There are times when silence has the loudest voice. ~ Leroy Brownlow
“…Peace begins with a smile. Smile five times a day at someone you don’t really want to smile at; do it for peace…” ~Mother Teresa
Day and evening, I have sat diligently at my distressed white Queen Anne desk to begin writing about the past, the present, the dream of tomorrow, but the words lead me nowhere, and I give up mid-sentence. Word documents are left half-explored. Bits and pieces of something remain–and that something has to do with bitterness and defeat. Anger and despair can’t be the only source of my words, so I allow days to pass me by to seek a cure to my writer’s block. I read instead.
A pile of books loaned from Uptown’s public library; a few favored electronic books downloaded to my Kindle; a growing stack of periodicals in the wicker basket beside the French country cream and green checkered love seat in the living room. Covered in my favorite down throw, I seek solace in treasured reading time. If my words are halted, then I will fill the void with other authors’ stories. I think, maybe this reading-only plan will help me to regain the courage I lost over these last three weeks to forge ahead in writing my story. Vindicated after just a couple days spent getting lost in stories, I find myself less harsh, and eager to befriend my ruby-red laptop once again.
Tapping the keys can be a most profound stress reliever. Anger melts away toward a deeper perspective–one borne of rumination, not regret. Word count increases and I feel like myself again.
The last couple of weeks have not been easy around here. The Girl has had a fair amount of challenges at home and school and the ramifications are felt all around us, lingering like a storm that begs to break. There are some days when I don’t feel capable of giving her all that she needs, to listen to her constant emotional wreckage, to be present and calm with her nearby. Truly, there are times when I feel like I don’t have an ounce of strength left in me to be her first line of defense when fighting the constant battles she brings to the table. I’m left overwhelmed by the daily management of this child and it has left me drained–so much so that I have to shut down my mind come evening and just be still.
Most challenging at times is the level of patience and calm persistence it takes to raise The Girl. The discipline always seems clunky– not quite right–and the level of perseverance it takes to get through an ordinary day is exhausting. If the everyday occurrences of emotional turmoil, wreckage and hyperactivity were kept to a minimum or happened on occasion then maybe I wouldn’t be living in constant frustration of it all. Before I react or teach, I honestly have to remind myself that she needs me more now in her time of trouble than on an average bad day–especially when I am the main target of her fight. Yes, most especially when she fights with me for no apparent reason.
This morning was a particularly tough one. Already tired that this irrational fight between us was starting at such an early hour, I asked The Girl, “Do we have to do this today?” A shrug was the only answer in return.
“Can you tell me why you are fighting with me now? Why are you arguing with me?” Silence.
With a heavy heart, I turned away from her, hiding my anguished face and my overworked mind tired of trying to figure out what ailed her this day. Exhausted of figuring out if this was one of those “big deal” situations or just her typical moodiness, I just had to turn away. Day after day after day of troubles and heartache–hers and mine–gets old fast.
One day of simple–this is my Mother’s Day wish.
As I descended the stairs to ready my little ones for the quick drive over to The Girl’s elementary school for morning drop-off, I gathered those two–The Boy and Baby Girl– in overzealous hugs and kisses, taking in a deep breath that filled my lungs with their little kid sweetness. With that breath, also a prayer. A prayer that this downreaching yogic breath would sustain me through the morning with The Girl–in peace. Despite my natural inclination to be annoyed and angry back at her, despite her ability to keep the charade going, I was going to win this war–with kindness, a smile, not engaging her at her worst–fathomless breaths guiding me through. It was my prayer that we were going to finish out the remainder of the morning without any further argument, without turning the gray effect into black, without more hurt feelings or emotional pain.
As I remained strong-willed in my efforts to remain calm, rising above the blackness of mood threatening to take over, my prayer was answered almost immediately. Just when I needed it most. Ironically, The Girl must’ve been doing her own deep breathing upstairs as she awaited my call to gather her belongings and head to the van. Because, once she descended those stairs herself, her entire demeanor had changed and I actually received a half-hug–her attempt at an apology. Her posture and presence dramatically morphed from bitter anger to a softer, calmer, kinder state. In thankfulness, I melted into that awkward embrace, my rigidness relaxing, too.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you for answered prayers and reminding me that I am not alone and neither is she.
Upon locking the front door, I inhaled a triumphantly deep yogic breath of gratitude. It might not seem like much that The Girl quickly changed her attitude, but to me it was a sign of hope. Truly, a small miracle so desperately needed to sustain both of us after weeks of struggle. At the very least, I knew this change of heart meant The Girl’s morning at school would go smoothly. It also meant that she is growing in her ability to take responsibility for how her words–or lack thereof–and actions affect others. She is developing empathy, I think. This alone is a triumph worth celebrating. My hope is that the turn-around points to her learning how to be sorry. At this point, I’ll accept any attempt at reconciliation from her for a fight that I never saw coming–one that seems to resurface without any apparent pattern and typically without warning. I’d love for this recurrent fight to end so that we can forge ahead in love.
I’ll never stop being her advocate at school, with doctors, or in the community-at-large. But, the ever-present struggle between us at home has to end at some point. All I want for our family is true love and peace–in us and between us. All I want for The Girl is the ability to feel truly loved by us, the knowledge that she belongs here with us, and that she is alright just as she is. All I want is calmer, easier, better days ahead.
One day of simple–this is my Mother’s Day wish.