Since not all of you could attend our Compassion Parenting Retreat, here's a little glimpse of our discussion on "grounded, loving presence." Also a challenge to #lovebigger, in memory of 9-year-old Cami...
A lot has happened since we last talked. For one thing, we had our first annual Compassion Parenting retreat. In this, a dream of mine was realized; a seed was planted that will grow over the coming years.
Since not all of you could be with us at the retreat, let me give you a glimpse of how it went. Eleven moms and two dads gathered for 7 hours of instruction over the course of 2 days to workshop together about parenting. Some flew in for the event, others were local, but what we all shared (from the beginning) was a dedication to parenting and a wish to be at our best for it. The theme of the conference was developing a “grounded, loving presence.”
You may wonder what that is, so let me explain by telling you a seemingly unrelated story...
After finishing residency, I had a sort of personal renaissance and started taking voice lessons again. I literally felt like part of me had gone dormant for the last 5 clinical years of my medical training and I wanted to bring it back “alive.” My teacher was Audrey Stottler, who had made her career at the San Francisco Opera. Being analytical and methodical, I would ask detailed questions about diction, pronunciation, & ornamentation and she would routinely put them off. She once told me, “Mary, singing is not about that. Walk away from your music. Forget the words. Until you get the underlying sound right the details don’t matter. But yet WHEN you get the sound right, you’ll be able to sing anything--you won’t even need words, and you’ll draw your audience in naturally.”
Parenting is like that too. So many parents seem to want a list of tips or a script to read from. They get lost and almost paralyzed in the details, but parenting isn’t about that. Until you get a solid foundation in place, all the tips, tricks, and theories in the world won’t get you very far. The foundation I’m referring to is a grounded, loving presence and when you develop it, your kids will naturally be drawn to you; many things will fall into place automatically.
Grounded, loving presence is the basis of effective parenting. When you learn to be grounded, you’ll be able to respond wisely, without overreaction. When you operate from love, that intention will carry you (even if the words don’t come out exactly right, even if you make mistakes). When you allow yourself to be truly present, you’ll have stronger bonds built upon a shared history AND more observational data to inform your decisions. Being present will also allow you to enjoy parenting more, because the present moment is the only time we really have to receive and take things in--to see, hear, and feel our children near us.
About the retreat, participants said:
“I loved the open discussions, the yoga, & all the resources you shared.”
“I wish it was longer!”
“I loved being with other parents who are also wanting to be intentional and improve.” And,
“Being a part of Compassion Parenting has been very uplifting, insightful, inspiring, & empowering.”
One participant did say, “I want more specifics!” (just like I did in my voice lessons). Don’t we all, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re ready to move on to specifics once we get the foundation right…
Not that any of us will be perfectly grounded, perfectly loving, or perfectly present, but learning the skills to be so MORE of the time is the first step to transforming our families in powerful ways.
The Compassion Parenting program has 6 main pillars: vision, love, presence, grounding, growth, & joy. We begin every gathering we have by assessing where we’re at in each of these areas. (And yes, we do get to some specifics too!)
In association with the retreat, we went on a hike in beautiful Snow Canyon State Park where we were led in yoga by a wonderful instructor and outdoor adventure guide (see https://www.granogi.com
). As we laid our mats on the hard, somewhat uneven ground, it became a metaphor of the imperfectness inherent in parenting--how we often need to make adjustments to find balance. As we looked at the landscape and the sky, we saw how certain aspects stayed steady and others kept changing. That’s parenting too--such a moving target, yet the foundations stay the same.
As a group of parents at the retreat, we literally laughed together and cried together. We laughed because of those crazy predicaments and scenarios we can find ourselves in as parents. We cried because one of our members recently lost a child--the unthinkable occurrence, a parent’s greatest imaginable sorrow.
With permission, I’d like to share about young Cami who passed away. She was a 9-year-old with big feelings, which could be difficult but also wonderful. Cami was known for her spunky, loving nature. In her honor, Cami’s family invited the community to participate in a #lovebigger challenge and to share stories of how Cami’s memory inspired them to showed more love.
So here goes. This week, remembering Cami helped me #lovebigger in a few ways. First, it helped me love myself bigger. I got an eye infection a few weeks ago, which made it so I couldn’t wear my contacts or any make-up to a few major events. Initially I felt self-conscious, but then remembered hearing how Cami had overcome her self-consciousness about wearing glasses at school. After discovering The Girls With Glasses Show (created by Brooke White & Summer Bellessa), Cami & her mom got the idea to buy her entire class their own pair of glasses from the dollar store and then, for the girls, follow a “glitter glasses” tutorial to add some extra sparkle.
Remembering Cami has also helped me appreciate my kids more this week. The recent words of Cami’s mom have been replaying in my mind, ““Let’s show a little more love. Hold your loved ones close!”
Though the official #lovebigger challenge has ended, may it never end. Every day, let us choose to put on our figurative glitter glasses, so we can see the magic right before our eyes.
I’ll close with the famous words from the classic play “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder:
“I can’t look at everything hard enough. . . . Just for a moment now we’re all together...just for a moment we’re happy. Let’s look at one another
© Mary Illions Wilde, MD
*If you have a daughter who's reluctant to wear glasses, consider following Cami's lead and making some glitter glasses with your family or with your child's class. Here's the tutorial https://thegirlswithglasses.com/how-to-diy-glitter-glasses
. If you have stories to share about how this episode has prompted you to #lovebigger, please share them with me on IG@drmarywilde. I'll pass on the messages to Cami's family.
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xo, Dr. Mary