parenting my own delinquency

7 Feb


I am thinking about Achilles today.  What if I had the story wrong?  What if an Achilles’ heel does not point to a spot of weakness but instead a spot of strength?  How could one see it like this when the Achilles heel is what caused Achilles’ death?  I am thinking today that  Achilles’ humanity might have lain in his unprotected spot, even if it took him out.  I don’t have much to support this view, I readily admit, from his tale anyway.  If Achilles were my lover, I would kiss that tender heel everyday!

What is weakness?  What is strength?  These questions play in my mind this morning as I make breakfast for Eden because she is amazed that I am  capable of making a quick and tasty omelet for her.  She thinks that I am hopeless in the kitchen.  The weakness I’m wondering about is not my cooking ability, but rather my willingness to accept her youthful teasing me for lack of skill.   Isn’t the life journey funny?  We can go from strong to weak and from weak to strong at the flip of an invisible switch.

Eden has taken over much of the cooking in the past few years, in ever growing amounts.  She finds recipes that I would shake me head at saying, “too much trouble,” and goes to it with abandon.  Last night, she fried dough in coconut oil to make “from scratch” cannoli shells.  The whole house has a sweet smokey smell; one of my pans looks forever altered.  No matter; I cheer her on from another room.  Her slate clean of experience  stands in contrast to my many years that lead me to ever increasing simplicity.  Food is sustenance anymore, not a hobby.

Part of her transition into “cook” has been in jabbing at my own cooking skills.  Tis true, I’m not the greatest cook anymore; I think I’ve hung up that apron of identity.  As she explores her own interest and talent, she pushes off against me to define herself.  I am still quite capable, but she likes to make fun of my recent fails of substituting ingredients to stave off trips to the store, resulting in less than pleasing dishes.  I bow out; I relish my slippery identity and story that gives me an internal grin as I allow her free reign in the kitchen, even if it comes with a comparison to me.  There is not pride here in letting her know about all the years I did know my way around a kitchen.  Have at it, girl.  🙂

I don’t mind being the butt of the joke here, but for years, my lack of ownership and slipperiness of identity seemed a huge fault.

In our world, stepping up to the plate in an overt way is honored.  I understand the value of overt, forthright power, but my flow has always been a bit different.  In part, I may be this way because I found myself born into a family with lots of activity by the time I got there, the youngest of three, loved dearly but a bit of an afterthought.  I fit into an already established group versus altering the family dynamics much myself.  I have always enjoyed watching…

(No, I’m not Chauncy Gardner:)


Surprisingly, once I  had a job in sales.  I was supposed to go to college campuses and convince professors to select the textbooks that my company had published amidst a large stack of competitors.  I listened and learned about sales techniques and steps for “Closing” people, but this process just never fit my flow.  I went and met with the professors, but I found myself asking questions and listening instead of closing.  Even though I still made sales, the premise of trying to influence another in this way would have always caused me discomfort – to make myself into something so foreign made my stomach rumble.  In the process, I came to understand the role of professor and decided to get into teaching instead.

What I am trying to say is that, at that point, my inability to SELL felt like a flaw.  Every time I met with a professor and I was so far off script, sitting and listening and engaging in real conversation often unrelated entirely to my purpose there, I felt deeply flawed as a human.

I have memories of people picking up on what I think may be a sensitivity to others and scoffing at me.  One lunch sticks out in my mind  where I waited for a conversation to organically finish before I asked for the salt to be passed, which resulted in a woman saying how weak it was to not ask for what you want.  She couldn’t believe that I did not interrupt the conversation.  I was in my 20’s and her observation of me in what she perceived to be a lack of self-confidence left me feeling exposed and worthless.

From these callings out, I sometimes tried to do the flip in behavior.  I came on strong, I voiced my opinion with insensitivity, I didn’t hold doors for people as I had places to be, haha, but that never felt true.  I often didn’t want to voice my opinion; I usually could see the other side just as easily.  I wanted to hold doors because that felt true to me.  To wait for natural breaks in conversation is organic to me.

I also take a moment here, internally, to recognize how my lack of agenda and flexibility made me vulnerable to the unhealthy dynamics in my marriage.  I had trouble seeing the motivations of another person who not only had strong intentions for himself, but worked diligently to convince and steer me in directions he wished  for me to go, as well, that did not match my internal compass.

What a gift my life has been!  I can look at how this weakness did give me an Achilles’ heel.  I was given the gift of a marriage with a person that would force me to step up to the plate in a sense and say, “No, I may be easy-going, but I do still get to steer my own ship.  Amen.”

