Chickweed was the Soulflower pick for June, and boy did she come in with a bang! On the first of the month two of my girls flat out refused to go to school. The end of the school year was in sight and mentally, physically and emotionally we were all struggling to get to the finish line.
After a fair bit of hair pulling, (my own of course!), I decided that the battle was just not worth it… I was trying to enforce something I essentially didn’t believe in…that was, pushing them to conform, to show up and be “responsible” even when they felt there was no real harm not going. Conforming, in other words, to others expectations even when it felt unaligned….and trust me, I have lots and lots of experience in this department.
I am reminded about how we seem to have a built-in automatic, culturally programmed response to events just such as these. It’s like I have a whole pre-prepared script on the responsibility of children to go to school, to make the best of it even though they may not be thriving/happy/interested/whatever, because after all, it’s something we all have to go through, a right of passage, blah blah blah. I turned out fine right? etc etc. (I am telling them to tolerate going to school, while I am not tolerating their self-governing independent, self-realized choice to not do this... on this day at least....maybe I’m overthinking….parenting is HARD!)
But when I really stop and think about it, I have spent the vast majority of my adult life trying to unlearn the “do it because it’s expected of you” script. I even homeschooled my children for over a decade before finally enrolling them (for many other complex reasons). And yes, I value school, but my youngest girls are only 11 and 13, so I can’t see what difference it will make in the long run if they miss a day or two?
If my girls can learn (or rather not unlearn) to assess and prioritize their physical, emotional and mental health at an early age, if they can advocate for themselves in this way, I think of how well they will truly be prepared for adulting in modern society.
I think about how at a very young age we are called to push ourselves even when we feel and know in our hearts that something is not necessarily in our best interest at that time. Push push push.
This brings me back to Chickweed (Tolerance).
—the capacity and inner strength to endure, and even, overcome adversity.
—the ability or willingness to put up with something you may not agree with.
And therein you can see the conundrum!
I want my children to learn coping skills, coexisting skills and the ability to persevere even when things might not necessarily be going their way…but the challenge is to do so in alignment with their own heart’s truth and inner wisdom…with grace, understanding and compassion for all. And this is a lifetime's work for sure!
And though she be but little, she is fierce.
—from A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare
Of course, the lessons of nature, and what the plants have to teach aren’t always just simple, easily digested tidbits either. They are more like long, thoughtful conversations that invite you to take a deep dive into yourself, your life and the truth of who you are. A beautiful relationship that evolves over a lifetime, and always, ALWAYS, meets you exactly where you are, with exactly what you need need, at exactly the right time. We simply have to open our hearts and minds and give ourselves the time to connect in whatever way that seems resonant.
“If there was ever a plant whose personality I would like to emulate, it’s chickweed. When you look at it, it appears fragile and tender. Yet this plant also manages to be tough and hardy. It doesn’t wilt under the malevolent glare of murderous gardeners. It has the vitality to fight off weed killers, stand up to frigid weather, even snow, and hold its springy shape against oblivious tramplers.”—Steve Brill
Chickweed is tough and knows her power. She knows how to shine despite challenges and tough circumstances. Her latin name Stellaria media literally translates as “little star in the midst of”. And shine in the midst of it all she does, with fresh hope and confidence and understanding.
That is certainly something to aspire to! And while I may not have all the answers, or even any conclusions really, as to why children should or should not go to school everyday, I do know that I have the strength, the perseverance and the tolerance to handle whatever life brings me… and so do my girls!
Breathe in love. Breathe out trust.
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I know that whatever happens in my life I can roll with it all. I can feel and embrace the joy and the pain because I know they are not separate, or opposite, but are instead the two wings of the same bird, lifting me up and carrying me along.