04/14/19 • 22 min
The better we understand ourselves, the better we can relate to our children...and the better our relationships with our grandchildren. Emily talks with author and counselor Beth Booram about the Enneagram, a great tool for self-knowledge, and the challenges of transitioning from parent to grand. Also:
- The Stretch It Takes: Begin At The Beginning
- Passing Along Your Passions: Things of Beauty
- Great Works for Grands: Poet Emily Dickinson
For more information on Fall Creek Abbey, discussed by Beth, see https://www.fallcreekabbey.org .
And be sure to check out the new book by Beth and her husband David when it's published in November, 2019, "When Faith Becomes Sight."
"The Road Back To You," which Beth mentions in this episode, is a book and a podcast by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.
Emily’s Essay: Beginning at The Beginning
My husband and I had spent the last 20 years of our lives nurturing, providing meals, crafting birthday experiences, and creating traditions for our brood. Our family was a tight knit group (I liked it that way), and I was the museum curator of their lives...a job I embraced wholeheartedly and which spoke to all my strengths. I had no idea that one weekend at a friend’s lake house would nearly destroy me and play to all my weaknesses.
It started out as a goodbye weekend for our son, who was heading to New Zealand for a semester abroad program. Our oldest had just returned from a semester in Oxford, England. Looking back, I know that I felt a great sense of pride for encouraging each of them to flee the nest. I was being so selfless to share them with the world.
Mind you, I am looking back on it now with a new sense of what was really happening. I saw myself as someone who selflessly served others with great zeal. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for our children...that is, as long I was in the driver’s seat.
By the time the lake house weekend was fully planned, we had added six visitors. I didn’t know what happened. Three of our daughter’s roommates from college, three significant others (whom I pretty much guessed would never be more than a memory in a few years). It went from an intimate family event to an all out house party.
The day before we left, I found myself ugly crying in the closet of our bedroom. Of course, I said yes. Of course, when we arrived I prepared meals for everyone including fun omelets you could boil in a Ziploc bag, a lavish burrito bar, homemade enchiladas and lots of goodies. Of course, I smiled and looked like I was having fun. But there was a smorgasbord of hurt building up inside of me. The family send-off to New Zealand had become its own college frat/sorority party, with me as a built-in caterer and my husband as the service boy. To be clear, our children were not ungrateful, but I was still pretty ticked off. You see, I was selfless only if it went my way, and I was given the commensurate amount of gratitude that I deemed matched my efforts; otherwise, I was resentful. I was discovering that I was really not as selfless as I thought. Ouch. This was a stretching moment, and I could really feel the burn.
Eight years later and many counseling sessions behind me we were on a family trip that included .... fifteen humans now, including grandchildren. Everyone was with their forever spouse or significant other...a completely different picture that included no one who had joined us at the lake house.
By then, I had the benefit of counseling. I had learned that I needed to let go, to stop controlling and curating. To realize that we didn’t have to do everything as a group or everything my way. Also, I could say no if I didn’t want to do something. Boundaries were good! I had learned that family vacations meant we could actually relax. We didn’t need to do everything I thought defined our family--things like singing together, reading plays together, and me making every meal. So I had made progress.
But, darn. There was this box.
It had all the things in it that I thought would make it a fun week. I had packed candles for better Hygge (a Danish tradition), games, crossword puzzles for a competition...you see where I’m going. It had taken me a lot of time and thought to pack that box. My counselor made a suggestion when I told her about it: “Okay, just don’t bring the box.”
What?? I was horrified. I literally shrunk into chair, my forearms tucked into my crossed legs, head down. “I HAVE to bring the box” I said, nearly in tears. She...
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