Family

What if we could all have tantrums?

My daughter threw a 30 minute tantrum today.

What if we could all throw tantrums?

I say tantrum, but I look at it through more of an RIE parenting lense so really she had a 30 minute emotional release. And it all started because she wanted to play with the printer’s tray and I wouldn’t let her. I said, “I won’t let you play with the printer” and physically prevented her from reaching it. She pushed against my legs, crying for the next 30 minutes. And I just let her. I didn’t put her in time out; I didn’t try to bribe her or distract her with something else; I didn’t try to rationalize with her – I just quietly and calmly held the space for her to have her feelings. The most I did was prevent her from hurting me or herself and acknowledge her feelings a few times at the beginning. And I didn’t take it personally – I knew that all this crying and pushing wasn’t about me or about the printer. It was about something else entirely. Perhaps it was about all the changes that have taken place in our lives the past two months or the busy-ness of it all. Or perhaps it was something else entirely. To be honest? It doesn’t matter what it was about. What mattered was that I was able to be her safe harbor as her emotions crashed over her.

When we were about 20 minutes in, I started to wonder what the world might be like if everyone were able to have such emotional releases. If there was a judgment-free, intervention-free place where adults, teens, or children could express their anger or frustration or confusion or sadness or whatever else they might be feeling and have others quietly and courageously bear witness.

I was lucky enough to be a part of such a space for 7 years in my women’s circle and I can attest that it is truly powerful to be allowed to express one’s feelings with total acceptance. These marvelous women would bravely sit in a silent circle and bear witness to my pain. They would not offer me a tissue when my nose began to run or give me advice on how to ‘solve’ the problem. They would simply sit there, listening, watching & waiting, as I moved through my emotions. At times, the sobbing would slow down and it would seem that I was done, but these women were wise and knew to wait. A few minutes would pass and a new wave of grief or pain would wash over me and it would all begin again. They trusted that I was strong enough and capable enough to feel my feelings and to know when I was done. It was a powerful experience that I am incredibly grateful to have had and to have given to others as well, including my daughter today.

And what happened, you might ask, at the end of that thirty minutes? My sweet daughter lay on the floor, stomach down, completely spent and sniffling slightly as her breathing began to return to a normal pace. She lay there quietly breathing for about 5 minutes before she looked up at me slightly and said, “Can I watch Sarah & Duck?” And that was it. It was over and we cuddled on the couch watching our favorite duck waddle about on the TV.

Refrigerator Reminders

It’s my first post of 2018! Woohoo! How’s your 2018 going? Mine has gotten off to a rocky start. Things always seem to fall apart for us after the holiday rush of Christmas and New Year’s is over. So I decided to revive and revamp some old reminders on my refrigerator. I had put them up sometime last year and then taken them down months later as they seemed like they were no longer needed. Ha! I was incorrect. For me, personally, these reminders are helpful with my daughter who is in the throws of the terrible (or terrific as my mother-in-law likes to say) twos. The first two are to help keep me grounded:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

So often problems with my daughter arise when I haven’t been taking my time to meditate and breathe or because I’m trying to move at my adult pace. Granted, sometimes moving at an adult pace is necessary, but often times it is not and it’s important for me to remember to s l o w   d o w n. For me, I find that something magical happens when I slow down and move at my daughter’s pace. I’m able to see the world from her eyes and be fully present and connected. And really, what’s the rush?

The second two reminders are mostly in regards to my daughter but are also applicable to me:

Crayon on Paper. © 2018. Angelle Conant. All Rights Reserved.

I have a strong aversion to mess but life and toddlerhood and art and a myriad of other things can be quite messy! So this is a reminder to myself to allow messes to happen. Throw a tarp down and let the kiddo paint a cardboard box and get covered in paint from head to toe. Let her dig in the mud and pour water in her sandbox. Let her play and be messy. And also, don’t be afraid to get messy yourself – with the kiddo, in your art, in your writing, in your music, in the kitchen, anywhere!

The other reminder is a crucial one. Get outside. Last year, when I had this reminder on fridge and I was having a bad day, it helped me to remember to take the kiddo outside. To a park or just in the backyard. On days when I have very little to give her, going outside always seems to help both of us. I get to recharge (being outside does that to me) and she gets to play happily as she tends to entertain herself very easily outside.

I’m happy and grateful to have these reminders back up on my refrigerator and I can see that they are already helping. What reminders do you have (or want to have) on your fridge? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

In Honor of My Grandmother

This past spring, my grandmother passed away. It was her heart – she’d been sick for a couple of years, in out of doctor’s offices and hospitals, but there wasn’t much that they could do beyond what they’d already done. I remember visiting with her one day after a particularly long hospital stint and she said, “I always knew it would be my heart.” In those few words, I heard all the things that couldn’t be said: how she’d given so much of her heart to others and, in many ways, neglected her responsibilities to her own heart.

When we drove in for her funeral, I knew that I wanted to speak and I knew what I would say. When she first got sick, I had a feeling it was the beginning of the end and I felt like I need to tell her all the reasons why I loved and admired her. So I wrote her a letter and was able to share it with her. In honor of that amazing and beautiful woman, I’d like to share that letter with you today:

My Meme and my baby.

Dear Meme, you deserve to know that I think you are an amazing, incredible, beautiful, inspiring woman and I am so honored to be your granddaughter.

You are so brave, adventurous and strong while still being nurturing, elegant and unbelievably kind. I admire very much who you are and try to emulate these qualities in my own life.

You deserve to know that you have inspired me to travel and see the world and expand my horizons. I love listening to your stories about your travels and adventures.

You deserve to know that I love getting hugs from you and cuddling with you – you are a great cuddler. And some of my best childhood memories are on your lap and in your arms – I remember thinking that the world was perfect in those moments and I felt deeply loved and nurtured.

You deserve to know that your willingness to grow and change leaves me in awe of you. I hope I, too, continue to grow and change for as long as I live.

You deserve to know that your ability to go to the opera in impeccable dress while laughing at a dirty joke in the car on the way there is one of the things I love about you. You are elegant and wonderfully silly all at the same time and I admire that about you so much.

You deserve to know that I admire your deep commitment to family. You want so much for all of us to succeed and be happy and you have definitely had an integral part in making that happen in all of our lives.

You deserve to know that I am so grateful to have inherited your love of music and so grateful that you shared with me what you know.

You deserve to know that I admire your ability to maintain life long friendships as well as forge new ones along the way, no matter where your life has taken you.

You deserve to know that I admire your bravery in meeting every challenge life has thrown you and I think we both know you’ve had a few. And yet you handle every challenge with determination and grace and it is an awesome sight to see.

You deserve to know that I am deeply moved by your long and beautiful marriage to a wonderful and goofy man and the loving family that you two created.

And you deserve to know that when I have grandchildren, I will make them eggs in a frame and drink coffee milk in bed with them in the mornings and tell them stories about my Meme & Paw.

But most importantly, you deserve to know that you have lived a wonderful and inspiring life and made a world of difference in mine.

I love you.

Thank you.

 

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