Are You Passing On Numbness?

A simple dry magnetic pocket compass

Can you relate when I talk about numbness?

Looking back on my 35 years with honesty, I’ve been mostly numb for a lot of it because the pain of feeling was too intense.

At 28, after years in an unhappy marriage that I was committed to staying in at all costs, I decided it would be fine if I just never had sex again.  That’s how shut down I was.

Fortunately, I had an experience that made me realize how crazy that was and just how numb I had become.  My body had literally shut off and when it began to come back alive, it was a massive shock to my system.

Shortly thereafter, I was divorced and rediscovering how to connect with myself, what it felt like to live inside my body, how to allow my body to become my own internal compass, and find all the answers I had spent years looking outside of myself for.

I’ll be sharing a whole lot more about this in the future and how you can turn your body into your primary guidance system, but for now, I want to let you in on what I’ve discovered about how I’ve been inadvertently passing on this numbness to my kids and you might be too.

Recently, we’ve been having some challenges come up with our nanny.

The long and the short of it for the purpose of this discussion is that Kaia doesn’t like my nanny.  Now, this is a huge inconvenience because our nanny is very good at taking care of the kids, getting dinner on the table and keeping things happening in an orderly fashion in our house.  Finding a new nanny and getting her trained is going to be a pain in the a$$, so I’ve been exploring with Kaia whether there is someway we can make this work.

My first inclination was to brush off her feelings completely.  “Oh, she’s not going to like anyone we hire because it’s not me” I told myself.

Then, I tried to give Kaia all the examples of the nice things the nanny does for her and helps her with.

Finally, I started asking her why.

Her response, “I don’t know, mommy, I just don’t feel like I like her.”  And that’s when it hit me that I was being presented with the perfect opportunity to honor my daughter’s feelings and not pass on the numbness that so many of us experience as part of our daily, unexamined existence.

If I continued to dismiss Kaia’s feelings or try to get her to change them out of my own desire for convenience, I would be passing down the inheritance of numbness.  Instead, I made the conscious decision to break the cycle.

So, even though it’s a massive inconvenience, we are in the market for a new nanny. If you happen to be looking for a great nanny in the South Bay area, I’ve got someone for you.  She’s super sweet, reliable, and trustworthy.  She’s great, my kid just doesn’t like her and because I want to teach her to trust her feelings, I’m going to honor that.

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  1. charuMonday, March 23, 2009 at 7:39 am 

    I am so glad you shared this story.

    I totally agree on how important it is for you to honor your daughter’s feelings above the ‘practical’.

    I think every woman can relate to a notion that trusting how we feel in our bodies just isn’t enough…what a shame!

  2. Lisa RosendahlMonday, March 23, 2009 at 9:12 am 

    I love that you are did that. As a mother, I want my daughter to know that there is power in her words; she can use them to rock her world and compel those around her and would do the same.

  3. Lynne CutlerMonday, March 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm 

    Hi Alexis,

    I’m so glad I caught this post. I don’t have time to read as much as I’d like to but the word “numbness” caught me.

    I have a 16 year-old daughter and we have such a great relationship. I’m so thankful for that and so blessed that she feels she can come to me with nearly everything. I know there are some things that are sacred between her and her friends, and that is how it should be but for the most part I know we can talk about almost everything.

    One of the main things that I learned early on from watching other Mother / Daughter relationships, is that I’m not supposed to be her “best friend.” Girls her age are supposed to be her best friends. It’s important that our children learn to respect us and treat us and other adults with respect.

    The other important thing I learned early on is that when I listened to her, I mean really listened, eye contact, ask her questions, give her feedback, turn off the TV or any other distractions, and really listened for her opinion, I could see that it was registering with her. She knew that her opinion mattered and her feelings and thoughts were very important to me. I think that really was the basis for the good relationship that we have now. Sure, she wants to spend plenty of time on Myspace with her friends, parties with friends and all of that teenage stuff but I also have a daughter who wants to spend time with me. How lucky am I? She recently told our hair stylist that she thinks we need even more “girls nights out.” I was so happy to hear that!

    I now have a daughter that respects her elders, has a list of requirements that a man must meet in order to be in her life and solid goals for her future as a career woman and mom. She even has a timeline for college, career, marriage and motherhood. Ok, now I’m just bragging so I’m going to stop! 🙂

    I think you’ve handled this situation perfectly as you’ve done just what I’ve been doing with my daughter. You have empowered her as a “girl” and by continuing this, you will empower her as a “woman.”

    Wishing you a continued good relationship with Kia.

