(Beginning in mid-March 2020, when the world shut down, I began a bi-weekly conversation with the parents who had been in my RIE classes. Since not every family could make it to these conversations, but each conversation touched on important elements, I would often write up a summary of the conversation. What follows is one of those summaries.)
Another Saturday, another call. The week ticked by. How was it for you? It felt…long… over here. I’m grateful that my husband is still working a regular schedule because it helps give my days a little more structure than perhaps they otherwise would.
That was one of the themes from the conversations today: structure…routine…rhythm of the day…or lack thereof. Sure, we all wake up in the mornings, eat at various points, play and work and get outside…perhaps nap…certainly, we all fall asleep again at night (for at least part of the night), but somehow for many it still feels catch as catch can. Maybe like things are happening in spite of you, instead of because of you.
I want you all to know: this is how many of you are feeling. You aren’t alone.
I’m hearing about a lot of lack…for some it is sleep…they only work when the child is sleeping, so that means they sacrifice late nights and early mornings. For many, it is personal time…down time to re-center and regroup. Also for many, it is time with their spouse, time to reconnect and look in each other’s eyes.
Again: you aren’t alone.
I’m also hearing about a lot of anxiety and worry…worry about illness and the possibility of getting sick, or even hurt, in this time of C19. Worry about children’s development. Worry about too much screen time. Worry about children becoming overly focused on germs. Worry about sibling relationships…and worry about parent-child relationships.
You…well, you know what I’m going to say here.
The best advice I can give you for all of it…talk about it. Talk about it. Talk about it. Talk about it. Write it down, say the words out loud, listen, reflect, respond. Talk about what’s working and what’s not. What you’re feeling. What you need. Talk with your spouse, talk with your children, talk to yourself. Remember: when you bring language into the equation, you start to reign in some of those chaotic and overwhelming feelings. Your amygdala calms down. Your right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex comes on and helps you process those emotions. It may sound counterintuitive, but when you talk about what’s making you upset, you feel less upset. It’s science!
The other thing I want to offer you is a bit of grace and space. Look for the good. Look for the joy. Take a moment now and think of something that makes you smile. Share it with someone. I’ll go: I smile every time I see the little bubbles that sometimes float through the air after I use the dish soap. And I smile when I turn on the lamps in the evening, bringing a soft glow to the space….when my cats go crazy chasing their toys and tails in circles. And when those unbidden smiles come to my lips, I take the briefest moment and savor it.
What makes YOU smile? I’d love to know.
Enjoy your weekend, and keep the conversation going.
With deep care and peace,
PS…a reading from The Parents’ Tao Te Ching for you all today:
25. Clouds of Light
They look so small and frail
but they are so great and magnificent.
They are born of the same womb
that birthed the cosmos
and knitted together the galaxies.
If you could see them as they truly are,
you would be astounded.
You would see not little children,
but dancing clouds of light,
energy in motion,
swimming in an ocean of love.
They are so much more
than what you see.
As are you.
Life can seem mundane.
But it is not.
Children can seem ordinary,
But they are not.
You may feel alone,
But you are not.