Friday, September 11, 2015

A Short Time Ago


A Short Time Ago 

A short time ago, I waited and waited. "If she isn't born soon, will doctors go in there and take her?" I stared at my coworker, surprised by the wording and tone. "She's my little girl, she'll tell me when she's ready."

A short time ago, I labored and labored. "It's been days now, you should just go to the hospital and get it over with already." "You've tried long enough, you don't get a medal, you know." "Even though everything seems alright, maybe something is actually wrong." I stared at words on the screen from my online friends. "She's doing well. She'll be born when she's ready."

A short time ago, I struggled and struggled to breastfeed. "This is day FOUR and your milk isn't in yet. Just give her a bottle." "Aren't you tired of pumping AND breastfeeding?" "She's obviously never going to get the hang of it, just get her tongue tie done." I grimaced at the words over the phone and told them, "She's working hard with me. We'll find our way in due time."

A short time ago, my daughter was capable by my judgment, but hesitated. In all kinds of places. In academics. In sports. In friendships. I knew she could do it, but her mind would tell her to wait, to observe, to think twice. I bought her a bike when she was 3, but she refused to ride it again after her first try. "Just put her on it and tell her to pedal, and don't back down until she does it!" I quietly put the bike in the closet. "She will figure it out when she's ready."

The voices grew in number, and they surged like a peak in a song. "She's not trying hard enough, you're not pushing her enough," they would say. "Have you taken her in for testing? Maybe something is wrong," they would urge. In a whisper, some would drop phrases, "Selective mutism" and "autism." They'd knowingly nod. I'd stare at them, sigh, and grimace, shake my head, and turn away. I knew my daughter and my daughter knew I was on her side. "She will be ready when she is ready, and not a moment earlier."

A short time ago, my daughter quietly pulled her bike out of the closet. She rode it through the house over to me while laughing. "Mom, I want to ride my bike now." It was dark and had just rained, but I stood out there on the trail, laughing with delight as she rode her bike as if she always could.

A short time ago, I opened the door to the bathroom and found her reading a paperback book. "Do you read now?" I asked her, an odd calm in my voice. She smiled hesitantly at me, before opening up her excitement like a dam exploding. We suddenly had favourite authors and genres in common. "Let me introduce you to Nancy Drew," I whispered, almost strangled with happiness.

A short time ago, I watched her walk up to strangers and greet them. I watched her make friends with anyone, no litmus test necessary. I watched her try new foods and learn new languages. She blossomed, she opened, a flower blooming on her own time in all her glorious beauty. I wanted to shout to out to all those voices, "I was right! I was right! My daughter is who she is, and I stood next to this tightly closed rosebud and protected her!"

-----

A short time ago, my daughter took my hand and said, "Come over here, Mom! Try this new ride! It makes your brain think you're sky diving. "Sorry, I'm too busy." In truth, I was too scared. Who would ever want to simulate falling?

A short time ago, she ran over to my side at the restaurant. "MOM! You have to taste this! It's delicious!" I hesitated, staring at the fork. "Um, I don't know. I like what I ordered. You enjoy it."

A short time ago, I watched my daughter approach new children at the park and begin talking to them. I looked shyly at another mom. I made eye contact, then looked down again. I stayed on the park bench that day.


A short time ago, my daughter yelled at the top of her lungs. "MOM! MOM! MOM!" I looked up, up, up, and saw her at the top of the tall slide. Just at the beginning of summer, she wouldn't even consider going with me on the little slides. I had begged her. Cajoled her. Told her it was safe and I would go with her. She had stood there, eyes wide, silent, shaking her head. Now, she was screaming down from the top, "MOM! C'mon! GO WITH ME!" I stood there silently on the ground, shaking my head. I couldn't ever conquer that slide. She went down alone. I sat that day and pondered a lot of things.

A short time ago, she asked me to climb a rock wall. "No, sorry. I'm too tired. The babies will need me. I don't know if I can do it." The words stuck in my throat. I looked down at her and smiled. I took her hand. We climbed that wall together. Just a short time ago.


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Thursday, September 3, 2015

When you feel stuck, start moving your quarks.





Over the years, I've come to realize one of the prevailing emotions people are experiencing when they contact me for help is that of being stuck.

How did I get here? 
What am I going to do?
How can I ever get out of this spot?
I don't have any choices.
I can't do anything to change.
I try to become a better person and I fail.