    Take care,


  4. Charmaine Mills (Expert_Image)Monday, March 23, 2009 at 4:59 pm 

    Interesting article. My daughter doesn’t like her grandma because of a comment that she said. I’m going to spend time exploring my daughter’s feelings and try to get to root of the anger and pain, instead of telling her how “nice” grandma is.

    Thanks for sharing.


  5. Dorcy RussellMonday, March 23, 2009 at 7:45 pm 


    I am so grateful you shared this post and more importantly that you are listening to Kaia. As we have discussed this nanny situation before I think it is fantastic that you are taking you out and putting the mental well being and the feelings of your daughter first.

    So many times as parents we disregard the feelings of our children to fulfill our own needs and we steal from our children the right o have feelings and a voice in the family.

    As you have shared some of the communications between you and your nanny and your children I am most impressed that you did not fall into the trap so many of us do by falling prey to our own fears and mistakes we have made in the past. You did not fall victim to manipulative communications based on things that have happened in your past or some of your past poor choices.

    Seeking to be the best mother you can be and listening to the thoughts and feelings of your children gives them a gift of such a great magnitude that I am not even sure most people can even comprehend. Giving Kaia a voice it what is best for her based on her gut feelings, her sixth sense, her intuition.This is a a gift that will take her so far in life. We both know had we had those gifts from our mothers we would have had far fewer missteps in our interpersonal relationships then we have had and we would not have walked through most of our lives numb.

    I love you Alexis and the divine spirit that you. I love your strength the be transparent and vulnerable with you audience and exposing feelings that so many of us have felt.

    Sending you and your beautiful children Kaia and Noah lots of love light and plenty of laughter.

    Dorcy Russell

  6. Danny DMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:26 pm 

    Children can’t always tell you what they need. She probably will not like any nanny. Why? Nanny is a replacement for mommy. When nanny is around, mom does other stuff. Be there as a mom, not as someone in business. Is your priority your kid or your business? I don’t believe you can have your cake and eat it too. One has to get priority.

  7. Nancy Marmolejo, Viva VisibilityMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:28 pm 

    Alexis, you have so much integrity! I just shared this post with a friend of mine and realize how many others I want to send it to. It’s about you honoring relationships in your life and wishing the best for all. Beautiful value to model for your kids and to share with us!

    Nancy Marmolejo

  8. Nancy Marmolejo, Viva VisibilityMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:33 pm 

    BTW, I just wanted to add a side note to Danny D: As in life, there are no absolutes in parenting. It takes a village to raise a child, that is why so many cultures are created around the extended family, not the nuclear family and SuperMom. We can have our cake and eat it with the kids, the nanny, Grandma, the cousins… let’s not limit someone’s options with 20th century nuclear family illusions.

  9. KrisMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:43 pm 

    Forget about Danny D’s comment and focus on Lynne Cutler’s. She has some great advice there.
    Also, a child doesn’t like someone for a reason.
    I think you’re doing the right thing. Kaia is very lucky to have you for a mom.

  10. Becki MaxsonMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm 

    Alexis, I really honor you for listening to Kaia’s intuition, even at a young age, and realizing as a mom that there’s something there, even if she can’t put it in words. It’s taken me till nearly 50 to listen to my intuition more carefully.

    As a mother to daughter, you’ve given her the right to speak that something doesn’t feel right, even if she can’t really explain why. Hopefully that’s just the seed for her to know to listen to her own cues on what’s right for her throughout life.

    I don’t agree with Danny. I don’t think Kaia resents that someone else is helping around the house or that she sees a nanny as substituting for you. There’s something between the two of them that’s not a good match for whatever reason, and that’s okay.

    I know you can get the help you need with the right person. Let Kaia be part of interviewing the new candidates. Who knows what she’s picking up on that you can’t.

  11. Rafael MarquezMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:48 pm 

    Hi Alexis,

    I’m a first time reader of your blog, but I have to say that I admire that you’re respecting your daughter’s feelings. I get the sense that you’ve determined that it’s not a whim on your child’s behalf and that she indeed doesn’t like the nanny. I wonder, how long had this nanny been with y’all? It seems to me like you’re doing the right thing for your child, and that your child is your priority. Good luck on finding a new nanny!


  12. AliMonday, March 23, 2009 at 8:58 pm 

    Alexis, it sounds like by you having your act together and singing it to the world may have caused Danny D to have issues of her own. Humanity is a community and so is parenting; having the proper assistance is what it takes in all aspects of life. I so love your post, that I’m sharing it with the world.

