Last night, my daughter resisted going to sleep with all her strength. She delayed and came up with excuses, such as an urgent need for another bathroom visit, glass of water or back-scratch.
But forget about that.
I was tired and tense. And home alone with three kids during bedtime.
So, when we finally sat still for two minutes, I tried to light up the mood by pretending to be a soft-barking chihuahua. (No, I don’t know why I did that either.)
Which drove my child into an absolute frenzy. She started crying. Loud. Which was fine, but I was thinking she might wake up the other two who just fell asleep 10 minutes before. The more I asked her what was happening, the louder she got.
That’s when I decided that I will no longer move or talk. I committed to SIT STILL, and let me tell you, that was a TRIP!
I went to my first happy place, which is loop-singing in my head the popular hit “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” She was wailing in the background. I was mentally clapping my brain cells.
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands... If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands... If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands...
Then I got angry. Really angry. I wanted to stand up. But I didn’t do it! I choose to just SIT and be STILL, observing my feelings and thoughts rather than start racing with MY emotions and allowing them to drive HER show!
Magically, the anger slowly dispersed like fog. I kept on thinking that if I snap at her during her upset times, I make it about me instead of her, which this situation clearly wasn’t.
Time for my second happy place, box breathing. Wailing continued at even higher volumes. All in the dark, in bed, while I was holding her. And yes, the acoustics are as bad as you can imagine in that position.
One, two, three, breathe in. One, two, three, hold. One, two, three, breathe out. One, two, three, hold. Repeat from the top.
It was so loud I couldn’t even hear my counting. The second wave of anger. I fantasized about standing up, leaving her alone, being frustrated while taking a hot shower. I was right; she was wrong. Let her cry herself to sleep! I’m a good mom, I deserve a better treatment! I’m so tired!
But I stayed. It took extraordinary efforts to sit still and say nothing.
Then I started crying silently. No sound. Just hot tears. She didn’t notice that. I didn't want to overshadow her display of emotion, but I realized that I was finally STRONG enough just to SIT and BE and ACCEPT her feelings even when they were clearly disturbing me. And because, maybe for the first time, I was KIND to myself through the entire process. It is hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder!
Her crying gradually stopped, but by that time I was in another place. I was actually GRATEFUL for the entire event. Because it made me the sponge, who soaked her pain rather than the wall on which it would have bounced, and she would've received it back.
And because I learned yet another great lesson in love and acceptance. Maybe nobody is there to hold me while it all crumbles, but I can hold MYSELF, be KIND and COMPASSIONATE and TRUST that it will be good.
That, my friends, is reparenting my inner child. That is growth!