How to Let Your Parents (and yourself) Off the Hook


Last week, I reunited with my mom for the first time in 5 years.


5 years.


That's a long time to go without seeing your mom's face and get a hug from her. Too long for me, that's for sure.

It was really taking a toll on me, physically, mentally and emotionally. I tried to pretend it was cool and it didn't bother me but it wasn't. Not one bit.

It made sense, in a way. I got it. I came out as transgender and my mom had a hard time with it. She freaked. She withdrew. She didn't say things like, "oh honey, you have my 100% support."

Somehow, along the way, I forgot my mom wasn't perfect. And then I got mad and hurt because I forgot I am not perfect, either.

With all the Pema Chodron listening I do, you would think I would have remembered this. You would guess that I would have brought my enlightenment to this situation and be like, "hey mom, no problem." But it wasn't time for me to do that until recently. Which was the perfect time, really, because that's when it happened. It's really that simple.

You see what I did right there? I just let myself off the hook. I gave myself a break for going through something hard and being a bit imperfect and impatient and ungraceful during that process. 

And just like that, POOF! I was able to do the same for my mom.

Over the past six months, I have gradually reached out to her more and more because I knew she was struggling to understand and accept this new me. I think pretty soon she will come around to realize it isn't really a new me, but just a more complete version. Some better, sexy, updated packaging, you might say. Now the outside has integrity to the inside. She knows what I was like as a kid, she knows that she raised me to straddle the lines of life and not let anyone tell me where to draw them.

But there are new pronouns to practice. A new name. My face looks different (although some of that is just me getting on in years) but she sees my smile is still the same.

This all started when I followed my heart. When we are able to let ourselves do what we need to, we can make that space for others. I've known a lot of people who do this some of the time. I know many people who barely give themselves space to breathe, and I see what they do to the people in their lives, in their country and in the world.

We can only love and accept people to the extent that we love and forgive and accept ourselves. It's a process. It takes a long time. It takes practice. It all starts with the intention to let ourselves, and others, off the hook. 

When we embrace that we are really imperfect beings, we can relax. OMG, the pressure is off. The curtain is pulled away.  The secret is out. We aren't perfect and we won't ever be. AND, at the same time--we are completely whole and perfect in that imperfection. The more we relax and accept it, the better life gets.

During our whole lunch together, we kept expressing how good it felt---even if it felt a little weird. We just let the weird be there.

And the day after, my mom sent a text that was all I've needed to hear for the past 5 years, "I love you and I missed you very much."


Let yourself off the hook.

Let your parents off the hook. They did their darn best, otherwise they would have done more if they had it available to them.

Just like you're doing right now.



Now go give them a call.