Transforming Relationships

Johanna, who is my daughter, is the antithesis of me. I have always been the typical clean freak, always. I am also very organized. I needed to be, I was raising a lot of kids. All of those kids had appointments: school, braces, counseling, sports and then us as a family.

Johanna was a different child. She chose to live her life in a tornado, touching everything and anything and never quite understanding boundaries. She never developed a boundary with me, and of course, that responsibility is mine because I named her after me.

She fascinates me, obviously, I write of her often.

Something in me has changed. I’ve learned acceptance. All of the time that I wanted Johanna to change and for all of the time, I wanted her to be like me, were wasted efforts. She is who she is and who she wishes to be. She is perfectly capable of making those decisions.

Her life has been very hard on her. She struggled for more than five years to gain custody of her child. She was relentless. It was more difficult for her because she waits until the last moment to get things done. She gets them done, but often, not on time. It’s been eighteen months since she won custody – and finally – normalcy is returning to her life.

JB Collection

Her car is full of the debris of living. I’ve never seen her drive a clean car. She knows where most things are and she will produce it for you, you just have to ask. In fact, that is the thing with her, you just have to ask. She will give you anything you wish for, if it is within her power. Johanna’s superpower has always been love.

Her mothering is nothing like my own mothering. On one of her trips here to Florida, she told her boys to pack toys in their back packs. She packed everything else for them in the luggage. I know lots of mothers who are much more practical and would not allow kids to pack their own back packs. She believes it fosters independence and also, the kids don’t blame her if something is forgotten. I appreciate how she values independence in her sons. She also spends most of her time with her sons. If she isn’t working, she is with her sons. She requires a great deal from her sons and yet, she requires nothing. She is an unusual mother.

Part of my evolution this year is realizing that because I am frustrated with her, I judge her harshly. I realized that I needed to suspend my judgment of my daughter. I need to let her be who she is without my opinion encroaching into her life.

I wanted to see her, not my opinion of her.

Authenticity suddenly seemed more valuable than ever. I’ve worked hard to stop my own judgments from clouding my relationships. I was hoping that this work would help my relationship with Johanna.

It did. I am surprised at how much removing past emotions changes judgment. When judgment changes, being in the now becomes possible. This is what happened for us. Our relationship transformed.

Intellectually, I know that because people love to be right, they will create beliefs out of bad experiences. If I didn’t have fun at a picnic, I decide that picnics are bad. I may always dislike picnics.

They say that this is a survival mechanism, we have to be able to recognize danger, so our memory tells us what is bad. In this world, the one we live in now, we don’t need the same urgency that we did thousands of years ago. Our need to label what represents danger should not be based experientially. For example, a conman may give you a good experience while stealing your money. This world is so much more complex than the world that gave us fight and flight instincts.

I have to remind myself, that all relationships can have good and bad and bad doesn’t mean that you must condemn or end the relationship.

Students Falling Behind: SO WHAT?

The educators are saying “they are falling behind and it breaks our hearts”. Why, if everyone is falling behind then why can’t we do this whole year over again?

Neonbrand from Unsplash

I think people forget that we decide on the structure of our society. If we need to change a very small piece, then we change that piece.

An entire nation of children falling behind in education calls for an educational reset. It takes time to work on skills and there are no shortcuts to the acquisition of skills. You have to practice them. If we don’t want to lose the skill, we will have to take the time. We don’t get a shortcut just because the pandemic has caused changes.

The failing grades will disproportionately affect kids who live in poverty stricken homes. There is a lot of hype about how kids are not able to access computers and wi-fi. There is not a lot of resolution. Again, skills acquisition is a social construct; human beings make the rules. Human beings can change the rules. If everyone is failing, then reset the school year at day one and start again. But start again with the wisdom of the pandemic: do we need classrooms all the time? What is an appropriate schedule for children? 

Zach Vessels from Unsplash

It goes without saying that the disruption of the pandemic this year has ruined a stratosphere of activities that we have come to expect. Our expectations do not mean that the activities are correct, or appropriate.

We need to change with a changing world and if nothing else, we can use the pandemic to show us how much needs to change.

Those who believe children are failing have got it all wrong. It is us, the adults, who are failing. Children did not construct the educational system. Children did not design the classroom or the social system that is operating today. As a matter of fact, the school year was designed around the agrarian calendar to help farmers use their children in the fields to help with planting. How is that the truth in the twenty first century? Why would we continue to have a system that is based on farming?

Our social structure is a shame. The educational system is proving that. Colleges scrambling for tuition and fees that they don’t earn. School systems scrambling for tax money that it takes an MBA to understand in complexity. It’s all a shame and in some very serious cases it’s a sham too.

If you question my opinion, ask yourself this: “why are we failing in this pandemic?” What is making us end up at the failing end of the effect of the pandemic?

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