Last weekend I had the great fortune to attend Super Soul Sessions, an all-day event on the campus of UCLA produced by the OWN network and hosted by Oprah herself. It was as if someone had looked at my bookshelf, Facebook and Instagram accounts and picked out an all-star line-up of people I admire. Dr. Shefali Tsabary the author of The Conscious Parent. Marie Forleo business woman extraordinaire. Kris Carr advocate for healing through healthy eating. Rounding out the list were authors Cheryl Strayed (Wild) and Shaka Senghor (Writing my Wrongs), actresses Kerry Washington and Amandla Stenberg, singer India.Arie and luminaries Carline Myss and Eckhart Tolle. They all spoke for about thirty minutes each sharing their stories, themselves and their vulnerabilities.
It would take me pages and pages to try to provide you with all of the highlights, powerful quotes and ah-ha moments from the day. I’ve spent all week thinking through the best way to write about this wonderful experience. Do I talk about how Kris Carr said “Don’t let your fear become your fact.” Or do I use Marie’s mantra of “Everything is figureoutable” and apply it to parenthood? Or how about India.Arie and her “Songversation” had the audience singing in beautiful harmony with her? Or Kerry Washington’s parenting perspective that she views herself as an ambassador to her daughter?
Sure, I could write on any or all of those, but my true answer came to me last night. Yesterday when I picked the kids up from school, I could tell that my son was tired. It was one of those things as a parent you just know regardless of whether he realized it himself. We’ve had a long week with multiple late nights at the baseball field, so it made sense that the week had caught up with him. We got home and had a normal Friday night, playing outside for a while before going inside for dinner. When we all finally sat down to eat, it happened, melt-down city. His sister was chewing just a little too loudly for him and it sent him over the edge. I had anticipated this moment would happen at some point in the night so I let him leave the table and go off to cry/pout/be angry. After we finished our dinner and cleaned up, I went to him and suggested we play Xbox. I was met with a little resistance but he came around. We had a good time playing together, the earlier incident all but forgotten. After about an hour we stopped for a Friday night treat – ice cream. I scooped it into a bowl for him and as I walked over to give it to him he said “Mom, I’m really sorry I got mad earlier.” (Reminder, he’s eight.) My heart swelled. I looked at him and said “Thank you for saying that buddy. I knew you were tired and that’s why you got mad. But I am most proud that you would say sorry. It’s ok.” He gave me a little smile and started eating his ice cream.
You may be wondering what does that story have to do with Oprah? Or you may wonder why would I leave my family for a weekend to go listen to a bunch of people talk? The reason is for that moment right there. You see, I was not always that mom. As a parent it’s tempting to want to dig my heals in and make my point about manners, staying at the table and asking nicely. It has taken a lot of practice and soul-searching for me to not only change my ways but more importantly to be able to meet my children where they are at. Amandla Stenberg, the 17-year-old actress from The Hunger Games so eloquently said “Coming into ourselves is a process.” A process that takes practice. A process that is constantly evolving. A process where we need to share our stories, learn from and support each other. A process that is not talked about a whole lot. It’s a deeply personal process yet it impacts everyone you come in contact with and might just start to rub off on those around you.
Journal on this: What was fascinating to me was how most of the speakers talked about how they used journaling to work through various challenges in their lives. By getting their thoughts out of their heads and on to the page, they were able to make it through whatever they were faced with. Take a few minutes today to jot down your thoughts. What comes out may just surprise you.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.