love unconditionally again

April 2nd, 2019

Sometimes I’d like to tell every reader of Momma Zen, “Nevermind. I’m sorry. I had no idea what I was talking about. It’s not this simple.” Parenthood is the education of a lifetime, perhaps many lifetimes. Increasingly I find myself turning to the model of my mother and her tolerance, patience, and selflessness. My daughter keeps reminding me that there is a place to be involved in her life that is still present but not hovering, and not so self-righteously involved in who she is or what I want her to be. What I’ve seen is how emotionally dependent I’ve been on my daughter being happy, doing things that I like or liking the things that I do. The real shakeup for me has been seeing the degree to which I encumber my daughter with the job of feeding my ego or meeting my emotional needs. It is really a hard lesson to not exploit our children in that way, to not judge them, and to take an even further step back as they explore difficulty, pain and their own confusion about themselves. Whereas parents in our time feel so much stress and pressure to do something right and to advantage their children in some way, our children feel that times a hundred. My daughter said to me not long ago, “Mom, I have more stress in my life than you’ve ever had in your life.” And I’m beginning to see that it’s true: academic stress, social stress, physical stress. It’s hard. The lessons never stop! How can I write another book unless it’s an apology? I’m along for this ride and the ride is long and steep. I’m trying to keep my own place and love unconditionally again.

This is what I said in a podcast recorded three years ago, which you can listen to in full at this link or via the player shown below. Although I scarcely knew it at the time, this has become the anthem of my life, my one true song. Love unconditionally again.

The photo shown at the top is of kintsugi, the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer of powdered gold, silver or platinum.


  1. A song for you, dear Karen — actually, a song for us all!
    Japanese Bowl song by Peter Mayer

    Comment by Bronwyn Jones — April 2, 2019 @ 3:18 pm

  2. Middle class stress pales when compared to working class stress. I’ve lived with both. If you are alive, you experience stress. Middle class stress is much more comfortable.

    Comment by Lenny Cannone — April 3, 2019 @ 5:00 am

  3. Beautiful, thank you.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — April 3, 2019 @ 6:23 am

  4. Beautiful way of describing parenting these days. Thank you!

    Comment by Lana wertz — April 3, 2019 @ 3:38 pm

  5. Ouch. I really saw myself (and my wife) in that post. Our daughter has been super successful in terms of what a parent in our society should want, and has paid dearly in terms of her personal happiness for it. If I could go back and just let her be more–but that is not in my power to do. I have apologized to her and I think that has been good for both of us.

    Thank you Karen

    Comment by Tom — April 3, 2019 @ 5:59 pm

  6. Thank you and more please. I don’t know that you want to give time and energy to another book, but I am eager to hold that book of apology in my hands, hoping that at least my younger two sons can benefit from all my oldest has had to teach me, and of which your words often make me more conscious.

    Comment by Deirdre O'Malley Keating — April 4, 2019 @ 4:48 am

  7. We all learn and unlearn and relearn. Eckhart Tolle says to think less. Some people say to see and feel more. Some people say to use the body to be aware of this world and this minute. I have lots of faith in Karen Maezen Miller and her intelligence, wit and awareness.

    Comment by Bill — April 7, 2019 @ 10:37 am

  8. An extraordinarily beautiful tea bowl.

    Comment by Larry Misiak — April 13, 2019 @ 7:25 am

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