Our Children, Our Humbling Mirrors:

Our Children, Our Humbling Mirrors:

Picture

Our Children, Our Humbling Mirrors:

Yesterday I had a pretty unconscious parenting moment with my sweet girl Araela (almost 9.) As a mother I make mistakes often. In fact it feels like the older my children get, the easier it is to somehow miss the mark in the way I’m holding them, hearing them, loving them. Yesterday invoked some painful and useful mirroring from my daughter, and a fresh chance for me to then respond skillfully in turn.

Araela has recently been learning to skateboard, along with her younger brother Ezra (5). He got a headstart of about 2 months in building his confidence and skill-set, and seems to be a natural, so there’s been a rare role-reversal for Araela as the older sister, trying to catch up with the skills of her little brother. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d seen her skate and as we arrived at the skatepark she communicated how excited she was to show me what she’d been learning. She jumped onto her board and bravely progressed onto the course.  Internally as I watched her my heart swelled to simply witness this girl for whom I feel such unspeakable adoration, respect and pride. I inhaled the sight of her with awe: her rosy cheeks and braids hanging down from her helmet, blue-jeaned legs lengthening by the day now, that fawn-like radiance of feminine pre-adolescence; the sheer beauty of her focus and grace.

And then, for some reason, rather than speaking transparently from that heartspace of my appreciation, it became intensely apparent to me how she was slowing her own momentum down by habitually straightening her knees right at the moment in the course that calls for bending them. With a tone of enthusiastic “constructive criticism” I reflected what I saw to her and strongly challenged her to implement the changes.

Almost immediately I noticed that Araela’s head dropped, her chest sank, her shoulders began to curve slightly down. She essentially collapsed energetically and started not riding as well, not caring, nor enjoying herself as much. I called her over: “What is it, Love? What’s bothering you?”  She didn’t hesitate in sharing: “I feel like I was so excited to show you how much I had improved, and all you could see was what needed to improve even more. It makes me feel like~ do I need to just wait until I’m PERFECT to show you how I’m doing??” Her eyes glistened with tears of angry disappointment.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. 🙁

Immediately I felt my mistake: “Oh, Baby, I’m so sorry…” I brought her sweet, green-helmeted head to my chest and consciously decided NOT to try to defend myself. She pulled away and looked down, away to the side, still defeated, still hurt. I said: “Can you please look in my eyes?” She turned and faced me, her eyes welling up, showing me how crushed she felt. I said sincerely: “I am so sorry that I was insensitive to how that way of talking would feel to you. I thought I was being supportive, but instead you didn’t feel seen by me at all?” She nodded, her chest lifting slightly. Then she said: “I didn’t feelacknowledged by you for what I WAS doing well, Mom. I felt like all you could see was what I WASN’T doing well.”

How painful to have mirrored this familiar “discerning critic” drive within me, forever emphasizing the call towards improvement, towards what could be even better, more fully accomplished, awake, successful, spiritually surrendered, embodied etc… inadvertently causing pain to my beloved little girl, feeling to her like the opposite of support, the opposite of nurturance; the inverse of care. Humbling~ so, so humbling.

I apologized again with my heart aching, and said: “Thank you for telling me how that felt to you, Love. Thank you for teaching me how to be a better mother for you. And do you know what the real truth is? I think you are AMAZING! I couldn’t even begin to do what you’re doing! And you’re learning so quickly!”

I realized later that that whole way I had spoken to her, with a tone of discerning critique, was exactly how I had spoken to my son Ezra, several weeks back, as he himself was working on momentum; but for him that talking style had landed well, felt like support, attention, engaging creative challenge. For whatever reason he could feel the love it was sourced from, and from within his own authentic drive for improvement he felt inspired by my suggestions. My girl, on the other hand, wanted simply to feel seen, celebrated, acknowledged, appreciated. I can so deeply relate to this from areas of my own life, even currently, as I step out into new challenges~ not wanting to be critiqued, just wanting to be celebrated.

What a steep learning curve this Mother Path is. How to listen, ever-more-carefully, to the ways in which my speaking is landing in the hearts of my children. To not just rush into habitual ideas of what “support” or “parenting” in any given moment looks like… but instead to really be present with the ever-evolving, sensitive human hearts in my hands. What a profound responsibility it is to do our very best with our children, even knowing that they will undoubtedly be disappointed and wounded by us, hurt by our own blind-spots and  immaturity, human weaknesses and growing edges. What a lofty and noble challenge: to be humbled by intense mistake one moment and to graciously rise to the occasion the next. May it be so. <3

On Mothering our Maidens~ & the Perfection of Limitation

On Mothering our Maidens~ & the Perfection of Limitation

Picture

What an incredible transition I find myself in, mothering my daughter through this potent “9 year change”~ navigating her swings, feeling our love stretch and evolve to meet her thrust of strong-willed individuation, surrounded by tender vulnerability and attachment…

