When stepping up means stepping back.
Last weekend being a conscious parent meant practicing defenselessness, stepping back and allowing another to love and nurture and hear my child in a way that just wasn’t happening for me in that moment. It just wasn’t. I thought I had given it my best go, really. But, my daughter was having none of what I was putting out.
It’s the familiar adage: it takes a village to raise a child. Parenting does not have to be my solo act. But there is that inclination in me to want, or think that I need, to do it all, to be the ultimate source of growth and enlightenment and education and nurturing and love for my kids. I’m their mom! I’m the primary caregiver of mom-type-stuff. And, I’ve got this. I’m all over it. Or at least I thought I was. I was neglecting the Superbowl last Sunday to properly ruminate over this, when my co-parent who had been patiently listening finally put it to me simply. “As a mom you are like the quarter-back for this team. You touch the ball in every play. But, you don’t always have to be the one to make the touch down.” Bam. There it was. And dang – if it wasn’t all neatly packaged in a football metaphor… This idea, this self-applied pressure not to drop the ball, thinking this could really screw up the whole endgame, what is this? My need to be the one to do it all, it serves no one. It dawned on me that clearly there had been some important pages that had been overlooked in my parenting playbook.
It’s been my experience that we always get from life what we ask for, and in this case for me this was another opportunity to open my heart – lean in a bit more towards that lovin’ feelin’ that sometimes I work really, really hard to resist; and expand my consciousness maybe an inch or two. The practice of doing this, of shifting our internal dialogue, of dropping our defenses long enough to open our hearts and minds a crack, is always a bit tougher when it hits, literally and figuratively, close to home. Our kids, how we parent them, what they need and how we believe we can best meet these needs – we parents can become acutely sensitive and resistant to anything that diverges from our course, of anyone who suggests a diversion from our course. And yet our fiercest challenges and challengers can present our greatest opportunities for growth. Look – I like to control stuff. I like being in control. I’ve had to learn to chill out and go with the flow. I’m learning to become comfortable with, and even excited by, uncertainty. I’ve made a practice of detaching from the outcome – about many things in my life. But, my kids and my role as a parent, this is one area where the reins have been the hardest for me to loosen. My children, they are like these incredible little vessels of pure potential and I don’t want anyone or anything to mess that up. But I risk doing just that by restricting too severely who has access to their malleable little minds, by limiting the diversity of their upbringing to primarily my influence.
And so I came to this conclusion, during my own little super-soul Sunday, that sometimes taking a step back is the best way to step up as a parent. This doesn’t mean doing ****-all. It’s an emotionally intelligent appraisal of what is best for your kid in that moment. And sometimes what is best for them is to acknowledge that someone else can serve them in a way that you just cannot. It’s not always easy to decipher. Back in the ‘olden days’, as my daughter refers to them, the days before I was a parent, my thoughts about raising children were definitely colored in some stark black and whites. Now, for the most part, I am parenting in a penumbra. And by embracing all these hues of grey, by getting a bit more comfortable with some uncertainty, the ups and the downs, a bit more creativity and a lot more love have had some room to show up.
I’m realizing now that it takes a team. And that it is important to remind myself of this by occasionally giving a shout out to my team: to my co-parent, to the mothers and mothers-in-law, the grandparents, the teachers, the babysitters, the friends, the aunts and uncles, the neighbors, the customers behind us in the grocery store line, the baristas, the flight attendants, the other passengers… To the endless number of people who are part of my children’s extended community and who, whether consciously or not, are helping to mold who these little people are today and who they will become tomorrow. Thank you for being a part of my team. I trust you are doing the best you all can from the level of awareness you each have, and I am fortunate for the diversity that you bring to my family.
Thank you for covering me. And, the thing is, I’m in position. I’m ready, when anyone of you fumbles the ball, to pick it up and run. Game on.
© Miriam Desjardins, 2013