Ed note: Today’s post is a follow-up to yesterday’s and won’t make much sense if you haven’t yet read it. It can be found HERE.
Oh, my friends. Y’all were so good to me yesterday. Not only reminding me to be gentle with myself, but also sharing your own stories to let me know, for the millionth time, that I’m not alone. For showing me that we are all works in progress as people – and particularly as parents. Lord, don’t I know it.
To those who said that there was no black and white, but only shades of grey — you’re right, of course. I didn’t mean to imply that I will never again use a sing-song voice with my girl or that I don’t think a different (and often softer, more playful) approach is called for. It often is. But there was something to what Katie said. So off I go to find some middle ground.
Please don’t think I’ve spent these last few days flogging myself. The hair shirt stayed in the closet; I promise. The revelation was hard to hear and harder to share, but I was grateful that she said it. Because I needed to hear it. It gave me the opportunity to think, to stretch, to grow. Those aren’t always comfortable exercises, but they’re the only way that we can evolve.
Wasn’t it Maya Angelou who told us that when we know better we do better? Well, thanks to my sweet Katie, I know better now. And I will do better. Or at least I’ll do middler.
As always, there’s more to the story than what I’ve told you. You see, the night before last, Katie – my generous, loving, beautiful, far-too-wise-for-her-years Katie, came into my room carrying something. It was a small square of paper, printed neatly on one side. I’d seen it before, on the night that our friend Kimmerie gave it to her.
“Mama,” she said, “Kimmerie gave this to me. And I love it. But I thought it might be more meaningful for you right now.”
I already knew what it said, but I took it and I read it aloud. For her. For me. For all of us.
I googled the quote, hoping to provide attribution for it*. And I found out that there was even more to the story. Isn’t there always?
It continues ..
But unconditional love? Stop telling that story. Love, in truth, doesn’t need ANY other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks that you show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s Plenty.
So, no — no hair shirts. No flogging. Just stumbling along as we all are — as perfectly imperfect, madly, messily loving parents. Which is enough.
Oh, Katie – my generous, loving, beautiful, far-too-wise-for-your-years Katie.
I love you so damned much.
Ed note: In a couple of places online, the quote is attributed to Courtney A Walsh, but I can’t formally confirm that. If anyone knows for sure, please drop me a line in the comments. Thank you!