child comes into the house crying. She has a scraped and bleeding
knee. She tells you what happened and how she got hurt. You answer
her questions and give her a hug. Then you walk away, leaving her
crying and bleeding, and go back to what you were doing.
you imagine doing this? As a mom?! That’s not the way most moms are
wired. It’s a mother’s job to make things better. Right? To take
care of things. Fix things. Get the bandaids, bring the kleenex,
solve the problems. Moms are not supposed to just walk away …
leaving their children still hurting … to fend for themselves …
heal their own wounds … solve their own problems … make their own
decisions … manage the consequences of their choices … learn to
take care of themselves … be motivated to prevent future injury by
changing their actions … okay, wait a minute. Those last few things
sounded important. Those are good things to learn.
my children in times of struggle or pain has been the hardest lesson
I’ve had to learn as a mother. All I ever wanted for my kids was
for them to be happy and healthy. And yet our most profound learning
and growth comes through our struggles, our challenges, our tough
decisions, and our physical and emotional pain. When parents step in
and help too early or too often, they rob their children of important
and often essential lessons.
we are pushed to our limits, we learn the most about ourselves and
the path we were meant to be on. When we think we can’t handle any
more, and then we do, we learn that we are more capable and have more
inner strength than we realized. When we keep pushing stubbornly in
one direction until things start getting worse, rather than better,
we can finally accept the need to switch paths. When we have trouble
managing our finances and money gets really tight, we learn what’s
really important to us and how little we actually need to get by.
complicating factor is that the help offered might be the wrong kind
of help. When trying to solve a problem, I typically put myself in
the other person’s shoes. I then figure out what kind of help would
better. But each person has his own insecurities, concerns, and
goals. The things that would make me feel more comfortable and secure
might not resolve the key problems for him/her…and might actually
aggravate his/her situation.
each other is an important part of family life. There are times when
we really do need a back to lean on, a shoulder to cry on, or a
cushion to fall on. And being able to help, to really make a
difference in another person’s life, is intensely rewarding. It’s
also important for kids to know how to ask for
help, and for their parents to realize how much courage that takes.
our kids ask, we really want to be able to say “yes”…and we do
that as often as we can. But there are times when “no” is the
most loving and helpful answer. I’m still working on learning that
is something humbling about taking something you already know how to
do and trying to learn a new way to do it. Sometimes this is forced
on us, due to an injury or other disability, and other times it is a
conscious choice…to expand our awareness, skills, and abilities.
had this experience before when I taught myself to knit left-handed.
I had decades of experience knitting right-handed, but as soon as I
turned my knitting around, I was suddenly a novice…again. I learned
patience and humility, and was reminded of the benefits of taking new
things slowly – adding to your expectations as the motions start to
feel more natural. As far as problems, mistakes, and frustrations go,
most of them resolve on their own with additional practice. As I’ve
regularly told my knitting students, we’ll just worry about the
problems that won’t go away.
I decided to kick off my shoes nearly two years ago (literally, and
for as long and as much as possible), I figured I would need to allow
time for my feet to toughen up, but overall I thought going barefoot
would be pretty straight forward. I mean, sheesh, I already knew how
to walk. I’ve been doing it since I was nine months old. (It’s
true. I was an early walker.) So how hard could it be to just kick
off my shoes?
it turns out that barefoot walking is not the same as shoe walking.
In fact, the only thing the two really have in common is that you are
upright and putting one foot in front of the other. Aside from that,
I can point out far more differences than similarities.
two biggest differences are stride length and how your forward foot
hits the ground. When wearing shoes, we learn to take long strides
and hit the ground with our heel first. When walking barefoot, your
stride is shorter and the ball of your foot is what comes in contact
with the ground first…your heel coming down last.
learned pretty quickly that walking barefoot was not just about
kicking off one’s shoes. I had to abandon my old ways of walking
and become a novice again. I found myself reading books and watching
videos to learn how to walk barefoot. As frustration and confidence
have taken their turns over the past couple of years of my
barefooting journey, I’ve had to tell myself the same things I
regularly tell my knitting students: Relax. You can do it. It’s
easy once you learn how. Find your natural rhythm and it will become
kicked in again recently when I kept getting early-stage blisters on
the balls of my feet, making it painful to walk barefoot. This has
been an ongoing challenge. Clearly this was a problem that wouldn’t
go away until I learned something new and changed how I was walking.
