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It’s been a busy spring. A graduating high school senior and the events have been in high gear for our family. Special dinners and sports banquets, awards ceremonies and graduation parties. The abundance of the past few weeks, a delicious celebration of the past eighteen years.

Of course it has also been a forced retrospective. Requests for childhood photos to populate slideshows had me pouring through old files, marveling at the passage of time and seeking a deeper recollection of each event more than just the photo itself, grasping for tangibility. To know I was actually there and that I haven’t lost my right to claim motherhood.

The whole of it. I hate being such a cliché. But it’s a lot to digest.

Deep breath.

This week was college orientation. Smart people dispensing valuable advice to those of us white-knuckling our kids’ childhood.

Doctor Senior Vice President All Knowing Person About Student Experience and Engagement, Ph.D. gave our kids a summer assignment to be completed in the next six weeks. No, not writing or reading or studying quadratic equations. Not bonding with your roommate or naming your top three goals for freshman year. Rather, go out to a public place—a Panera or a Five Guys—and eat a meal. By yourself. Sit at your own table. With no one else. “Go out” he said, “and experience being ok in a crowd by being alone.”

The goal? To feel a sensation akin to personal fortitude and resilience. To build the capacity to handle tough situations and to recover quickly and on your own.

Up until the moment he issued this request, I couldn’t name the force of the coming adjustment without the trite maxims about letting your kid go. The platitudes that seek to give me some grace when I have no words to describe the profound and un-utterable truth. That for eighteen years I have been slowly walking towards the inevitability of this cliff I am now at and from which I can’t retreat.

He has to go sit at that table. And to love him the way I am supposed to means I can’t sit with him. Resilience for him or for me?

I am not particularly fond of these parts of life, when you have to muster up the courage to endure even when you didn’t authorize the transaction. These things happen to everyone…put on a good face, you knew it was coming.

So what. My heart is breaking. Don’t worry, I will be okay. But I might wail for a bit. Or stomp around to get out all the anger I feel. Or I might flee! Dye my hair! Change my name! Get a new car (or a new puppy)! Just let me do it. I am building my resilience. Give me a hug and get out of the way. I’ll be back shortly.

And I guess that’s my point. Being a day-to-day human takes resilience. I’m not talking about the crisis moments here. Those have a special place for healing and recovery. I’m talking about everyday adjustments we have to make to get through transitions and change. The ones where we look all good on the outside but the roiling discomfort of our insides seep out in snappy comments or dismissive acts of self-protection.

As someone who is a part of a business that works with and cares for people every day, I think we need to pay attention to these things. To consider the possibility that someone might be going through something that has nothing to do with us. That they may be distracted or off or sad or scared. That how they are showing up right now might just need a little tenderness and grace.

As a team, we try for this. We try to stand in our own humanity and support others as they do the same. It’s a more subtle success strategy that takes significant faith and dedication. But we’re working in people’s homes and people are living their lives with us every single day. We are too intertwined in each other’s dreams and destiny to stomp on the budding resilience we are all busy building.

Deep breath.

That’s what the Ph.D. was saying I think. Create the space and stand by. See you at Panera. I’ll be at the next table over trying not to bother you.

All my best,