Alert, alert: off-the-chart parental stress detected. Seek Peanut Butter immediately.

Imagine a parental stress continuum. At one end is the mythical and totally unatainable smiling happy family lounging on a white couch.  At the other end: stress-eating peanut butter out of the jar at midnight.

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Folks, you can guess which end I’m at right now. (There may or may not be a sticky peanut butter spoon in the sink from last night.)

Ever since Irma decided to come to town –which I am now realizing was nearly three and a half weeks ago (HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE)–life has been something, let me tell you. We had a lovely labor day where we were like, huh it looks like maybe a hurricane is forming or something, anyway, can you pass me some chips? And then Tuesday we we were like, huh, we should stock up on water shouldn’t we. Oh everyone is sold out? Cool, cool. From there it was off to the races.  Should we stay or should we go. Will there be enough gas to get us where we need to go. Will the sharknado destroy our house? (No, because there was no sharknado, sadly.) Will we all be stressed out and tired of living in a series of hotel rooms? YES YES WE WILL. Will daycare be closed a super long time? (OF COURSE IT WILL.)

And–this question needs no answer–will all this in some way impact my four year old??? 

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Why yes, all along this journey there was a bright-eyed and sensitive four-year old absorbing it all like a tiny little sponge. OH MY DEAR LITTLE SPONGE WHO NOW REFUSES TO SLEEP. And has been acting out, angry, defiant, and in one especially low moment spit her toothpaste foam onto my feet. 

It’s been a trying week to say the least. She hasn’t wanted to sleep, insisting that mama be with her. All week we were trying to solve the puzzle. What is UP with our kid? We asked her, are you scared to sleep? No. Are you afraid of monsters? No. (Spits on my feet.)

Meanwhile in adult-land, I’ve talked with several friends who agree with me that we (ADULTS) are just now starting to feel back to “normal” after Irma. By the way, you should get a load of my crazy kid, what on earth is up with her?!

Funny how hard it is to see what is often right in front of us.

And then, last night. Nearly midnight, I sat on my daughter’s bed with her, not saying much. Just chilling out. I’d finally surrendered to the situation. It was what it was. She wasn’t going to sleep, she wanted me with her, and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it.

Guess what happened. As she flipped through a book she started telling me that she’d been having nightmares. She couldn’t remember what exactly, but she was scared to go to sleep. Simply by being and letting her be she was able to let it out. Shake it off, shake it off (to quote the wise Taylor Swift). She went to sleep shortly after that.

Maybe she needed a week of letting off steam before she could reveal the fears underneath it all. Maybe I was too wrapped up in my own stress to be able to just sit and be with her until that point. It doesn’t matter in the end. We did what we had to do to get through it. We’re doing our best to get back to normal.

Regardless, I’m happy to report we’re no longer at peanut-butter-eating-out of the jar status. We have lowered several notches to the piled-up-laundry and copious-coffee-consumption levels–definitely an improvement, and definitely another inch closer to ‘normal.’ For that I’m grateful.


P.S. Shameless plug alert–  speaking of hurricanes, I’m donating 50% of the proceeds from Etsy shop sales through Sunday to support Puerto Rico recovery efforts. The funds will go to the Sierra Club’s Maria Fund that supports just and sustainable rebuilding for the most vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico. You can donate directly here as well.

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Love Endures

Love endures. 

Those were the words that earlier today brought me to tears and figuratively brought me to my knees. 

It might have been more graceful if I had actually been brought to my knees. I could have avoided the very obvious and very awkward moment when I realized I was the only choir member not standing, only to then find myself standing with the wrong hymnal, only to then stumble to find the correct page in the correct book. Singing apparently wasn’t happening for me either, unless it was going to be me squeaking out words, which then generated more tears in a never ending cycle of grace and tears, grace and tears.

All the while as this was happening (in front of a hushed and watching congregation) I was thinking about how funny it was that of all people, I was the one openly crying. (This thought touched me and, you guessed it, made me tear up more.)

Until recently I never really spontaneously cried. I operated on a delay. Longer even than the Olympic delay.  Only after my logical brain could examine and then parse it would I finally feel safe enough to FEEL.

So back to the openly-crying-when-I-was-supposed-to-be-singing…I don’t know what exactly it was about the words but the guided meditation stirred the pot, as it were.

 We were led to remember both a moment recently that was infused with love and a moment that was not. And the take-away was that we should remember how that moment of love felt and we should have it ready to to hold when another crap-tastic moment comes up in our life. (My words, not quite what Reverend Allison said.)

Love Endures - Lennon Wall (2010)
Creative commons license – Flicker

Yeah, I know this song and dance. Where you honor the pain, but ever so gently…you don’t want to squeeze it until your knuckles are white. You don’t want the pain to overcome you, or numb you, or embitter you. (Been there, done that, not pretty.)

And the trickiest dance step of all: meeting that pain with love.

That part can be hard. Like, really really hard. 

So today I was crying about it all.  Thinking about the moments of love made me realize how much I miss my mom right now. Her birthday is next week. And come a month from now, it will be three years she has been gone from earth.

And then I thought about the crummy things too. All the things that have come undone since my mom died.  How there are wounds that remain very much not healed. The kind of pain where simply facing it is hard, let alone meeting it with love, thank you very much. 

Tears tears and more tears. Of love and grace and pain and heartbreak all meshed together.

outline_of_a_heart_by_jasaya-d3ef9wn
image source.

It may sound strange to count this as a victory, but how wonderful that I was able to openly cry among other imperfect humans who tolerate (nay, encourage) my weeping into the wrong hymnal on the wrong page at the wrong time.  

I know none of them were judging me. (If they noticed, that is—we have a bad habit of staring down into our hymnals and not looking up and out at the choir! but we are working on it.)

And get this: as I sit here now, writing it all out and re-feeling the love, I heard something outside my window near the bird feeder I put in recently.

I looked out, and outside on the ground was a mourning dove.

Blessed be. Love endures. 


Do you know this dance? Share if you feel so inclined.