It takes work to choose peace. It is not natural for all of us to simply lay our doubts and fears to rest. Doubt and fear are often the rule rather than the exception.
—What did I say?
—What if she thought…when I meant….
—I look like shit.
—Why did she say that?
—If only I could….
—I should have said…
To silence those thoughts takes discipline. It is an act of war on the part of you that won’t let you be peaceful. What an odd concept, that in order to quiet the belligerent self-talk we have to go to war with ourselves. Frequently I have to say to myself,
shhhh. You’re OK. It’s OK if she thought that. She was wrong. It’s OK if you said that, you made a mistake. Put on some grown up clothes and makeup if you feel gross. Who cares why she said that? You can. Learn. Be at peace.
It is my hope that one day I won’t have to coach myself at all—that I will simply be at peace. Self-love is a tricky thing. For as natural as it ought to come to us all, it at times feels like an impossible task.
I am always upset with myself about something.
But I realized today that I never stop myself and say, Oh WOW. You did that so well. Way to go, Sarah! I am not sure that saying that to yourself qualifies as peace, but it is the positive side of the negative. So today I declared war on that Debbie downer side of me that can sometimes pop up.
I got my kids to school today on time and in peace. When I hugged my daughter goodbye she bounced off ready to face the day. When I hugged my son goodbye he bounced off ready to face the day. As my baby Leah explores her world she leans on me in complete trust knowing I will catch her if she falls; she operates in the world in total confidence. I am not a perfect parent, not by any stretch of the imagination. (See, there I go again.) But my kids feel loved, and I saw that today as they walked out into the world.
And just that fact was enough to quiet those voices. I could have chosen to ignore what I accomplished today. We often overlook as insignificant these little things we do to contribute to the lives of our children and therefore ourselves.
Yeah but that’s nothing. That’s not some amazing career, it’s just getting the kids to school. Big deal you took your kids to school. HOORAY!
Silencing those words and thoughts that take bites out of your wholeness takes strength and peace and love of oneself. Today what it requires is that I pat myself on the back. In recognizing a job well done in the simplest task I have somehow declared war and fought for peace all at the same time.
As I walk on the leaves they crunch underfoot. I look up. Her arms are reaching to the sky even as her leaves fall away, leaving her naked, exposed, vulnerable to the cold winds and the hard rains and the bitter snows. But she stands just the same, arms outstretched awaiting the promise of things to come. She has let the past fall away piece by piece down to the ground, never to be worn again.
Her audacity is palpable, her courage unshakeable as she falls apart, piece by piece, knowing of the inevitable renewal she will find. She is love.
I have heard the word “tattle” tossed around between my 2 older kiddos. Where they learned it, I’m not sure. I have never used that word in this house, because I have never viewed tattling as something to discourage. To the contrary, Brynn and her field reconnaissance have alerted me (more times than I care to count) to some serious situations. For example, it was not that long ago that her brother inserted a quarter into his mouth for reasons unknown. Had Brynn not tattled, I might never have known until he either choked or swallowed it…or wordlessly spit it out never to have been discovered. In our home the word tattle doesn’t exist for exactly that reason. I want to know what’s going on. Big deal or little deal, I want to be in on the dirt. I have worked hard to instill trust in my children. Therefore, when something happens that they feel is significant enough to report to their mother, I respect their judgement and do not tell them that they should not have told me. I don’t pass judgement on the things they choose to share. Something in their little kid brains told them to tell Mom. That is something, actually, that I want to encourage. Go ahead and tell me, tell me what’s on that little mind. I will always listen. It certainly doesn’t mean that I will exhibit the desired reaction.
For example, should I hear, “MOM, Drew took his play bear and put it in the wrong box” I certainly wouldn’t react in any fashion. I might say, “OK Brynn.” Or, nothing. Or, “I think that’s OK Brynn, don’t you?” Not every thing that gets shared needs to be. And often children do tattle for reasons that are inexplicable to us. But it’s my belief that they learn on their own, as they mature, what is tattle-worthy and what is not. They figure out, with the help of gentle guidance, when it makes sense to tell an adult.
However, they lose that ability to reason when they receive the blanket “Don’t be a tattle” response from adults who are important in their lives. Children begin to think that anything they may share may be tattling. They never gain the ability to decipher what is tattling and what is vitally important to tell an adult. This scares the shit out of me.
I can’t control what happens outside my home. And I am quite dismayed at the frequency with which this word comes up. Brynn has learned its meaning and implications well enough that in a social setting, being called a tattle is one of her greatest fears. In the parlance of children, being a tattle is the equivalent of being a baby.
So great is Brynn’s fear of such a label that even as she was severely bullied in an educational establishment by two girls who were 3 years older than her, my daughter opted not to alert ANY authority figure. Rather than “tattle” she hid inside an art easel until the girls left her alone. No one heard what happened to her until she was back in the safety of her own home. This was because she was afraid to be called a tattle.
So my advice is, parents, educators and caretakers, never, ever tell a kid not to tattle. Ever.
Slowly but surely sanity is returning to my life. I am working out. I am cooking a little bit. I am grocery shopping. I am hanging out with friends. I was shouldering quite a bit of depression for a while with Andy gone, with bad news about our house and its condition, with some family drama that dragged me way, way down, with kids struggling to adjust to a new family member, with very little sleep and no time to myself, with the endless pile of chores just mounting up….but slowly the fog is lifting. I am starting to think clearly again, and to feel like myself. Depression is something that I have struggled with in my life. It sets in now only rarely but when it does it is vicious. It was inevitable that after the birth of my 3rd child under the age of 5 that a little depression would show up. But I rode it out with the promise to myself that “it won’t always be this hard.” And it was true. It is getting easier.
So I will end with this because I want for everyone who reads this to take it to heart:
Be Gentle with Yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. In the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.