I don’t need my ears to listen
Recently I chose to be brave and I decided to not focus on what I “should do” or what “has to” get done and did my best to listen to what my heart was telling me.
Come to think of it, I am working on listening to 2 core areas of my body that really know what is best for me, and practicing letting go of what my brain thinks is “logical”.
- My Heart Centre. When I listen to this core area or second brain (the feeling centre) I am choosing to do things that align with how I want to feel.
- My Gut Centre or third brain is the energy centre. My gut is able to sense things that are outside of my awareness and by trusting my gut I know that I am aligning myself with what is best for me (the real me).
And sometimes, when I’m not thinking of it, I forget and slip back into those old patterns and listen to my logical, left-brain…worry, concern for the consequences, playing out “what-if scenarios”…as opposed to trusting the now. Don’t get me wrong planning for the future is not a bad thing, however what I am learning, is like most things, it has a time and place. And this was not the time for logical “mom-thinking”.
We had a great Thomson Family day…the last day of summer vacation, filled with mini-putt and the arcade, ice cream and cuddles. Every night in the week leading up to this day, we had been practicing our nighttime routine and this night went off without (much of) a hitch. The only blip was that Lucy whined to sleep in my bed as she was crawling into hers…that lasted about 3 minutes before she just rolled over and said goodnight (I consider that a parenting win). Addie was happy to be in her room, using her new alarm clock which has a special sleep-timer that acts like the setting sun and dims after an hour. (An hour should have been plenty of time for her to fall asleep.)
It was 8:40 by the time everyone was tucked in and quiet…I was exhausted and could have easily gone to bed. However walking down that hallway, before they were asleep, was bound to cause a cacophony of pleas to join me in my bed. I decided to lie on the couch and listen to a meditation.
I felt restless and uneasy, jittery and like I was forgetting something… I thought listening to one of my favorites, the Live Awake series by Sarah Blondin, would do the trick and calm me down. I started by visualizing myself lying there quietly, feeling my eyelids droop, falling gently to sleep and then waking up around 11pm so that I could happily crawl into my bed. The meditation was 15 minutes, the perfect amount of time to settle my brain and settle in.
No so much…
Soon as I lied down (which was about 20 minutes after lights out for the girls) Addie was up to get a drink of water. I firmly told her she needed to get her sleep and to stay in bed. Hugs and smooches, off to bed. I got a cozy blanket, wrapped myself from head to toe and turned on the soothing sounds of Sarah’s voice. The first minute or 2 I could still hear the sportscast coming from the living room, where Dave was settling into his nighttime routine, and by minute 4 I was fully entranced and feeling my body surrender to the process, minute 8, 9, 10 and I was gone completely inside myself, exploring and dropping, listening and emptying. 12, 13, 14 I had a sense that it would end soon…I wasn’t as gone as I had hoped and thought about the possibility of listening to another.
Then a raucous…
Addie was up and looking at me pointing at her mouth with her cheeks puffed out. I was completely discombobulated…not quite out of the meditation, having missed being brought back…feeling disjointed and confused…I thought it was because I had earphones in that I couldn’t hear her so I ripped them out and yelled “Addie what are you doing?” She kept pointing to her mouth that was now slightly open and I heard her say…”I spit something up…” argh…”Seriously child…! Go spit it out then go back to bed…I am getting angry now!”
She returned from the bathroom wanting a hug and smooch…I was highly irritated, for one thing… she was still up 45 minutes after her bedtime and secondly because my hope for a gentle and relaxing meditation, followed by a calm and light sleep, was absolutely gone. I hugged her and sent her off…angry and irritated. I don’t think I kissed her goodnight…told her I was done with this up and down crap and that I didn’t want to see her out of bed again!
As I sat there stewing…not relaxed and still mildly irritated, I turned to my phone…my great escape. I checked FB and Insta for the thousandth time…nothing new, even my newsfeed was old…which is fucking crazy. Then I did it…
I flipped over to the dreaded Pintrest.
(A place I know will devour me.)
