“ We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen and honoring vulnerability.” -Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto, Brené Brown
May was a tough month for me- I kept thinking how I wanted to write and post about it. Then May turned into June, then July and here I find myself almost at the halfway mark of August!
I normally would beat myself up over that and snowball those thoughts with all the other millions of things I did not do, should have done or forgot to do. BUT…it’s August , and from May to August I rumbled, reckoned and was able to rise again. HINT: those are all terms near and dear to my heart that I have recently dived deep into, from the great Brené Brown! So back to May..
My baby boy turned 15 and my baby girl graduated from High School, 3 weeks apart. Two days after graduation I was driving with her to her future institute of higher learning for Freshman Orientation. Talk about whirlwind! And though it had been lovely to watch the unfurling of my daughter from a young girl to a young woman, exploring the world and stepping into her interests, strengths and skills- I was trembling like a leaf ; emotionally. Did I give her the skills she needs to deal with the big bad ugly aspects of the world we like to think we somehow protect our kids from; by being around them? What if it all got too difficult? What if she got hurt? What if… and it went on and also looped in her younger brother -“ what if he gets sick of being the only kid at home? “ .It wasn’t only questions, there was the hair trigger crying at silly commercials, comments my kids made-unkind or sweet- making mental countdowns to how many trips we might still make to Trader Joe’s together, etc. . It was bad, it went beyond my “I cry and I feel things” motto I changed up from Tyrion’s “ I drink and I know things” in Game of Thrones. All that caused me to feel unbalanced, tired and a touch cranky ( ok ; a lot, which would be confirmed by my boyfriend). And all the while I kept plowing ahead to get thru to the other side as if somehow I had this sense that if I stopped and let myself feel for more than 15 minutes, I would not get back up from the curled up position on the floor- ever!
There were moments that it got too much and I cried openly at things not connected to me, but that must have resonated. So grateful for kind non judgmental( or polite) people in my life! I recently learned of the expression “ tears are water for the soul” ( thank you , Dawn Hedgepeth). My soul must have been dehydrated !
May turned into June and I seemed to be doing a great job when I sent my son off for a 2 week trip to another country with friends and parents I had only sort of known. Again I was happy to witness the growth and independence my son exhibited and was even mildly amused at his lack of interest in having FaceTime calls with his mother. Then a week after he returned I took him to sleep away camp. After helping him make his bed in his room, he said good-bye to me. He basically told me to leave. So I did, and decided to call his father and let him know our baby boy had been safely dropped off. It was meant to be a verbal post-it note- friendly and quick. Instead I blubbered my way thru the message, probably making not one drop of sense and continued crying even after hanging up. And of course I was entertaining all the usual suspects/ ” what ifs..”dancing around in my head. Yes, I was entertaining all the what ifs related to a child who would be about 40 minutes from home, after spending 2 weeks 5 thousand miles from home and lived to tell the tale.
In mid July it was my time to go away- and to a training near and dear to my heart. I was accepted into the Daring Way Certification Training , based on the work of Brené Brown. I did the pre-work, read the books , sat 12 feet from Brené herself as she gave us an opening pep talk and met a variety of amazing brave women I know that after 3 days together- we are connected and unquestionably there for each other. And they have seen my ugly cry face! This was all well and so special. BUT it was in my journey coming home that I experienced not only the importance of ; but proof of , the power of connection.
My training was in Texas. My body did not appreciate the change in temperatures between the air conditioned inside and Summer in Texas; outside. So heading to the airport in a cab I listened to my driver share about how much he likes Brené Brown’s work as I realize I was not feeling well. Normally, I would keep quiet. I didn’t ,and blurted out” I feel like I am going to pass out’. The driver pulled over and told me to come sit up front; he would point the vents right at me- the heat of Texas takes getting used to. I did that and we started up again en route to the airport. The driver ( I regret forgetting his name) chatted and talked about living and growing up in San Antonio. He made friendly polite conversation and every once in a while would ask how I was feeling. At first I just listened, nodded and kept hoping I would not throw up or pass out in this nice man’s vehicle. I started feeling better and shared this. He replied,”Of course you are- you have the power of the universe with you. We were meant to meet”. I was scared, not feeling well and the kindness of and connection with a stranger got me through this moment. And as I waited in the airport – as needed, I would mutter to myself “ you have the power of the universe with you” as my healing mantra.
Hours later , up in the sky trying to get to Chicago for my connecting flight I experienced near death turbulence for the first time. There were people praying out loud in; multiple languages, babies wailing and grown up screaming. I grasped for and held hands with the stranger next to me, who would look me in the eye when I screamed or swore and asked me about my day and told me about his business. I don’t know if he was as terrified, but I know I felt better knowing I was not alone. Again , kindness from a stranger and – CONNECTION got me through a scary rough patch.
I realized that underneath all my tears and fears expressed in the “ what ifs” about my children was the anticipated grief of lost connection with my “babies”. Now , with time and distance I can accept and adjust to the natural shift in connection, that happens in Life. Yet, all the changes that May brought about and which my psyche snowballed , made it feel like a termination. I see that now. In my overwhelming need to cry, to push through to the other side, I shut myself off from connection nor did I seek it from those special people around me who have earned my trust to be vulnerable with.
“ Oversharing is not vulnerability. In fact, it often results in disconnection, distrust and disengagement” Brené Brown, Daring Greatly. Am I oversharing here? I hope not..it is not my intent. My intent is to be brave and courageous- and an example to my kids . Also, illustrating to them the value placed on and how I honor, connection. Especially ours. I had a hard patch recently and sharing this is very courageous for me; truly. Parenting is hard and lovely. Celebrate ,rely on and seek out your connections. And be kind to yourself.