How to Love Even the Bad DaysOct 02, 2023
My husband and our youngest son like to watch a show before they go to bed at night. I usually don’t join in as TV isn’t really my thing.
I have, however, been drawn into the latest series they've been watching... "Jury Duty" on Amazon Freevee.
It’s an absolutely hilarious documentary-style series that chronicles the inner workings of an American jury trial through the eyes of one particular juror – a very sweet man named Ronald. What he doesn’t know is that the entire case is fake! Everyone except him is an actor and everything that happens – inside the courtroom and out – is carefully planned. Think "Truman Show" in a courtroom.
I think the thing that has me so riveted is that even though there isn’t a real trial, it does feel like Ron‘s character is on trial as we watch him navigate each of the crazy circumstances that get hurled at him, reality TV show style, each moment further defining his character. And by character, I don't mean that in an actory sense, I mean his real "character."
Now imagine for a moment that there was a show like this about parenthood – that you were being filmed for every moment of your day unbeknownst to yourself, and that everyone was watching how you handled...
...the burnt toast
...the Cheerios on the floor
...the siblings who tried to pull each other down the stairs
...the teen who called you a name that shall never be repeated!
Shudders down your spine, right?
I know I personally have some moments that I’m very glad have never been recorded for posterity, like the time I got so mad at my four-year-old that I literally threatened to flush his marshmallows down the toilet. (It’s a long story, cut me some slack )
I have more than apologized for this moment, but the craziest thing is that there was a long period of years where if you asked my son what one of his favorite memories of me was, he'd say without fail "It’s the time Mama went crazy and almost flushed the marshmallows down the toilet!" Go figure.
I wish I could say that was the only moment I’d be embarrassed by, but I would be straight-up lying. There are plenty more moments I wish I could flush down the toilet alongside the marshmallows:
- The time we literally got so busy we forgot to throw one of our sons a birthday party because the venue he had wanted was impossible, and we kept forgetting to book a different one. He still maintains he’s a year younger because of this.
- The time my phone was accidentally on and caught me having a huge fight with my teenager. You know who I’d accidentally called? One of the parents I was supposed to be coaching in 15 minutes! Did I want to hide under a rock and never emerge? Yes. But I showed up on that call anyway, and together we laughed, and we cried. It furthered our friendship and deepened our trust. It was such a beautifully public recognition of the fact that we are all doing our best and sometimes we are failing.
None of my failures are stories I take lightly, and yet they don’t weigh me down either. They are the stories of my life and of my children’s lives too. And they’ve come to mean something quite dear to me. I no longer look at them and see failure. I see growth, because each time I got knocked down, I didn't STAY down. I got back up. I learned whatever lesson I needed to learn, and then I moved on and improved into a better me, one that was sure to fail again, and sure to grow again.
After years of doing this, it dawned on me that there was a very simple pattern that was helpful to me during these times.
I came up with the word SUFUSU to lock this pattern in my brain, as an acronym for "Show up, F*ck up, Show up."
I love watching the relief pour over parents as they enter my program and deeply take in that their "failures" will be expert fodder for our learning together, and that each one will be celebrated for the gift that it is. It is so different from the mindset they usually come in with: shook by each moment that does not go well, quite sure it means something about their child or about them, perhaps some deep character flaw that could never get fixed.
Instead, one by one, together over six months, we sand out the edges, we build bridges, we disconnect pieces that should never have been connected, reconnect ones that were longing to be together, and soon enough, we have a beautiful whole functioning system in their lives that allows for beautiful whole people to exist within it.
Are there still dips and valleys? Yes, but the parents are no longer shook by every little thing. They can see that the dips are what give them the momentum for the rises, that the dips are gifts if we know how to make them so.
When you parent this way – when you live this way – there really is nothing to fear anymore. Bad times make for funny memories like my marshmallow story, or shared tears like the moment on the phone with my clients, or powerful moments of learning, like my community and I get to witness every single day during their mentorship.
We all deserve the chance to show up and f*ck up and show up again. May you claim this right for yourself.