night swimming

For the past 3 ½ weeks everyone in my family has had clean underwear.

And fresh socks.  And sack lunches.  And homemade dinners.  Every day.  Every night.  Now, while this may feel like a shot from polite acquaintance to faaaarrrr too much information in 29 words or less, there is a point in {over} sharing.

On January 17th I expanded my business from the cozy home office into the world of Piper’s Playground.  Piper’s threw open its doors the very same day.  Zero to 60 for everyone.  Crazy long hours.  And I’ve been slicing my hours into shifts.  The work-at-work shift and the work-from-home shift sandwiching the be-with-my-kids-from-after-school-to-bedtime shift.  And I’ve been staying up waaaaayyyy too late.  {which may account for my stretching out words.  Maybe not so much for emphasis, but because I am nearly falling asleep as I write}.

I’m not writing that to try and invite you to a pity party, please don’t RSVP.  Because I did it on purpose.  My logic was this:  the riptide of irony was going to pull me right under if, while trying to expand my business as a parent coach I wasn’t, you know, being a good parent.  So I thought being there mattered.

It did.  The problem was, I wasn’t.

You see, there is a vast ocean separating ‘here’ and ‘present’.  My body was here, my mind- not so much.  You could see the flotsam of evidence.  Double-check-the-flier notes.  Add-this-to-the-presentation notes.  Be-sure-to-blog-that notes.  {don’t worry Jill, I have since implemented a system, in your honor}.

And last night I got busted.  By the request for a band-aid.

Eleanor tends to dawdle at the table.  Everyone else had long fled to other obligations.  Mine at that moment was the dishes.  We were chattering about this and that when I glanced over and saw that she was pinching herself.  Tiny little fingers were trying to break the skin on her arm.  ‘Mooooommmm.  There’s blood!  I need a band-aid!  {insert-name-of-classmate here} cut me at school.’

For a moment I was spun up in an emotional typhoon.  What?  A classmate?  I just saw you try to hurt yourself.  A band-aid?  But I can clearly see there is no blood.  What?  You are hurting yourself?  At age 6? {ok, 6 ¾}.  Are you going to be cutting as a teen?  Are there warning signs this early?

Instead of opening my mouth to exhale my thoughts, I took a deep breath in.  And again.  And I remembered words from a page I had read just hours earlier.  They had been written in reference to a toddler’s tantrums.  Yet seemed to me they could work here, in this present.  The essence is:  look beyond the crashing wave to see what is happening under the water.

So I turned off the tap and dried my hands.  I returned to the table and sat as close to Eleanor as I could.  ‘You seem incredibly distressed.’  A nod of agreement.  ‘Are you feeling isolated?’  another nod.  ‘Would you like me to sit with you while you finish eating?  Would you like me to rub your back?’ a third and fourth nod, followed by the shyest of smiles.

‘Can I still have a band-aid?’

Another deep breath for me.  ‘No.  You don’t need a band-aid for the spot where you pinched yourself.  But I will give you lots of emotional band-aids for all the places you feel raw right now.’

And so we spent the rest of her night quietly connecting.  Taking the here and making it present.

And, as I was drifting off to sleep too many hours later, I wondered.  How often do we see the crashing waves but fail to slip beneath the spray and foam?  What would it look like if we paused and asked instead of assumed?  If we simply set aside the turbulent surface and dove underneath.  What are you feeling?  What do you need?  What if we could answer those questions for ourselves?  What am I feeling?  What do I need?

Maybe the pull of dreams made it seem too easy.  Maybe it was night swimming.  But what if?  What if you stand on the shore and reach for your child?  Grasp feelings and needs and hold tight to hands.  Watch as storm surges mellow to sweet waves you can jump over together.  Why not try?  And please, keep me posted.

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