After a day or two of wallowing in my frustration and sore feet, I
took a deep breath and did some more research.
problems seem to be related to poor posture, over-striding, and horizontal friction
when the ball of my foot connects with the ground. (Thanks
to Steven Sashan of Xero Shoes for the helpful info on his website!)
So it’s time to take a couple of steps backwards and walk shorter
distances until the adjustments I need to make start feeling more
natural and become second nature.
we learn new things…sometimes more literally than others.
thought we would be firm. We thought we would be able to teach our
new puppy to sleep downstairs on his own. We are the humans. He is
the dog. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Or so we thought.
bringing our new puppy home, we made up a bed for him in the kitchen.
Our three kids and I took turns sleeping near him or with him, in an
attempt to help him feel more comfortable in his new surroundings.
After a couple of nights of this, it was time to work on a more
long-term solution. My longing for a full night’s sleep was
becoming quite compelling. It was time to be firm. Kids in their own
bed, me in mine, and the puppy in his. I put the pup in his bed and
said good night.
didn’t take long for him to start crying. Cries of loneliness,
fear, and abandonment. He was barely 9 weeks old. Taken from his mom
sooner than either of them cared for. Separated from his sister at
the pet store…the only family bond he had left. And now he was in a
strange house with strangers, who have abandoned him to sleep alone,
in an empty room, through the dark, lonely night.
puppy seems to like being with us,
I thought while lying in bed listening to his cries. He’ll
get used to sleeping on his own. That will never happen if I give in
now. But he likes being held, cuddled, and comforted. He just wants
to be with us. To not feel so alone. He’s so small and so young.
Give it a bit longer and see if he settles down. Dum dee dum dee dum.
Nope. I can’t just let him cry. What if he wakes the kids? He’s
still getting to know us. Still adjusting to his strange, new home.
He sounds so sad! How long has he been crying? Only five minutes.
Yikes! This is going to be a long night.
went downstairs. He was SO happy to see me. What a welcome for
someone he just met a couple of days ago, and had only been apart
from for five minutes. I picked him up and took him to the couch. If
I sleep with him on the couch, it’s not like I’m giving in. The
couch is different from our bed. He’ll know that.
took a little while for him to settle down, but soon he was cuddled
next to me. What
if I roll over on him? He’s so darn little…just 1-1/2 pounds.
I’ll have to learn to be cautious. To be aware of him even when I’m
asleep, or when I’m just waking up. My mom-radar is already
switched on for the kids. I’ll just fine-tune it to include
soon happened for both of us, but it wasn’t a restful night for me.
The couch is not my preferred bed.
we approached bedtime on the next night, I wasn’t thrilled about
sleeping on the couch again. My fatigue was a growing issue that
needed addressing. And so, a decision was made. I needed a decent
night’s sleep. The way to achieve that was to give this young puppy
what he so desperately needed…comfort, contact, and a sense of
security. Booboo, who now finally had a name, would be sleeping with
us. And so it went for the next fifteen years.
says that this was the first reality-check for him regarding the dog.
The awareness that this puppy might end up being our dog, rather than
the kids’ dog. Years later when the kids grew up and moved out,
one-by-one, and didn’t take Booboo with them, his suspicions were
finally confirmed. I, on the other hand, knew from the beginning that
Booboo would be with me and Chuck for the distance. As much as he was
a family dog, the long-term bond was between Booboo and me.
Booboo settled in, we began teaching him things that were necessary
for us to get along well together. Things like doing his piddles and
poos outside or on the newspaper, not biting too hard when playing,
and not barking excessively. At the same time, we realized that he
was teaching us as well…bedtime for him was 9pm, don’t play too
rough, remember to fill his water dish, and take him along when we go
on an outing. As the years went by, it became difficult to say for
sure who was teaching whom. Knowledge and learning was happening both
ways. Did we teach him or did he teach us? Regardless of the
direction of the lesson, learning was definitely happening…and in
hindsight, it was I who benefited the most. Some of the lessons were
direct from Booboo to me, and yet many more were indirect, through
shared experiences and challenges that I would not have encountered
definite bond has evolved between dogs and humans. It got its start
some 50,000-ish years ago when dogs agreed to be the first
domesticated animal. When a dog joins a human family, he takes his
place within the pack and strives to achieve and maintain a strong,
positive relationship with his human companions. Dogs have learned to
trust, depend on, collaborate with, protect, and love their human
families. And just as each human has individual needs, quirks,
personality traits, and a unique perspective on life and its
situations, so do dogs. We can learn much from each other, if we take
the time to see the world through the other’s eyes.