Usually on Fridays, my girl and I have planned one-on-one time together, while her brother does science club afterschool. But last Friday she had made the decision to sacrifice it so we would have enough time to cook our Friday night dinner. These are dinners inspired by the Jewish Shabbat – a ritual in our otherwise secular lives to cook together, read a passage from something that reminds us of our spiritual connection to all, discuss that passage and share gratitude about the week. Though we are not Jewish (in case you were wondering), my daughter has spent many a Friday night at her good friend’s house, loving the ritual that is their dinner.

The reason for her sacrifice on this particular day was because she had to have an appointment. This appointment could have taken place after our one on one time together, leaving no time for meal preparation or in place of it. The choice was hers. She values our Friday ritual more than anyone in the house. But in spite of her previously made choice, when I picked her up from school, she was brooding. And after some time, she started crying about our displaced time.

Now I’ve been a mom long enough to know there were probably other factors involved. Could have been one or more of many – hunger – which is one I NEVER underestimate – though she swore she was not hungry and refused to eat the snack I had packed. She may have had an emotional day at school. It seems that rounding 9 years of age, has brought with it a lot more feeling and drama, well specifically best friend drama. But she swore up and down that her day was great. I of course kept trying to engage her and trying to help her feel better.

Finally, as we approached our destination, she declared, exasperated, “why do we have to talk about everything so much?!” And with that statement, I had to face my Self in the situation. She was right. Her angst had triggered my need to fix the situation. To delve deeper and problem solve her tears away by talking it through – offering counsel and solutions. Perhaps one could even call it intellectualizing her feelings on some level. Lucky for me, her statement found my awareness and caused me to retract. I was instantly confronted with the little girl inside myself who at her age didn’t have anyone to “talk through it.” The one who bottled up the feelings and tried to get over it as she was told. I saw my pendulum had swung too far the other way.

And so after I let her know my only desire is to help her, but I understand she just needs to feel right now, I got quiet and faced that thing inside we as parents try to deny. My helplessness. And the need for my daughter to just feel the consequences of her decision and soothe herself as she felt the accompanying sense of loss.

Watching our kids suffer is not for the meek. Maybe it’s partly the hard wiring we have to that infant cry. The immediate response that is part alarm and part activation. And although any infant under the age of 3 months still triggers that response momentarily, I am not here to take away my kids pain. I am here to allow them to feel whatever it may be and help them realize they are strong and can survive whatever comes their way. I know this and believe this and yet sometimes in the moment, still find myself over processing with them and trying to help them feel “better” when confronted with their suffering – even if over a small incident.

It’s an interesting desire – wanting to feel better. Of course it motivates us to move into more things in life that better fulfill our purpose and our true self. But it can also have a debilitating effect if we chase feeling better before actually feeling. On my own spiritual journey, I have often found myself caught in the loop hole of meditation and peace-seeking only to realize that I’ve duped myself into thinking I can overcome my feelings through my spiritual practices without actually going through the very center of them first. It is only when I go head first into the eye of the storm that I find my true calm because I realize feeling better isn’t achieved by avoiding feeling bad, but rather by finding my equilibrium regardless. That is my peace.

My kids have the same lesson in life. To feel the multitude of human emotions and learn more about themselves as they do. My job is to help guide them through as they journey, not around.

And so, I am reminded by one of the most powerful teachers I have in this lifetime, to know when to back away. When to hold her in my loving and realize that sometimes it is all that is required. In the process, earning a deeper trust of this remarkable being who calls me mother and thereby earning a deeper trust of myself – knowing that I am enough as a mother. And as myself.