Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 65: Getting Distracted

Lark (The Dreamer): Hey, Mom?

Mom (Me): Hello Lark — What’s on your mind?

Lark (timid): I… I need your help.

Mom: That’s why I’m here — what’s bothering you?

Lark: The last time we spoke, I got pretty angry at you. I called your parenting into question, and I know you’re only trying to help me — you put so much effort into helping me when I first arrived.

Mom: You’re allowed to call my parenting in question. Welcome, even — this space is here for all of us to grow, not just my daughters.

Lark: I suppose that’s true, but I’m still sorry I snapped at you, Mom.

Mom: I can accept that apology. Did you apologize to Ivy?

Lark (sullen): …No. I’m… I’m still upset at Ivy.

Mom: You are? Why?

Lark: I don’t… I’m not sure I know? I’m just angry at her for some reason! I keep trying to understand why, but I can’t figure it out; I just keep losing my focus. And then I get angry at myself for losing my focus, and…

Mom: Breathe, Lark. It’s okay, you don’t have to understand everything all at once.

Lark: I know I don’t, and I know you’re right, but… This is important, you know? I want to figure myself out as soon as I can.

Mom (conciliatory): I understand how you feel. We have a tendency to beat ourselves up when we can’t reach our goals in a way that we’re comfortable with, don’t we?

Lark: Yeah, you get it. It’s hard.

Mom: Still, I’m a little surprised you’re beating yourself up this much. You’re The Dreamer — letting your thoughts drift to other topics is kind of your thing.

Lark: I guess so, but this is so important… It feels wrong not to laser focus on it.

Mom (suspicious): Are you sure you’re feeling okay?

Lark (cagey): I mean, I’m upset, but aside from that I feel fine.

Mom: This just doesn’t seem like *you*, that’s all.

Lark (confused): I… Who else could it be?

Mom (contemplative): That’s a fair point. Listen, I want to tell you something that my therapist told me; something I didn’t fully internalize until pretty recently.

Lark: What’s that?

Mom: It’s okay to get distracted.

Lark (caught off guard): What?

Mom: Just that — it’s okay to get distracted.

Lark: I suppose? I know I get distracted sometimes, but when I need to focus…

Mom: It’s still okay to be distracted. Even if it’s important, even when you’re trying to focus. Sometimes especially when you’re trying to focus.

Lark: But then we’re not thinking about what we *need* to be thinking about.

Mom: And that’s okay. When we get distracted, that’s our brain telling us that she needs a break, or needs other kinds of stimulus for a bit, or that she thought of something that feels more urgent to her. Ignoring those signals comes at a cost.

Lark (uncomfortable): Okay, sure, but learning how to push past that discomfort is and… Do what needs to be done anyway… Is part of…

(Lark trails off into silence.)

Mom: …of growing up?

Lark (deflated): I couldn’t even finish the sentence.

Mom: That’s the message we grew up with, isn’t it? It rings so hollow now.

Lark: Gosh, it really… It really does. But Mom, sometimes we really *do* need to push through our discomfort.

Mom: Sometimes we do. If there’s a deadline we need to hit, then we might need to push through our discomfort to hit it. And sometimes we get distracted because we’re secretly anxious and our brain is trying to avoid processing something; in that case giving her gentle pressure to push through our discomfort is important. There’s still a cost to ignoring our brain trying to distract herself, but occasionally the cost is worth it.

(Lark ponders my words for a bit.)

Lark: I know my relationship with Ivy is important and needs focus, but… I suppose I don’t have to push myself *constantly*. I can take breaks and think about other things too.

Mom: Of course you can. Forcing yourself to focus on something your brain doesn’t want to focus on *is* costly. It’s best done sparingly, and only in short bursts, if you can help it. You don’t want to burn yourself out.

Lark (calm): Okay, Mom. I think I can relax a bit more. Thanks for talking this over with me.

Mom: Of course, dearest.