Witnessed by Our Children; Modeling Vulnerability & Humanness

Jun 11, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments

My children have watched me intimately since they were born, of course.

They know me in ways that nobody else does. For better and for worse.

They know how to track the subtle changes of light and shadow that move across my face in a single day. They know how to listen to the nuances in my voice.

They have watched me in my mundane maneuvering of everyday life, caring for them, for our hearth and home, and they have watched me sitting at the altar of my life—relentlessly committed to making love and truth the bottom line.

They’ve seen me triggered, confronted, and fervently willing to grow and evolve.

They’ve tasted firsthand the fruits of my devotion, my commitment to opening wider to everything that stands in the way of love.

They’ve witnessed me at my messiest, most unskillful, hormonal, and reactive, and they’ve witnessed my humbled remorse, apology, and accountability.

In being alive, we can’t help but keep growing up right alongside our children. As we steward our children’s growth, we ourselves grow up—emotionally, relationally, intellectually, professionally, financially, energetically, and spiritually.

As a single mother and their primary provider since they were small, my children have watched me meet growth edge after growth edge, ever-expanding in my dharmic capacity, as well as in my responsibilities as their mother.

In many moments over the years things have gotten tenuous for us financially, and my kids have gotten to watch me work this scary edge.

They’ve watched me work other edges of grief or disappointment as well, such as when I failed to publish my first book, after pouring my heart into it for years.

More than once, they’ve watched as I nursed a broken heart in the wake of cherished relationships changing form.

It’s beautiful and in some ways unavoidable, this way that our children get to intimately witness us as we meet the growing edges of our lives, honed by the fires that life relentlessly includes.

I could be wrong, but I also sense there’s something inherently more exposed, or more hopelessly out of control in the dynamic of solo parenting.

Clearly, there’s just more work, more to hold on one’s own, and in this more opportunities for overwhelm. But there’s also less space for compartmentalization, and fewer chances to hand off our kids when hard emotions or triggers are arising.

Unless we do a really good job of suppressing or repressing what’s genuinely present for us or postponing our authentic experience until later, then we get to be seen by our children in the wild realness and vulnerability that we include.

How powerful for them to see us face a true challenge, and all that this asks for us to embrace and work with—emotionally, mentally, circumstantially, and spiritually.

How extraordinary it is to simply model for our children this way we show up day after day to do what’s needed to provide for them, while simultaneously making medicine of our challenges.

Somehow we find the courage to keep letting go and to keep rising up, to surrender and to stretch, to leap and to land. And our kids watch us! They watch us so carefully. They watch our every move.

I don’t believe our goal as parents should be to model some culturally idealized image of success, significance, and impact, as much as to model humanness, in all the vulnerability, willingness, and courage our humanness includes.

As we transparently expose our own growing edges, our willingness to be messy as well as accountable, and our humble willingness to learn and grow from our mistakes, our children learn how to include and accept every aspect of their own humanness as well.

Of course, careful listening and attunement to our children’s boundaries—expressed and unexpressed—is essential. There are appropriate ways of honoring the developmental stages and boundaries of our children’s psyches, in what and how we choose to share and expose.

And yet sometimes what are kids are exposed to is messy and less than ideal, and that’s ok too. It’s ok that we’re human and limited and still growing. Life clearly loves to provide us with endless opportunities for self-compassion and self-forgiveness!

This willingness to be deeply seen and fully known by our kids goes both ways and sets a standard for relational intimacy in their lives. Not only do our children come to know us in a way that is an unspeakable gift, but they also let themselves be known.

My thirteen-year-old said to me recently: “You know me better than anyone in the whole world, Mom. You know the truth of my soul, you know my bad habits and things I’m working on, you know when I’m lying or sneaking, and you know who I really want to be.” Indeed.

As our children individuate and experiment with testing limits, and start making less than excellent choices, they know there is nothing they could ultimately do or say that is beyond the scope of our love.

