Learning to Hug My Inner Child


Daniela Schwartz -Hug My Inner Child3

I was standing at the threshold of my home. My broken family had gathered. I hurt. I hurt with the pain that made me want to run from my body. The ache was so painful, I feared I would shatter into a million pieces. That was the first time in my life I knew I would never be the same. I was 10 years old.

My parents were separating. I was leaving my mother to live with my alcoholic, drug-addicted father. I always felt I was my mother’s keeper, my twin sister was my father’s. She was determined to go with him and take care of him, and the thought of being separated from the person I shared this earth with since conception was too much to bear. So I left my mom, my heart, to live 300km away in a small town with my dad’s family. That was the day my childhood began to end.

The next few months were hard and confusing for me. My father’s addiction had spun out of control and the closest person I had was my grandmother. We were living with my aunt and her family, but she was cold and unattached and for some reason did not like me, but loved my twin sister. It was weird.

It was okay though, because I had my grandmother. I could sit on the floor at her feet and listen to her tell stories for hours from her rocking chair. She had beautiful white hair and sparkling eyes. Then one morning she passed away from a stroke. I stood in her doorway feeling even lonelier. That was my second life-changing moment.

The death of my grandmother brought Mom to us. I was hopeful the nightmare was over and that we would all be together again, but when she left after the funeral, I knew things would never be the same. I was on my own.

When I was 11, my dad hit rock bottom. He took us down the river and sat us down and told us he was an alcoholic. Strangely, this shocked me. He then offered my sister and I a cigarette, which I smoked. I guess when your dad tells you he’s an addict, this makes you officially old enough to smoke cigarettes. We were sent to live with our mother while my dad tried to pull his life together. I was devastated to leave my dad; it felt like being ripped in half. I wanted to stay with my dad, but I was happy to be going home to my mom.

When I used to look back at these years of my life, I was flooded with regret and shame. I only saw my failures. Then the last few years something happened.

My son turned 10.
Then 11.
Then 12.

I began to look back at my childhood. I realized a 12-year-old is still a kid. I was still a kid. My perspective shifted and I began to replay these scenes in my head, seeing the kid.

I’ve healed these past years. I’ve grieved my lost years of innocence, but felt restored by seeing my kids have theirs. I’ve healed by giving them a safe, solid home to flourish in; by allowing them to enjoy childhood. I didn’t expect these years to have such an impact on how I would see myself. I didn’t expect the light to shine into the dark places of my heart. Slowly God points out the memories. I feel held in those moments. I now get the “Hug your inner child” cliche. I hug her often.

I look back at my life now and see my defining moments.

When I walked down the aisle on my dad’s arm (he has been clean for decades) to marry the love of my life.
When I became a mother.
When I saw my baby’s first smile.
When I decided to never love again
When I cracked my heart open to love.
When I hurt so bad, I was afraid I would break into a million pieces.
The day I met my Jesus.

These moments defined and shaped me. The ugly ones? Their colour is being transformed by the beautiful moments. I don’t see them the same anymore. Time is healing them. So I am going to live my days finding peace in unexpected places.

My parents did the best they could. They were so young, and came from hard lives too. Being older and seeing them as people—not through the lens of a child—I am able to understand why life played out like it did, and I’ve forgiven them. God gave me the grace to do that. He opened my eyes to life playing out around me and softened my heart. My journey with God has been like that. No “BAM, Hallelujah”moments. It’s always been the small steps, the awakened moments that eventually led to a radical transformation.


I grab my son’s hand as we drive. I know this will last for about 60 seconds. He’s at the age where separation is happening. No longer a child, not quite an adult. I steal my moments. I am raising a teen, which is crazy because I don’t know what being a normal teenager looks like. My teen years were some of the hardest years of my life.

As we pull up to stop, he lets go. I fight feelings of regret and nostalgia. The regret comes from the years I pushed him to grow up. I had been trying to prepare him, get him ready for what a hard life could bring. I am letting go of that now. We are safe.

He will have his defining moments in life, but for now, they look like scoring the winning shot in a close hockey game, shaving, graduating from middle school, going to high school. Exactly what they should be.

There will be broken hearts and disappointment, but as long as I am on this earth, I will be there for him.

