I learned a valuable lesson last week. I was in the middle of a busy workday when I received a text from my daughter, asking me if I could come get her from school.
To be honest, my initial thoughts were “No, I can’t leave the office, I’m in the middle of some work projects, and you need to be at school.” Taking a moment to breathe and sense into how i was feeling, I asked myself what was really needed in that moment, for me and for her. I thought this could be a great opportunity for me to put into practice supporting her need for self-care, in the actual moment she needs it.
As I pulled up to the school, she slowly walked up to the car. As soon as she slumped down into the seat next to me, I could feel the weight of the emotions she was carrying. “Ah man, sweetie, rough day?” I put my hand on her leg, and we just talked for a little bit. She wasn’t really sure what she needed in that moment, but she was certain she needed a break from school.
We discussed how important it is to give ourselves breaks when we need them–not as a way to escape our responsibilities, but as a way to nurture ourselves, to offer compassion, and replenish. Thankfully, my daughter is well-versed in mindfulness. I asked her what she felt like she needed in that moment and how she could care for herself.
As I gave her permission to “not be okay” and to “not grit her teeth and push through it,” the tears came. She opened up about what was going on. She thanked me for really listening and for allowing her the time to step out of the doing mode for just a few minutes. We took the rest of the class period and lunchtime to practice self-care. Her countenance looked brighter when I took her back to school.
I’m learning how valuable it is to tune in and ask myself, “What is really needed right now?”
I’m thankful I didn’t go with my first reaction to dismiss her request for a break, because I would have missed an opportunity to really connect with her.