There is a shadow aspect that needs examining, here.  Finding the strength here means understanding where this sensitivity is appropriate and where I need to speak out and say, NO!

When I was proceeding through my dark night of the soul, one place I ventured was a Thich Nhat Hahn Meditation group that met in the basement of a Baptist Church.  My very first visit, I noticed a person coming in late, going to great lengths to make sure that the door made no sound at all upon her entry.  She slowly held the knob and turned it at a snail’s pace to not allow the slight click to sound as the door shut fully.

The click from the door may not have been heard, but one click that did occur was the sound of a light being turned on above my head.

There was value in the time she took to enter without disturbing others.    I recognized her sensitivity to the experience of others in meditation, and thus could see this value in myself.  She mirrored the beauty of a sensitivity that I possessed as well, and her gesture allowed me to see it in myself.

I am sensitive to others, I am strong in this, yet I can also choose when and where I am sensitive; I can choose with whom I wish to spend my time and donate my listening heart.  I can understand the strength and weakness in the same quality.

I kiss and bless my own heel, my best feature, for sure:)

“If you try to avoid or remove the awkward quality, it will pursue you. The only effective way to still its unease is to transfigure it, to let it become something creative and positive that contributes to who you are.
Nietzche said that one of the best days in his life was the day when he rebaptized all his negative qualities as his best qualities. Rather than banishing what is at first glimpse unwelcome, you bring it home to unity with your life…..One of your sacred duties is to exercise kindness toward them. In a sense, you are called to be a loving parent to your delinquent qualiites” 
― John O’Donohue

25 Responses to “parenting my own delinquency”

  1. britlight February 7, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    ❤ reading you more and more.

    • marga t. February 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Thank you, Lisa. I’m learning so much about myself through the process 🙂

  2. ptero9 February 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Excellent Marga! There’s almost a Judo like art in allowing our weaknesses a place at the table. Perhaps too, the eventual peace of middle-age comes from our move toward lessening resistance to our faults, and so fostering their place in our lives.

    • marga t. February 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

      Debra, I must have hit the “update” button 10 times with this post. At the very last edit, I suddenly realized the connection of this flaw/strength with the lessons from my marriage. The process of trying to capture “ideas” into words is helping me work through the process of understanding. Thank you for your clear vision that understands the peace that comes with all traits gathering at the table – Definitely learning Bushido over here! I know you are too! 🙂

      • ptero9 February 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

        I spend far more time editing than I’d like. It’s tortuous sometimes, but I can’t seem to write what I am trying to say any other way. 🙂

      • marga t. February 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

        I just had the epiphany today that in the editing comes such clarification – a bit of a metaphor for life or the self; looking at the words and seeing where they are not matching the truth and then getting to change them is actually what the whole thing is about – or some idea like that that I can’t put into words:) When i look at others’ writings, like yours, I imagine such a seamless flow of ideas – so it is nice of you to share the pain that can be in the process at times. I send you ease today in where ever you may wish to flow!

  3. ~meredith February 7, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    (pause)…. oh, thank you for such a well-rounded post. I think your daughter will never know how much you helped her become a great cook, and how you followed it with your way of being present.

    Thank you, too, for leaving your ~prints when you visit. It’s been such a warm smile for me. xx


    • marga t. February 8, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

      So very nice to walk along with you. The way you string words together in your wordpress corner forms such an accessible gateway for me to see/feel/dwell in the way the world is experienced by Meredith – subtle, yet also profound, this power! xo! m

      • ~meredith February 9, 2014 at 3:58 am #

        What a great warm fuzzie, this note… thank you in the altogether. 😉

  4. Alison and Don February 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    I am reminded of a time (only a couple of years ago) that I was accused of being self-centred, self absorbed, and selfish. If it had happened earlier in my life I would have crumbled, and/or become angry. But in that moment I was able to see it, and own it, and say yes that is all true. It was my own kissing of my achilles heel, and immeasurably freeing. Since then I’ve gotten better and better at “being a loving parent to my delinquent qualities”.
    Another wonderful post Marga. Thank you.

    • marga t. February 8, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

      What strength in your journey to get to a place to see the truth of that mirror – so few can look back unflinchingly and see the gift in what most would take as a threat! I also would be interested in how these traits also reflect a strength seen through another lens. Your sharing is so treasured here in my corner. Much love to you and Don on the flip side! xo!

