Last week I had one of those moments with the Universe. I received a phone call at work from the Head of House at Eliza’s school. This call was slightly alarming as it is school holidays.
She’d received two emails from concerned parents regarding photos Eliza had put on Instagram. With my head reeling, I took advantage of today’s technology and whilst talking to the teacher was able to simultaneously look at E’s Instagram profile.
They were bikini shots, at the beach. Not as dreadful as my creative imagination pictured, but not ‘appropriate’ for a 14 year old. I sighed, she’s my third daughter, I’ve been here before.
I rang her and told her we needed to talk and while driving home I observed that my own reaction was very clearly tied up in my own fears of shame and judgement.
If I was a better mother, she wouldn’t do this.
What must those Parents think of me? What must they think of Eliza?
I have reached an age and a stage in life whereby I know damn fine that showing up to a conversation with a teenager armed with your own wounds is less than helpful. To distract myself, I threw on a Podcast. My phone’s been doing random things and instead of continuing with what I’d been listening to, it began in the middle of something else.
But what a something else. I listened in awe at what the Universe knew I needed. Oprah was talking to Brené Brown regarding her Parenting Manifesto. These were the words I needed to hear.
The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions – the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness.
You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen and honouring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength.
There will always be room in our house for both.
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honour hard work, hope and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to drawfrom the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain,but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you.
Truly deeply seeing you.
By the time I arrived home I’d replayed it, listening in astonished gratitude. I had to dry my eyes and compose myself before I could walk into my home.
We both talked, we both listened.
We agreed on somethings and disagreed on others.
In the end I had to pull rank as a mother and asked her to take them down, but there were no angry or harsh words.
Parenting continues to be the most challenging, thought provoking, difficult but rewarding tasks I have ever undertaken. I remain in puzzled bewilderment, pondering if or not I’m doing the right thing, but grateful that over the years my definition of ‘right’ is so, so much more flexible.
Until we meet again.