Why am I having my kids hold this snake skin on their first day of school? A Double-Dog Dare You situation? An annual Fear Factor ritual we weirdly insist on our kids engaging in? No. It’s because it represents the process of shedding and new growth.
You see, as I’ve been pondering this next growth experience in our family’s life—leaving the phase of early childhood and entering into school-ager-ness for both of them—I recognize that it’s okay to let go. It really is part of the growth process, and what makes way for new life.
Mother Nature, in her infinite source of wisdom, models this for us in a variety of ways—molting of fur and feathers, trees letting go of their leaves, hermit crabs ditching their shells, snakes shedding their skin—and yes this is from our PET snake (that is a blog post for a different day).
Yet as humans–we tend to forget about the natural flow of life, resist change even though it is inevitable, and tell weird stories in our heads that cause us to cling to the past or obsess about the future. So as my family moved from the laissez-faire pace of the summer and geared up for the transition to structure and routine these past few weeks, I noticed several of the ways in which our shedding rituals took place.
–getting rid of clothes that no longer fit
–deep cleaning my son’s room (shedding on steroids)
–selling the kids kitchen and backyard playhouse
–out with the old or broken toys to make room for new more developmentally engaging ones
–power cleaning of the house
And here’s something else I found worth shedding. The feelings of guilt, sadness, or shame of what I didn’t accomplish as a mom during my kids early childhood years. Would they have been more enriched from doing all of the never crafted projects, the uber cute Pinterest ideas, and cooking and baking activities that caused me anxiety just looking at them? Probably.
But 21st century parenting is no joke. It blind-sided me until before I knew it my bar was set at making it through the day without going bat-shit crazy if I heard the word “mom” one more time. It’s heavy enough stuff and adding the notion of Pinterest perfectionism on top of it is like carrying around a self-sabotaging sack of potatoes that isn’t gonna serve anyone.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been known to geek out with the best of ‘em while getting rid of my kids sweet baby clothes, hilarious drawings, and favorite toys and books. And I do think it’s worthwhile and healthy to consciously grieve the various stages that our kids move through as they move through them. That way it doesn’t all pile up and leave us in a total panic-stricken state when they fly the coop post high school.
It’s just that instead of getting all down in the dumps from a perspective of lack, SHOULDing all over myself, or grieving what could have been, I prefer to focus my mind and emotions on celebrating the accomplishments that got us this far into this research and development process otherwise known as family life. Could I always be improving myself as a parent? Of course. Are there a zillion ways I can be more present with my kids during our typical day? Yes. And I’m much more likely to do so when I let go and get in the feel good flow.
***Betsy Koepke is a Psychologist, Tony Robbins-Trained Performance Coach & Keynote Speaker. As a thought leader on a mission to inspire & empower people to step into their greatness, Betsy teaches modern-day humans how to create balance instead of burnout. Her professional workshops and private retreats are filled with candid stories and practical strategies for how to not only survive the demands of 21st century living, but how to actually thrive in this brave new world we’ve created.