      • Alison and Don February 11, 2014 at 1:18 am #

        I’ve been holding on to this waiting for time to reply. Your idea that there is a strength in those traits if seen through another lens nestled in there for me – I knew that it could be true but couldn’t quite identify the lens. All I know is by the time of that event in my life I had come to understand that to a greater or lesser extent everyone of us is self-centred/self absorbed, and that that’s just how it is, until we evolve beyond identifying with a separate self. Also I’d come to understand that selflessness from an inauthentic place is self-centred under a different guise. Anyway it was an incredibly freeing moment.

      • marga t. February 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

        Ran out of reply buttons. I don’t know if you will get this, but your reply nestled in with me as well. Such mysteries. The awareness of the self interest of each one of us while still in a body as part of the human journey strikes me as a profound teaching. I realize too that I am drawn to stories of the transcendence of this self-interest. The writer Alice Munro (she’s canadian;) has this dynamic often in her stories, where one is drawn out of their own self-interest – surprisingly and willingly due to a momentary awareness that happens through circumstance. Life will sometimes give us the very experience that will crack the shell of our particular being. The way that you absorbed my question and responded feels like a tremendous gift of attention and spirit. love and adventures sent to you and don!

  5. Kelly Kuhn February 8, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    Two thoughts:
    I feel that I’ve just sat at a table (in a dim restaurant where we’ve outstayed all the other guests or in your kitchen, late into the night) and you opened your heart to me. What a blessing! I feel full of your sharing, and I relate to ALL of it, and I am grateful for your grace.

    I feel as I if I’m in an auditorium where the classical (music) performers have played an intensely moving peace, and they finish the last note, and I’m holding my breath, praying that no one claps for a long while because I need to simply absorb the piece.

    Bravo and thank you.

    • marga t. February 8, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

      Such nice thoughts, Kelly. It is a gift indeed to have you dwelling in my kitchen 🙂 I always like the boiled down truths of the mystic poets, but I take my long way around the bush to get to my epiphanies – but I do like the different views from all the places visited around that bush. I hope your weekend is full of music, laughter, and scrumptious time with your girls!
      xo! m

  6. Awareness ItSelf February 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Hey Marga, another coincidence, I am also a 3rd child, and the one who mostly sat quietly in the background watching, there was a lot to watch in my dysfunctional little family, lol. I love this quote from John O’donohue, my awkward quality is my awkward quality which I’ve felt terribly awkward about and have tried mostly unsuccessfully to hide under a brave smile. I do need to remind myself to be kinder to this shy awkward self, funny how its so much easier to be accepting and loving to my children than to my own inner child. I will remember to be kinder to myself, maybe even rub my feet today 🙂 Thank you 🙂 Erin

    • marga t. February 8, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

      The overlaps are uncanny, my sister – you really are my sister! We were doing the third child dance at the exact same times at different places on the planet…are you a redhead, too? Maybe we were dropped off from the same ship, haha! Just a side note about awkward – it has been fascinating to me to hear my kids use this word so often, as if that part of the human experience is finally being expressed and validated when from my years of awkwardness, it felt like such a lonely prison. Awkward humor is sometimes the goal, to make a joke met with uncomfortable silence is genius, eh? Sending you some homemade coconut, lime sugar scrub for your much loved heel! xo! marga

      • Awareness ItSelf February 8, 2014 at 11:58 pm #

        I am a red head! But I used to be a blond. I went red several years ago and have never looked back, I love it! Same ship, yes. 🙂 The human experience is a little awkward and icky, and its so good to be validated. I’ve made many a joke met with uncomfortable silence, I thought it was funny at least. Thanks for the coconut lime sugar scrub! Take care, sista.

  7. Andrea February 9, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    I see so many flashbackes of myself in your writing; struggling among the forests of yielding and forthright. I do think the little flower I once was has now developed into a tree, able to withstand the wind, but a little bit stronger up the backbone. I think I will be a palm tree. 🙂 I love the approach to your daughter, and I am holding a space for that now in my loving arena of raising a girl. I have witnessed many times the discovery of a once-perceived weakness unveiling itself as a hidden strength. Thanks M!