  13. Scott StrattenMonday, March 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm 

    Alexis, great post as usual. Knowing when to listen to our children when their instincts are telling them something is incredible.

    And Danny D, you’re a douchebag.

    That is all



  14. Sandy GrasonMonday, March 23, 2009 at 9:21 pm 

    Faaaaabulous Dahhhling. I have two daughters (12 & 10yrs) and teaching them to honor their intuition is a big focus for me. Lots of times I am faced with eye-rolling “oh moooooom”, but I know they get it.

    I believe you can have LOTS of cake & eat it too! you are showing your kids you have passion & purpose and that will inspire them to have that too.
    You rock.
    Sandy(licious) 😉

  15. Sarah Robinson ~The Maverick Mom~Monday, March 23, 2009 at 9:31 pm 

    Couldn’t be prouder of you Alexis! I too spent most of my life with my body shut off and my instincts shut down. Though it can be quite a challenge, teaching my son to pay attention to his instincts is something I decided to do before he was born. Part of that, Danny D, is teaching how to navigate life AND honor instincts at the same time. That’s called parenting.

    Well done my friend!

  16. Allie YoungMonday, March 23, 2009 at 10:56 pm 

    This article really reminded me of all the baggage that we bring to our kids as parents. Life is difficult and learning to cope, persevere, and succeed is part of the joy that life can bring. As a woman, it’s especially challenging to be business minded while the “Danny D’s” in our society impose impossible and ignorant ultimatums. Our priority will ALWAYS be our children, loving them, caring for them, and most importantly, providing for them.

    Great post, Alexis!

  17. Elizabeth Potts WeinsteinTuesday, March 24, 2009 at 8:56 pm 

    Children really do have wisdom and intuition that we’ve had broken out of us via ‘socialization’ – they are such amazing teachers and mirrors for us.

    When my daughter said she was not going back to preschool, it would have been easy to debate the issue with her or ignore her requests b/c I’m the parent/grownup and I supposedly know more. While we are there to guide our kids, they are human beings with their own minds. I’m so glad I respected her feelings & intuition and pulled her out of school (to homeschool).

    And it’s not that she does not other babysitters/nannies/teachers because they are not me. She LOVES her babysitters and tells me to get out of the house when they come LOL. And she LOVES her drama coach, music teacher, and gymnastics coach. 🙂

    ~ ElizabethPW

  18. JJTuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm 

    Hi Lex

    Obviously you have a lot of support in favor of what your decision was. I just think that there is also room for conflict resolution too. Having a sit down with the nanny and Kaia to see what feelings would emerge and how it might shift. Kaia could have had a false belief which caused her feelings and having the opportunity to explore them could have been beneficial for all.
    I don’t believe in numbing or not paying attention to your feelings or others, I just wonder if Kaia will get the message that anytime she doesn’t like something, she can just quit or walk away. That would be my only concern. There are always message sent even when we do our best.

  19. JanieWednesday, March 25, 2009 at 6:44 am 

    I agree with JJ.
    While you want to respect your daughter’s feelings, you are creating a potentially bad precedent. You don’t want her turning into a self-centered spoiled brat.
    You are giving her the message that the world revolves around her, and it doesn’t. If there’s a legitimated reason she doesn’t like the nanny, that’s fine. But often you can’t just quit and walk away from something just because you feel like it. You have to teach responsibility to others while maintaining her own integrity. It’s a fine line to walk like a tightrope. I suggest talking with her more to find out exactly why she feels this way. Not a confrontation, because she owns her feelings. But try to dig deeper.
    Otherwise, you might be hiring a nanny every month!


  20. Sarah HurtyFriday, March 27, 2009 at 10:23 pm 

    This works.

    I used to live entirely in my head.

    Just today I made a decision based purely on what I felt my body telling me regarding signing up for a major mentorship program. It’s not right for me at this time. However the lesser one may be perfect.

    I have far fewer regrets when I follow my body. My body displays what my spirit knows, which my mind cannot fully decide based on logic alone.

    So give it a try. It’s a much more relaxed, well-rounded way to live.

  21. TimThursday, June 25, 2009 at 2:09 am 

    I have to say I’m not sure you made the right move. I think you are teaching you daughter to discount people in favor of her mood. It was a better idea to try and bring the 2 together, if that doesn’t work and you can identify clear points of angst then you go find a new nanny.

  22. Lisa RosendahlMonday, November 9, 2009 at 12:12 pm 

    I love that you are did that. As a mother, I want my daughter to know that there is power in her words; she can use them to rock her world and compel those around her and would do the same.

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