6AM. I just made french toast for my middle son. I don’t do this every day. Today, he’ll be packing up a UHaul and driving to Toronto, moving to a new city to begin a new job, a new adventure, a new challenge, a new chapter in his life. Not such a big deal you might think. You the reader, or many of your friends for sure, have adult kids that live out of town. “Facetime is amazing” I keep hearing. Even with all the technology in the world, seeing my kid through a screen will not be the same as giving him a huge bear hug once a week when he’d come to Shabbat dinner. Ya, I may only have seen him once, maybe twice a week. But that was my normal. Everyone who knows me knows that I’d look forward to that sacred Shabbat night, not because I come from such an observant background, but for the fact that it was the one evening where our family gathered, as an entire unit to share a meal and stories about our week.
The tradition will continue, and hopefully, we’ll “Facetime” my son in some Shabbat evenings. There will be a new normal and we will all survive.
I write this with tears rolling down my face. I’m sad for me (selfishly) but here’s the thing; I’m so extremely proud of my kid that I could burst. He’s grown and transformed himself into a bright young adult, with skills and with vision that others are willing to pay for. He’s always been an independent kid; the one that I dropped off at day care when he was three and half years old, and on day one, he ran into the room yelling “bye mom”, never looking back. I was sad (selfishly) that he didn’t need me. He wasn’t holding onto my leg screaming and crying that he didn’t want me to go!! He was happy to go off and make friends and begin his new school life on his own. Did he not love me? Did he not need me? Turns out, he was just a bright, self-confident, friendly kid, ready to grow.
Confession: when I had a burnout about 20 years ago, I went to speak to a therapist who practiced Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). She was terrific. Helped me to (first) see what my issues were that were causing me stress and anxiety and (secondly) that it was about perspective and reframing the script that was playing out in my head. As yoga teaches us, the first step in any practice is awareness. Only once you acknowledge and accept ‘what is” (what your issues are), can you go on to address them, and flourish into your best self. I won’t go into the list of issues that were discussed, I’ll just focus on one. I distinctly remember telling her that one of my biggest fears was my kids not being near me. Physically, living far from me. I loved them so hard and so completely that I wanted them around me always. Today, my three boys are some of my favourite people. Top of the list of people that I enjoy spending time with. And the important thing is that that won’t change. The relationship and the bond isn’t going anywhere.
As I’ve studied my yoga philosophy and my therapeutic yoga (for anxiety!) over the last 6 years, I’ve learned and am now reminding myself that most of our anxiety come from either unresolved issues (read: baggage) that we are carrying from our past, or imagined realities that we create in our minds (read: scenes of how things might play out in the future).
Today, I return to my yoga teachings. I will breathe fully and completely, and remind myself that my “worst fear” 20 years ago was just me channeling all the emotional baggage that I carry from my upbringing, and imagining what it would be like to have to let one of my babies go off on his own. To be far from me, where I cannot (try to) protect him and (try to) take care of him. The reality in this moment is not quite as scary. My kid is running into the classroom of life, to have new experiences with new people. It’s a sign of confidence, of maturity and of independence. Compared to other life challenges that people are dealt, this is a healthy issue to learn from and deal with. Every experience and every emotion we feel is there to teach us something. One more observation; about us as parents. We also grow and mature and change with the years. The importance of working on our own issues, being aware of the emotional baggage that we’re carrying, finding tools to deal with our mental health, all of these things will enable US to not only bring up healthier kids, but to deal with all these (normal) life situations from a place of balance. “Responding” today with tremendous pride is different than “reacting” with fear and big dramatic emotions.
Yoga teaches us not to cling to anything. Everything is temporary. Don’t expect any specific outcome. Feel your feelings. Let things be
It’s a practice.