The other day I had this thought and it looks a little something like this:
It’s a simple reminder that I needed.
Lately, I feel as if I’ve been noticing this more and more…
Allergies and Anger
My “go to” emotion in times of distress is more often than not, anger. And yet, I’m realizing that anger is often a mask. Because being angry is WAY easier for me. It’s an easier feeling to have, than to wrestle with what is really going on below the surface. So, I get angry with my husband and his “49 moderately severe to severe” environmental allergies that prompt him to hunker down and choose to stay inside during most of the days of May and June.
And yet, the reality is, I am sad. I am disappointed.
Sad that we can’t as easily hop in the car and spend 3 hours at a zoo or park without it wearing him out due to all the reactions to the outdoor allergens. Sad that it doesn’t feel refreshing for him when we get out as a family for a bike ride or a dip in the pool. Disappointed that he feels bound by the problem and isn’t able to choose differently. And in the deepest, darkest place of my sadness, I am afraid. Afraid that it may never change.
And so we sit. On the couch. And we talk about our feelings. We remain respectful of one another as we talk, but we let the real feelings out, however ugly they may be.
WE CHOOSE VULNERABILITY AND A SPACE TO BE PRESENT IS CREATED.
Trying to be SuperMom
Prompted by my oldest daughter’s expressed desire to have one of us at her end-of-year 3rd grade picnic we worked things out so that I could be there. Dad would take both littlest ones with him to middle daughter’s gymnastics that morning, so that I could make it to the picnic on time. It was on the calendar, on the weekly white-board of activities. It was happening. Except… the time I had written down was wrong.
I thought to call the school and double-check that morning as soon as I had a moment to, once Dad was out the door on his way to gymnastics. I was off by an hour. And that hour threw the whole plan out the window.
Dad came home. Middle daughter was asleep in car. Youngest daughter was cranky and hungry. Dad, understandably, needed to get back to work. I made an executive decision to let middle daughter continue to nap for a bit in car while I make lunch for youngest daughter, send Dad to office and miss eldest daughter’s picnic. Deciding not to call the school, and hoping against all hope that the eldest, Maddie, would simply brush it off, or even forget our plan, I proceeded with lunch and then on to nap for the littlest.
After laying her down, I noticed two missed calls and voicemails on my phone. Gulp. And heartbreak…. It was Maddie.
“Mom. It’s me. Are you coming to my picnic?”
said in the saddest of sad voices (Click)
I dialed the school’s number, got her out of class, and tried to explain and clean up my mess over the phone. She graciously heard and said it was OK, but I could tell she was simply saving face in front of the office staff and I would hear her true feelings as soon as she arrived home.
Sisters and I waited at the corner in the van to pick her up off the bus and head for “let’s kick off Memorial Day weekend” ice cream. She got in the car and gave me the look.
“Are you mad?” I asked.
And then it all came out. Tears. Mention of this being a once-in-a-lifetime thing. There will never be another 3rd grade picnic. I had to share a blanket with my friend and her mom. I was so disappointed. We had this planned out and you messed it up Mom!
As she shared, MY HEART HURT so much. I wished desperately that I could take it all back and change it. We sat there in the car, not moving, as I said,
“I’m sorry. I wish things were different. I did mess up. It was my fault. I need you to hear this: I love you so much. I care about the things you care about. You are important to me and your activities mean a lot to me. I am human and I will likely disappoint you again. But, I hear you and I am really, really sorry.”
WE CHOOSE TO STOP AND ASK A SIMPLE QUESTION… PROVIDING A SPACE TO BE PRESENT. AND VULNERABILITY HAPPENS.
The ice cream helped a bit. The play date- turned into staying for dinner and giggling until close to bedtime (including sprinklers, water balloons, lemonade and pizza) with four of their neighbor friends seemed to help even more. She even came up to me at one point and whispered, “Thanks Mom. This is the best play date ever. I even had one minute where I completely forgot about you missing the picnic.”
ONE MINUTE. Well. OK. I’ll take that.
Rainstorms and Flowers
Yesterday while the two youngest napped, Maddie helped me pick out flowers for our porch pots. There was 15-minute stretch where it began to rain. We stuck it out under one of the covered areas, next to an array of beautiful flowers. We sat. I fought the feelings of “this is holding us up from our plans for today,” and instead, told myself that it was indeed OK to be bored and for plans to shift a bit.
We watched the rain. Chatted about flowers a bit. But mostly, we sat in silence, while I stole glances, looking at her, drinking her in a bit. She’s growing. She’s beautiful. She is her own person, with her own preferences and dreams and thoughts.
On our way out, after the rainstorm, she surprised me by breaking the silence and saying,
“Mom. I just feel like I’m supposed to tell you that you’re really important to me.
And I’m glad to have you.”
CREATING A SPACE TO BE PRESENT ALLOWS FOR US TO BE AWARE OF OUR THOUGHTS AND VULNERABLE WITH THEM.
And, always, that results in a beautiful gift. Try it and you’ll see. It may not look like you expect, but it WILL be beautiful. You’ll feel it in the settling of your soul.
As my husband and I watched our girls play in the sprinklers the other night with friends, enjoy a movie and sister-sleepover after their friends left, our shared glances indicated one thing, “We won’t get these moments back.”
Let’s be present. Let’s allow our eyes “drink in” our loved ones around us and allow our actions to silently say, “I see you. You matter.” And just watch what happens. It will be beautiful.