An hour ago my friend Letty was interviewing me for a podcast about improv and parenthood — two subjects near and dear to my heart. The conversation got intimate, fast. And I found myself saying, “My biggest fear is that I will lose my empathic connection with my daughter.”
There is power in confession, because 20 minutes after the podcast recording ended, I realized: In clinging to my connection with my daughter, I am trying to control it, and, in a way, to control her. And I can’t. And I don’t want to.
Losing the thread
It turns out, I am overly attached to the story of my relationship with my daughter, a story fueled by 4 years of behaviors that are suddenly starting to shift.
The story is that I get her. That she knows I get her. That I provide safety and comfort for her in the way I understand her.
What happens to my value as a mother, when I stop understanding?
What happens next
Here is what happens when I stop understanding:
- I breathe.
- I admit that I am human. I am not a God, no matter how much my daughter has made me feel like one, these last 4 years.
- I admit that I am not and cannot be perfect.
- I practice sitting with discomfort. It is a lifelong practice. Some days, it is really fucking hard.
- I write about my questions and my fears.
- I remember how much I love her and that my love is not dependent on understanding her, or being worshipped by her. It is not, in fact, dependent on anything.
- I remember that being a good mother isn’t about always understanding, it’s about trying to understand, and it’s about loving, no matter what.
- I feel better.
Nothing is permanent. The moment I don’t understand is followed by one in which I do. The ground beneath our feet shifts constantly, in parenting and in life. And so, we improvise.
It is all we can do.
And it is a lot.