Hello, Dear Friends! Happy Tribe Tuesday!
On these days, I like to make whatever post I share that much more personal and direct it to you. Sometimes, my writing is stream-of-consciousness, not necessarily directed to anyone. Today, I want to do a two-part post where my fellow parents are the key audience, and in the second phase of the post today, the rest of you will be brought in. Bear with me and play along this morning. For those of you who aren’t parents, you are still children-of-parents, and I hope that whatever I have to share can be gleaned from that perspective. Thanks for being along for the ride! It's a bit of a longer post today, so if you need, bookmark it and come back at the best time for you.
Without further ado…
Parenting is a full-contact sport.
Sure, we could make this broader, but let’s start here, in an arena where I am familiar and that captures a few key dynamics for us.
The purpose and medium of parenting is LITERALLY CONTACT.
We provide eye contact, physical contact, tactile engagement of bodies and souls. We help our children CONTACT others, develop language to connect, give tools and demonstrate ability to connect with OURSELVES and with others so they too can be in FULL CONTACT. We practice opening our heart, calming our mind, settling into and engaging our body so that we may be in full contact, and so we have some hope of guiding them on their journey to do the same.
My level of present engagement is like the soil my kids are planted in. My psycho-spiritual/emotional/energetic presence speaks in, through, underneath, and beyond any words I say or simple actions I do.
(This is a note to self and a reminder to whomever needs it to CHECK YOURSELF.)
My kids can tell when I’m checked out. When I’m checking my phone. When I’m simply “checking boxes” instead of wholeheartedly engaging my people with purpose and passion. When Selah (my almost-two-year-old) has to remind me to, “LOOK, DADDAHH!!!” I finally see in the mirror that I am not a hearer and I am not here. At some point or other, I lost contact.
The ME that isn’t my true self showed up when I left. My tools and coping mechanisms, my reactions (as opposed to responses) were activated when I left my “avatar.”
There are times when I recognize that I am not talking to my kids, in essence, I am talking to their defense-mechanisms, we aren’t connected to or contacting one another because our shields are up. So, my work becomes de-escalation. Holding space. Seeing the person beneath, behind, and beyond. Rather than reacting, fighting fire with fire, this for that, tit for tat, I am afforded the opportunity to do the long, slow work of speaking to the heart and inviting my children back to center. I can only invite insofar as I am practicing myself. That we can BE with our feelings, be with our body’s programming, learn impulse control and find a bigger space than our gut reactions.
Parenting is also about contact in terms of physical touch. Now, in my family, we’re pretty touchy-feely. My kids and I like hugs and kisses, and we recognize that not every family is that way. Parenting is a unique space where I get to help my children learn their bodies, learn self-awareness and self-mastery, learn spacial boundaries and how to respect others’ space and bodies as other-than-theirs. Learning to identify needs, including the needs to get rest or simply to be close.
Parenting is a unique and special role, a gift, an opportunity, and a special challenge to play FULL-CONTACT all the time. It can be exhausting. There’s the need to nourish and support ourselves as we’re constantly training, constantly learning, constantly applying and second-guessing, constantly IN contact and sometimes needing to take a step back and see from a different vantage point the game that we are constantly playing.
For my parents out there, I would love to hear: How do you stay present? What do you love most about parenting? What are some of your biggest struggles and challenges as you seek to heartily and mindfully parent your children? Email or comment works great. :)
For my non-parents out there, thanks for making it this far. This is when we broaden the scope a little bit:
Your LIFE is a full-contact sport.
We can SPEND (waste) TIME, checking out, looking at the lives of others, or waiting for things to happen TO us and FOR us instead of with us as we live and move and have our being.
We can withdraw. Retreat into our imagination. Live into fantasy to the point of missing life around us happening now.
We can also choose presence. Choose openness. Choose brokenness, the ability to take even our wounds, hurts, and traumas, and see within them an opportunity.
To play in your life with full-contact, you are asked to be fully in-touch with yourself. There’s much to listen to! And yet, to show up in a full-contact way, we do not sit and stare at our feet, but lift our gaze, listen up, and move.
We hold space for our intuition, we trust ourselves. We also see ourselves from the eyes of others, allowing ourselves to be expressed and shaped from the inside-out and the outside in.
We love others, we love ourselves, and so we dance through life. Constantly making micro-adjustments, never having everything figured out or purely systematically precise. In mystery and yet in confidence and courage.
We embody, embark, and embrace. Taking care of and feeling through our bodies, expanding wholeheartedly into our lives and the world around us, and embracing it all in love.
I have learned much more about when I am playing shell games, when I am hiding or withdrawing or escaping or projecting or reacting. Being in full-contact with yourself means seeing all of it, and embracing yourself in the midst of everything you see. Seeing the rich and terrifying complexity of not only yourself but life all around you and choosing to laugh, choosing to be with it all.
LIFE IS A FULL-CONTACT SPORT.
A constant practice. Constant flux. Life-learning as an artist and an athlete as we dabble and dance and dream and do.
Some questions to consider:
Where do you see yourself getting hung up or stuck?
What motivates and inspires you?
Where does life feel like too much or too little?
What parts of your past are affecting your present?
How can you get out of the stands and into the game?
Here’s to living life, as parents, and as people, with FULL-CONTACT.
P.S. Feel fully free to contact me with any thoughts, questions or responses. Your engagement takes the experience of reading from thought-provoking to transformative. <3