Get a Grip or Loosen Your Grip?
Spoiler alert: Neither!
I've been thinking about two kinds of grips, and realizing just how much of my life I've spent oscillating between them.
At one end of the teeter-totter sits a no-nonsense little sprite. She sports Pippi-Longstocking-style braids, legs akimbo, ball cap pulled low over her eyes. She's hollering, Hey boss! Can ya see reality? Can ya? Can ya? Come on! Get a grip! You've got the tools, the resources, the support, the smarts. You can weather any storm! Don't believe everything you think! She flashes that daring, mischievous, unstoppable smile at anyone who might be listening.
At the other end sits our frightened friend. She is white knuckling the teeter-totter. Heck, from the expression on her face, it appears she may have missed the word "play" in "playground." I want to rush over to her with a comforting word, to tell her it's ok to loosen her grip, to have... fun. She sees me coming and squeezes her eyes shut, clenching the edges of the board ever more tightly.
The first girl doesn't have much patience for the second. She sees her as weak. She thinks she is ruining things. The second girl hardly has much fondness for the first, either, pegging her as bossy and unsympathetic.
After a while, they both grow tired. I scoop them up and we walk home together, up the sloping hill from the park to my house. Along the way, the first girl points out red things and blue things, while the second whispers all the things she's ever done wrong.
I pause and crouch down. Remember the game I taught you? The one with the letters? How about these...? I go on to think of a few acronyms for GRIP:
gleaming resilience is possible
gorgeous release into peace
generous rest ignites potential
gravity really improves presence
They both start coming up with their own, and pretty soon the three of us are off to the races. Neither of them is thinking about their job anymore, since this game is so much more fun. I smile quietly to myself.
At home, I cut up some apple slices and we read a book. Soon it will be time for a nap. I no longer need to get a grip or hold on for dear life. Instead, I can care for myself and all of these earnest, hardworking parts of me that clamor for attention and fret over whether I'm doing a good enough job as a wife, a mother, a coach, a friend, a human. They are – I glance over at the couch where I've tucked them in under a cozy blanket – so very tired.
Rest, little ones.
I've got you.
I've got me.
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