One poignant recent moment, Araela sidled up next to me in the kitchen while I prepared dinner, and said out of the blue: “You know Mom? It’s not that I ever wish you were a different mother, exactly?” She touched my arm so I would look into her eyes and see her sincerity. Raising my eyebrows, curious where this was going, I said “Oh, really?” She continued, nodding in confidence: “It’s just that sometimes I wish you had….um…different qualities?” Touched by the safety in which she articulated her insight, I asked her: “What qualities do you wish I embodied more of?” Clearly having considered this deeply, she said: “Well~ Animal Husbandry, for sure. You know, Mom, like farming with animals and knowing their ways?” I chuckled: “Yes, knowing you, I can certainly see why you’d wish that!” She continued: “Yes, and also farming and gardening~ working with the seeds and earth and food? That’s so important to me, you know.” I nodded in agreement, still at the kitchen counter, massaging the avocado into the raw kale salad, and said: “Well, how lucky for you that your Papa IS inspired about those things…?” She hurried on: “Yeah, but I really wish you were too. And I wish you liked cooking more. Even though the food you make is yummy. I wish you got more into it, you know? I wish you got more into a lot of things.” Sort of humored and a tad stunned, I laughed: “Well~ thanks for the reflection and feedback my love.” She said: “You’re welcome,” tossing her hair and pouncing off to the couch.

I admired her sensitive and skillful communication, and wanted to be gracious and mature, but my heart also stung for a moment, and tender tears came to my eyes, taking in the reality that we seem to have officially reached the end of my being “the sun, the moon and the stars” for her. Feeling my limitations and imperfection as a mother in her eyes, clearly articulated by her desires that I meet her differently. Then I had a self-compassionate thought: how crazy it would be to expect I could guide and mentor my children in all the ways they crave to be nurtured? How freeing to just bow into the truth that in being fully myself I cannot meet all of my children’s needs? And that I’m not meant to.

I decided to step closer into this fire of reflection and asked: “Anything else you’re wishing could be different about your Mama, Araela Grace?“ She sauntered back to my side by the kitchen counter, and after thinking for a moment, said tactfully: “Well, for a Mom?… You can be a bit…um…Starry-eyed?” I laughed at her word-choice, repeating: “Starry-eyed?” She stroked her fingers along my waist, walking away: “Oh you know Mom, you’re just sometimes, kind of, in the stars?” I smiled at her languaging, but it also impacted me. I responded: “Like sometimes you feel I’m distracted, or not fully present with you, Baby?” She considered this: “Sometimes, yes, especially with your stupid phone. But more it’s like sometimes I feel you’re with me, but at the same time you’re in the stars??” I nodded: “Oh, I see. Yes, I think I know what you mean.” My heart throbbed a bit, feeling into what she was reflecting.

And then I recalled myself as a little girl, perhaps even more “starry eyed” then, with an intensely earthy mother~ a gardener, weaver, potter, cook, seamstress, who was amazingly grounded and constantly set up projects for me to do: busy, busy, busy. And yet how lonely I felt inside our connection at times, as I yearned for my mother to drop into the quiet Mystery of God with me, to peer into the subtlety of overlapping realms; to contemplate the vastness of Source, and the nature of spiritual love that captivated me so, even as a young child, with such potent curiosity. And how little interest she herself had in those realms~ so fully, unapologetically herself she was. And the many mentors I then sought and received as I grew into my womanhood, who met me in my love for God and Truth and the arts of spiritual healing and prayer and dance and writing~ in all the ways I so deeply craved. Which eventually delivered me to an ever-deepening love and appreciation for my amazing human mother~ with all her awesome, creative and earthy ways.

I returned my attention to my sweet blossoming daughter: this little earth girl, this fully descended angel who passionately loves horses and bunnies, delights in the change of seasons and hay in her hair, the magic of soil and necessity for dirt on her hands, who seems to have been born with the ability to identify plants and herbs, who can knit a small animal in a handful of minutes and is endlessly creative with scissors and tape and string. And her elegance and eloquence and maturity and exquisite perceptivity that amazes me so. And what a mystery it is, that she chose this starry-eyed, spirit-focused mom to birth and raise, guide and adore her so, the way I do.

I called the children to the dinner table, and served food onto their plates. And as Araela sat down, I said to her: “That must be frustrating and lonely for you sometimes, Love, to have such a ‘starry-eyed’ Mom in this earth-walk, loving all the things that you do.” She looked at me tenderly, and said thoughtfully: “Yes~ but it’s also what’s so wonderful about you, too. I wouldn’t want you to be different.” I said sincerely: “Thanks my love.” And as I sat down with them, I said: “And you know what? I’m super excited to meet all those people who are going to mentor and guide and even mother you in all those ways I can’t, Beloved. And then, maybe? Someday? You’ll come home and make us the most beautiful garden and cook for us the most elaborately inspired meals, teach me all about the animal creatures and show me your ways.” She smiled, nodding in excited agreement at that thought, then stood up and wrapped her little arms around my neck and said sweetly: “Thanks for making the kind of Kale-avocado salad I like.” And with a softly sobered and open heart, I said: “You are welcome.”

Pin It on Pinterest