Do you ever have those moments where you are suddenly thrust into a new perspective and all the world around you looks different than it used to? Where you understand people you never understood before and you feel foolish for all your previous ways?
It can be exciting, and wonderful, and sad, and terrifying all at once. It’s those times that deepen us.
This past week I’ve had a slew of awakenings that started when I watched the movie Interstellar.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, Interstellar is an apocalyptic movie about finding a new world for the population of Earth to inhabit. The main character, Coop (played by Mathew McConaughey), has to leave his children to go into space as one of the few remaining NASA pilots, travel through a wormhole, and explore new worlds, all to save his children from definite extinction.
The problem is, the relative time difference means that when he drops down onto a new planet, what was only hours for him, was 23 years back on earth. So when he gets back to the space station, everyone is shockingly 23 years older, and the recorded video messages from his children show them growing into adults, having their own children, and giving up on their father’s return, as he hadn’t been in contact with them for so long.
It’s a gripping scene and it hit me in such a deep way. I just felt the pain in an incredibly personal way, as it felt like a magnified version of what I’ve been feeling with my own children.
Upset by the fact that my time is running out to do everything I ever wanted to do for them. That the “one days” are really numbered now, and I can see that they will have to go into the world without my perfect plan laid out before them.
While I know logically that this is okay, better for them even, I’m realizing it’s not about them, but about me. About what I wanted to offer as a mother, for my own sake. About the ideals in my mind of the perfect mother, and a deep maternal instinct to keep my babies happy.
I think about my own parents. About how they must have felt so worried, and hurt, and afraid, and sad, and angry, and embarrassed when I was a 16 year old pregnant teen.
Always before in my life, I saw their pain from my own perspective. A burden to carry because I had caused the pain. But now I can see it from their perspective and I want to hold them and tell them it’s going to be okay. That I’m sorry they had to feel that way. That I understand what they’re feeling.
Because I understand that parents are vulnerable human beings just like anyone else, not perfect people expected to remain strong through anything and everything. I understand how uncomfortable it feels to think of your children being sexual, or having to deal with adult issues when they should be comfortably covered in your protection still.
I distinctly remember my first bought of morning sickness, and my younger sister relaying the incident to my mother over the phone in real time (younger sisters are great for that sort of thing). She started yelling, “Ewe! She’s throwing up!” and my mother exclaimed back, “My poor baby!”
Because I was a baby.
I’ve really questioned my plans and rethought my strategies, as the sand that contains my children rapidly slips through my hands. And because of this I came up with a new plan that catered more to my children than it has in a long time. And I felt at ease and that everything was going to be okay.
And then I got depressed.
I tried to ignore this depression and push through with sheer will power, as my heart warred against my brain, one side fighting for my children, the other fighting for my independent spirit.
But my heart is too alive now to be ignored, and I ended up in a mess of tears and despair.
Dan (my saving grace in these situations) drug the conflict out of me, and helped me to lay it on the table. What was I afraid of not giving them? Where did I come up with that ideal? What was reality?
And I saw, that the reality was my children had received exactly what I’d decided to give them 8 years ago, when I’d stood in the kitchen and saw the look on their faces that I’d worn as a child. When it had suddenly become clear that if I didn’t break the cycle of my culture, it would be passed down to them the way it’d been passed down to me.
Right then and there, I declared, “The best thing I can offer my children is an alive version of me.”
Because I saw that they would then inherit the culture of aliveness, not sacrifice and functional correctness, that my mother had given to me. She’d mistakenly assumed that by sacrificing herself she was showing me I mattered. That by doing that, I’d learn to follow my dreams. But all it taught me was to sacrifice for others, because we become who our parents are, not what they hope we will be.
But I also saw that in order to give them this culture, I would have to let go of everything I’d been told was best for children. That I’d have to sacrifice many of their desires for my own. That this would make me seem selfish and uncaring. That they would be mad at the change. That others would judge me.
But I would do it. I would make their default culture to follow their hearts, and chase their dreams. Because I knew that our subconscious minds log the culture of our parents as “normal” and anything else as out of the ordinary. I wanted them to view being free and alive as normal, and to demand epic love from those around them.
So I made the change, and I took the burn from the fires I walked through because of it.
And you know what? It worked.
You should hear my kids talk! They speak as if everything I teach and do is normal. They are even confused when other people don’t understand it, or see it in the same way. There are numerous times when my kids say something and I can hear the echo of my words in their voice and I just smile to myself, and roll my eyes thinking, you have no idea what I had to go through for that to be your default.
But I did it. I broke the chain.
And now, here near the end when they’re about to leave, I’m doubting my resolve because I didn’t cart them around to lessons or give them a perfectly decorated home where they could feel secure and at ease. Because I haven’t helped them build their resumes or taken them to auditions, or gotten them into Ivy League schools. Or walked them around and taught them about the leaves, the universe, and the many wonders of the world.
No. I didn’t give them any of these things.
But I gave them permission. Permission to follow their hearts and belief they could achieve their dreams. And that’s the legacy I leave for them. And thinking about it this way, I’m okay.
So I chucked the new adaptive plan, let go of the ideals that don’t belong to me, returned to my heart, and I continue on my way.
And that’s where I’m heading. Forever towards my heart. Forever towards my being. Because in the end I’m journeying to my own place. To my own being. Not what I was given by the world, but the place that is inherently me.
-TaraThe best thing you can offer the world, is an alive version of you. Click To Tweet