, 2014 @Get a Bigger Wagon.

This summer, I have spent many hours with my grandchildren. I have had time to see them clearly. They have validated my importance, and, I hope I have reciprocated. I believe every human being needs to be seen by someone.

I have always been aware of the importance of the “eyes at the window” in our lives. I remember how reassured I felt when my mother pulled the curtain to one side, so she could see what I was playing in the backyard. It felt great to know that I had my very own adult watching over me. As a young mother, I also watched at the window, understanding the importance of being someone’s adult.

In return for seeing, we are seen. One grandson told me I make the best oatmeal ever. Another, checks the labels of everything I eat, making sure I avoid the soy that makes me ill. The oldest grandchild found a way to hang out in my kitchen, so we could share everything from cooking to technology. My granddaughter admires every necklace and pair of shoes I wear, plays music she thinks I will like, and tells me, repeatedly, she loves me.

I now realize that people, at any age, like someone to see their accomplishments.  My husband, after 44 years of marriage, still looks to see if I am watching from the window as he makes sweeping circles on his lawnmower. Often, I am walking by the window at just the right moment. My mother-in-law, at ninety-four, still likes me to acknowledge her fashion sense or solicit her advice on a personal matter.

I think families, ideally, provide the perfect environment for our initial validation. We witness each other’s lives. We celebrate one another, and, as members of a team, we offer respect and safety for each other. Eventually, other members of the community validate our lives. Some of us have been truly seen by a teacher, a neighbour, or an afterschool employer.

My music professor saw me, among the many faces in her choir. I am sure she saw many of her students, but she made an impression on me, and, 46 years later, we are still in each other’s lives. She was a single, educated, glamorous woman with a great car and a warm smile. She wore a red velvet dress to conduct at Christmas, and her white hair shone under the lights, and I loved it. Her office was a sanctuary, where she made time for her students; she validated lives over pots of tea. Could it be a coincidence that I left my hair white, frequently wear red, and believe that conversations over tea help solve problems?

At night, as I unwind for sleep, I often think about the interactions I have had with others during the day or throughout my life. I am grateful for those individuals who made me feel visible, and I try to make a list of those people I have truly seen. Thinking of each of these special people is better than counting sheep. Here’s to the eyes at the window, on both sides of the glass.  

Comments (6)

  • Debbie Bodnarchuk
    November 14, 2020 at 08:01 pm

    I recently subscribed to Glamour for Grandmothers and so enjoyed reading See and Be Seen. Your story brought to mind a comment you made to me many years ago when I was lamenting having to clean my young children's fingerprints from mirrors and windows. Your comment was that when you saw little fingerprints on peoples windows it meant to you that it was a happy home because the little ones were allowed to look out. That was the last time I was in a hurry to clean those prints and when we were blessed with grandchildren their prints remain as wonderful memories until their next visit.

  • Deb Hockley
    March 26, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    Beautiful. Taking part in life, giving of one's time, and enjoying the zillion relationships waiting to be made is hope. Your family is wonderful and you're a part of my life- your books, blog and smiles.

  • Isabelle Mills
    August 12, 2014 at 08:17 pm

    That is so beautiful, Maureen, thank you so much for it. You were a wonderful student, and have remained the very creative, joy in my life, as well as the others you touch.

  • Marion Murawsky
    August 11, 2014 at 03:25 pm

    What a wonderful story Maureen. I agree with you totally and cannot wait to catch up after a summer of not getting much M and M time!!!! Love, Marion

  • Bev Gardner
    August 11, 2014 at 02:06 pm

    Thank you my friend, for a lovely message full of insight! I will read it again later but as I sit looking over a glassy lake on a quiet day missing my granddaughter, it has me thinking of all those that I love-- including you and your family!!

  • gayle senger
    August 11, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Loved your story. You are so correct. I also try to watch over grandkids thru the windows. Enjoy them!!

Let us know what you think