I was all set to post this morning. I have a beautifully written blog with just the right number of words, mix of alliteration and mindfulness verbiage. I even found a great photo to go with it. I spent a great deal of time trying to say precisely enough while sparing details to protect those I love.
I can’t post it though because it’s all about my twelve year old and his absolutely normal (but none the less embarrassing) middle school struggles. It would devastate him if he ever found out. It would be a betrayal. I asked TJ his opinion, and he stated the obvious. He said that just because I have the desire to be vulnerable doesn’t mean I can force it upon others who may not. He is absolutely right. I have the need to vomit my feelings and ideas and struggles on the Internet because I know vulnerability leads to connection and that’s what I want more than anything. I also have a great (Catholic?) desire to confess. I want to share the real me and to be accepted and told I’m doing okay. And I’m super excited because I’m learning all sorts of amazing new stuff! (I may have an evangelical bone in me too.) But he’s right. I am the one who is craving intimacy and approval; therefore this blog has got to be about me, not about my family.
So what was this week for me?
It was shining light on the mushrooms.
That is an indirect quote from my therapist. She has said something like this numerous times, but I never really got it until now. Mushrooms like the dark, but once bright light hits them, they don’t grow as well. Watching sweet Max struggle with totally normal middle school stuff shined so much light on my mushrooms, all those dark parts of me that I sort of know are there, but I’ve been ignoring because I don’t know what to do with them. It’s those dark parts of me that are scared of pain (and for evolutionary reasons I don’t fully comprehend, feeling one’s offspring’s pain is more intense than one’s own).
There are other mushrooms too, like despite talking a big game, not intentionally creating space and time for the acceptance of and discussion about difficult emotions within the family. I see this starts with example from the chiefs, but TJ and I come from traditional 20th century homes, where whether or not we heard the specific words, “man up” is the general idea we received regarding managing sadness and grief. The light that is shining on these mushrooms say, “This has got to stop!” as do any other mixed up old-school messages we may be sending unintentionally about masculinity and femininity and communication.
I am able to see through Max’s middle school struggles that despite putting “mama” in my title, this mama has been a little lazy when it comes to asking tough questions and being patient and open enough to wait firmly for the responses. I don’t particularly like being uncomfortable, but middle school and middle school topics are uncomfortable. Being the mother of a middle-schooler is uncomfortable. Like every stage is with a firstborn, it is foreign, but unlike other developmental stages, this one brings with it some baggage. I didn’t particularly like middle school either– learning to be an adult is awkward and hard! But, like I do on my cushion, I will practice sitting with the discomfort. I will not turn away from the light that is mirroring my own fears, insecurities and shortcomings.
Seeing him struggle reiterates and reinforces the importance of all the inner work I am doing practicing mindfulness– attempting to be present, open and curious. It reminds me that the practice is not just for me, for the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The urgency of middle school reminds me that the time to deal with my mushrooms is now, if not for my sake, then for the sake of all my little men.