P Japan Planned Obsolescence


Last year when Emma did her first speaking tour I learned something important. We arrived at the school (Me covered in bag, backpack, and film equipment—Emma performance ready) and were greeted by the Principal.

“Welcome!” she said cheerfully and walked right past me, extending her hand to shake with Emma.  “Come right this way, we’re so happy to have you here!” and Emma walked down the hall with her making small talk, leaving me standing in the foyer.  It was the first time I realized that I was along for the ride.

On Sunday, Emma presented at TEDxYouth@Tokyo and it was big event.  There was so much prep and anticipation leading up to it. When she finally went backstage before her performance I felt desperately nervous because I couldn’t see her.

It felt like when I am on a plane on the runway preparing for take off. Out of control, Naked fear. This was all on Emma. Nothing I could do to help or influence the situation was going to make it better.  Then she walked out and started.


She stood in the light.  Her voice, strong and confident, rose and fell explaining the devastation in Borneo and the journey she’s on to make a difference. There was a shift of intention. Emma called out to the kids listening.  She invited them to join her, to lift up the burden she carries.  I felt the energy in the room change.  People were really Listening.  Her truth, the responsibility she’s taken up, and the challenges she offered to them were all laid out as an offering.


The ground has shifted for our relationship over the past year. Emma has come into her power. She’s separated her identity from me, revealing herself more fully to the world.  It’s been so gradual, like the earth turning beneath my feet that I barely notice in the everyday moments.  But when she was away at camp for 7 weeks and return the change was an abrupt jolt to both of us. And like anyone after a large earthquake I am waiting for the next one to hit.

I suppose Emma’s work with Jungleheroes is remarkable opportunity for us to witness a girl metamorphose before of our eyes.  Two years ago she was crying and unwilling to speak to small circle of people without a lot of coaxing.  Now she’s standing up in front of hundreds of rowdy kids with a clear vision to share.  She’s using her strength, her passion, and her indomitable will to move her forward.

I know that adolescence is a time of change.  I know she’s developmentally driven to differentiate herself from her parents.  I know these things, but I can’t help but feel the turmoil of time passing too quickly.  There it is again–Naked Fear–also a murky understanding that my days as Mom as I know it are over.

Planned Obsolescence means that if I’ve done my job right, eventually my kids won’t need me.  I think this is scary for both of us.  I do want my kids to be loving, independent, thriving, productive and happy people, but it’s going to take a while.


I feel so privledged to be Emma’s mom, and so happy that we have an open relationship.  I know for certain that Emma does want me along for the ride, not just to carry the bags, but also to give her a big hug when she steps off stage, heart pounding with joy.


3 thoughts on “P Japan Planned Obsolescence

  1. I think I have a unique perspective on this article as I remember you at the same time, though you had such very different parents.

    You are such a supportive Mom. I am sure that Emma will remember that as she looks back on her growing up years. You have offered options to your kids that are highly unusual and have helped to shape their interests, all impacting how they are managing this growing up period, teen years.

    To be there always for them with unconditional love is what you are and your children are so lucky to have that.

    Love you lots,

  2. E: Wonderful to hear your voice speaking OUT from that stage!
    P: The family environment you’ve crafted and fiercely protected has nourished such a balance of heart, head, and body strengths! Doesn’t make the transitions any less of a roller coaster ride, though. ~hugs

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