Daniela Schwartz
I am a happily married mother of two gorgeous boys ages 2 & 10. I write, create and decorate. I am passionate about all three. I also love naps and staying in my pyjama's all day. I haven't figured out if this is due to laziness or depression, possibly both. I think Jesus is the best thing that has ever happened. I have a twin sister so if you happen to run into me and I ignore you or seem rude, it is probably her. You can tell if it's me because I look a little younger and am slightly prettier (wink). I blog about life at danielaschwartz.com
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  1. Megan Gahan says:

    This is so very gutsy and beautiful, my friend. Thank you for for allowing us into this raw part of your story. You told it with such honesty, but also with gentle graciousness to all those involved. Just gorgeous storytelling. Sending you so much love. And, darn it, I’m coming over soon! For reals this time!

  2. Wow, Daniela. I have tears running down my face. What a breathtaking picture of redemption. Thank you for sharing so bravely. Also? I’m with you on naps and PJs all day. And not knowing if it’s laziness or depression. 😉 Xoxo

    • Daniela says:

      It’s amazing when you look back and see God’s work, cause in the day to day, it can be so easily overlooked. I am really glad to know I have a PJ tribe out there. They are my favourite days. 😊

  3. Helen Burns Helene Burns says:

    Oh my Daniela… all the tears. I don’t know where to begin to tell you how immensely blessed and proud of you I am. You are one of the bravest champions for the awesome boys you and Ryan are raising – they are so very blessed to have you for parents. It’s such joy watching you rise strong – you and your voice are such a gift to this world. I can’t imagine how much your words will help someone today because you were willing to be open and vulnerable. I love you. I adore you and when I grow up I want to be more like you. xoxo

    • Daniela says:

      Oh Helen, your words You and John play such a big role in how I see family. You gave me vision. You have and continue to influence my story to this day. Thank you for what you have always done and still do in my life. So much love for you.

  4. Kathleen Bertrand says:

    Oh wow! This is beautiful! Thank you.

  5. Our sermon series at church is about the 10 Commandments. A few weeks ago, one of our pastors talked about “honoring your parents.” He said that sometimes, the way we best honor our parents is to recognize that they did the best they could. And then do better. I love that you are able to hug your 12-year-old self and give her back a bit of childhood.

    • Daniela says:

      Thank you Annie. I love that “they did the best they could, and do it better” there is a lot of freedom in that.

  6. My beautiful friend. I love you and I love the story Father God is writing with your life. This is what beauty for ashes looks like – thank you for the kindness and hope you give all of us when you share your story. Gah – so powerful, I’m undone!!

    • Daniela says:

      Karina, you are such a beautiful encouragement and I need more you in my life. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Now we just need to make that Trader’s date

  7. Tammie Raymora Thomas says:

    Thanks for a beautiful post. I can relate to childhood stuff. My present is healing my past. I read your bio which I lve too. You seem like an amaxing and beautiful person. Again thanks.

    Much love Tammie

    • Daniela says:

      Thank you so much Tammie for your really kind words, it really is amazing that we have that promise of redemption and then to see it unfold.

  8. I’ve been very thankful that God ordained that I should parent boys because I’ve never been sure that I wanted to watch another little girl grow up at close range. Now I have a granddaughter on the way, and I’m wondering how it’s going to feel. I love your strong words, and I’m repeating them in my own head: Of course this is different. Of course she will be ok. And I’m looking forward to being there for her.

    • Daniela says:

      Oh Michele, I get that. I really believe Mothers of boys are a different lot. But I am praying that this baby girl rock your world in the best way. Thanks for being vulnerable a sharing.

  9. Leah Abraham Leah Abraham says:

    You know how much I love this, your offering. But can I say how much I love your author bio?!

    Thank you for this peek into your continued redemption. Your story isn’t over yet so may the Light continue to flood in.

    • Daniela says:

      I had to go back and read my bio Leah, the only thing that has changed is my kids ages. Hehe…thank friend for your beautiful editing and pushing me to go a little further.

  10. Courtney de Boer says:

    This is so heartbreaking + so beautiful. Thank you for sharing ❤I echo what Mel said – I am so thankful you are in our community

    • Daniela says:

      It’s crazy what we get to be a apart of. Thank you Courtney for taking the time read my writing and your words. xoxo

  11. My friend, you crack me right open … I feel so stinking’ proud of you and also humbled by the beauty of God on you and in you …. Thank you for sharing more of your story. WOW.

    • Daniela says:

      Well I learned from the master. Thanks for keeping a sacred space to share these stories Idelette. You empower woman to help each other. Love you.

  12. Melaney G Lyall says:

    Daniela, you have such a gentle soul! This is such a holy story of your life – thank you for letting us into your world!! Your love is reflected in all you do! I am thankful for your presence in our community!!

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