Fresh Air & Faith.
March 2020: The Unthinkable. Last week was spent stocking, preparing, and asserting for my kids to come home. I gathered resources, spoke my truth, and finally, arrived at home. To wait.
I teach toddlers, and say these words every day: “Waiting is hard. What do you want to do while we wait?” Now, those words haunted me. What do I do while I wait?
I cleaned. I wiped lots of things. I organized drawers. I got a pile ready for Goodwill. I prepared a list of meals. I contemplated color coding items in the freezer.
I kept thinking first this, and then I can take care of myself. This next, and then I can do something for myself. Oh, right, I must do this before I do anything else. The doing was very productive and useful. I felt accomplished.
Until, I found myself in a power struggle with my 21-year-old at college in California opting to play frisbee instead of pack his car and drive home. He was ignoring my calls and texting ideas like, I’ll stay here until Saturday, then I’ll drive back to Colorado.
Toddlers and adolescents or young adults seem to behave very similarly in moments. The “Me do it” phase of 2-year-olds translates to “I’ll decide for myself.” Completely developmentally appropriate and necessary to build his autonomy. Yet, at this moment in history, I am not seeing the gift of appropriate development.
Where is the What To Expect From Your 21-Year-Old During A Pandemic book?
I decided to go running. Somewhere along the way, I laid down in the grass and cried, like a two-year-old that needs a nap. The endless list of to-dos had become a carefully constructed boundary to keep me from feeling a whole bunch of built-up emotions.
Who doesn’t need a good cry right now?
Looking up at open sky and clouds, watching the pine trees sway, I remembered, I need to let go. Let go and let God. Cliché, and exactly what I needed: to find my faith.
For me, faith means letting go and stop trying to control everything, which is literally impossible right now. Letting go means accepting myself, flaws and all, which made room for my son’s experience.
Maybe parenting is actually a spiritual path.
Strangely enough, the phone rang the next morning, and I heard the words: “Mom, I’m coming home.” I had to hold my tongue, and respond: “How can I help?”
What do we do while we wait?
- Get outside every day. Not kidding, make this part of daily operations. Be in nature: study the sky and wide-open spaces. Honor the goodness right in front of you. Be silent. Listen.
- Breathe, move, and feel. Acknowledge your feelings bit by bit so they don’t pile up. Dan Siegel says, “Name it to tame it.” Share carefully with someone you love and trust.
- Find your center: your ok-ness in this chaotic moment. Use one of the many mindfulness apps for breathing exercises and guided meditations. Return here often.
- Add more delight & humor. Watch cat videos, or penguins roaming free. Anything that shifts your attention toward laughter and light-heartedness. Anything.
May this moment pass quickly. May we all learn a thing or two. May you all be well.