They are on a path that keeps going forward into the distance, and they don't know why, and they don't know how to stop, or turn around, or get on a new path. They spend a lot of time thinking about steps to take, but here's where I think their efforts become ineffective: they only consider BIG steps in a linear and concrete way.

That's not how the universe works. The universe is not a straight, simple line. It is a maddeningly complex sworl, with many small pieces building upon themselves into larger pieces that then construct something out of nothing. And these building blocks become infinitely smaller, yet are all the more vital to the actual creation of matter.

You might not be strong enough, or have enough money, or enough freedom to move the molecules of your life. But, a quark? You can move a quark.

If you feel stuck today, go smaller. Don't invite more stress into your life, banging your head against atoms. Don't spend the day crying over how to get rid of a bad home purchase, or what to do about an fulfilling marriage while you're raising young children. Don't chase after the rapidly moving protons and electrons, as if you're going to find that dream job through sheer will in a day. You're not going to overhaul decades of unhealthy eating with a 30 day fix. You're not going to transform a mom-body neglected and hurt for years with an expensive shake.

No. Want to change? Then move your quarks. Today, put on a different pair of shoes. Eat something healthy for breakfast. Say hello to a neighbor you usually shuffle by with your head ducked. When you're at the store, buy a new vegetable that you haven't tried before. Go to the library and rent a book about another country. Try a new hairstyle. Buy an article of clothing you normally wouldn't wear.

Start chasing after leptons. Sign up for a class unrelated to your degree. Learn how to curse in another language. Go to that party you would've declined. Try out that hobby you secretly admire but feel guilty considering. Get outside and get your heart beating.

When you hear the voice in your head gearing up for a litany of negative and self-harming rants, change ONE script. Just one. You don't need a whole inspirational lecture, and your brain wouldn't believe something that overdone anyways. Just ONE small script will start to override the foundation of code set in your head.

I am worthy.
I have a right to exist.
I am lovable.
I bring happiness into my world.
I have the tools to be at peace.
I can do this.
I am all that I need to be in this moment.


Parents in a rut, skip that playground you visit every Friday. When your children are driving you insane and you feel that merry go round of fighting starting up again, lie on the ground and pretend you're morphing into a zombie instead of yelling at them. Get in the car and drive to somewhere you've never taken them, and don't tell them where you're going. Buy your child a gift on the way home from work today. Even if it's from the dollar spot. Surprise your children with something new and delightful, no strings attached, no reason for it.

I'm not trying to be 1950s here, but seeing as how much of my friend's list is comprised of SAHMs/WAHMs...when your spouse gets home, don't start droning on and on about how the day was, who pooped, what leftovers are for dinner, etc. Secretly call up a babysitter. Go to the local planetarium for a date. Play truth or dare. Laugh. Don't talk about the kids or the bills. When your partner walks in the door, just silently walk over and start making out. Can you imagine the surprise after years of coming home to a stressed out partner?

Every day is filled with millions of small decisions. The quarks and leptons of your life are right there, waiting for you. Start changing the smallest parts of your universe and you'll begin to realize your entire life can change, too.

For my geneticist friends who aren't into the references here, think of epigenetics and nutrigenomics.

What we eat, our physical activity, where we live, how we sleep, the stimulation of cortisol and adrenaline, all of these alter the genetic expression of our DNA. Every day, every little choice we are making is turning DNA on and off like a billion light switches, creating a big picture.

Simply by adding a new vegetable to your diet, you can change your genetics. Simply by learning a few words in another language, you can alter the synaptic behavior in your brain. Or learning to dance. Or meeting a new person.

Parents, every time YOU make a SMALL CHANGE in your parenting, you are LITERALLY altering your children's DNA. If you're trying to change your parenting, look to the small things. Trying to reconnect? Do you feel as if you don't have the time, the energy, the patience to shower them in love? All it takes is a big hug as they are getting into the car. One hug a day could change an entire lifetime. Instead of buying five parenting books you'll never have time to read, look into your child's eyes in the morning and genuinely SMILE. Say good morning brightly. Make the first words out of your mouth positive, and ignore the pressing, stressing stuff for a few moments.

Try it. Start small, start now, and stick with it. You will think it's silly, your brain will say it's patronizing, the voice in your head might say it's a worthless endeavor. But, over time, you'll start to see the changes build into something, every part of your universe sworling together in a new and beautiful way. You'll realize you were never stuck in the first place.