Let Her Lead

My husband had this brilliant idea last week.

We were planning a trip to see my family in Virginia. We live in NYC. Two motivated adults could make the trip in just over 7 hours. Add two small children, and the trip becomes anywhere from 8.5 to 10 hours. With a leave time of late afternoon or early evening, we wanted to avoid an arrival in the middle of the night, mostly because our kids like to wake up and PLAYYYYY as soon as we get to their grandparents' house. NOPE.

So when the hubs suggested we get a last-minute hotel room halfway down, I said YES. And good thing we did, because the first hour of the trip involved one kid after another throwing up, followed by approximately 143 stops for the big girl to pee. 

We finally made it to the hotel - albeit around midnight - and settled in for a great night's sleep. Because blackout curtains. We woke up refreshed, the stress of the previous evening a distant memory.  Included in our $84 was a decent hot breakfast, a toddler-height tissue dispenser (fun!), and the real reason for selecting that hotel: an indoor pool.

Our big girl has been scared of the pool ever since she stepped off the inner ledge of a friend's pool earlier this summer thinking she was in the shallow end, and ended up flailing and panicked. She's only been in kiddie pools since then. So when she said she wasn't going in, that she didn't even want to put her "babe-ing" suit on, we didn't press her. We told her she could sit on a beach chair and hang out while we took baby sister in. It only took about ten minutes before she asked Daddy to take her upstairs to put on her suit.  hen she came and sat on the very first step, watching us as we played.

My husband attempted to convince her to come further in. Each time, she drew back, a pained look on her face. I said to him, "It's okay. She'll come when she's ready. Let her lead." He listened; we enjoyed time with the baby; our big girl laughed and splashed us and got more relaxed.

And then the moment came. "Mommy, can you hold Bae Sister so Daddy can take me in the water?" Within minutes, she right there with us, her arms securely around Daddy's neck, asking periodically for a break on the steps, but really IN it - the water, her body, her self. Soon, she let me carry her around, felt comfortable enough to sit on the edge in the middle of the pool, came down several steps on her own, wanted more.

So this is all different from the beginning of the summer, when she jumped in and played and had the time of her life, without assistance. Different because she had an experience that caused her to pull back a bit, to become more cautious for a while.  And that's okay. Because our big girl, only four years old, is learning to listen to herself. And we, her parents, who want to give her all the guidance and direction we can - we are learning to step back, honor her process, and let her lead.

All too often, we DON'T let her lead. "Her" could be a growing child, a baby in the womb, a woman in labor, a mom doubting her gut. Quite often, the person we don't let lead, is our own self. On my way to the birth of a dear friend's baby recently, this doula was full of anxious thoughts. I needed a mantra. I settled on "Be what she needs."  And I believe that I was. She did a kickass job birthing her baby, and she felt supported by me. Her birth was so different from my experiences thus far. Throughout the process, I had to learn to step back and let her lead, asking her, "What do you need right now?" 

What if we let her lead?

What would our world be like, if we listened to our women and our girls - and if we taught each other to listen to ourselves?

Different.  That's what it would be.  And better.

Think about the ways in which you (man or woman) are not letting yourself lead these days.  Is there something bothering you today?  Are you feeling anxious?  Is there something big in your life that needs changing?  Do you feel fear?  Do you even know what you feel?  

Today, I invite you to take a moment to sit with YOU, and let yourself lead. This could be a quiet moment at your desk with your palms grounded on its surface. Or ten minutes with the Headspace app - one of the easiest ways to get consistent about meditation. Write in a journal. Videotape yourself talking through something that's on your mind, and play it back. See what you learn.

I'm pretty sure you'll learn something, when you listen, when you let her lead.

I'd love to hear how it goes for you.

 

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