I had a pretty difficult Mother’s Day.
Honestly, I am hoping yours was better than mine!
And yet, the pain I felt on Sunday ended up giving way to sweetness and peace yesterday.
So maybe a “bad” Mother’s Day isn’t such a bad thing, after all.
Let me explain.
Sunday started out wonderfully; my husband David and I took a hike, one of our favorite activities to do together.
We explored a new trail, climbed up a streambed to check out an old cave mouth, and encountered butterflies along the way. The sun was breaking through the clouds as we talked and laughed, and there was just enough coolness in the warm breeze to make outdoor exercise delightful.
Later, we took the girls out to eat and had a tasty lunch on an outdoor patio, where David, Maddie and Bridget gave me cards and presents.
Sounds pretty nice, right?
And it was, until THE TANTRUM.
I’ll spare you the details of Bridget’s meltdown.
Let’s just say it was…ugly.
And it did not bring out the best in any of the rest of us either.
When we got home, I headed out to the hammock by myself, to have a good cry.
I’ve been a parent for 18 years, and I’ve encountered my fair share of tantrums and family messiness.
So, one tantrum, regardless of size, would not usually be enough to ruin my day.
But these sorts of scenes have been building in intensity and frequency of late at our house, and I just didn’t know what to do.
I felt overwhelmed, and, honestly, like a bit of a failure.
Confronting my failure as a mother on Mother’s Day.
Yes, yes, I know. We moms are not supposed to judge ourselves based on our kids’ behavior. We really can’t take all the blame for their problems (or, for that matter, credit for their successes).
And yet, I felt at such a loss.
I just didn’t know where to go from here.
So I cried for quite awhile.
While I was crying, I kept surrendering to what I teach, that everything I needed was right here, hard as it was to believe. (I have to admit here that I also had thoughts along the lines of “seriously? On Mother’s Day? Can’t I catch a break today at least?”)
But I’d been praying for help with this situation, so I had to trust that somewhere, in the midst of this chaos, was an answer.
A kind answer.
An answer meant to help me, and help my family.
And indeed, in the quiet minutes I took for myself that evening, and again the next day, I realized that this difficult encounter was an invitation to re-engage with our daughter.
If you’ve been around adolescents, then you know that the transition into the teen years can be challenging for everyone. There are lots of demands for independence, combined with ambivalence about growing responsibility and looming adulthood. It’s like toddlerhood all over again, only this time, you can’t pick up the kid and carry her out of the restaurant.
Throw in the typical hormonal upheaval. Add a developmental disability. And just for fun, also add a sibling getting ready to move away, one parent dealing with Alzheimer’s in the family and the other dealing with her own hormonal swings (TMI? Well, what can I say? That’s the reality of my life now)… and you have…well…a mess.
After just sitting with our family mess for a day or so, meditating with it and praying about it, I realized that I had been withdrawing from the mess.
Withdrawing from our family, and my life.
Withdrawing from Bridget, withdrawing from the unprocessed adolescent angst I was still carrying around in my own body, and withdrawing, too, from the anticipatory grief I’m holding as we prepare to take Maddie to college in a few months.
The natural tendency for all of us when we encounter messiness is to move away.
To go somewhere simpler, saner, and less painful.
And yet, as I’ve been teaching for decades, and re-learning lately in my yin yoga classes, transformation happens when we stay.
When we choose to be present to the mess.
To trust that there’s a blessing in there, somewhere.
So Tuesday, I kept Bridget home because I realized that in the midst of her big transitions, Bridget needs more clarity and reassurance that she is safe. And that I’m not going anywhere, even when it gets tough.
And I, too, needed reassurance—reassurance that I’m capable of being fully present to my own intensity and to, as John Kabat-Zinn calls it, the “full catastrophe” of life.
I set aside all the things I usually use to distract myself (social media, TV, checking my email, work) and instead chose to be with her and myself (I got a little yoga and meditation in while she was reading a book to our cat).
Bridget and I were in sync most of the time, completely engaged in procuring materials to make a visual schedule for her here at home, like the one she has at school. We found images online to represent her daily activities, then printed and laminated the pictures (this was astonishingly exciting for her!) We went to the craft store to buy Velcro so she could attach the appropriate activities to her daily schedule board. And together we picked out the images for the rest of that afternoon.
We did have a couple of power struggles.
And I stayed.
It was a sweet, sweet day.
And that evening before bed, we snuggled for a long while, saying nothing, contentedly breathing in each other’s nearness.
We hadn’t put an image for snuggling on her visual schedule. Maybe we’ll do that tonight. I think any life could benefit from a little more snuggling.
I won’t pretend that Bridget and I are done with power struggles, or with the infinite ways life can prove difficult to navigate.
Just for today, though, I’m going to enjoy the grace that came with the staying.
And I’m hoping that next time, I’ll remember to stay, again.
If you’d like to further explore the idea of staying in the midst of the mess (Everything You Need Is Right Here, after all!), along with other tenets of Celtic Wisdom such as Encountering the Sacred in the Ordinary, Connecting with the Numinous through Nature and the Elements, and Interacting with the Unseen World, I hope you will join my Mom and me June 13-14 for a 22 hour retreat at Mercy Center in St. Louis! New Awakenings Community is sponsoring us for a program we’re calling God in Every Breath: Falling in Love with Life through the Wisdom of the Ancient Celts. If you want more info, just message me here, email me at support@KimberlySchneider.com or message me on Facebook http://Facebook.com/
We would love to see you there!
Wishing you the peace that passes understanding,
Request Kimberly’s free Conscious Manifestation eCourse and you’ll also receive the introduction and sample chapter of her book, Everything You Need Is Right Here: Five Steps to Manifesting Magic: http://www.