Earlier this week I received the following text:
Yo estoy aqui
(I am here)
The text was a check-in from my daughter who had just finished her second day in Spanish class. It made me laugh that she felt the need to translate for me. (Is it possible I never told her that I took Spanish from 2nd – 11th grade?) Regardless, she was excited to share what she had learned and I knew this was probably the first of many Spanish texts I would receive.
Yes, it’s only July and school started for us already. (Our district is modified year round, so our summers are seven weeks and then we get three two-week breaks throughout the year.) For my daughter this week was the start of Junior High, taking the bus to school, switching classes and an entirely new social dynamic. We’ve talked a little about her classes, teachers and other students, but like most pre-teens the actual details were minimal.
After dinner Friday night, I was on my computer catching up on a few things. She came into the room where I was and started playing Minecraft (something she rarely does without coercion from her younger brother). As she was playing she started to explain to me what she was looking for and what she would build once she had gathered the correct materials. I set aside what I had been doing to watch her play (something I never do). As she played she described to me what she was doing and why. I asked a few questions but mostly just listened. She was having so much fun, it was contagious. As she finished the game, she started telling me about her math class. She described in animated detail who sat where, said what, did what, then did that, made this face – “Mom, can you believe they did that?” I asked a few questions here and there, but mostly sat and listened. It was the detail I had been hoping to hear all week, coming at the most unexpected time.
In her book The Awakened Family, Dr. Shefali talks about meeting your child where they are in that moment, in the “as is”. She explains:
“What does it mean to accept life “as is”? It means to notice that every moment holds the potential for both the good and the bad, the happy and the sorrowful, pain as well as pleasure………This ability to be flexible in the dance of life is lacking in so many of us adults. Our categorizing minds don’t allows us to engage life as it presents itself to us. We simply don’t know how to shift and change with the tides of life as children intuitively do……If only we were able to embrace life for what it is, instead of how good or bad it makes us look or feel, we would ease into its unpredictability with greater grace.”
There are so many layers to this topic that we couldn’t possibly discuss all of them in this short blog post. But if we look at it in the simplest view possible, how many of us get stuck in our “categorizing minds”? I had been trying all week to get my daughter to open up about school. I tried when we first got home, at the dinner table and before school in the morning. Those were the times in my “categorizing mind” when we were supposed to talk about our day and what had happened, however in each instance I received a minimal response. However, when I set everything else aside and just sat with her, she began to open up. She had my attention in a way that had no expectations, no predetermined outcome. It was almost as if in that moment she heard me say “Yo estoy aqui. (I am here.)” and that was all she needed to share the details of her day.
This one quote only scratches the surface of the insights and knowledge Dr. Shefali shares in The Awakened Family. If you want to learn more, our online book club starts tomorrow! Check the Balanced Heart Moms Facebook page for details.
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.