I’ve made mistakes as a mother, as my son will surely tell you. 🙂
I’ve taken him personally. I’ve yelled. I’ve repeated myself. I’ve been petty, controlling, sarcastic, defensive.
I’m super glad no one’s been following my every parenting move with a video camera because there’d be some pretty choice moments that could easily have been featured in the ‘what not to do’ breakout session at a parenting convention.
Let’s just say, I’m fully human in the mom department.
But you know what? I’m also fully myself. And bringing my full self to my job as a mom has been the most meaningful experience of my life.
I’ve fully shown up. I’ve trusted my gut. I’ve gone out in the world with my son on my hip and cut a path through the tall grass.
I’ve said Yes when I meant Yes and No when I’ve needed to say No. And there was a lot I needed to say no to– No to convention, to doctors, to educators, to therapists. No to people who meant well but didn’t have all the information or the ability to see beyond the typical, the every day. No to people who didn’t understand, couldn’t understand, wouldn’t understand.
My son graduated from high school last week. I watched him walk to the podium in his cap and gown to speak about his time at this small, alternative, independent school, and felt all the feels about the last 18 years.
He spoke with humor and ease and warmth and clarity, this young man who took 4 years to sleep through the night, who got kicked out of pre-school, who constructed elaborate scotch tape boobytraps all over the house to “keep us safe”, who was homeschooled for over a decade, who couldn’t really write until high school even though he taught himself to read at 3.
Part of my job was to hold him until he found his legs, and stand by his side until he got his bearings, and get out ahead to clear some of the debris so that he could see where he needed to go. That meant paying attention to who he was so I could bring what mattered most into focus and let the rest fade into a blur.
It’s was a constant, never-ending, always-changing feedback loop, a process of tuning in, scanning and assessing, reassessing and adjusting. Sometimes it’s been easy, a no-brainer, a slam dunk. Sometimes it’s been far trickier, muddier, like, I think it’s this way…I think I see a dim light waaaaaaay at the end of that tunnel.
But through it all, I’ve never once thought, Huh, I wish I had done more of what other people wanted me to do. I wish I hadn’t listened to myself. I wish I hadn’t done what I knew was right even though it was hard or scary or meant I had to do it alone.
I’ve always known that my highest calling was to do right by my kid because doing right by him was (and is) doing right by me.
And that, ladies and germs, is the heart of the matter, the whole point to this one and only chance we get here in our complicated, flawed, and spectacular lives: doing right by ourselves.
Whether you have kids or not, it’s the same:
Trust your intuition.
Honor your truth.
Forge your own path.
Gather those who get it.
Shed those who don’t.