A few months ago my three and a half year old had an “incident” at preschool. He reacted to a friend in his class in anger and hurt them. I got an email that no parent ever wants to receive. A rock landed in my stomach and my heart broke. I was devastated, disappointed and felt ill that my child had acted in such a way. I also felt mortified. It was like my worst nightmare.
At the same time I thought how scared my boy must have been. And when I arrived early to talk with this teacher, I could see the look of terror on his face. He had felt broken too.
I spent the next 24 hours feeling embarrassed and completely consumed by worry. The endless ruminations and thoughts of guilt played like a tape on repeat in my head. I was so ashamed, I literally hid from another parent from my son’s classroom when I saw her in a store.
Thankfully I already had an acupuncture appointment scheduled and I unloaded my worries to my sweet provider. She told me she would needle a point on my shoulder blades that is connected not only with healing a broken heart, but also with connecting to the wisdom of our ancestors.
That night when I came home and was putting my boys to bed, each one nestled in on either side of me, I felt the weight of my children soften and rest into me. I closed my eyes and saw the images of my eldest boy as a baby, perfect and deliciously innocent…completely whole. I felt the warm burn of tears welling in my eyes. He was STILL this baby. He was, and will always be that purely flawless being. I began to separate my own reactions to the situation and felt the support of all the collective parenthood and all the souls who have mothered before me. I saw how my own brokenness had prevented me from seeing this truth.
My heart landed in some ancient wisdom and whispered to me, “you are whole, my child.” This world will break us and make us feel like we are wrong and flawed. I see this over and over again in my work as a social worker…I look into the eyes of others who have been battered by life’s misfortunes and trauma, and they have internalized a message that they are broken.
Finally as I laid there with the trust of my child resting by my side, I released my own worry and self judgments and realized my work as a mother. And as I let go of my personal wounds, I opened up the space for my child to come to me to feel whole again. He is not perfect, and neither am I, perfection is not the point. Undoubtedly we will both make mistakes and screw it all up again, however, that does not mean we are any less valuable or important. We are human, and worthy of feeling loved and whole. This was the moment when I had now doubt what my sacred duty as a mother was.
“Our sacred duty as parents is to feel whole, so that our children have the example of our own self-worth.” -Elena Brower
This duty is a work in progress, like
most all things. But never before as it been more clear.