Dig Deep

Last week I had the very rare privilege of spending time away and alone with only one of my kids. That hardly ever happens, but I relished every minute with Brooke.

She’s a senior in high school, and while the rest of the school participated in a service week, the seniors were able to sneak in an extra week of Spring Break. So we set our sights on a warm, sunny location, and thought we’d piggy back off of a fabulous girls weekend at the Arizona home of my friend Cheryl. This is our Forever 49ers Club (age 49) ~ my friends from grade school. For a little while it was fun to say we’ve been friends for 40 years, but now it just sounds like my grandparents are talking. So I’ve gone back to referring to them as my grade school girlfriends, letting you make your own assumptions about how many years ago that was :).

Brooke flew out on the tail end of the girls weekend, and Arizona greeted her with 50 degrees and high winds. She left 75 degrees and sun in Minneapolis; but such is the winter of 2012. We checked into a beautiful resort, and got under the covers for the first night. Flip flops and cute sandals were completely inappropriate for evening temps in the upper 30’s. But the chilliness outside created the perfect atmosphere inside to cultivate warm, deep conversations.

She and I are virtually the same person. Neither of us is quick to converse, are great at keeping our inner thoughts buried deep, and our hearts can get in the way of openness and vulnerability. We aren’t terrifically self-motivated and like to keep the atmosphere light and fun. It would have been tempting to never dig down to those buried feelings, opting instead for surface-y, safe conversations; but I thought it was important to have this week be as meaningful as it was enjoyable. I wanted to be able to share some of my own life experiences and be vulnerable in an attempt to save her from future hurt or humiliation. So I went digging…and found what I was looking for. We both share some of the same insecurities, stemming from the same propensity to compare ourselves to others ~ and come up short every time. I spent years working through that character trait and wanted to give her the tools I learned to prevent her thoughts from taking her to that ugly dead-end street.

I was so struck by the imagery of the flowering cactus. I saw it as such a perfect metaphor for beauty amongst the thorns of life. The subject matter got a little thorny for Brooke and I, but we came away with a tenderness and a memory of a week we’ll never forget. At times our stay was a study in contrasts: we looked out our window at the magnificent mountain of red rock as a backdrop to a luscious pool, cabana, palm trees and umbrella drinks. The magnificence of the mountains so vastly contrasted the delicate clusters of bunnies that dotted the landscape of the resort. The freezing temperatures early in the week were a distant memory by the 85+ degree weekend.

May I suggest making the physical and emotional effort to free yourself to have an experience with one child at a time. It breathed new life into our relationship and was one of life’s rare treasures.

 

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