Improvising parenthood

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.