So Precious It Hurts

As my dear friend drove our two families up to Walker Ranch for their quarterly homestead day a few weeks ago, I looked in the backseat at our three sweet and precious boys. Their faces were alive with excitement at the prospect of “going back in time,” as my little one said. Three beautiful, kind, creative, alive boys. The angles of our hearts. And, knowing that we would be driving up a steep and winding road seven miles into the mountains (not my favorite kind of road), an awareness of their vulnerability pierced through me. An awareness that one wrong move, one random boulder, one unaware driver careening on the other side of the road…

“They’re so precious,” I said to my friend. “Why does anyone do this? To love them this much and to know that something could happen to them… sometimes it just feels like too much.”

“I … Click here to continue reading...

Living with Uncertainty

I grew up on a safe, tree-lined street on the West side of Los Angeles. We lived two blocks from the 405 freeway, one block from a strip mall that included a bank, Marie Calendars restaurant, McDonald’s, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, and across a busy street was Pic N’Sav (now Big/Lots), Hughes (now Ralphs), and Thrifty (now Rite-Aid)). Although I felt acutely disconnected from nature, we reveled in the convenience that we could walk to so many stores and restaurants or hop on the freeway in minutes. There were no big trees, no creeks, no open spaces, and, well, no threat of natural disasters. I felt safe. In my bubble world, I didn’t even know that hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or ice storms existed. Sure, we experienced the occasional earthquake, but I learned to roll with the rumbles and they never caused anxiety.

In the weeks following the recent floods, I … Click here to continue reading...

If it's Conditional it's Not Love

We have a redundant phrase in our lexicon: Unconditional love. To say “unconditional” love indicates that real love can be anything other than unconditional. It’s like what I learned in high school English that it’s redundant to say “close proximity” because the very definition of proximity is to be close. But the truth is that if it’s conditional, it’s not love, and, sadly, much of what we call “love” isn’t love at all but approval. My clients often share the following examples:

“I know my parents loved me but they were disappointed if I came home with mediocre grades.”

This isn’t love.

“I know my mom loved me but when I behaved badly – like broke a dish accidentally – she would get so angry and then withdraw her warmth.”

This isn’t love. And breaking a dish isn’t behaving badly. It’s being a kid.

“I know my parents love me … Click here to continue reading...

Parenthood: Cycles of Attachment and Letting Go

In the middle of our ninth reading of Charlotte’s Web, Everest decided to become a vegetarian. Perhaps it’s because he just turned six and he’s more attuned to himself as a separate individual or perhaps it’s due to another cause, but whatever the reason when we read the section about Wilbur being turned into bacon something clicked in for Everest. We were sitting peacefully together, side by side on the bed as we do every night, and the next thing I knew he was hiding under the covers, crying. I asked what happened. He wouldn’t tell me. I asked if it made him sad to learn about where some of our food comes from, and he said yes. He told me he doesn’t want to eat chicken, turkey, or beef anymore. I said that’s fine, we’ll find other things for him to eat.

I have to admit, I didn’t … Click here to continue reading...

A Pause in the Day of a Parent

Central to the pattern of transitions is the pause. The pause is the liminal stage (in-between zone) that lives between the letting go and the new beginning. The pause is winter, the fallow time, the state of no-thing and nothing from which the new identity and life stage takes root and comes to life

One of the hardest sacrifices we make when we become parents is this pause, also known as time to ourselves, endless time to hang out, time to be. Gone is the luxury of taking a “personal day” and snuggling up under blanket for hours with a good book and a couple of movies. Unlike every other job on the planet, there are no sick days and no vacation time. With kids, you have to keep going no matter what.

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