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Breathe Peace Painting by Julia

The other day I found myself very angry at my daughter.

Ironically, I had just exited an evening parenting class when my daughter and I began our row. It was about 8pm and she was exhausted, as was I. She and her sister were being babysat in a nearby room and were very ready for me to pick them up and for us to go home. My oldest was extra angry because I had stayed to talk to the teacher afterwards, and the few seconds it took became the straw that broke the camel's back.

As soon as we got in the car my daughter threatened me bodily harm as soon as we got home if I didn't get her there NOW!

All my good intentions and gentle compassion running through my veins, inspired by a very child-centered class curriculum disappeared in a red hot instant. My fanciful dreams of implementing all the friendly tips and advice from parents in the class went out the window. I could only see red.

How dare she talk to me that way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She reiterated her anger by kicking the back of my seat repeatedly all the way home.

Let's just say I was not calm. I felt blindsided by her rage! It wasn't cool. After all couldn't she see I was taking the class to become a better parent? Couldn't she cut me some slack? How dare she act that way. In my eyes she was old enough to know the difference. In my eyes she deserved to be punished. She deserved to suffer as much as I was suffering.

Fast forward through a holy terror of a time. Picture three tired people, me, blind fury, my older daughter who has blown her top, and my younger daughter who is anxious for all of this to end.

My older daughter senses rightly that I am unable to love her in this war, so she makes it bigger. She can't love me either, so, I want to make it bigger. After all I do for you... runs through my head.

There is only self-preservation for both of us. There is only revenge. My younger daughter becomes a would-be casualty of war, getting caught in the cross-fire.

But because the pain felt so familiar, and I so question anything this hurtful and this familiar, I am determined to put a wrinkle in the fabric of time and space--to make this interaction different.

I take some space from her in another room.

I hear her screaming in her bedroom. I have no ideas. I know that I am angry and getting angrier.

So, I am in a panic of what to do. I know I can't yell at her over her own yelling, mostly because I have heard her yelling inside the house when I have been outside, and I admit, I still care what my neighbors think. We don't need to give them a screaming match.

It begins to look like nothing will change. It is all going to play out like it always does: hell, more hell, a bit more hell, guilt, pain, sorrow, and then we sleep it off.

But this night, I am DETERMINED that things be different. I am so determined that I am willing to go against every grain of my own blinding anger, to see her in a different light.

"Daughter," I say out loud as calmly as I can, and with a sense of surrender, "I am really angry at you. I am so angry, I know that I cannot see you right now. Every ounce of me is angry at you for how you've acted. I don't deserve how you've treated me. Every ounce of me wants to take away all of your privileges... but I want to see. I don't want to do things the same way. So just give me a minute here. I can't see right now. Just give me a minute. Nothing is coming. Still just anger. Just a minute."

My face is buried in my hands as I ask for help like mad.

"Nope, nothing yet. I am still just angry."

My older daughter is sitting a little dumbfounded on the couch, still carrying on, but curious. My youngest daughter is riveted to the spot listening.

"I am so angry, and I see that you are so angry. I just went to my class, and I came to pick you up from the babysitting, and as soon as we get in the car you start yelling and threatening me, kicking my seat, screaming at me all over again. I am so angry, but I know I can see this differently. Just give me a minute, because I know I love you. I'm just so angry. It is hard for me to see you."

I put my head back in my hands and wait. I can feel my older daughter softening just slightly, or she is at least distracted by my odd parole.

"I know I love you, and I know I can see you differently...hmmmm, maybe you couldn't help how you acted. Maybe you weren't feeling good. Yes, maybe you were just so miserable...I think I can see you a little bit. I think you were feeling like I feel now."

My daughter's voice transformed into a sweet sob. Her anger was breaking. It was helping to break mine. I couldn't yet feel it physically that I was opening to love, but I was so determined to have our interaction be different, that I was willing to wait--to go as far as I could. She met me halfway.

"I was tired, and hungry, and you were taking so long," she said sobbing.

Her anger was blind, but so was mine, until we met each other in our moment of pain and expectation, and the walls came crashing down.

Then I could feel it move through me, all of my maternal love and nurturing, all that I had to give to these little ones, who had barely made a dent on this planet.

I repeated what she'd said. "You were tired and hungry, and frustrated that I was taking so long."

"Yeah," she sobs gently.

