I love my daughter. I think she loves me. But we sometimes have a difficult time expressing that love in ways that are, how shall I say it, affirming. Especially as she strikes out on her own and I try to provide a bit of an invisible safety net and some guideposts to help her navigate her way. Only I’m not always so great at being invisible and am definitely uncertain at times as to whether the guideposts are actually helpful or just an indication of my need to control. Difficult questions. Not easily answered. But definitely lived out almost every day.
Such as today, when, after an especially difficult morning that only really started at 11:30 and which quickly devolved into total resistance to doing any house/communal chores, I walked away. Gently. (I am learning to do that). I didn’t stomp. I didn’t yell. I just calmly walked away. “But I NEED you to HELP me,” she yelled. “You HAVE to help me.”
This is probably, but not completely, true. In addition to her dance, work, speaking, and advocacy commitments, she just—this morning, somewhere between finishing breakfast and brushing her teeth—made plans to have 3 friends over to cook dinner on Saturday, Drummer Boy on Sunday, another cooking date here with another friend on Wednesday, and another next Friday. “But Mom, its SOCIAL!”
The walking away bit, or shall I say the CALMLY walking away bit, is new for me. I’m having to practice it in good times, when the emotions aren’t so strong, so I am able to use the skill when all I really want to do is yell and stomp out of the room. Such as this morning. When, I am proud to report, I was able to say “I will be happy to help you after I get an hours’ work done and if you let me know that you are ready to work with me, cooperatively. When you are ready to work with me, then we can do it together.”
I really am beginning to think that this transition phase is more about learning new parenting skills than it is about teaching our children anything. Or maybe that’s just because I completely missed the mark the first time round, when she was younger. Whatever the reason, it exhausts me. Totally. It’s a kind of soul-sucking exhaustion that leaves me teary and tense and unable to concentrate.
So the first thing I did when I CALMLY walked away and sat at my desk to work, was open my e-mail. Where I found further proof of the existence of God(ess), or El, as Madeleine L’Engle would write. It was an invitation to a daylong workshop called Sabbatical for the Soul, which promised to lead me “beside still waters.”
I threw an air punch with my fist and continued to read. It said that with a light heart and in a supportive environment, I would “drop into the ever-present Mystery of Love and Compassion.” Mystery is right! Especially in our house!
I quickly e-mailed First United Church to see if there was any room left and got the reply: Looks like your lucky day! I have just had a cancellation so there will be room for you.
So, damn the groceries and whoever needs a ride home from dance (including Jessie). On Saturday, you will find me beside still waters.
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