awareness · connection · fear · growth · love · parenting · risk · self-derision · self-love · vulnerability

parental advice

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Brene Brown talks a lot in her book Daring Greatly about parenting, about how to “dare greatly” in
parenting, which often means allowing yourself to feel, with all uncertainty and unpredictability, the full extent of your love. She talks about
the split-second after noticing her full love for her children the flood of constricting
and panicking thoughts about loss and impermanence and a terrible desire to control. To allow herself to
notice and accept her love so deeply, she’s also acutely aware of how tenuous
life is, and how she cannot protect her offspring from the world.
In the moment of greatest love is the moment of greatest
vulnerability.
She talks about trying to withstand and stand in that moment
of love as long as possible without giving in to the fear of the things we
cannot control.
The kinds of thoughts that enter immediately after hearing,
“You got the role.” God, I hope I don’t fuck it up. Or after “I love you.” Don’t betray me. Or “You’re a great friend.” Am
I doing enough?
Moments of connection are severed by fear when we insulate back inside ourselves around the thought: How can I control this?
We can’t.
In every effort we put forth to expand ourselves, we risk.
In every effort we make to control, we risk those
relationships that have brought us joy, including the one with ourselves. See:
I’ve gained some muscle working out, I better make sure I get to the gym even
more.
I hiked for an hour this week, I really should do that three times a
week.
I loved that novel I read, I should really be reading something
“worthwhile.”
Brown has written that we siphon off the top layer of risk and
innovation and spontaneity when we attach our interpretation of our efforts to
how they’ll be received – I believe this includes the efforts and risks we make
that are private, like those above: How are they received by ourselves?
Are the efforts we put toward joy, spontaneity, pushing our
own envelope supported internally, or hampered by voices of not good enough?
Sometimes both. Sometimes it depends on the minute of the
day.
I can experience the duplicity of knowing my acting is up to
par for this show, but my singing is not.
What I cannot hold is the self-derision that follows that
awareness.
As always, action is the antidote to anxiety and worry.
Voice lessons, music drills. Learning, learning learning.
This is a challenge. A challenge to show up authentically,
even if I don’t like or approve of what that sounds like at the moment. There is
vulnerability in showing up, but if, as happens frequently, I step on my own
efforts and try to hide the greatest risks, I won’t learn, I won’t grow, nor will I have any fun.
There’s a self-reparenting that is happening for me right now.
A re-training. In fact, several days this week, as I’ve sat up out of
bed, voices already chiding me for being sick and not being able to sing, for
not being as good as the others actors – I’ve literally had to stop myself and
insert a new voice, saying aloud – Yes, Moll, I know, and you’re working on it.
You’re doing the best you know how right now, and you are enough.
There is risk in allowing myself the “lenience” of
self-approval. There is the risk of abandoning control and constriction and self-flagellation. There is the risk that things won’t turn out “how I want,” how I want things to be, how
I want myself to be – Can’t you be better at something you’ve never done
before, the voice chides incessantly.
But I want a different reality. A different parenting. I
want to be able to look at myself and my efforts fully, with the full ache of
unknowing and the full pride of risk-taking.
I want to begin modeling this completely uncertain,
vulnerable, pulsating, spark-of-life parental love for myself, because I have
hope that one day I’ll need to employ it with children of my own.
And you can’t give to others what you can’t give yourself. 

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