Sometimes I see it coming and try to head it off. Other times, the chaos of managing a large family engulfs me unexpectedly, pulling me under like a coastal Caribbean current. In these moments, (I’m learning that) it’s really better just to let go of all resistance, come up for air when I can and save my energy for when the likelihood of reaching shore is in alignment with the tides (i.e. screw the housework, say “yes” to most everything and worry about the repercussions later).
Such was my week.
My girls’ needs are changing, and intensifying. Lately, all cordial conversations have been replaced by some prepubescent psychosis that apparently requires even the simplest interactions be screamed, sobbed or mumbled vindictively.
If, as a parent, you’re not prone to violence, there’s a level of passivity that this behavior breeds. After, say, a Saturday afternoon of meltdowns about one sister’s pencil sharpener gone missing (the accusation and denial of guilt both yelled across the house) or an early-morning debate-turned-sob-session over who’s bogarted all the hair ties or (my favorite) threats of hyperventilation-induced vomit over being “forced” to go to the beach (sensitive to salt on the skin and sand where it oughtn’t be), Hunter and I often just exchange a communicatory glance of solidarity, “Did you hear something? Nah, me either,” and go about our business dicing onions or pressing coffee.
I’m not saying this is an optimal way to parent, just that it’s sometimes better than punitive alternatives.
About mid-week I came across this oh-so-lovely blog post that read like a song and one I sorely needed to hear. It was the perfect reminder to slow down in my interactions with my kids, look FIRST at their hearts and intentions before reacting and see them for the amazing individuals they are, not the collective chaos. This is no easy task when outnumbered, but holding this idea really helped me to enjoy them more this week. It transformed obnoxious persistence into a deep desire to be understood, hypersensitivity into a capacity for emotional depth and bossy know-it-all tendencies into a true gift for managing people (gone sour due to under-acknowledgement).
I highly recommend the read.
All-in-all, the week redeemed itself nicely, if requiring some serious Sunday scrubbing. We made costumes with things laying around the house and less than $5 worth of supplies (even winning Taos the costume contest at school), we had our first impromptu Berry-style throw down since settling in Tulum with some awesome new friends and Hunter and I even managed a short escape to the beach by ourselves (another thing we’d been sorely needing).
I have no idea what to expect for Halloween around here, but we live right across the street from a cemetery, so I’m hoping for quite a display for Dia de Los Muertos.