Yesterday, I received an email from a teacher I admire (one of the only people I receive newsletters from—Carmen Spagnola).

In it, she shares how she’s realized that she failed her child in some big ways during their senior year of high school and that’s been going through a process of grieving and healing this moral injury.

I felt an immediate sense of resonance and relief, knowing I’m not alone. My son turned sixteen on March 11, and we’ve been grappling with some difficult stuff. I’ll space the details out of respect for his privacy.

In short, though, parenting right now feels like a prolonged break-up with the love of my life, only one in which I need to keep taking care of him, even though he often rejects that care. I laugh lovingly at my new parent self who thought the work of this age was to just give my kiddo space and not take things personally. If only it were that simple.

Why do I share this with you? For two reasons, I think.

First, to let you know that you’re not alone. You know that thing that you’re grappling with, that you feel embarrassed or ashamed about or afraid people would judge you if they knew the whole story? Well, even though it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing this thing right now and even though the critical voice in your head might tell you that people would hate you if they knew this thing about you… you are still worthy of love. And you’re actually not alone.

In one of my favorite centering practices, we sense into the dimension of our width, our horizontality, the space between the left and right sides of our bodies. And we sense into this dimension as the dimension of belonging. I like to think about belonging as shoulder-to-shoulder-ness, the sense that even if I don’t know who they are, beloved comrades and competent protectors are standing by my side.

I invite you to try it—sensing into the space between the left side of your body and the right side and into the space on the left and right sides of your body. And imagine a beloved comrade(s) and/or competent protector(s) standing beside you. It doesn’t matter if you know who they are or not.

Receiving the email from Carmen helped me feel as though someone who is in this with me is standing by my side. In a world in which our social threads are worn thin and our barriers to care are so much bigger than our little selves, I want the same for you.

The second reason I share about this precarious-feeling moment in the life of my family is to let you all know about a big decision I’ve made. In February, I received an almost-book deal with my top-choice publisher. But the terms of the deal required a commitment that felt bigger than my current capacity.

The final deciding factor was the fact that if I signed the deal now, the book would come out during the Spring of my son’s junior year. I know that this is a moment when he’ll need me most, and I’m unwilling to sacrifice my ability to show up for him then. And, so, I decided to hold off at least another year. My favorite quote is love is 90% pacing, and this is me doing my best to live up to this principle.

I share this to offer you permission to go slow, to trust your body’s and your family’s pacing, and to give yourself time and support to choose which sacrifice is right for you. Because at all choice points, we need to let something go. That doesn’t make you wrong. It makes you human.

May you know that you are always surrounded by love, and may you receive all the support you need to honor the pace that is right for you.

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