Thursday, June 6, 2013

Seeing Yourself

This afternoon, worn out from too many warnings, I raised my voice and instructed, firmly, and for the 10th time, that it was unacceptable to throw action figures down the stairs. I really laid into her in my matter of fact, truthful, and logical parenting style. I was eloquent, loud, and clear. I felt that I had been the previous 9 times as well, but that didn't really matter at the moment.

As she always does when I'm scolding her, Willow puffed out her lower lip in a classic pout and stared angrily at the floor. To be sure I'd made my point, I gripped her little chin and turned it up so she was looking in my eyes. Then I said, "Do you understand me, Willow? What did I say about throwing toys down the stairs?"

And then she shattered my illusions.

She mimicked me. Not only did she attempt to repeat back what I'd said, she affected her voice, changed her posture, and gestured wildly. According to her, I was no bit the collected centurion I thought I was. I was a fingering-wagging monster that growled a lot. There were lots of shouts! And declarations! And between each of them, she'd squint her eyes and give me her best death stare (Awww, baby's first death stare).

Thrown a bit, I looked up and quickly to the mirror. There. I caught my still hunched shoulders, my furrowed brow. Damn it all, but I still had my pointer finger out and ready to go a-wagging!

She was right. She saw me in that moment more completely than I saw myself. And it was unnerving.

I tend to pride myself on my healthy grasp on self-awareness. In my opinion, it is acceptance of self and others that is the key to happiness. So, I spend a lot of time thinking about how to open my mind and show myself truth. I employ logic, and look hard in all physical and metaphysical mirrors. But today I'd failed, and I didn't even realize it.  As that truth hit home and I saw my self-assessment was wrong or perhaps just plain absent,  it felt extra tough because it was both a failure within the structure of how I hope to parent and within my evolution to become fully aware of who, what and how I am. It kind of sucked.

I'll tell you a secret, though. Tinged with hindsight, these moments are actually the very best part of endeavoring toward knowing yourself fully. They force your hand - demand that you look - LOOK! - at yourself, and that you  recognize that you are not your best. That you gave less than you could, were less than you could be. It is in those spaces that progress is made.

More power to you if you spot each low moment on your own. Me? I'm thankful that there are extra eyes watching me - reminding me who I really am. Holding up mirrors when I'm caught hiding behind something. Helping me fight illusion.

Find humility in your bad moments. Be thankful for the watchers who help you to grow. Become a watcher yourself. And for crying out loud, stop wagging your finger so much - nobody likes that.

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