The Calm Place

Dear Kids,

There is a place that I take each of you frequently. A quiet place. A calm place. A place where time has no meaning. It is a place that I carry you to when you are infants, that you toddle to as a toddler as I hold your hand. A place that I follow you to as you become older and understand how to get there. A place that as a young adult you’ll ask me the directions to, and a place that you will return to as an adult when you’re off in the world alone. A place that you will be able to go to when you are very very old in order to feel close to me when we are no longer able to be close in this world.

We go there in the bright light of the day. We go there in the deepest darkest quietest hours of the night. We go there together no matter what else is happening. We’ll put everything down and find our way there together. Homework, dinner going cold on the stove, the shopping cart full of groceries, the argument where you started hitting each other. The day’s plans. The party. The boat ride. The craft project. The Easter Egg hunt.

I leave my warm sleepy bed to come hold you in my arms as look for that place in the middle of the night when it is hard to find and when you keep trying to lead me in the other direction.

Your father pulls over to the side of the road when we are driving, so that we can help you find your way there.

It is the calm in the storm. The calm inside of each of us. The calm that soothes away the anger, the sadness, the hurt, the fear.

When you rage in a tantrum, I carry you there. I do not “ignore bad behavior”. I hold you close and whisper quiet things to you until you hold me close as well so that we go find that place together.

When you cry out at night to nurse, I snuggle you in my arms and we find that place.

When you come home from school in a bad mood, I put your homework aside and ask you to take me there so that you can lead the way.

I want the path to be so deeply worn that no weeds ever have a chance to grow over it and hide the way. I want you to understand the steps that will take you there so that you can find your way there with your eyes closed in times of stress and upset. I want you to home in on it as though there is a beacon there to tug you along.

I want it to be the first place you think of when you are sad or angry. And I want you to crave that place like you crave no other. When you are not at ease in life, I want you to feel homesick for this place so that you will seek it out.

Because that place is deep inside your soul. It is called “peace”. And even though it can sometimes seem so very far away or as though it has been wiped out of existence.. It is always there when you need to find it.

This is why I don’t “let you cry it out”. This is why I don’t “put you in time out”. This is why I don’t shun you when you are struggling and having a bad time. This is why I don’t yell  at you when you are yelling at me.

I don’t.. Because I’m too busy getting ready for our journey. Because I’m picking you up to carry you, because I’m reaching for your hand.

I don’t want to “put a stop to that”.

I want to help you find that place that your heart needs to know how to find. So that you will always be able to find your way there from any place in the world and from any place in your heart.

<3 Mama

 

 

 

  12 comments for “The Calm Place

  1. Leah
    January 30, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Beautiful. I hope to be half the patient mother you are with my two girls, I try but know there is room for improvement. Your writing truly inspires me, thank you.

  2. Nancy
    January 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Perfect timing :-). My 7 year old struggles with anger towards his younger brother…. The little brother who always wants to be by his big bro’s side joining in or helping him. Today he really exploded because his lego fell apart and I managed to help him find that place, it was a real break through for me. Shortly after i heard them happily chatting and playing in the bath together. This post has summed things up and given me a clearer vision of how to help. Thank you.

  3. Naltya
    January 30, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Hi !
    I’ve been reading your articles for 1 or 2 weeks and it makes so much sense !
    I love what I read and it makes me wonder how my life can become if I succeed in following your lead.
    I’ve got a question though. You said that during a tantrum you hold your child and “whisper quiet things”. I’ve already tried to acknowledge my daughter’s feelings and emotions or to hold her but she doesn’t let me touch her or talk to her. She cries and yell all the more and she go away. I don’t know what to do, I try to stay with her but every glance makes her cries higher.
    Have you had to deal with this comportment ? What would you do in my shoes ?
    Thanks for your blog and the wonderful insights that you share !
    Sorry for the spelling but I’m french…

    • sarah
      January 30, 2013 at 8:06 pm

      Naltya,

      What would she do it you picked her up and held her?

      My two year old will be hitting, yelling, stomping and throwing things and then when I pick him up he will stuff his hands between our bodies and sag his weight into me even as he yells he does not want to be held.

      If he did not let me pick him up I would try sitting next to him quietly while he spent out his energy.

      Different kids need different things. My middle child needs to be pulled near. My eldest too. I’ve gotten smacked on occasion but invariably as loud and scary and out of control as they can get- when I pull them near with sympathy, they melt into me.

      Some kids truly do need to be left alone so they can get it out and they don’t want to be looked at/touched. I’d just stay near and present and wait for them to be ready to accept comfort again.

      -Sarah

      • Naltya
        January 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm

        Thanks for your answer !!!
        I’ve tried one more time to pick my daughter up this morning during a tantrum but she hit and wrestled and I fear to let her fall. So I did what I was doing before and what you recommended me : I sat next to her, without looking at her and wait for her to stop, trying to stay as calm as possible.
        When you described the situation with your children, I was afraid to not be doing correctly with her, afraid that she thinks I abandon her.
        Your answer comfort me that she perhaps needs something different. I hope that she feels that I’m with her in these moments.
        Thanks one more time for your answer and for your blog which is an eye-opener.

        • sarah
          January 31, 2013 at 4:50 pm

          Don’t worry, she knows you’re right there waiting with her and that she can come to you when she’s ready again. *hug* Different kids have different needs when they’re upset, and at different ages.

  4. Dee
    January 30, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    Sarah, you do not fail to warm my heart with your writings… Beautiful! My bubba is only very little, but I hope to bring this patience and gentleness into all my interactions with my little angel – now and in all her years to come. Thank you

  5. Ashley
    January 31, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Beautifully written.

  6. Hijab
    February 1, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Oh sarah u really have magic… I wish i could have that much patience..my almost 4 yrs old daughter who was well behaved, sensitive to my feelings,wants to make me happpy all the time;after arrival of her new brother she changed drastically. She started “accidents” after a year of potty trained dry spell.. Am sleep deprived,at the edge of sanity..how can make her feel that she is not less important than her younger brothers

    love to have ur advice..thank u

    • sarah
      February 1, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Hijab,

      Talk to her. Catch her in a moment where she’s not going to be distracted. Pull her near onto your lap and whisper in her ear “Do you know how very very special you are to me?” Feel the words as deeply as you can feel them, she will hear it in your voice. Talk to her about what a good example she is to her brothers, how important she is to her brothers, to you, to her father, to the family. Talk to her about how she is the only one of her there will ever be. Talk to her about how when she was small and needed to be held all the time, you held her. Just as you hold her brothers now. Tell her stories about when she was a baby. Touch each part of her face with wonder and with love and amazement. She’ll understand.

      I narrate what I’m doing with Anne-Marie during the day and I tell her brothers about when they were that little and how I held them ALLL the time and how I did this exact thing. And how very lucky I am to have them to keep me company now while I take care of Anne Marie, how lucky I am to have such awesome helpers. How lucky she is to have two big brothers that can teach her so much.

      -Sarah

      • Hijab
        February 2, 2013 at 8:07 am

        Thanks sarah.i will definitly try this m feeling that it will help. Thanks

  7. Simone
    February 2, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Thanks so much! I needed to read that one just now because it’s been a rough couple of weeks and I needed to get back to my calm place. I’m lucky that my mom helped me nourish one. I just need reminders to go there sometimes… Love

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