Trust and risk.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about trust of late. How much we rely on trust to function in our day to day. I was walking with my son recently. We had missed our streetcar and were heading up to the next main street to try and catch another one. On our way we had to cross at a light. It changed to green and the walk signal came on. We hesitated just long enough to avoid two cars that sped through the red light and would have collided with us had we crossed a moment before. It made me think about how everything is able to function on this (sometimes) thin thread of trust. This social contract we’ve set into place through laws and regulations. That works because we choose to trust that others will adhere to them. From a young age this is instilled into us, in school and at home. That we all respect and follow “the rules.” We must have a decent amount of trust in each other to function in the world. To cross streets, to go out at night, to let our children explore and play. There’s that shadow side, sure, but trust can be so freeing too.

Parenthood requires a fair bit of trust. I find myself silently measuring the risk in moments with my kids. Giving them more (sometimes much more) than an arm’s length of freedom whenever I can. Choosing to trust them to follow the guidelines I’ve set for them. Where they can and can’t play, how to treat others (often tested on a sibling). I need to give that controlled freedom to them so they can learn to use their imaginations, to play on their own, to work out conflict without my constantly refereeing. Sometimes that results in scraped knees or an intricately carved candle holder I brought back from India breaking in 3 or crayon covered walls. On the flip side? I’m regaining those moments for myself. Slowly taking back little pockets of time. Where my thoughts aren’t broken up in pieces.

My friend who is a new parent, joined us at the park a few weeks back. Watching me and another friend with our kids, she mused about how difficult it must be to watch two (or more) at opposite ends of the park. It made me think about this delicate balance of trust and a measured dose of risk. Who needs me most in this moment? And trusting that I’ve given enough guidance, drawn the invisible boundaries around where they can play. Park visits used to be much more stressful when the kids were younger and I felt like I needed to be everywhere all at once. I’m finally starting to see how those moments where I choose to trust them are manifesting into these times of play and exploration that don’t require my constant input, my close watch. Sometimes I can even sit quietly and observe or complete a coherent conversation thread with a friend over coffee at the park or at a playdate. The kids will head upstairs alone or run a little distance in the park. I just have to choose to trust that they will take what I’ve taught them and that they’ll be ok so I can embrace those (usually brief) times of solitude.

As I write this, Leni is playing nearby while Finn naps. There is no risk in this of course, but I think those moments that I’ve allowed them more space has enabled this one. She has interrupted me several times of course, scattering my thoughts all over the page. I know she is trying to play quietly though. For the most part she is in her own imagination and I am grateful.

I struggle to not get lost in fear when my children are behaving in a way I don’t know how to handle. My daughter’s big reactions. My sons tendency to hit or screech when he gets frustrated with us. I keep trying to reach through my worries right back into a place of trust. In the big picture, these are moments. Maybe opportunities to learn and grow. Or maybe just some shitty developmental blips that feel so all-encompassing now only to become a vague memory one day soon. One I’ll try to call up a year from now when another friend is struggling with the same thing.

I’m constantly trying to invite trust into my writing and into my personal journey too. In fact I have a little card with that word above my desk. Trust. A reminder I need again and again–often daily. To take steps every day–small as they may be–towards my dreams. To trust that those steps will manifest to a larger something in my life. To clarity maybe or something more tangible. Trust that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, even on the tougher days. Trust that if I do the work, it will bring me where I need to be. I’m working to let go of the control over every little thing. When I overthink and try to control too much, it paralyzes me from stepping forward. I spent years–years and years–unable to move forward in significant ways because of fear. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Imagining the worst. Imagining those cars ignoring the stop sign and colliding into my life. Fear of taking the wrong step. And so I took none. If I didn’t choose to trust, I would never cross the street or have a moment for myself or allow my kids the opportunity to set their own boundaries one day, to know themselves apart from me. I’m realizing how little happens when I don’t learn to trust. To trust my intuition, my words, my voice. To trust that my thoughtful, loving, nurturing actions will lead to more. More fulfillment, more abundance, more understanding.

Nearly all my writing stems from a need to understand myself better. To find my voice beneath the jumble of my thoughts. The more I return to a place of trust, the easier that becomes. As I learn to trust others and myself more, I see how simple it is to be honest and authentic. And how welcome it is. From others and myself.

 

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