Spotting the unicorn
Posted Mar 21, 2015 by Jacquie Robison
Peace. I find myself on a daily quest for the sweet sanctuary of peace. I’m not just talking about peace and quiet (although that sounds really, really good too), but just good ole peace. Peace of mind. The peace that comes from the absence of worry. And, let me tell you something I’ve learned since becoming a parent; this is like spotting a unicorn. A parent worries. Not mind-numbing worry or fear, but just the worry that comes from wanting the best for your child — wanting to protect them from harm and shield them from hurt. Worrying about how to best prepare them and strengthen them and encourage them to find their joy.
Growing up, when I would fret about something — any of the every day things that most kids worry about — <<will I get an invite to the sleepover? did I study enough for the test? will I make a fool of myself at the lip-synch competition?>> my mom would offer up “worry is interest before it is due”. As a slightly awkward teenager, I didn’t find this advice super-helpful (in order, the answer to the worries listed above were YES YES NO — although, to be fair, this opinion of my performance is clearly highly subjective. I thought I made a fabulous Tina Turner).
Today, as an adult and a parent, I realize that my mom had great advice. Just not advice that she took. I now understand the truth in my dad’s comment during the holidays, when everyone (I have 3 sisters and 2 brothers) comes together loudly and messily with our own families at my parents’ home. My father looks around and says contentedly, “All my kids are home. I’ll get my first good night of sleep this year.” I’m aware that being a parent involves experiencing a certain degree of worry all the time. That’s kind of part of the job description. For any parent. Not just a parent of a child with cerebral palsy.
The other day, Sofia asked me “will everything be ok when I’m at school?” I followed up asking “What kinds of things do you mean?”, and she said “Oh, I just mean all of it.” I told her it would be another day of learning and activity. She came back with “Will everything be ok tomorrow?” I thought about this — knowing it would be easy to just say ‘yes’ and be done with it. Instead, I said, ‘well, no one can see the future, not even mom. But, I can tell you that no matter what happens and what comes along, good or bad, we’ll figure it out. But, don’t you worry about things — that’s mom and dad’s job, ok? Your job is to have fun, be curious and go on adventures.” That got a big smile and a nod — high praise from her inquisitive and persistent self.
The peace I do find is in little moments when my mind and heart are still. It can be watching Sofia play Xbox together with her dad or seeing her concentration and delight in doing yoga with my sister. Listening to her play dress-up with a friend from school and rejoicing in their laughter. Recognizing that she is surrounded by love and that she knows it, brings me peace. I am grateful for these many moments of peace.