The Value of Validation

Jun 07, 2024

I've been processing my feelings for days, and I don't see an end in sight. 

I saw "Mary Jane" on Broadway last weekend.  And this play that I told you about a few weeks ago is phenomenal!

At the risk of sounding narcissistic, it's also all about my life. The details that don't apply to our son, Andrew, and me felt so small in comparison to all the truth up on that stage. Our truth. It was unbelievable to watch -- yet I know it happened. 

A recent review by The New York Times says "Mary Jane" star, Rachel McAdams, "saw in the play the value of community, and of holding space for the explores all kinds of reactions to the things we come up against in life, and doesn’t try to make them all make sense.” Perhaps this is what so moved my dear friend and me last weekend.

Or maybe I'm just blown away that the cast and creators of "Mary Jane" have validated my life and what other "special needs moms" go through all the time. What we don't talk about or complain about -- what grabs us by the neck and won't let go. As another review so perfectly articulated,  “'Mary Jane' explores the death of the self in the love for one’s child." Seeing this spotlighted on a Broadway stage is truly breathtaking and something I never expected in my lifetime. 

Thankfully, on stage and in the real world, loss and grief and struggle co-exist with joy and laughter and community.  It's the yin and yang of life for so many of us. And when I coach parents (especially mothers), we deal with all these emotions so they can learn to thrive in the midst of them through acceptance, resilience, and connection.  Doing so helps us embrace "another normal"  and take back our lives, without sacrificing our children or families or dreams.  It's incredibly powerful.  

I'm still wrestling with lots of feelings and reactions to seeing a story I know so well up on a Broadway stage.  I'm not certain what to do with all these emotions, but today's newsletter shares what I do know for sure.

  1. She deserves a break. And a Tony.

Watching Rachel McAdams for 90 minutes on stage is exhausting.  She's in literally every scene and never gets a break.  Kind of like real moms of kids with special needs.

Why was it so easy to see how much this character needs a rest when we never allow ourselves to do so in real life?  More often than not, we ask the impossible of ourselves in the name of caregiving.  That needs to change.

I so hope parents can rest more without feeling guilty or less than.  And I also hope Rachel wins the Tony Award, for which she was recently nominated.

  1. She goes out of her way to make everyone feel better. But she shouldn't have to.

It's uncanny how much time Mary Jane spends trying to make other people feel comfortable around her and her child. She expends so much energy telling people not to be sorry, that she's really "just fine," that life's heaviest struggles are not overwhelming. But the truth is -- they are.

This is definitely a case of art imitating life. And I know why we do this. But we really shouldn't have to. It's just too exhausting.

If you know parents of complex kids, please practice empathy to help them preserve their energy for the tough stuff in life. Support them to identify and focus on their needs instead of trying to reduce the worry or sorrow that others may feel about their circumstances.

We need friends who will do this for and with us.

  1. She can inspire us to do more.

In addition to showing more empathy, Mary Jane can inspire us to advocate for caregivers in impactful ways. A recent CDC report confirms that caregiving "affects the caregiver’s life in a myriad of ways including his/her ability to work, engage in social interactions and relationships, and maintain good physical and mental health."

We must support family caregivers  by passing laws like the proposed "Care Act" and increasing pay for direct care professionals. This recent PBS story highlights the need well.

Won't you share your support with government leaders to create positive change?

If you or someone you know wants to explore transformational one-on-one coaching with me to gain strength, support, and new ways of thinking about your challenges, please reach out through my website. I'd be happy to talk with you anytime, free of charge, to see if I'm the right coach for you.

Interested in learning more about one-to-one coaching? Contact Kris for information on what this might look like for you, including outcomes, availability, fees and more.

Contact Kris

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