Almost every day for a year and a half; that’s how long my daughter has been waiting and talking about going to drama club at her school. This was going to be her year. She was finally old enough to attend. So when she brought home the forms, I was on it. I filled them out right away, sent in my money and placed them in the envelope along with all of the other forms needed for the start of the school year. Or so I thought.
The call came a few days later from the school administrator to let me know that she did not receive any of the club forms. WHAT???! How was that possible? The school administrator stated that she is always very careful as she knows how important registration in the school clubs are to the kids and their families. She insisted that they were never received.
Is it possible that I somehow forgot to put the forms in the envelope? My heart sank and the panic started to rise as I pictured my daughter’s disappointment, sadness and anger in response to this situation. I choked back tears as I begged and pleaded to find a way for my daughter to be in drama, but there was nothing that could be done. The club was full and there were 6 other children ahead of her on the waiting list.
I hung up the phone and tried to go back to work, distracted by thoughts of how I was going to break this piece of bad news. The thought occurred to me to not tell her the entire story, to just tell her that the class was full and play the role of the heroine as I consoled her in her grief in order to shield myself from the possibility of anger directed towards me for any role I might have played in this situation.
But I couldn’t do that. I knew that presenting her with a half truth would have created a barrier between us. Because as much as part of my distress came from my desire to shield my daughter from pain, it was also in response to having to face the very real possibility of my own failings and the feelings of shame that typically accompanies the evidence of my imperfection. This was the real issue that I had to face. She was not the one who needed protection. A choice to not honestly share the truth would have been all about protecting myself.
And so I decided to do something different. I decided first to make peace with myself. I decided to show myself compassion. I let myself cry as I recognized that mistakes can happen in spite of our best intentions. I forgave myself for whatever I might have done to contribute to this situation and I decided that I would hold space for whatever feelings my daughter needed to express. I would apologize. Because even though I tried my best and did not know how the forms did not get to the right place, it was ultimately my responsibility. And I committed to looking for another drama class in the community that she could join if she was amenable to this.
The decision to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but my whole truth was a decision to be fully present with my daughter; to not abandon her. It was a decision to communicate to her that sometimes things don’t work out, but that we can deal with these disappointments… together. It was a decision to show her that she and her brother could always come to me with their mistakes because I was willing to be honest with them about mine.
When we got home, I sat both my daughter and my 8 year old son down to tell them what happened. I wanted to include my son as he needed to see me walk the walk just as much as my daughter did.
I told them about the call, about the things I thought I did to secure her spot, about how my search for the forms at the house came up empty but that at the end of the day the school did not have them and they are also sure that they never received them. I told her that this meant that she would not be able to go to drama club this term and that I was truly sorry.
I braced myself for her tears and anger. What happened was something that I had not anticipated. Rather than getting upset, this child simply looked at me, hugged me hard and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. The only tears that were shed were from my own eyes as I took in the unconditional love she so clearly expressed to me in that moment, a profound gift that healed and will forever touch my heart.
The gift my daughter gave me that day not only showed me her resilience but did wonders for further weakening my harsh inner critic. It is a gift that I opened myself up to receive because I was willing to face my own suffering, and meet it with compassion.
This is what conscious parenting is all about. It’s not about being the perfect parent. It’s about creating a space for self-compassion, and awareness so that we as parents can accept the invitation our children have for us to come into our authentic selves.
Interested in learning more about Conscious Parenting? Then you absolutely need to come out to see Dr. Shefali Tsbary in person in Toronto on September 30, 2018.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with her, Dr. Shefali is a world-renowned psychologist, Oprah regular, TED Talk veteran and the NY Times best selling author of The Conscious Parent, Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children, and The Awakened Family. She is one of the foremost authorities on Conscious Parenting, and one of the most engaging speakers I have ever seen.
You can learn more and register for her event here. And not only will I be there for her talk and the post-talk Q&A, but …..I am going to have the chance to interview her in person (eeeee!!!!).
Dr. Shefali has agreed to be a key participant in a 7-day, on-line summit by Mindful World called Parenting In The Age Of Change, which will be hosted by none other than yours truly. I can hardly wait.
The summit will be bringing together world leaders and practitioners in the areas of parenting, mindfulness, education, brain science, and holistic health, to teach us how we can truly apply mindful practices and teachings in support of parents and children who are feeling more disconnected than ever in a hyper-connected world.
I cannot believe that I get to pick the brains and play a role in sharing the wisdom of some of the greatest teachers in this area. So send me your questions! Let me be your voice. It is incredibly important that my questions reflect your concerns, so do not be shy. Send them.
And do let me know when you register for Dr. Shefali’s event. I would love to meet up and meet later that week to discuss our takeaways and how we can start implementing some of these ideas for our families and ourselves.
We are all in this together.
With Deep Respect