Finding Myself in the Madness

I agreed to take my 3 small children, one not yet out of diapers, into the wild (well, not exactly – it was a homeschoolers group campout at a State Park) for 3 days of camping – no Dad. 2 days into it, we discover that there are severe thunderstorms storms on the rise. 90% of our group packed up and bailed. My kids begged to stay and I acquiesced. Was I off my rocker? Possibly, but actually I was following my intuition which told me we were in no danger. Someone called me a warrior, but I questioned whether I was that, or just mad. It was not an easy weekend, but it was not overwhelming. It just was. We had a great time and the physical challenge was not over the top. What I did realize, however, was how often I made choices strictly to avoid disappointing my children – often to my detriment. We agreed as a family that I would take them without Dad if they agreed to help when I asked. I can’t count how many times I would need their help and they would ask if they could run off, go hiking, go bike riding or whatever and I would say, “Sure.” I would then make dinner while watching a wandering toddler and having to pee so bad I could barely stand it – all so my children wouldn’t be disappointed. As the weekend unfolded, I began to realize how often this pervaded my decision making. They grand finale was when we were beginning to break camp. I was tanked. I was so tired and ready to get home, but when someone offered to take them hiking, I allowed it. I assumed they would be gone 30 or so minutes, but did I lock that in? Nope. I didn’t specify, I just let them go, knowing they would have a great time. So, my little toddler and I began to break camp. As time clicked away and it reached the 2 hour mark with no kids, I began to get angry. I was angry at them for not coming back. On the tail of that, I realized that I had no place getting angry at them. It was my choice. I chose not to ask them to stay. I chose to try to avoid their disappointed faces. I chose to refrain from putting a time limit on their fun. I chose to suffer. I then realized how often I do this in order to avoid their disappointment.

Is this martyrdom? No. This comes from is a profound love of my children and a true desire to have them experience everything they want in the life. That is a genuine motivation. However, I’m getting lost in the madness. That love of my children needs to extent to me, as well. Self love has been my biggest challenge and this is yet another experience from which to learn. And what of disappointment? Is that such a bad thing to experience? It’s part of life. We don’t always get what we want and thank God for that! More times than I can count I have suffered disappointment only to later realize that it was a true and generous gift of the Universe to deny me what I thought I wanted. What is most important is to manage our reaction to the disappointment. Are we flexible? Accepting? Unattached to the outcome? If I can help my children learn that, then that is a greater gift than to try to protect them from ever experiencing disappointment – especially at my own peril. My most important lesson through all of this is to remember that I am part of the experience. I am part of the equation. I am.

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