“Mom, this dress is itchy!” my four year old daughter said as she tugged at her Easter dress.
I heard my son from the other room, “Mom, I know you want me to wear this, but I can’t bend in these pants.” We were at my parents’ house and we were going to Easter mass. I stood there getting frustrated.
I wanted one day! Just one day!
“One day to what?” I asked myself. “One day to control them? To think you have control? One day to look like you have it all together?”
It sounded ridiculous, but it was true. I didn’t berate myself – I just got real….and gently curious.
I looked down into the kitchen from the upstairs walkway of their home. “Mom, dad,” I started, holding one of my daughter’s Easter dresses in my hand, “Does this matter? Does it really matter what they wear? Should I make a big deal about this?”
My daughter, who was itching all over, came and stood by me. My son was tugging at his pants. I knew he’d wear them if I demanded it. My son who was born to move and be so very alive. But the only other pair of pants we had were his Reebok sweatpants — with his sports coat and tie for Easter?!
“What would people think? Why do I care?” I asked myself again. And the truth just came…
“Because I’m after perfection. I’m after some type of control. Control of what? That my kiddos will make good choices in life? That nothing bad will happen to them? That I’ll die a long time from now? That the world will regard my children with the tenderness that I have for them? Control over the deeper emotions within me that we all try to contain, dismiss, push away – like grief, rage?”
My mom and dad looked up at me. Two very successful, refined, and good human beings who never lost sight of what matters answered, “No, Lisa, this doesn’t matter. If you want to push for this because of your own reasons – that’s another issue. But the pants are fine. Another comfortable outfit for C. is fine.”
I handed my son his Reebok sweat pants, “Here, Love,” I said, “Just be comfortable.”
I looked through my daughter’s suitcase and found a cotton dress. “Here, Love,” I said, “Cotton is much more comfortable.”
My daughter put on the cotton dress. My son wore his sweatpants. And I let go. We were all happier… and more comfortable.
Dear friends, that morning I recognized some deeper truths to follow rather than focus on what my kiddos wear:
The truth is – we can guide our kiddos and nourish them with daily doses of compassion (and kale smoothies, dangit!). But there is so much we can’t control. That’s scary and overwhelming. But it causes a lot of anxiety if we put so much energy into trying to control the little stuff (ie what they wear for Easter mass) so we can get a false sense of control and security about the bigger stuff (ie when we die, how our kiddos turn out).
The truth is – it’s wiser to recognize the undercurrent of beliefs at play when we’re trying to control the small stuff in our life – or control our “small, little ones.” It’s wiser to ask, “What’s underneath this reaction? A sense of unworthiness? A sense of not belonging or loneliness? A need for recognition?”
The truth is – it’s wiser to attend to what’s underneath the reaction with spaciousness and compassion rather than get all bent out of shape if the island in the kitchen is full of junk, you’re a few pounds overweight, your daughter’s hairclip doesn’t match her outfit, or your son is hanging upside down at the park making gorilla noises.
The truth is – it’s wiser to put energy into what matters most – what leads to a day well spent and a life well lived — things like:
- Following and honoring what deeply delights your heart
- Having compassion
- Asking for connection when you need it
And whether we will be here for one more day or a 100 more years, putting energy into what matters most models to our children how to live, how to honor the divine within them, and how to offer this world their true presence.
And I couldn’t help but thinking this as I helped my daughter get into her cotton dress: “These moments of me putting energy into what really matters will be a deep well of love filled with days of holding and loving that my children can draw from whenever, inevitably, I am gone.”
So, my friends, here is to naming those beliefs and fears that are at play in our reactions.
Here’s to attending to them with spaciousness and compassion.
Here’s to putting our energy into what really matters.
And here is to living our days in such a way that we are filling the well of love that our children can draw from when we are no longer with them – be that college, marriage, or, yes, even our own death.
Let’s Get You Resourced and Focused on What Matters:
1. My dear hearts, folks have been using my poetic wrist wraps as touchstones throughout the day – to remember and focus on what really matters, to choose compassion, to live this moment according to their hearts. They aren’t up on my shop yet because they sold out! Don’t worry, I’m getting new ones! You can get on the “wait list” for the new shipment. Just send me an email: lmccrohan (at) gmail (dot) com.
2. Mother’s Day is coming up. This year, tell your mom some of the ways in which you love her and appreciate her. May some of my poetic greeting cards accompany you in telling her how you cherish her. Let this be the year you write from your heart.
3. Sarah Rudell Beach is a writer, teacher, and mom. She recently wrote an incredible blog post 40 Ways to Bring Mindfulness to Your Days. I LOVE the idea of using “MOMMMMMMM!” when you hear it (many, many times a day) as a wake up call to tune into your heart and what matters most. Pick out a few of your favorite tips here and let Sarah know what works for you.
4. Join Shawn Fink and her Ban on Busy! Check out her blog post on why all the busy and join her in banning busy. I’m about to sign up, too.
Lisa A. McCrohan
MA, LCSW-C, RYT
Delight Passionista. Compassion Coach. Mom. Poet.