One observation about a tissue box and I stopped doubting my parenting.

There have been many moments in my journey as a parent where I felt I have failed. I have caught myself many times in the cycle of negative self talk for not spending more time or not playing more or not reacting they way I know I could have. There have also been times when I have been told that I am a patient person and mother. I have been told that I am a mother that people look up to and admire. I never really understood who I was as a parent until an unexpected conversation revealed more insight into the mother I actually am.

I noticed she needed a tissue. I had hit a nerve in our coaching session and the tears flowed.

Me:  "Just a second, I will go get my toolbox."

I grab the nearest tissue box which happened to look like a crumpled, torn up mess. (The image above is the actual tissue box)

Me: "Please excuse my tissue box. They aren't used, my daughter asked to play with it and emptied it. I ended up stuffing a full box of tissues back in the box after she was done."

We laugh and the mood lightened.

My Client: "If I was her, I would remember that you let me empty a full tissue box, just because I asked to play with it."

Me: "Yeah, I guess so. I never even gave it a second thought. I just said yes."

I knew in that moment that the observation she offered was profound and special. I felt a flood of tingling pride and affirmation fill my body and soul. After being given this gift of perspective, I looked at this simple tissue box after she left and began to wonder and reflect. This one observation hit a nerve with me just as one of my questions hit a nerve with her.  I realized how the smallest of decisions can have such a big impact in life. The nerve that was sparked was the fact that my decisions and actions are impacting the life of another, my children. Their reality, their view of what is possible in life is in my hands.

To me, I said yes to emptying a tissue box but to my daughter I was saying yes to her creativity. I was saying yes to exploration and play. I was saying yes to disturbing the neat and tidy home of these tissue’s knowing full well they will be torn, crumbled and disorganized. 

With that one word, yes, I was teaching her that it was ok to explore the messiness of life. It was ok to allow for disorder in order to seek out possibility. More importantly, I was giving her an opportunity to explore who she is and what ignites her soul. After taking some time to reflect on this one observation I felt the weight of all the negative self talk about my parenting lift off my shoulders. I was actually being the parent I envisioned before they even existed. I decided to stop beating myself up and declare that I am a good mom.

What I learned when my client offered me that observation was to be the parent I want to be means not blocking who they are. Allowing their creativity even if it means getting messy or disturbing order. I believe it is our job as parents to observe who they are and give them tools to explore all the possibilities this life has to offer. My daughter decided to ask my permission and I wonder what would my reaction have been if she didn’t. What would I have done if I found tissues all over the house? After this one conversation, my future reactions will come from answering these questions – Is this nurturing her creativity? Her passions? Who she is?

It took me a long time to figure out what I am passionate about and live true to who I am. I was lost for many years. This conversation opened up a realization that maybe she won’t need as long if I give her the space now to explore. If I offer her a supportive place to be just who she is with loving boundaries.

This messy, crumpled tissue box represents who I am. I am someone who gives people space to be who they are regardless of what is happening in their life.  I am someone who takes time to reflect, observe and wonder. I will never look at a tissue box the same way ever again and I will never forget this one conversation where my client gave me a gift because she was willing to share an observation about a seemingly unimportant tissue.

My hope is that my daughter will remember the tissue box. My hope is that she leaves the safety of this space we have created and remembers that she is ok in the messiness of life. I hope she remembers that her choices mirror back to her what she values most and I hope that if she has children she says yes to emptying a tissue box.