Our three-year-old twins are the learning how to skip count by twos at local rallies and marches. At home they shout: 2,4,6,8 we will not be ruled by hate!
Three months ago they had no idea what Washington D.C. was or what was happening in our government. Now my children are no longer innocent. While the twins ask about a bully president saying mean things, our nine-year-old has asked us about what the purpose of pussy hats is and what pro-choice means. We give answers that seem to be the best in the moment. Developmentally appropriate, but not glazing over the truth of our present reality.
This is the brave new world of parenthood. We are doing our best and trying to remember to breathe.
Our youngest one decided yesterday was a great day for a ride to the playground. Once she arrived at the slide, her monologue went something like this:Whoa, whoa, eke! This isn’t going very well. I huff and I puff and I go go go!!!!
She summed up my post inauguration feelings exactly.
Screaming up and down the court, phone capturing all her nine year old daughter’s moves, a basketball mom made her presence KNOWN this afternoon. What if we were all that focused on bringing peace to our inhabited spaces? How quickly would our worlds change?
Logistically it did not make sense for me to go to a community event on racism tonight. The kids were fried and so were we.
However, I heard the voice of my mom say what she has said my whole life, ” 90% of life is about showing up; physically, emotionally and spiritually”.
So I jumped into the car after the bedtime routine and made it just in time to see my friend’s daughter perform and a teen from our church lead a call for critical community dialogue .
I was glad I showed up. (Thanks Mom.)
After a rare cup of coffee today I felt jittery beyond belief. Instead of fighting it, I decided to get grounded by sitting on the floor and be present to my silly kids doing races around the kitchen island. I cheered them on, gave high-fives and comforted them after each minor injury.
Grounding myself not only resolved my caffeine induced tremors but brought me eye level to the joy of my children I would have otherwise missed.
How do we choose to be grounded in our daily lives?
“I will be so happy if I get that doll for Christmas and so sad if I don’t “. This was followed by my many failed attempts to explain intrinsic contentedness to our five year old. Finally it came down to this: Your life is ice cream. It is really good on its own. The special toys and occasions are the sprinkles, nice but not necessary to enjoy the ice cream.
At last a light bulb went on and I kissed her goodnight. “Enjoy your ice cream,” I said.
“You know I don’t actually have ice cream in bed with me?” She laughed.
For better or worse I am a solution oriented person. As a special education teacher and educational consultant, this is usually a good thing. However, it has taken my wife 13 years to train me to just listen to her problem instead of trying to solve it.
Right now our twins are no longer sleeping through the night, there is discord in my extended family, underlying conflict at work and a national political scene that only belongs in nightmares. My mind wants to solve it all. It can’t.
What a humbling process it is to step back and listen to the present moment, holding space for the pain and solutions yet to come.