Sunday, November 11, 2012

Acceptance Is the Key to Parenting

... unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy.
-- Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 449 (3rd Ed.)
How many times and in how many ways, must I be told this golden rule, before I let it sink in? Acceptance is the magic word. If I can surrender to the moment exactly as it is, I am in good shape. It is when I resist, that "problems" arise. For example, this last weekend my oldest daughter got her tongue pierced. She is 18 years old. She does not need my permission any longer for things like this. So she got it done. To be honest she has really never needed my approval. I raised a daughter who did not seek my approval. That is a miracle. All I ever wanted in my dysfunctional family of origin, was the approval of my parents, especially my father. And now I have raised this child who only needs to approve of herself. So she got her tongue pierced without my approval.
My husband and I were intentional about raising our daughters to have self love and self expression. From the moment my kids were born, they had a sign in their bathroom that said, "I approve of myself". I met a woman very long ago, before I was married, that said that it should be the law that each person had to tell themselves that they approve of themselves, 10 times a day. She thought that this would transform the world. I loved the idea. So, I began to tell myself 10 times a day that I approved of myself. This was at age 24. I was very young, and very confused about how to have a happy life. It helped. So, when I started having kids at age 31, this is the signage that I placed in their view every day: "I approve of myself".
It has worked for both of my daughters. They are remarkable in every way. Back, to acceptance. So, my oldest daughter pierced her tongue this last weekend. She called me to tell me after it was done. She said that she wanted to give me a heads up before I saw it. I lost my breath for a moment. Then, I thanked her for allowing me some time to digest this news, before I saw her. Lots of emotions floated over my body (fear, terror, doubt, admiration). After I caught my breath, I finally settled on the emotion of love. I told her I loved her and I was glad that she was safe and sound. I also told her that I was glad that the tongue will close up quickly if she decided to remove the piercing. She said that she knew this, as she had done the research. Acceptance, in the moment, was my reaction. This is a long way from the times, that I would cry, plead and stress over what my mom would think, what my sister would think, what the neighbors would think. It just doesn't really matter what other people think. What matters is what I think and what my daughter thinks and what my daughter needs to do to live her life purpose.
My goal is to be relatively happy. The way to happiness is to accept life on life's terms 100% of the time. Even if I get sick, have an accident, a loved one dies, or I lose my job. Acceptance will keep me in love, in life and in good company with those around me. Intolerance, judgment and regret will keep me separate and alone. I don't want that. I am taking this lesson to yoga. Each morning I am different. In yoga, some mornings I can stretch and stretch, some mornings, not so much. I am magnificent in my imperfection. I am on the mat, following the next direction of the instructor who knows that what I really need to do is learn how to breathe through all the poses that she calls on me to do. I am magnificent in my

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