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The Curse of Passion


For the past several weeks, my son has decided to become a Full-Fledged Teenager.  Those of you who have been-there-done-that know exactly what I mean . . . snarky attitude, disinterested facial expression, limited eye contact.  And, it’s mostly been directed at me.  I guess because I’m the one around him the majority of the time.

I’ve been through the Snarky Teenager thing twice before, so you’d think I’d have it down pat.  You’d be wrong.

When you have a passionate personality, your passion doesn’t just limit itself to the things where it can be beneficial.  Oh no!  Your passion permeates pretty much everything you do, including your child-rearing methods.  It would be so much easier on ALL of us if I could just chalk my son’s sass (can you use the word “sass” when describing a male???) up to his age, shrug my shoulders, and get on with things.  If I could just calmly call him out on his attitude, calmly demand an apology, then calmly walk away.  If I could just sit down with him a la June Cleaver and sweetly discuss the benefits of a smile and a nice disposition.  If I could just channel Dr. Freud and ask him leading questions to get him to look inside himself and discover the WHY behind his snarkiness.  If I could just NOT take it so damn personally.

I can’t.  It just isn’t who I am, try though I may.  I respond with hurt and anger and frustration and sometimes even tears.  Yes, I know in the adult, rational sliver of my brain that my son is behaving EXACTLY as is expected of someone his age, and I know I shouldn’t take it as a personal affront.  I’m constantly telling myself to stay cool, calm, and collected.  I do yoga, for goodness sake – I should be able to stay cool, calm, and collected by now, right???

Every now and then, I’m successful and I glom onto that success and try to channel it the next time around.  Every now and then, I do.  But, every now and then, I do not, and I find myself hurt and angry and frustrated all over again, more at my lack of ability to respond to my son in the way I WANT to rather than at my son’s behavior itself.

Unfortunately (!), my passionate personality made its way to our three children in some way, shape, or form.  They have each chosen (or maybe they didn’t have a choice?) to express their passion in different ways . . . the performing arts, animals, sports.  And they have each chosen to pursue their own passion to the best of their ability which makes me so happy and so proud.  But, when their passion spills out in the form of anger or frustration or snarkiness, it’s tough for me to watch because it’s like they’re simply holding up a mirror to my own behavior.

Because when you’re passionate about something, you aren’t willing to accept anything less from yourself than 100%.  And, more times than not, you hold others to that same high standard, justified or not.  And, that can often lead to anger or frustration or snarkiness.  At yourself.  At others.

Every time I go to my yoga class, my instructor asks us to dedicate our yoga practice to a single intention, something we hope to accomplish.  Pretty much every time, my intention is to be able to let go, to be able to step back, to be able to breathe deeply and stay calm.  I can honestly say that I now have fleeting moments of clarity where those things happen, where I’m able to rein in my passion just enough to avoid a firestorm.  Baby steps, right?


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