When my son was 2 years old, he loved letting himself fall forward on a mattress, over and over as he beamed with excitement. His entire body safely bounced up and down. He perfected his technique over the years, and then started teaching it to me. I took these “Lessons on Falling” as a challenge to my instinct of self-protection from strong physical sensations. He would correct me, “No Mami, you are putting your hands forward to break the fall. If your muscles are tight it will hurt. You have to let yourself fall!”
During 2020 I have practiced applying my son’s Lessons on Falling as an emotional coping skill for myself and my clients. We encountered unprecedented doses of uncertainty, risk and inadequacy. I realized that if I tried to break my fall into the unknown with tight expectations, I hurt myself with the limitations of our reality. When I let myself fall with less control, I was able to bounce back with less suffering… most importantly, with the padding of my support network!
It is even more frightening for us parents to experience the suffering of our children. Having a balance between protecting our children and letting them learn to cope with new challenges has always been one of the greatest struggles of parenting. This year it became a herculean exercise of letting go of control, as the risk of illness became more imminent.
My family and the families I have worked with in this past year have learned many valuable lessons in this respect, particularly from our children (our Zen Masters :)…
- Risk tolerance is different for every family member, and negotiating a middle point is best for harmonious family relationships.
- We all need different amounts of socialization, and we are more aware of respecting the differences now.
- Having less scheduled activities and more quality time together can bring us closer.
- Necessity is the mother of invention! In the face of social distancing, we have managed to connect and support each other in creative ways (see suggested ideas below).
We are still figuring out how to ride this bicycle on a tight rope, and it takes a whole community to do it. I am grateful to provide and receive support in this inter-connected web of support.
This new year I wish for your families safety, creativity, adaptability and humor!
Creative ways to connect during social distancing
Picnics in parks that you never visited before.
Collective creative projects in which family each member/friend contributes a part of the whole creation,
either electronically or by snail mail.
Live virtual talent show, haunted house or scavenger hunt, among 2-3 families/groups.
Live virtual charades between 2 families/groups.
Neighborhood sing-alongs to hopeful songs outdoors.
More frequent outdoor walks, bike/scooter rides, yoga with members of the bubble.
Making and decorating face coverings.
Mailing care packages.
Savoring special and humorous family moments through videos or photos.