Monthly Archives: April 2018

Editing My Inner Narrative

Often it isn’t the world outside of my head that causes me the most grief.
Often it is the world inside my head.
I’m learning to edit my inner narrative.
The constant soundtrack that plays across my days and that often acts to shape my reactions rather than laying a foundation for mindful response.

Where did my soundtrack come from?

It feels like instinct. Some of it is, certainly. But often the soundtrack itself is a repetition of things that I heard other people say to me when I was a child. Things that other people have said about children before I even had children of my own. Things that people say about their kids NOW. Funny memes that feel like commiseration but that replay in moments where I need something more calm and maybe a little less relatable.

Yes. I am tired. And Yes. My child is not sleeping currently because of some growth spurt or developmental leap (or both) that makes her wake up trying to latch onto my nose a million times a night.

The words I choose to use across the day to describe my tiredness to myself.. Matter.
The words I choose to use to describe my tiredness to others.. Matter.

Sometimes venting feels like a release.
Sometimes venting is more like fanning a fire.

Wren did not sleep last night.
I am tired.
Wren is having a hard time sleeping because she is growing.
She needs more support at night now. More help sleeping.
Wren is having a hard time during the day, too. Because she is tired, too.
She does not want to be put down.
I need to make sure that I am getting food in my belly.
I need to make sure that I am taking my vitamins.
I need to make sure that I have the caffeine that helps me during the day.
And I need to make sure that I do not have any coffee after 4PM because if I do, I will not get the sleep that I need and that I am able to get.

It is accurate.
And it doesn’t fuel my anger and frustration. (Which sometimes DO need an outlet before they burst.)

Sometimes I need to vent.
Sometimes I need to find my calm.

Sometimes I can listen to others vent and find humor in shared frustration.
Other times I absorb too much of what I read and hear.

I don’t believe in ignoring feelings or repressing them. They find a way out.
I am getting better at lovingly acknowledging my own frustrations and helping myself make peace with them as a place we are all passing through.

WREN! NOT THAT! Get What I’m POINTING AT!

Keenie is standing on a bathmat in the dining room pretending the floor is lava. She is gesticulating wildly at… something… in the classroom and demanding that Wren bring it to her.

“Keenie, what do you want Wren to bring to you?” I ask.
“NO! I WANT WREN TO GET IT BY HERSELF!” she yells.
“Keenie. Wren is two years old. She is a baby. I don’t think she knows what you want her to get for you.”
“BUT I AM POINTING AT IT!” she says. jabbing her finger in the air in the direction of… The middle of the room somewhere.

Keenie will be six next Friday.
Wren just turned two.

“Keenie… Can you see what I am pointing at?” I ask. I focus really hard and point as best as I can to a chair. From where I am crouched it is a straight line from my eyes to my fingertip to the chair. From where Keenie is standing I appear to be pointing to a water bottle.

“When you point you have to use words to tell the person what you are pointing at.” I say.

She starts to describe yellow paper.

“Keenie. Does Wren know her colors yet?” I ask.

Wren, being a toddler, is dancing around grabbing everything she can see that looks like paper. She doesn’t seem at all bothered that her sister is becoming increasingly pissed off.

“Oh! Right! Wren thinks your robe is yellow! But it’s blue.” Keenie says, her tension melting a bit.

I move over to be behind her and I point at the chair again. Lining my finger tip up with her eye instead of mine.

“Is it the chair?” she asks.

“Yes!” I say. “See, I had to move to where you were and point that way. When you are pointing from where you are standing, I see something completely different. Just like you saw the water bottle before when I was pointing at the chair.

Keenie will be six. She hasn’t learned about all the different perspectives that we see things from yet. When she points her eyes and mind are fixated on the thing she sees, and it is OBVIOUS. So obvious that it is frustrating that everyone around her can’t see it as clearly as she can.

This is something adults struggle with, as well.

How Moving My Garbage Can Helped Me Become More Calm

When we first moved here the garbage can was in the perfect location. In a cranny between two sections of the counter. I keep my cutting board on one side and a bowl of fruit on the other. It lived there for months.

Last month I moved it across the kitchen.

The new location is less convenient. It’s near the passage from the kitchen to the dining room and is away from all of of counters.

But it is a change that has helped me become more calm.

Often we feel as if we are stuck in unchangeable patterns. We move through reacting instead of mindfully responding the way we want to. The way we practice inside our heads over and over. The way our parenting idols seem to respond. A thing happens. Before we know it we are defaulting to the things that we want so much to change.

The full day after I moved my garbage can I kept walking over to its old spot. Spinning around and going to where it had moved. Habit. Pattern.

It told me I was on autopilot.

It gave me a chance to slow down and remind myself of the things that I wanted to change. To do dozens of mini resets across the situations in which I was becoming grumpy.

While making dinner.
While cleaning up.
While getting ready to wind down at the end of the day.

I gave myself a thing to recite.

“Even changing a simple thing is hard and takes time.
I have moved my garbage can. It will take time to remember.
I want to also move my mind and heart back to a better place.
That will take time to remember.
I am frustrated.
But.
I will respond, I will not react.”

Today I was whirling through my kitchen in the middle of washing dishes. Making lunch. I’ve adapted to the new location of my garbage can.

And when my six and seven year olds came running into the kitchen to resolve a fight, I found that I’ve also reoriented myself to where I want my heart and mind to be.

I am responding again.
Not reacting.