The bigger we are, the harder we fall, and as parents, we are poised to fall onto smaller, softer underbrush. At each stage of painful growth, newly acquisitioned independence unleashes a solar flare in our little home. It is not the independence, nor the growth that provokes…it is the way that the brain falls into a mess of tangled yarn before it hits its new, and longer stride.
For every stage of equilibrium, there is a bout of disequilibrium. We are told to remain calm, to manage these periods with all the skill of a craftsman working unruly materials. And yet sometimes, there is no way to force an issue, without using force…forceful voice, forceful movement, forceful presence.
I am not an automaton. I am a passion-filled, deeply loving, sometimes reckless mammal. When my children tumble into disequilibrium, and find themselves curled on the floor in a ball, and covered with a blanket, refusing to cooperate with even a single thing, I tend to tumble right in with them. Who doesn’t want to curl up with a well-weathered cozy and hide from responsibilities like clean underwear?
And the later in the day it ticks, the more I am hunting for some kind of scaffolding I can’t seem to find. Near 4 pm, I am a wicked woman, as the crux of sibling rivalry, Daddy’s triumphant return from the world, and dinner plans converges into a chaos of scrambling for my sparse energies.
What I mean to say, is that parenting does not come naturally to me. I’m all for merriment, love, and chaos–though the seventh, seventeenth, or seventieth time someone yells, “mom!” after 4 pm, I’m cringing. Sometimes inside, and sometimes visibly.
When new brain is growing, bone is lengthening, and muscle is building, other parts are disassembling. Skills that were rote become inaccessible for a time–and with their disappearance, the amplified war cry of “I can’t do it!!!”
It comes down to myelination, my friends. One minute they can, the next they cannot, and then suddenly they can again. There is unpredictability and it is as real for our children as it is for us. Add in the discomfort of new, unwieldy bigness of language, size and shape. Growing up is disconcerting, indeed.
With great love, I will always recall this time of life as the heavy lifting years. I refuse to look back with anything other than compassion–for the constant, developmental upheaval of their mounting stabilities, and this period that clarified my own brittle fallibility.
We are mighty here, in this house, and we try to live close to the dirt. We will pull it off, though it will not always look, or sound necessarily lovely. Sometimes love is like that, gritty and smeared with mud, and utterly determined.
I read, in turns; one blissfully indulgent novel of fiction and prose, followed by a book requiring tenacity, and expansion of my own neural fabric. This week, I dusted off No Drama Discipline. Thank you, Dr. Daniel Siegel.
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase “each other” doesn’t make any sense.” -Rumi
I am trying something new, in this too full world. Surrounded by a small, simply crafted life, I am making myself start each day with a moment in Rumi’s field. There, I can see my children, my husband, and each of our animals. In that field, I can see us all clearly, in a moment of early morning quietude. For now, that little glimpse is scaffolding enough.