Life happens and . . . conversation and cannolis

Life happens, and...

This month has been full of visiting family. My younger sister and her son came for two weeks the first part of the month and then my children started trickling in mid-month. My daughter who lives in Germany arrived first, followed by my daughter who lives in Oklahoma City and my son and his girlfriend arrived yesterday.

So far we have:

  • Visited several beaches
  • Walked the Freedom Trail
  • Visited the Boston Museum of Fine Arts
  • Eaten Italian food in the North End
  • Gone kayaking on the Charles River
  • Viewed Boston from the top of the Prudential
  • Watched movies
  • Taken walks
  • Gone for jogs
  • Gone shopping
  • Visited friends
  • Enjoyed cookouts
  • Visited Harpoon Brewery
  • Taken a trolley tour
  • Gotten sunburned on a Boston Harbor Cruise
  • Had lunch at “Cheers”
  • Eaten pastries from Mike’s Bakery
  • Reminisced
  • Laughed hysterically
  • Had a few arguments
  • Engaged in meaningful conversations

Still on the docket is:

  • A Red Sox game
  • The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • Sweet Basil
  • A birthday party
  • More movies
  • More reminiscing
  • More laughter
  • More meaningful conversations

While we have enjoyed sightseeing and food, what I will remember the most will be the conversations we have shared. During this past year, I have dipped my toe into the practice of being vulnerable and I have noticed that it is easier to be vulnerable with strangers than with my family.

It is challenging to transition from the “All Knowing Mother and older sister” to a human being who shares her fears and failures authentically. It’s humbling to admit that I lead seminars about the importance of vulnerability, authenticity, and self-awareness and yet I still find myself controlled by my “need to be right” and “my need to look good”.

I mentioned that along with having meaningful conversations, we have also had a few arguments. After one particularly heated discussion between my husband, my son and myself, we all agreed to take time to cool off then reconvene and apologize for our part in the disagreement.

After several hours of contemplation, we all sat at the table to take accountability for our actions and apologize. When it came my time to share, I started laughing and said, “I honestly don’t think I did anything wrong.” To which my son responded, “You’re kidding, right?”

I started to laugh nervously and said, “I’m serious. I can’t think of what I did wrong.”

My son started to chuckle; however, my husband was not amused. Unlike my 18-year-old son, my husband has spent 30 years with my “need to be right”. He left the room and said he would revisit the conversation when I could take things more seriously.

As I sat in the kitchen alone, I began to reflect on how my relationships with friends and family are often strained because I don’t like to admit there might be another point of view other than mine. It was painful to acknowledge to myself that one of the principles I teach is how we would often rather be right than successful.

I hesitantly began to ask myself: Do I want to be right or do I want to have a good relationship with my husband and children?

I hate to confess that I didn’t answer that question immediately. I REALLY like to be right. I realized that in a few days this argument would be forgotten; however, if I didn’t walk upstairs, authentically apologize, and vulnerably ask my family to be patient with me as I learn to acknowledge when I am wrong, I was going to sabotage the remainder of our time together.

I wish I could say I bolted up the stairs and begged Ron, Lane, and Laurel for forgiveness. I didn’t exactly bolt; however, I did apologize. And while I may not have this vulnerability and authenticity gig mastered, I am making progress learning to communicate in a new way with my family. We’ve had some truly meaningful conversations over the last few weeks and that is what I will cherish even more than cannolis from the North End.