    • marga t. February 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      I was wondering about you lots yesterday and here you surface 🙂 I like the clear words you put to this, yielding and forthright – just another good ol’ fashioned polarity! I too feel that tree-trunk backbone that went from a sprout to a healthy tree, still flexible but yielding and standing tall alike. Maybe today I am a magnolia, enjoying the view of the beautiful palm standing tall in NJ 🙂 xo! m

      • Andrea February 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

        Ha! I borrowed those lovely words from the venerable NK. 🙂 I am slowly surfacing, although it always takes longer than I think it will. ha! Thank you for the wondering, I also wonder about you many a time. Always with a smile and the feeling of a nice big hug.

  8. Line February 9, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    Wow! You are so articulate and wise! I I really liked this post and could see myself in a lot of what you were saying. I am highly sensitive and mostly I cannot feel the difference between other people’s pain and joy and my own. I feel my soul connected to every life around me, and I feel moved to be loving to others, it is like I don’t have a choice really, this connection and love comes from my soul. Many people have told my that I am too selfless and too vulnerable and that the world will never give back to me what I give from myself. But it is not really about that. it is about listening to my soul and acting in harmony with its essence. I have tried to respond to rudeness with coldness and anger, but I just can’t, I don’t like myself if I do, and I end up being more depressed and sad than the person I was rude to. So I agree with you, we should do what we feel compelled to do, or what we feel moved to do. That is when, in my opinion, we live from our soul. Thank you for a very thought provoking and interesting post! So glad I stopped by!

    • marga t. February 9, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

      So wonderful to meet you here! We have danced many of the same numbers in this life. I have been learning much about the thin walls between the emotional life of others and myself! I have learned more when I feel a bit of discomfort to check my body, the atmosphere and the emotional state of others around me – and I have such a friend right now who shrugs and says, “eh” a lot. I see her still as loving but she allows the emotion to stay in the other’s court while she is still able to remain present – a great teacher for me! Where there are these paradoxical polarities within us, great teachings of how to be ourselves more and more comfortably seem to exist. I would very much like to sit next to you at the table when I wish to ask for salt – such a lovely spirit flows through your words! x! marga

  9. Michael February 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    I am thinking about your being chastised for being polite, and how that could have stung at the time. It would have me. I would have laughed it off, perhaps, but wouldn’t have done well with the public proclamation of my perceived shortcomings. It is amazing how life brings us into situations where these “weaknesses” may be exposed.

    I am typically pretty reserved in professional settings and in making acquaintances with clients and colleagues. I have a slightly different way (than the norm, I guess?) of being within and viewing the world that doesn’t always add up, and so much like your selling experience, I can’t quite bring myself to act the part. So, my answer is to be reserved until I know people a bit. At times this really seems a “weakness” of self-consciousness, or a lack of confidence in who I am. Other times, it feels appropriate somehow to keep my core out of the conversational scrum. I wobble back and forth on this one.

    I have been called out a couple of times by those whose style it is to find a weakness or a discomfort and try and haul it out into the open. Adults can be like children in this regard, more often than they realize. And yet, I’ve kind of known deep down inside, I wouldn’t trade this “who I am” for all the world. I wouldn’t be me any longer if I became who the world thinks I should be… and so I carry this sensitive child around within me. We are perhaps too reserved at times, finding ourselves just beyond the range of the communion with others we really seek, and yet the tension that emerges from this has been one of the most fertile areas of my life for overcoming self-doubt and strengthening my comfort in who I am.

    These givens we’ve received… they hold so much. They are the gifts that keep on giving!


    • marga t. February 9, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

      Conversational Scrum – such an excellent phrase. I think this wobble must be endemic to the life examined and as one gets to know oneself more and more, the value of this natural flow is recognized and utilized to navigate – and the more one knows oneself, the less the evaluation of us from others’ perceptions has anything to do with us at all. Just reflecting back at them, mostly, aren’t we, as they reflect to us so we can see our beauty and strength even more. That childlike bully quality is much more prevalent in the adult world than I would have ever imagined – thank you for bringing this idea up – and through your observations I am recognizing the divine purpose in even that which seems so needlessly present. I often look to the arenas which bring these types of mirrors to me as The Matrix, which seems more prevalent in work roles and hierarchal places, which took up huge chunks of focus in my life. So grateful am I now that in ever increasing amounts, I am finding a world that exists outside of that one – almost invisible on one level, but so sacred – how holy the interaction can be between those choosing to unfold and flower. When I’m in the matrix now, I’m tempted to point at the flowering – but it is wordlessly hidden from that lens – perhaps not forever 😉 I love the sharing you have given here from your own experiences in the Matrix – your words add to my own understanding from your own wobbling wonder. Many blessings on your head, Michael!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: