At times the life of a mother, in whatever sense that is, feels like the day starts out, often running a marathon. Alarm goes off, and the race begins. We may lay in bed saying to ourselves, in what seems to now be a mantra, how am I going to get up, get myself ready, make breakfast, get my kids up, and get them ready, eating, and out the door in enough time. Go, mom, Go!!
We as human beings have an overwhelming sense at times, to run through our days, out loud, so that our children or anyone for that matter, can truly appreciate all that goes on in our world on a given day. A hero’s tale, really of how each minute of each day was filled with something, and the energy, grace, and perseverance it takes to make it all appear easy and successful. We would enjoy validation for essentially the marathon we run every morning, without a great deal of training. As adults we learn, (or I hope we learn) how to be flexible, risk takers, and move through the day, ready to meet any obstacle our marathon may throw at us. Truth be told, some of us have a difficult time, and the anxieties of change, unknowns, and failure seep in with an overwhelming vengeance. As an adult, how do I cope in a way that feels productive and in control, while my inner self would like to stop the marathon, and wait on the sideline for relief. What would be so bad about that? Saying, “today, no matter how many risks I take, how hard I try, if I can’t, I won’t, and that is enough. Why is that difficult to say out loud? I often talk to my clients about looking those feelings in the eyes, sitting with them, maybe even becoming acquaintances, and being present with the discomfort, but also with the trying as best I can, even if that means not fully going the distance.
We are seeing more of our young people diagnosed with anxiety or depression, and more of the days being filled with sensory overload activities, technology, and limited free time. We read it everywhere, “your kids are over scheduled,” and “our lives are set with events to the hour.” I agree with this, and I, too am very guilty of it, but I also feel there is another issue. Are we teaching our children that risk taking is empowering, that pushing yourself to do new, and scary things is important and amazing, but also teaching them to say it out loud. To say, “I feel scared,” “I don’t think I can do it.” “I need…” Do we over schedule but also give ourselves and our kids that ability to use their voice, our voice, and ask ” how I am feeling, what needs to be reevaluated, or what do I need to feel supported to complete this?” Essentially, own the fear, own the discomfort, and say it loud and proud! because this too is part of being a successful. It is also about being vulnerable to the possibility of failure, doing it average, not the best, or not at all.
My children have always been flexible with change, easy to move from one thing to the next as little ones, without a lot of complaints. I have always worked, and they have always attended daycare. And when I wanted more activity for them to gain experience, they happily moved to sporting activities, piano lessons, and karate, meeting and connecting to new people and things. Great! right? Well, not really. What this has done, is given me a false sense of “if I want them to try it, they will love it, and will have no fear.” That changed for me today, and the reality of “practice what you preach” was in my face. I was given a new picture of risk taking today, and realized what a teacher young people can be. Today my son said to me, “mom I was so nervous two times this weekend, I mean tummy in my neck nervous.” I asked him to explain, and he proceeded to tell me two times I completely took for granted, and to be honest, was likely rushing him in and out of the car to get to them. He started, “well the first was testing for my belt in front of a lot of people. And the second was my piano recital. Performing a song I memorized.” Do we know our kids, our friends kids, our nieces and nephews, or grandchildren are amazing people? Yes! Of course we do. But do we really stop to think about the amount of things they have to do in a day, often not being asked, “would you like to be in an activity,” rather than “you are signed up, it will be so fun!” and then how much energy are they putting into not only risk taking, but doing it in a way that appears at times effortless and part of the activity. I realize we have to connect children to things so they can connect to an interest. But there is also a benefit as their voices grow louder and stronger, in asking and processing feelings about the newness or intensity.
Today again, like I do in my office, I saw my son this time in a way that offered a great amount of vulnerability and strength, and also risk taking. And he didn’t say a word about it until after he finished both tasks. There is a truth to children being over scheduled… all of us over scheduled for that matter, but it is a different day and time than when we grew up. And are children are taking risks because we as parents, maybe want our kids to know better, to do better, and be confident and fearless. But let us not forget that though activity is good, even better is the message that the greatest risk takers, are vulnerable, sit in discomfort and fear, and know when it is okay to sit on the sidelines to regroup for a minute. To own the feelings, be proud of their great strength but also their great weakness, at the same time, and move through the importance of using their voice to also express, today I just want to watch from the sideline.