Remember that famous scene from The Lion King when Rafiki presented Simba to the kingdom of animals while Mufasa and Sarabi beamed with parental pride?
I feel like that as I introduce you to Meteo Moondance. Even though he is my friend Laura’s foal, she told me I could be his other ‘human grandmother’ so I’m cashing in on my bragging rights.
Sundance, the mom is a rescued horse who was unknowingly pregnant when she came to live with us so knowing when she would actually deliver was a guessing game. By the size of her belly we kept thinking it would be any minute so we became extra vigilant for the weeks preceding the birth. We really wanted to witness it.
After months of uncertainty, he arrived on June 2nd.
It was a Saturday morning but Laura went to the office as usual. Why not? We expected the foal to come in the middle of the night. The darkness of night is a safer time for prey animals to be vulnerable.
Kevin and I were on watch. At 9:00 am Sundance was wandering around the paddock and when we checked at 10:00 am Mateo was here. He looked a bit stunned by it all but was already teetering around his mother on those thin, stilt legs. It was a bit surreal to see that black and white colt in the stall. His mother is Sorrel, a reddish color.
He’s now 5 weeks old, and between wanting to nibble on everything as he teethes and rambunctiously expressing himself with kicking and bucking, we have all learned how to communicate boundaries in the language of Equus.
It’s such a joy to witness Sundance parenting. Like most moms, she follows her daredevil toddler as he tears around the paddock. Mateo, like many adventurous children, has already acquired some bumps and bruises.
She seems to balance care-taking with independence. He has a natural curiosity about his surroundings, his herd mates and anything or anyone else that crosses his path.
In the beginning she wouldn’t allow the other horses near him but as he gets older she incrementally allows him the freedom to explore on his own while keeping an eye on him and neighing to him if she feels concerned about something. She also accompanies him into the bigger arena so he can explore the bigger world, with some guidance.
If it were only that easy for us humans!
I find myself thinking about human versus animal child rearing. In the animal kingdom parents nurture, set limits and boundaries, teach and model while also allowing natural curiosities to flourish.
Offspring take risks, make mistakes, get corrective feedback from their environment and mature into their authentic selves. They don’t spend years questioning who they are or what is their purpose in life. They are not filled with self-doubt. They just become authentically themselves… horse, dog, tiger, elephant.
I don’t know about you, but I have spent many years trying to undo my insecurities and self-doubting beliefs so I could become more of who I was meant to be… more authentic.
I’ve had to figure out a lot of things on my own which has caused quite a few bumps and bruises and taken much longer than I wish it had.
I had a strict upbringing that caused me to shrink in some circumstances and rebel in others. Although I am naturally curious and a risk taker,
I have sometimes held myself back or stopped myself from being vulnerable, taking risks, and showing up because of fears of rejection or humiliation.
At other times I’ve jumped in over my head, unprepared and without knowing what I was getting myself into. Sometimes those risks paid off and other times they were painful lessons.
Brené Brown says, “Raising children who are hopeful and who have the courage to be vulnerable means stepping back and letting them experience disappointment, deal with conflict, learn how to assert themselves, and have the opportunity to fail. If we’re always following our children into the arena, hushing the critics, and assuring their victory, they’ll never learn that they have the ability to dare greatly on their own.” (Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead)
It’s taken many years for me to accept myself and my vulnerabilities. I imagine that is why I became a psychotherapist. I wanted to heal and also help others heal from their own self-doubt and insecurities. I wish I had understood Brené’s definition of authenticity. “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
(Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are)
So, it seems apropos to learn lessons about uncertain risk and vulnerability from a foal as he courageously learns and grows by exploring life the arena.
I’ll end with another Brené Brown quote. “I want to be in the arena. I want to be brave with my life. And when we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
(Brené Brown, Rising Strong)
The Daring Way – Aug 25-26 2018 a workshop at FeatherHeart Ranch