It’s been a day full of piano lessons, grocery stores, pool time, a husband out-of-town, and now piles of wet towels by the back door. Not every moment is easy, but I have a good life, a great life.
I recently realized that I need to calm the eff down. My shoulders are up to my ears. My neck is stiff. My body is bracing for the next thing because it will come, oh, it will come. My stress is an individual, personal thing. My reaction to it is the connection I have to every stress I’ve experienced, big and small. The memories of each stress, which are sometimes simply sensory, are chained to the one before it and they will hold me down. The physical act of pulling my shoulders up and keeping my neck stiff is my attempt to stay above water. And, so, I say to myself, “Just calm down, girl. It’s ok now. You’ve got it good. Your kids are not psychopaths. They are kind and friendly. Your husband still loves and respects you. Your parents are well. The dogs haven’t chewed up the couch yet. YOU are capable. Sometimes you do your best and that’s more than enough and sometimes you know you could do better, be better. Yes, moments are precious, but no, NO you don’t have to cherish each one. The world won’t notice if half the time you get it all wrong. And, most likely, you’re not actually getting it ‘wrong’, you’re just learning. Ease up. Pay attention to what’s really going on around you. Not everything is serious and time does move quickly, but that should never be a reason to feel guilty.”
I finished writing that sentence as my older son, J, threw down his toys and yelled in his brother’s face. These waves of emotion are, without his knowing it, an attempt to hold on to the younger version of himself (aren’t we all doing that to some extent?), the one that feels steady and familiar, while he is beckoned to boyhood by new and bigger thoughts churning in his brain, messing up the flow of things. It was also because he didn’t want to share. Because sharing is hard. I sent him to his room, telling him he needed to calm down and after some time, went to talk to him. We talked about behavior and control and the golden rule. I told him he could do better. A few weeks ago he would have reached for me and said he was sorry. This time, he told me he was building with his Legos and didn’t want a hug at the moment.
I told him whenever he was ready would be fine. “I love you”, I said. I could feel my muscles tightening. I was searching his face, watching for the recognition of my words.
And I let these thoughts wash over me: Just calm down, girl. It’s ok now.