February 3, 2011

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Have you ever had an emotion jump out of no where and surprise you? I’m in the business of emotions. I study them, listen to them, and coach myself and others on how to experience them in the most productive ways. So my emotional reaction to my youngest daughter today surprised me as much as it did her. Here’s the story:

Yesterday morning one of my longtime clients came in. We had a productive session, at the conclusion of which, she asked how I was doing. I briefly filled her in at which time she volunteered that a friend of hers had recently become an empty nester. My client shared that it had been a difficult time for her friend and asked me how I was doing as empty-nesterhood approaches. I assured her that I feel really good. I feel engaged, fulfilled and prepared for my next stage. I admitted that August would be difficult for me but that I would be ok. My thoughts were honest and complete.

Fast forward six hours…that’s right, just six hours later, my youngest daughter called on her way home from school. She had gotten out early for the feared and highly anticipated “2011 Great Houston Blizzard.” Stacy informed me that school had indeed been cancelled for Friday and that she would be spending the night at her friend, Emma’s. That is when it happened. I was pummeled. I don’t know why I had such an enormous blind spot. How had I not even considered for a single second that she may not want to be home cuddling and chilling with me and her daddy on our day off. Why had I envisioned us drinking hot cocoa by the fire in our jammies together? She is a high school senior with wonderful friends – of course that was her plan. Was I delusional? What makes it worse is my disappointment came pouring out of my mouth before I could even stop it. “You’re not going to be at home?!” “ I thought you would want to catch up on your sleep.” “The roads will be bad and Emma lives so far away.” I even went as far as to say, “Last time it snowed you were at Emma’s because I was at the hospital with Mimi!.” OMG. What had I just done? I couldn’t believe that I had sunk that low. Immediately I replayed the words in my head and apologized before Stacy even had a chance to respond. It all happened 1-2-3 but the damage was done. I had made her feel guilty – something I have tried so hard never to do. We hung up and I cried.

So Stacy went to Emma’s and my husband and I went out for a delicious dinner with a darling young couple, ran into a bunch of friends and generally, had a wonderful evening. The Great Blizzard never came, but the sad feelings didn’t return either.   What’s my take-away from all this? Like most things, it is all about my favorite three words: patience, persistence, not perfection. I will be patient with myself through this transition, I will continue to focus on the positive and create opportunities for further growth, engagement and happiness and will recognize that as hard as I may try, I am not perfect and will never be. And just to let myself off the hook a little bit, the worst that happened out of all of this was that Stacy was reminded how much I love her and how much I will miss her when she leaves for college in six months. We are both so blessed.

Live well/Be well.

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