"We're all just walking each other home." - - Ram Dass

Thursday, October 16, 2014

On Showing Up

September is definitely over.

My son's toe has bust through his back-to-school shoes,
the lunch boxes already have a permanent unidentified sticky substance in their corners,
and our pencil erasers are worn and uneven.

As I watch my daughter fight hard with some of the academic challenges that come with growing up,
I've seen some of myself wrestling within her, down to the way she is timid to start to work on anything she's not sure she can master.
Stumbling, frustrating herself by not getting it perfect the first time, wanting to retreat before she let's anyone down.

So, we've been working on incorporating the concept of failure into our daily life.
A word that honestly is hard for me to even say out loud.

Every night at the dinner table in addition to everyone taking a turn to tell the family the days "highs" and "lows",
we've added a new element - sharing a "sizzling success" and a "fantastic flop or failure".
Getting everyone talking about not only the best and worst parts of the day but the best and worst of our own performance or attempts.

This exercise has proven even harder for me, who for a lifetime has tried to hide failure like it was my job, than it has for my kids.
The way they are slowly learning to embrace the inevitability of failure has really been teaching me,
and reminds me of something my son said to me just the other day.

I had shown up to the school pick up lines one afternoon fresh from a shower I had squeezed in after work -
wet hair, no makeup, yoga pants and a ratty old sweatshirt.
My son, who now in 3rd grade is growing into the opinions of others.
He's sensitive now to new wavelengths of social protocol like he never has been before.
So I apologized for my disheveled appearance.

He just shrugged, tossing his backpack in the car door,
{after all, long gone are the first days of school meandering walks to and from school rain or shine.}
He caught my eye in the rearview mirror and said,

"I don't care Mom.  What I care about is that I can always count on you showing up."

Showing up.
There is such power and needed strength in that showing up.
To come, imperfect into the world,
ready to experience and to be challenged by the day.

And as my kids are teaching me so well - that's all we are really in control over.  The showing up.

It doesn't matter if we look pretty doing it,
work harder than everyone else just to achieve it.
It just matters that we are brave enough to show up.

My daughter cannot force her brain to make words into letters.
I cannot by shear determination make the ingredients on the counter turn into a kick ass meal.
My son cannot magically be good at everything his friends deem are "cool".

But we show up.
We try.
We fail.
We open ourselves up to try again.

And that is where bravery lies.

In the vulnerability to show up -
looking like a hot mess,
being open, after ten days of dismissal, for that pass on the field,
or by sounding out every letter you need.

In the opening up yourself and embracing the risk of defeat -
that's really the only way to measure how we succeed.