An Uncomfortable Truth
Last Friday, I met with my daughter’s teacher along with the Vice Principal and the teacher’s aide that helps my daughter stay focused in class twice a week. I don’t think any parent wants to hear that their child isn’t adjusting well to school life. I certainly didn’t want to be sitting opposite stone faced administrators reporting to me their concerns with my daughter’s behavior and the fact that she was way behind her peers in reading and writing as well as math. I really just wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else than in that room.
However, it happened, my daughter is behind, and worse, she doesn’t seem to be happy at school at all. At home she seems happy, but at school from the description they gave me, she’s restless and has a hard time focusing or following directions. I won’t go into too much detail, but basically, the school told me that they wanted to know how best to help Naomi. I didn’t have an answer. Neither did they.
I left that meeting feeling frustrated, angry, sorrowful and guilty. I was frustrated and angry because my daughter’s educators didn’t seem very helpful at all. They seemed to be looking for the answers from me. I was also angry with myself for not preparing my daughter for first grade. All the other mothers had taught their children two of the three Japanese writing systems from the time they turned three, so Naomi’s peers were already reading and writing when they started school. Naomi started at square one. I was angry at myself for not getting her started sooner, and I felt sad because her struggles could have been prevented. I felt like an utter failure as a mother.
I spent most of Friday night feeling sorry for myself and beating myself up. I hardly slept, but I forced myself to be productive the next day. I reminded myself that it was a new day and the past was in the past, and that the present was all that mattered. I wrote down all of my emotions, the anger, the frustrations, the fear, the regret, the guilt, the forgiveness, the love, and finally the hope. I came out of the darkness into the light facing an uncomfortable truth along the way. It was the answer to why things had come to this, and the answer, though painful and hard to accept was simply that I had neglected my daughter.
As a parent, I do my best, but I feel like I spend most of my time trying to keep my head above water, and I usually succeed a fraction of the time. The rest of the time, I’m focusing on the immediate needs–providing sustenance, shelter and clothing for my family, and getting my daughter to her various appointments making sure she gets her homework done, and attending to my infant son. In my struggle to survive, I’ve missed out on spending quality time with my growing daughter. She’s maturing and growing and experiencing life but I haven’t been present for most of it. Sure, I’ve been there, but my mind has been else where obsessing over things that didn’t get done or still needed to get done, but rarely on what was happening in the moment.
Being mindful and being present seems to be the lesson I am meant to learn these days. Almost every struggle I encounter is a direct result of not being present. I read in “Living Enlightenment” that the past is dead and we should let go of the past to be free of suffering. I have decided to take this to heart, so I have forgiven myself for not being present in my children’s lives thus far. I have let go of the sorrow and regret that goes with that, and now I am stepping into the present with my eyes wide open and my mind focused on the here and now.
It won’t be easy and I am sure to slip up, but the uncomfortable truth of my neglecting my daughter taught me the importance of being present. It is the knock on the head I needed to get motivated to commit to being present. Tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning, and the unveiling of a new truth–I only have the present moment, and I am going to claim it with all my heart.