Friday, April 3, 2009

Faith, Trust And Children

Quite a while ago and at the urging of my Zen teacher I gave up "wanting" certain things for my daughter.  She is grown (a whole 26 and has been living at the other end of the country for the last 4 years).  Her mother thinks she is underemployed and has scads of potential that she isn't using.  But in truth this isn't any of her mother's business.  I only get one life to live for myself and that's my own.  The news flash is everyone else gets to live their own life as they see it.

In the past this wanting has created a kind of unspoken tension.  All my questions and suggestions imply that she is somehow not doing the right thing or that she is broken and needs fixing.  Not a particularly helpful or supportive message to be sending out to someone you love.  Yet that's what we do sometimes in the name of love, in wanting to help, in thinking we know best.  We get confused and have a hard time seeing these close personal relationships very clearly.   It often takes a little bit (or a lot) of pain before the picture comes into focus in the view finder.  Confusion and attachment can make a bitter brew that choke our relationships and cause suffering all round.

After a painful kind of visit last summer and a lot of work I began to let  go of my expectations and desires for her.  She has a full and busy life and we came to accept that it is okay to talk to her every two weeks.  We could accept that she is not a big phone chatter and doesn't feel the need to check in and talk about all the details of her life.   And there seems to be  less implied pressure in the new improved phone conversations.  I like to think that the lack of grasping, of needing her to be a certain way can be felt across the miles and makes for pleasanter conversation. 

The really interesting thing to me is that she called this morning to ask me to read a covering letter and resume she is using to apply for a new job.  Finally time and circumstances have taken their course (that all my prodding could not make happen) and she has had enough of her current job as a cook.  I am not  promoting magical thinking but it is interesting how when we let go of some attachment, the energy can change and circumstances may change in surprising ways.  And through all the hard work I've put in around this issue, I am truly okay with whatever happens.  

So I could tell her that it was a really good resume and cover letter that she'd written and that I'd hire her even if she wasn't my daughter!  She then pointed out a couple of things that might be good to add and I agreed and offered a little input.  Then she went on her way to put in her 11th hour application.

As my friend the monk pointed out my daughter is employed, looks after herself, has lots of friends and is happily making a life for herself.  Sure she has her own karmic little package, but we all do.  And that is up to her.  So I offered my input when asked for it and wished her luck with her application.  I look forward to hearing the next chapter and know whatever it is that happens, the universe is as it should be, and something greater is always working itself out.  The ability to rest in that place is the true meaning of faith and trust.


  1. Can you please write a little handbook for all mothers or, at least my mother? :P

  2. Ha! Cute! ah, mothers and daughters..... so much good Dharma work to do there, but so rich and rewarding! (oh ya and did I mention painful) I encourage you to be brave and talk to your mother about "things". It is hard and I know I was encouraged by my Zen teacher to say to my daughter (and my mother) what I thought I could not say. It is always a risk but we take it in order to do the work of the heart that needs to be done. Of course, not in anger and always with the desire to improve and deepen the relationship. It's not easy and it's on going work as you will see with the continuous posts about my mother Wishing you good luck and courage!

  3. I ditto the idea from Ruth! I think you could write a wonderful e-book to sell on line for those of us who "struggle" with/in the mother/daughter relationships, sharing your experiences of vulnerability, authenticity and wisdom with your mother and your daughter.

    My heart was touched by your blog today. I don't have children, but I am experiencing the same thing with my mother. When I let go of my expectations somehow the relating changes. As I'm discovering it's really just basic acceptance that we all want, the space to be who we are, the way we are...

    With gratitude...

  4. This is just so lovely and honest! Thank you for your courage to just speak Truth!!

    Yesterday I went to a meeting at my sons high school and had to let go of the idea of a path straight into a 4 year college. That was my goal for my son, my bragging rights... But not his path. He wants to do a 2 year community and then transfer to a 4 year....I think to myself, everything is as it should be;-)

    Peace Love and Blessings,

  5. Thanks so much for your input. Yes Christine, that's it in a nutshell, acceptance. When I think about the people that accept me just as I am. It's as if they make me feel more comfortable in my own skin and bring out the best in me.

    And yes Janaki "the bragging rights" as you so bravely call it, isn't it the truth? It seems our generation of parents really got into the trophy kid thing! Perhaps all generations do this in some way?