Monday, January 7, 2013


There is a myth every parent lives: We are sufficient to every task. It's a myth that our culture both negatively and positively reinforces. As though we don't really need others to support us and make things work; as though we are ever perfect and not human.

When my daughter was 13, she gave me a letter to mail, something she was very excited about and very expectant to receive a reply. She placed it in my care as I was heading out to a conference; I reassured her that I would put a stamp on it and mail it out. I got in my car, and entered the world of the conference. Today, I found that letter, unstamped, in a stack of pamphlets from the conference. Six years later.

The sense of insufficiency and guilt boiling up in me took my breath away. I didn't remember to mail it ~~ it had fallen off my parental radar. Finding it gave me pause to wonder how many other things I hadn't done. The wave of guilt swelled.
Rather than allow the guilt of my insufficiency and inadequacy overwhelm, I consciously changed directions. How many times had I been there for her? How many letters and packages had I mailed? How often had I sat with her while she was sick or sad or excited or anxious or....? The list goes on. In the bigger picture, that one unmailed letter is pretty small.

What I chose was balance ~ not diminish the importance of the letter to her or my breach of trust yet not let the guilt overwhelm me. I chose to forgive myself.
One of the greatest balancing acts of parenthood is to love and support my daughter while allowing myself to be human; insufficient, perhaps, but loving her as fully and completely as possible.

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