Last week winter and spring went to war. It look like spring had the upper hand mid-week, but winter had one last fight in him that plagued our world with dark clouds and snow. Oh but by weekend, spring sprung forth with all her glory and the world rejoices. The crocuses have poked their heads out and opened up. The sweet little flower poses for my camera and shimmers in the sun. At long last I sigh as I close my eyes and turn my face towards the sunshine. I drink it in and allow it to awaken my creativity that has been hibernating. I feel bolder in weather like this. Stronger after having to endure a dark and bleak time and knowing I am coming out on the other side of it.
Going into this winter my daughter and I were at odds. All winter long we have tiptoed around each other with a polite stiffness. One word or phrase sets off a war and we draw our swords and keep each other at a safe distance. It is I who wanders too close, who has stepped over that line drawn, forcing her to defend her ground. That shifted last weekend when a question struck a nerve causing a storm to brew between the two of us. In the midst of our clashing of words, truth was spoken. She risked it all to speak it. It slapped me hard and it forced me to swallow the words I had on the tip of my tongue. Dead silence filled the car as I allowed the truth to penetrate the fortress wall that I have had erected long ago. I put down my shield and I listened.
My greatest fear is not being close to my only daughter. That our relationship will be as strained as the one I have with my mother. I look at her at times and my heart breaks over the chasm that is between us. I tell her all of this, sitting in the driveway, her hand on the door handle. “That won’t happen if we learn to communicate”, she offers. I admit that I do not know where to begin. She sits for a minute, looking out her window. I started to become uneasy with the silence, until she said something that will stay with me forever. With wisdom beyond her years, she answers, “It starts with difficult conversations like this one.” She has taught her mother a valuable lesson.
Her words rang in my ears as I faced more difficult conversations later in the week. Instead of putting on my normal stance of deviance, I listened and although I did not necessarily agree, I heard. I heard him say, see me and understand me. Simple but true. All this time the difficult conversations that ended in war was because each side wanted to be seen and understood. When I feel misunderstood I completely retreated and the issue goes unresolved. Instantly feeling rejected and not worthy. It takes one person to lower the shield and take the chance. I took that chance and I was rewarded with true meaningful conversation.
I want more than anything to have healthy relationships. Healthy requires transparency, unscripted dialogue and at times, gut wrenching truth. We must waddle through all that mess to come out on the other side. For my daughter and the rest of my family and close friends this is worth the effort.
I know some of my relationships will not hold up under that kind of realness. If I pour too much in, it will buckle and damage what little stability that we have. Those relationships will never be anything more than artificial and tense. And although that saddens me, I am not willing to risk losing what little ground we do have. I also know that there are relationships that I have to keep up that guard. Some people you just don’t let get that close.
I learn something valuable from my children this week. It is so easy to get tangled up in the parenting that you forget that you may learn something from them. It took going through an honest and raw conversation that brought the truth painfully to my awareness. I am a force that they have to reckon with and as hard as it to face that, they cannot blossom unless I take a step back. I hate to compare myself to the cold harsh winter that kept me confined for the last few months, but I do have away of limiting others to keep in control. She stood her ground and I backed down and I like to think that brought her one step closer, because of the freedom she felt speaking her mind without a full-blown war.
The cold war has begun to thaw and we have turned the corner to a warmer relationship. Kind of reminds me of today, warm and sweet when last week it was frigid. I believe our relationship has started to blossom like those sweet flowers that opened up at first signs of warmth and gives me hope.