And in that moment of angst and irritation, being devoured, removed from how I was feeling, is exactly what I wanted. I was crawling in my skin…I felt off, not rested and definitely not like I had just meditated…Looking at inspirational quotes and pretty watercolors was supposed to help…nope it didn’t. All it did was feed into my comparison demon. The one that reminds me that …
I am not really an artist…
I won’t inspire others…
I should just stop trying…
So I did! I stopped trying to escape and put my phone down. (phew…one in the win column for me!)
I still felt uneasy, but it had been another 45 minutes since I’d last seen Addie, so I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth. While in there, in walks Addie, wide awake, to tell me that she would like the bathroom door left open as she is using the light as a night-light (since her hour-long sleep timer night-light had turned off long ago). I lost my shit…what are you doing? Go to bed…Now…Go! Seriously… Go. To. Bed. She bounced off (like a fucking leprechaun and if I hadn’t been on the toilet I may have actually kicked her in the ass). I followed a minute later. She proudly yelled out to me that her brain was telling her to stay awake, that it was in charge, and she didn’t have a choice.
Words this mom, does NOT take lightly…”I don’t have a choice”. Oh Honey you ALWAYS have a choice! I told her that she was in charge of her brain and that it was time she took charge and went to sleep! I left her with that and crawled into my bed.
I still felt like shit.
I was not compassionate at all. It didn’t even occur to me that she might be excited or nervous for grade one. No care or thought put into why she was up…just a mean, frustrated Mommy yelling at her kid to go to sleep. I was rude and told her to just go to sleep over and over. I talked over her and assumed that anything she said was going to be a lame excuse to stay up.
I could feel my anxiety level rising, not a great “go to bed” feeling. I was angry at myself for being so insensitive and now angry that I had let that be how she was going to go to sleep. Then she got up one last time…
“Mommy I want to tell you a secret…I’m scared to walk to school by myself.”
Earlier, that week I had mentioned to someone, that school mornings would be so easy now. She’s in grade one…just out the door and across the street…I could probably stay in my pajamas and just wave to her. Of course she did not understand that I would never force her to go alone, especially on the first day. I did my best to explain that and reassured her that I would walk her to school all the time, that she wouldn’t be alone and that she didn’t need to be scared. That seemed to help…her. She went back to bed and instantly the tightness in my chest increased. Now not only was I feeling anxiety, I was sensing my shame storm coming. (I am not a good parent…I am scaring my kids for life…fuuuuuccckkkk!)
In that moment all I wanted to do was hug and squeeze and love the crap out of her. This summer the girls had taken up the habit of sleeping with me in our King sized bed. And I was looking forward to this night, excited at that prospect of having room to spread out and get some quality rest. And in that moment, all I could think about was holding her until she fell asleep.
I knew that we had made a deal, on school nights she would sleep in her bed…she agreed (happily…remember the bribe…I mean fancy alarm clock). And now, here I was contemplating calling her back in so that I could feel better.
A bit of a parenting step backwards…
And then I had a flash…felt something…heard something. I closed my eyes so I could listen deeply and I heard my heart say that hugging her and making her feel safe was the absolute right thing to do (and then left-brain chimed in to say that holding my boundary about my bed was also the absolute right thing to do)…so I went with what I believed honored me (important) and the parent I want to be (also important) a win-win…I crawled in with her.
I am so happy you’re here Mommy. I’m glad Honey. Mommy you are here to cuddle with me because you love me so much. Yes Honey.(snuggle snuggle snuggle)…Are you comfy Mommy? Yes Honey. Do you need some more pillow? No thanks Honey. Do you have a stuffy? Yes, I have the best one… named Addie! I love you Mommy! I love you too Addie!
She was asleep in 2 minutes.
My anxiety melted away. Perhaps it was never mine to begin with…maybe it was hers? Perhaps all of my unrest was actually her not being able to rest. It took me awhile but I figured out what she needed. She is a kid and she needed to feel like her mommy had her back. Yes boundaries are very important and I am glad I kept them. Today, what I am most grateful for, is that moment when I stepped out of my head and started listening with my heart… it’s the one thing that served us both!