They also know they are seen, tracked, contained, and held accountable for their actions. They know that while making mistakes is inevitable and to be expected, their capacity to learn from their mistakes is also expected.

This provides a model for evolution that wholeheartedly includes our humanness; that celebrates our willingness to make and grow from mistakes, as opposed to holding up some idealized projection of perfection.

When our kids have witnessed us continuously widening in self-love in the face of all the humanness WE include, then they know this ever-widening in love and acceptance extends to them as well.

What a vital discovery—to know that we can be loved and we can love, one another and ourselves, just as we are.  ✨

This old photo is a favorite from the archives of sacred family photo shoots with the ever-talented Ahri Golden. 💖

Facebook Comments

More Blog Posts

Praising Angels

One of the many gifts that came from my early childhood intimacy with traumatizing illness, was the way in which it opened my psychic centers to be able to “see” and “hear” energetic realities that remain elusive for most. While it took me a couple of decades to work...

Stewarding a New Way

As I witness all this outrageous trauma playing out on the global stage between man and woman, one of the most poignant components it illuminates for me is the power we hold in how we choose to steward our daughters and sons in these times. What is our part to play in...

Smoky Grateful Boredom Breakthroughs

My son Ezra and I had a glorious breakthrough about boredom a few days ago, and I’m inspired to share it with you, in case it just might be contagious. (And no, it wasn’t about boredom breeding creativity or genius or whatever it was someone wise once said, though I’m...

A Year of Leaning In

A couple of weeks ago Orionne and I celebrated our one year anniversary! What a meaningful threshold for us to cross. And what a profound year of leaning in it has been. We met (re-met) one year ago in July and immediately bowed in to a most extraordinary love. We...

“Free of Mom”~ Attachment & Surrender

The other morning I was sitting at my desk writing, when suddenly my son Ezra was beside me, tapping me on the shoulder in his fluffy red bathrobe. As I turned to greet his morning brightness, he surprised me by tumbling completely into my arms, so I had to move fast...

“But either way, isn’t Love always the answer?”

“But either way, isn’t Love always the answer?”

“But any way you look at it, isn’t Love always the answer?” That’s what my beloved partner said to me yesterday with fierce truth pouring from moist eyes, devotedly calling me back, in a moment when defense had gotten the better of me, to the common ground of our...

Graduation from a Life Chapter; The Endless Changing of Form

I’ve got some big news to share~ about a large life change in the works for my sweet family. One night, about 6 weeks ago, as I closed my eyes to go to sleep, I was suddenly struck with an unexpected lightning bolt of revelation. It went something like this: “And Now You will Move With The Children Back To Ashland.” It truly felt more like an announcement from my soul, than any kind of choice I was being offered to contemplate. I was shocked, confused, and somewhat triggered. I […]

Being Single~ Yearning, Prayer, Surrender and Fulfillment

Garethrockliffe.com I’m inspired to tell you a story from a recent bedtime conversation I had with my son, on the topic of being single, and the prayer for partnership. It’s a tender topic to personally speak and write about, but one that so many of us share in common. And so I humbly offer my voice to the collective conversation.I’ve been contemplating my own single womanhood and single motherhood a lot lately, in a particularly focused way. It’s interesting to consider the stigm […]

Nurturing Self-Love as Healthy Self-Image~ A Clothes-Shopping Story

Due to the vulnerable nature of this writing, this piece is published with explicit permission and blessings from my brave and generous daughter Arayla, who after reading it shared her hope that our story might serve in some small way~ especially other mothers and daughters, in navigating the steep challenge of healthy self- image and radical self-love in our culture. One of my most treasured delights as the mother of my beloved daughter Arayla, (newly 12 years old,) is the incredibly swee […]

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

It's difficult to know what to say in these times, but I'll give it a try.  While this horrifying drama is playing out on the world stage, I’m finding it useful to notice how this translates in my own privileged life. For it to get this crazy on the outer stage of our...