"I can see that," I say feeling calmer.

"Wait a second. I think I can see you now. You needed someone to take care of you, you just didn't know how to ask for it."

She breaks down into sweet sobs of release.

"You were looking for someone to help you to feel better."

With that I pulled her on my lap and I held her. I let her sobs fall into my shoulder. Her 7-year-old body melted into mine. She no longer needed to keep her guard up, or her battle lines drawn. My younger daughter climbed into my arms too, sensing the return to sanity.

The love was so big that there was no fear that my daughter might not learn her lesson, or might be manipulating me. There was no more story, just peace, just love.

In the past I would have been down on myself for losing it, for feeling such anger, thinking that I should model perfect adult behavior, be the calm in the storm, be the mature one (which rarely has happened). However, this time I could see the beauty of the contrast. The movement from dark to light is what I would value teaching my children more than anything. This was not play-acting nice--this was moving to true vision, to seeing in the moment the perfection of one another with all of our blemishes exposed. This was to teach freedom while living in a world with no guarantees, with a lot of people who don't want you to get your way.

In the end, I believe it was important that my daughters saw how hard it was for me to see past my anger, and how it took every ounce of courage I could muster for me to deviate from the part of me that was absolutely sure that this little girl should be punished and cut down to size.

How much more powerful for her to see the transformation, to show her what it looks like to let go of the wretched ego, and open to the truth in the moment. I believe in that moment I showed her a love and acceptance she could genuinely know as real. I showed it to myself too.

I believe that someday, when she needs it, she will call up this day.

I know that I will call up this experience often.

I share this story with sincerity in a world that values the upper-hand, that teaches us to match our opponent with falsely sanctioned ferocity--in a world that values being right and pushing people out of the way, in a world where every story has a moral to uphold.

I'm tired of punishment. I am tired of being right. I am tired of being angry at someone I love because of my fear that they should act a certain way--perfectly. I want to trust that if I let go of the reins, my daughters and everyone else will be able to drive themselves, that peace wants to happen.

I am ready to really love. I am ready to give that love away to one and all. I am ready to change this world, just by changing the way I live in my relationships, by allowing the space for love. It just doesn't matter to me to hold on to what I think is the right way--not when the love that comes through is so healing.

I want to stop throwing the pain back and forth. I want to stop the process of fighting in the moment. I know that in the end revenge is empty. I'd rather skip to the good part. Life is too short.

I want to reiterate that it felt impossible to see my daughter. I firmly believe, however, that it just takes being open to the possibility that peace on earth could be real, that the end of warring could be real.

I guess I'm more fully realizing that peace begins with me. But hey, what do I know? Experiment for yourselves!


  1. Hey Brooke,

    This is seamlessly telling.

    You took me on the ultimate journey. I absolutely thrive on that organic, messy, faithless turned faith, breath by breath, knowing, coming back to peace, seeing myself and others, in love. Sharing that process with anyone is such a gift and what lucky girls to witness and participate with their brave mother.

    Thank you for sharing this. Peace can be real.

    "I'd rather skip to the good part. Life is too short."

    Love it!

  2. Brooke, thank you for this beautiful honest post. As a mother, I can so relate! What you and your daughter learned and experienced together applies not only to parents and children but to all relationships, personal and global. Love is not blind at all, love is sighted. Bless you for your vision and for sharing it with us.

  3. I could not be more proud of you, if you were my own child...oh wait, you are my child!

    Your insights, wisdom, honesty, & commitment to live life from the soul is so inspiring!

    I love you beyond words!!!!!!

  4. Well done for making the dash to the other side. In that moment when the walls came tumbling down, you saw your daughters interests as no different than your own and remembered the truth. A Course in Miracles says that miracles occur naturally as expressions of Love. The real miracle is the Love that inspires them.WOW!
    Love Nige

    Love Nige


    Love Nige:-)

  5. Thank you all for taking the time to read a long blog and to comment. You all left such beautiful comments that have left me uplifted and inspired, and less afraid to tell what sometimes feels like the ugly truth. It makes it worth sharing when something so important to me resonates with you all too. Thank you for sharing with me in a vision of peace.

  6. Oh, this completely made me cry and feel and open and believe. There is so much beautiful truth here. And courage. And love.

    This should be required reading to, to-well, everyone.

    Deep bows to you, my brave friend. You are such an inspiration.


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