Improvising parenthood

Me and my daughter, Alison

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.

If you liked this, you might also like this…

Talking with Betsy Stover about being mentored by Amy Poehler, improvising marriage, home ec and more

It’s all improvisation

A love letter to my 4-year-old daughter, aka, “Brave Girl”

3 thoughts on “Improvising parenthood

  1. Maybe part of what’s happening is her own understanding of herself is evolving? Part of growing up is exploring who we are, what we care about, what we believe, and a smart, curious girl like Ali is probably going to ask questions about herself and the world for many years to come. Just like her mommy.
    You’ve given yourself room to explore and evolve, and to change your understanding of who you are and what you want, so I’m confident you can do the same for Ali.


  2. And this? This is good advice in life in general, not just parenting:
    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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s