As I sit here in my quiet living room, wrapped in my ridiculously-comfy cable-knit poncho and relishing the absence of sound coming from my daughter’s room that tells me she’s asleep, I inhale the deepest and exhale the slowest I have all day (including the moments immediately following when I found said daughter had thrown her plate of mashed potatoes and corn down onto the rug). It’s like I can feel the world slowing down, quieting down, getting ready for the end of the day and forthcoming sleep. The television is off for the nonce, though I’ll probably indulge in some (countless) rewatching of “The Great British Baking Show” before bedtime.
Here we are almost a full week into 2016. It’s a thought that I am having trouble reconciling; it feels like it should have been longer than that right now and yet the days are taking their time a bit. I feel like I have accomplished a great deal and yet that I am falling behind on my To Do list. The decorations are coming down slowly. I’ve already written and submitted an article to the editors of The Well Written Woman. The laundry mountain is being chipped away at. I’ve cooked supper at home several nights this week. I’ve ready several chapters of a new book (you’ll find some favorite quotes from For the Love in the next post back). I’ve also been to the gym and kept up with my daily exercises. Pros and cons, progress and lag. But, on the whole, I find myself very pleased with how this year has begun. Baby steps.
I will confess that I have been busier than I had been expecting and need to work on being a bit more present with my little girl but I did take her out for her first snowfall play of this winter on Monday, which was wonderful. Then we sat on the floor and colored today before Mamaw gave us a call on Skype. So that was fun, particularly with me hilariously trying to defend my meticulously-colored picture from my daughter slapdash creativity. (I managed to snap a picture of my page for myself before surrendering my MLP: FIM coloring book to her mad genuis.)
I am looking forward to this year. I know that it is setting up to be challenging, difficult, or just plain hard for some in my life and it pulls my heart towards them, full of the desire to be there for them, even if there is nothing that I really, physically do for them. But I can be there for them. I can offer love and acceptance and an ear to listen. One of my goals this year is to speak less and listen more and offer as safe a place as I can for others. I don’t really have the words for how important this has become to me.
I have noticed firsthand of late just how ingrained it has become in us to not cry. Don’t cry. Whatever you do, don’t cry. And, if you do cry, apologize for your over-emotionality. Immediately. I am completely guilty of this and it breaks my heart to see those I love feel like they are putting too much on me or embarrassing me or themselves by crying. So I am retraining myself to never say, “Don’t cry”. (Oh, how hard that is with a three year old and those big fat tears over those chubby cheeks over the littlest thing.) Rather, I try to say, “It’s OK. Go on. I’m here,” and then just let them cry as they need. I am trying not to offer advice or platitudes or admonitions, or, really, even say anything aside from reminding them that I am right there (especially if it’s over the phone or Skype, as this is my verbal alternative to being able to hold their hand while they cry). Advice is not what they need from me in that moment. What they need is to be able release those tears, to release that emotion in a place where they do not fear being judged, condemned, or thought ridiculous. They don’t need “don’t cry”; they need “go ahead, you’re safe”. And that is what I want to give these friends, family, and loved ones. I am a sympathetic crier so there will most likely be two people crying before all is said and done, and that’s okay.
2016 has had a good start, with goals and hopes in place and progress made. It might be little progress but it’s still progress and I am glad for that. Here’s to the progress continuing. Cheers, dears!