Teachable moments come in many forms and are always for the greater good. The packaging may not be so pretty, but there is always something great inside of them. I used to be the parent who would say, “I will fight for my children until the day I die.” Today, I am the parent who says, ” I allow my children to fight for themselves, so they may thrive.” Here is one teachable moment that explains the difference.
My youngest is five years old. In many ways her characteristics are a lot like mine, and from the start, she has always been feisty, bold and self-assured. For example, she was delivered almost six weeks early and booted from the NICU much earlier than anticipated, because she refused to “play well in the NICU sandbox”. After three days of pokes, prods and light therapy for jaundice, she had enough.
According to the sweet NICU nurse, who frankly looked perplexed, “Little Miss was in her bassinet stark naked free of her feeding tube, IV, arm board and diaper not long after we had her situated, yet again.” This dance lasted three days. Her doctor finally gave the order to leave everything off and to step her down to the next unit. We were pleased and knew from coy smile we snapped in a photo of the day prior, she was not akin to being constrained.
Now that she is older, we nurture that Spirit. We honor her with the ability to make personal choices and to grow from the outcomes. She is encouraged to speak her mind about what she is feeling and why. We talk her through resolutions when she is sad and her process when she is happy. We also, want that same person in that bassinet to develop into the wonderful person we know she is. We want to protect her from any pain and this is where it gets tough. As her parent’s, we understand we can’t, and boy does this suck! Barring physical harm, we allow her to experience life, her way.
All that being said, this particular topic has not been particularly easy for me. I have “demons”, issues I have not resolved from within. They have lost a lot of their control on my life, but those suckers still attempt to surface and will, until I deal with them with certainty and truth. They are pretty sneaky too, as they don’t always show up within me, but through my love of others. My husband will tell you, I love our only child together like no other. Therefore, when the Universe prompts my lessons to be fulfilled through her experience, I am ready to pay damned close attention. Mess with my baby, and it becomes time to get it right, for me and my journey.
There is particular person in my life that has an emotional string tied to my heart. Many of my struggles require me to work through unraveling that string, one connected by blood. Like me, this is still a work in progress. This weekend, that progress advanced by leaps and bounds because of one exchange.
My daughter was yelled at and intimidated by this person and sent away in tears. I knew this was “the moment my old “demons” began pulling my emotional puppet strings as I fought not to react to the scenario from a place of anger, helplessness or shame. You see the words were directed at her, but the energy was intensely felt by me. Remember that part of the movie, Matilda, where Danny Devito yells at Matilda, “I’m big , you’re small. I’m right, you’re wrong and there is nothing you can do about it!” I lived this scene each time this person and I shared the same space. For most of my life, this was how they treated me and because of their relationship with me, I accepted it.
When this exchange occurred, I almost…almost went back there, but seeing my baby’s face changed it all. She was not in physical danger and I had to remind myself of that as the situation occurred. I also had to wait before I responded, because at that moment I realized, it was not what happened that would solidify her perception of the experience, but how she would view my response to it. This person no longer had the control to affect my life experience and I damned sure was not going to allow them to place a “stamp of shame and minuteness on hers.”
I played the scenario over in my head until it no longer provoked negativity within me. Then and only then, did I walk upstairs to have a discussion with my daughter; she was sitting with her father. When I walked in she made eye contact with me and covered her head with the blanket. Those damned demons were playing their best hand! My husband and I talked about what she explained to him and he was not very happy. I could sense the tension rising within him and could foresee him doing what father’s do for their daughters, fight for them. What I believed had to occur, was I needed to explain to him why I completely agreed with him, yet this was not his battle. I want my all of daughters to know their father will always protect them, but that they are able to stand on their own, FIRST. That their power to rise above any person or situation is not linked to the physical size and brute force of their father, but within their own Spiritual intelligence.
I desire for them to understand, there are people who do not think about nor treat them like Mom and Dad and that is okay. I want them to always know, the actions of others do not define them. That day, I looked at my daughter as she peeked her head from under the cover and I knew she needed to understand she was powerful enough to defend and fight for herself without regard to person for her. I decided to arm her with the all the armor she would need to always feel like the winner she was born to be.
I spoke with her, so she could be equipped with the comfort and ability to tell me she was not pleased by what happened and why. I listened as I joined her in bed to put my arms around her as she curled up on my chest to explain how the exchange made her feel. Then, I did the best possible thing I knew to do. I gave her what no one gave me at five, a sense of solitude in my emotions, that having them did not make me frail and weak and that I was powerful because I am born with it. No one could give it to me, no one could take it away and I would be taught how to use it.
I discussed with her how her voice is not smaller because the person speaking to her is bigger. I assured her being a girl was an assignment not a weakness. I looked her in the eyes and told her to stand in her truth. That she could face anyone and I would always have her back. That I would follow her lead because she is a leader, be her support because she deserved it and love her through infinity because she is worthy. (That part was a little deep for her, but she felt my love.) Nevertheless, my soul felt every word. As I held and spoke to her and realized I was healing me.
It is never easy to see your child emotionally saddened, but I knew I was either going to give life to what had occurred or pour life into what she would connect with it. As she lay on my chest and regained her positive energy and restored her smile, my daughter hugged me tight. Without saying another word, I knew this teachable moment was a lesson we each would never forget because it INpowered us both.
Until Next Time,