If we want our children to belong to themselves*, to know and feel and get that they are awesome and worthy and enough and full of potential and possibility, that they do not need to fit into the box of the day, that it’s okay to be themselves (even if it feels uncomfortable or somehow different than what they see around them) — we must belong to ourselves. We can’t make them get this. (No one can make anyone feel/get/understand/do anything!) It’s something they will have to learn/grow themselves. Showing them it’s possible is powerful food.
We must show them, really and truly model it, that we know this for ourselves. That even on the days we’ve f**ked up the most and have said the wrong thing and have stumbled over any number of things and maybe life feels like a mess (and maybe even the mess to end all messes), or maybe it’s been a day where pain has ripped us to the core and anything we thought we knew has been blown to smithereens — we can remind ourselves, really remind ourselves, that life is messy. That there is no “there.” That there are no Fs at life. (And remind ourselves over and over and over again. Because sometimes we’ll forget.)
Sure, we’ll make mistakes and mess stuff up and things won’t work out (and sometimes terribly so). AND — there is the gift of space in considering it as learning, information. All of it. Even the most messy parts (especially the most messy parts). Pointing us in a new direction to go.
We can show what it looks like to come back to remembering this belonging, to (eventually) seeing through the haze and smoke and mirrors. We can allow ourselves to be human and have a moment of grace/space. And then maybe take a nap (a long one). And eventually, when we are ready, to get up, decide which foot to move next, and try again.
From this space of allowing our humanity and offering a smidgen (or more) of grace for ourselves, we will be the best teachers for our children (and, frankly, anyone else around). And seeds will be planted within our children of what it means and looks like to belong to themselves. And the seeds will be fed by our modeling.
*Thank you to Brene Brown and her book Braving the Wilderness for the idea of belonging to oneself. I haven’t finished it yet though have found the first few chapters thought provoking, really appreciating the idea of fitting in versus true belonging.