Thursday, January 10, 2013

What does your face say FIRST ??

I am seeing a pattern here at like many things in the autumn season, my blog entries seem to dry up.  September is our month to travel; then we recoup and catch up half of Oct and soon we are on that slippery slope to and through the holidays.  It's not like I stop WONDERING.  It's the posting about that WONDERING that takes a hiatus.

Much of my fall wondering was inspired by Brene Brown's latest book, Daring Greatly.    Her subtitle clues us in to the content:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.  I found it challenging and provocative. I'd recommend her TED talk too.

The last chapter in Daring Greatly on Wholehearted Parenting had me cheering out-loud in places and quietly nodding my head in a silent Yes, Yes in others! On page 223 Brene Brown talks about one of the very best pieces of parenting advice she ever received.  It was via Toni Morrison on an Oprah show in May of 2000.  Brown writes:

"Ms. Morrison explained that it's interesting to watch what happens when a child walks 
into a room. [Morrison] asked,  'Does your face light up? ......When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up....You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you're caring for them. It's not.  When they see you, they see the critical face. What's wrong now?'  [Morrison's] advice was simple, but paradigm-shifting for me. She said, 'Let your face speak what's in your heart. When they walk in the room my face says I'm glad to see them. It's just as small as that, you see?'"

Brown tries to think about that advice literally every day and reminds us of this ...
"those first looks can be prerequisites or worthiness-builders.  I don't want to criticize when my kids walk in the room, I want to light up!"

As a grandparent,  I witness this first hand.  When our grandchildren walk in our door,  they seem to wait for us to lay our eyes on them expecting to see that look on our faces that must somehow match the joy in our hearts.  It's as if they know they bring us delight.  What an incredible feeling for anyone to experience - that your mere presence brings delight!

No doubt this is a common phenomenon when it comes to grandparents and grandkids. But suddenly, I am  feeling a need to send this to my thirty-something son and almost-thirty-something daughter as an apology for the many times my face FIRST said,  "Is your homework done? Are you really going to wear that? Did you wipe your feet? or Hurry up, we're late!"  Yes, some of that might need to come later, but I wish that FIRST, before any of that, my face would have said, I am so happy to see you!

Several months ago, over beer and pizza, I was telling my son about this fabulous book and specifically, this part of the last chapter.  His response was so wise. ( I love to think his wisdom is due to his great parenting, but actually, I think much of it has surfaced since he married his incredible wife!).
He simply said, "That's important to remember in ANY relationship."  

So, dear ones ---- spouse, family, colleagues, committee members, neighbors, friends, and especially the children .... watch my face when I first see you. I hope there is no expectation, prerequisite, "should" or judgement there. I hope it simply says, I am so happy to see you!  Here's to 2013!