When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


We walk along the sidewalk together on the way to school and the morning sun draws cheerful shadows of you and I on the grass alongside and just ahead of us.  Suddenly you are laughing and moving in irregular starts and stops behind me, and when I look back to see what you're up to, your beautiful face is all twinkling eyes and mischievous grin.  You point to our shadows and tell me to watch, and then you creep forward at a measured pace with your ball cap covered head tilted just the right way.  Suddenly your silhouette becomes the jaws of a giant creature that swallows my shadowy head whole.  I laugh with you, because being caught up in your many wonderful moments of carefree imagination fills me with an indescribable lightness and joy.


We walk along the sidewalk together on the way home from school, and I can almost see the dark cloud of worry swirling above your head.  You are silent for a few moments, and then, when you are sure we are alone, you look at me with misty eyes and quivering lips and open up your heart:  you made a mistake on a question you wrote an answer to at school. This one, tiny mistake in the midst of so many things you've done right and suddenly forgotten about has become an enormous weight you now carry on your small shoulders.  You are certain that we are going to be upset with you, that your report card is now going to somehow be a disappointment,  that the school is going to think you're no longer gifted.  I want to hug you and cry with you because I understand exactly how an honest, insignificant mistake can quickly grow into something monstrous that wants to swallow you whole.

Perfectionism is a beast sometimes; it can sneak up even on the unsuspecting young. Once when I was a child, I came home from school with a picture where my colourful crayon marks had slipped out of the lines. I showed it to my mom and wailed inconsolably, "You're not going to like this!".  This moment was only one in a long line of life situations where I've been relentless and unforgiving with myself whenever I've made a mistake. So many times I have set unrealistic standards for myself at school, in work, in motherhood, as a human being, and have felt like an utter disappointment to everyone when I've felt that I've failed to live up to them. 

This is not the kind of worry I wish for you in life, my sweet boy.  I want you to see yourself for the amazing person you are, to believe that you are every bit as smart and funny and thoughtful and kindhearted as I know you to be.  I want you to feel free to delve deeply into that wonderfully creative mind of yours to explore and share what you find there, without being afraid that others will think you're somehow wrong.  I want you to accept that trying your best at what you do is always something to be proud of, even if you don't succeed right away.   I want you to learn from experience that sometimes colouring outside of the lines and making mistakes is exactly what allows you to grow and to eventually see the world in a new and exciting way.  I want you to know that you are your own worst critic, and that if you can love yourself with all of your imperfections, you will realize just how those who know and care deeply for you really feel about you, too.

Life will be full of challenges that will inevitably lead to you making mistakes; that is a certainty.  But if you come to see your mistakes as necessary, even welcome, stepping stones on the path to deeper experience, understanding, and feeling, they will suddenly seem much less huge and fearsome.  I hope you'll come to me whenever you need a reminder of this.  I believe you and I can learn to tame the beast together.

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