Pausing Point

Forced slow downs are hard to navigate. Life is busy and there are always distractions and we get used to the constant on the go. Yet here we are, in the middle of a pandemic and it’s as if the Universe decided we need to stop the madness and learn to be still. As a doer, this is very hard for me. I miss my work, I miss my gym, I miss my students, I miss random Target trips, I miss meeting friends for drinks, I miss normal. 

The first couple of days I felt truly despondent. I cried. I sat on my couch in a surreal headspace watching stupid TV to numb my anxiety brain. Going to the gym to deal with my anxiety was no longer an option. I have never wanted to go to work so badly in my life. However, not being able to go to work made me realize how much I love what I do and how much my students mean to me. I appreciate my work so much more now than I ever have before. 

It’s the end of the first week and I still don’t know what life is going to look like from day to day but I have decided to focus on the things I can do now instead of the things I can’t do. I can lay on the couch and watch stupid TV if I want to. I can spend unscheduled time with my daughter for the first time since I went back to work almost seven years ago. I can read to her and she can stay up a little late and it doesn’t really matter. I can spend hours in the woods, even if it’s raining, just walking and breathing in the fresh air with no time restrictions of any kind. I can finish all the little odds and ends projects that I’ve needed to do for months but have been too busy or exhausted from the busy to do. I can read books and articles that I’ve been meaning to for ages. I can FaceTime my sister in Oregon because, despite the time difference, we’re finally home and unbusy at the same time  for the first time since she moved there a year ago. I can lay in bed and listen to music for as long as I want. I can sit on my back deck and enjoy the beautiful view. I can enjoy relaxed, quality time with the people in my very tiny quarantine circle. I can sit quietly by myself and just be. 

At work, at the end of learning units, we have days that we refer to as pausing points. It’s a day where there’s not as much pressure to teach a specific concept. Rather, everyone relaxes a bit and reviews what they have been learning together as a class. In a way, it feels as though life has given us a giant pausing point. Time to think, time to breath, time to reconnect, time to be present without so many distractions. It’s not something any of us were expecting or something we ever wanted in quite this way but we can do our best to navigate these moments with grace, kindness, compassion, gratitude and courage. 

“Take some time to laugh … play … stumble … and fall. When you can harness the opportunity within the challenge and the perfection within the mistake, you have tapped into a creative flow that brings about inspiration, humor, and grace.”

– A. Kubitsky

The Slow Down

I think of Fall and the way it eases us back into a slower pace, a more scheduled routine, an earlier end to our nights. I think of Madi and how like Nature, she is always pushing me toward the slow down.

She takes her time, she does not comprehend the need for rush or urgency. She has always been this way. I have not. I rush head long into everything. I push myself past my own limitations. For so long I have lived on the edge of urgency even when nothing was truly demanding that type of intensity.

I am learning … I am learning that sometimes it’s best to step back, to reassess and to just be here in this moment allowing myself the time to process without pressure. This is something that I will forever be learning, this is my lesson in this life. To learn patience, to learn trust and to let go of all my preconceived ideas of how life should be.

This morning Madi took it very slow waking up and getting ready; this was hard for me. I used to get really upset. I used to make our mornings more miserable than necessary and set a bad tone for our day out of frustration. She is teaching me and I am listening. She has a tender heart and a gentle spirit. She vibes off of my moods. My stress is not worth her heart. She needs me to send her off into the day feeling peaceful and confident in herself. She does not deserve to feel sad or as if she is doing something wrong because she takes her time.

I am learning to prepare as much as I can beforehand to minimize morning stress and just let the rest go. I would love to be at work a half an hour early but for now that is not my reality – let it go. I would love to eat breakfast before I leave the house, who has time? – let it go. I would love to stop for coffee on the way, that ain’t happening – let it go. All of these things really don’t matter in the grande scheme of things but she does.

In the same way, I feel that life is pointing me into the slow down. Sometimes suddenly and other times gradually it is awakening me to the fact that so much of my stress and anxiety are self inflicted. Perfect isn’t reality and sometime good enough really is enough. Why the rush? When I rush I am actually missing out on the moments and that’s where life is, in the moments. 

Growth takes time, I can not rush the process. Slowly, steadily life unfolds and I really have no control of it after all.

once-she-stopped-rushing-through-life

Sometimes Mama is Wrong

I was grumpy, I had a headache, and we were running late per usual. We were on the way to a birthday party for one of Madi’s best friends and had stopped to pick up a gift for her on the way.

We looked around at various things, I made different suggestions, all the while telling Madi that we needed to hurry. Madi finally found the gift she wanted to give to her friend, to me it seemed silly and I kept trying to redirect her to something else. She was insistent.

Instead of allowing her the flexibility to shop at ease and be free in her choice, I was stuck in my grumpy mood and did not honor her ideas or her feelings. In exasperation, I finally agreed to her choice.

At the party, when it finally came time for Madi to give her friend the gift, she was so excited! The gift was perfect – her friend loved it, all the children at the party were intrigued by the magical little music box with a plastic key.

As I stood there, my heart felt the weight of my mistake. When Madi had a moment, I called her over and I apologized. I said, “I am so sorry Madi, Mama was wrong and you were right.” Her face lit up with amusement at the fact that I had admitted I was wrong and she was right. We hugged each other and I told her I loved her and that her gift was perfect. Sometimes Mama is wrong.

It’s hard to admit that you’re wrong, especially as a parent, especially to your child, but it’s so very important to do so.

When parents apologize they are instilling a value system and a belief that it’s okay to be human and therefore imperfect. They are role modeling accountability. They are demonstrating that taking action to accept responsibility after a mistake is more important than the mistake itself. They are living the old adage “it’s not whether you make a mistake, it’s how you handle that mistake” … When parents overcome their fear of apologizing and say “I’m sorry” to their child, they give their child a gift of freedom to make mistakes. – Katie Roberts, Ph.D.

I am learning, learning to slow down, learning to listen, and learning to trust my child. Her heart and our connection is worth so much more than Mama being right.