Like most people, the key to my emotional suffering is my attachment to what I desire for my life. In the past, if the outcome to a situation wasn't clear, I became negative and worried that the worst-case scenario was on its way. As many of you know, I finally found relief from much of my pain by embracing the mindset of maybe. Like a burst of sunlight, I realized that life could unfold many ways and maybe whatever I desired would come to fruition, maybe something else good would happen or maybe I would be OK no matter what. This turn of thought brought me ease and enabled me to live in the present moment. I was able to let go of my attachment to things happening one way, and I found myself open up to the entire playing field of life. However, I still struggled and suffered with uncertainty in one area of life: PARENTING.
I am attached to my children. My desire for my children to be well, happy and peaceful will not waiver. I felt the strength of this commitment especially last summer, when my oldest daughter sustained a head injury. I couldn't stand her pain and suffering and would have gladly taken it from her and upon myself, but of course I couldn't. My desire for her to recover was so deep it predominated over all other thought. As her healing required rest, I felt her disappointment at having to quit her summer job. My heart sank as she worried whether her memory would fully return and as she struggled to read, because her eyes would not stay on the page. There was no detachment for my heart and every minute she suffered, I suffered too.
I remember thinking to myself, Where is 'maybe' now when I'm so entrenched in pain and worry? Then, a quote that I read a few weeks earlier came to mind. It was, "Uncertainty is the refuge of hope." (Henri Frederic Amiel). And in that moment, some of my pain went away. I felt some space in my breath and remembered the unknown is my friend. I always believed that my daughter would heal, but my worry was so dense at times that I couldn't feel hope. This quote and the connection between maybe and uncertainty fed my spirit with more space for all of the possibilities. Maybe her healing would take some time, and that was OK. Maybe she would need therapy to heal, and maybe we would spend more time together as a family during her recovery. I found the courage to find the hope in the uncertainty that had proved so hard for me to handle. With maybe, I was able to hold my attachment to the future less tightly and with more ease and grace. I was able to accept where my daughter was in the healing process and saw that over time life would change and there was hope for new beginnings and new opportunities for her.
It has been over a year since her injury. Some symptoms remained for almost eight months, but she has made full recovery. I feel so grateful and blessed in this moment and hopeful for her future. I realize that my emotional hook to my children's well-being is a tricky place in my search for joy and peace in life. Yet at least with maybe, I can hold it in a wider place where there is more room for change, hope and possibility, through the daily challenges of parenting.
We all have tough moments in parenting. Every parent would take all the pain and disappointment from their children in a minute as their own. Unfortunately, as much as we feel their pain with them, we can't take it from them. But when we realize that most of these painful moments still offer each of us the hope that maybe everything will be OK, our suffering lessens. With maybe, more air enters into the room to help us breathe and get through the challenging times. It gives a more grounded perspective for us and our children for moving forward.
My heart opens to every parent trying to do the best today for their child. I hope maybe can ease your pain and help you remember that life will keep changing and so much is possible for each of our children.