Lately Fern has been repetitively practicing this little sideways crab type of galloping. Her concentration zones into herself, as she leaps around in a circle, or down the hall. I haven’t paid much attention to it, since so much of her movement is atypical for adults but typical for kids. She uses her body as an instrument of expression, with walking used only to get through the long, tired stretch from the beach (or creek or mountain or meadow) to the car.
Picking plantain for her Herb Fairies course. Once home, she washed it and after it was dry, helped me to chop it up. We have been slowly teaching her how to handle a kitchen knife safely. This week she also figured out how to use big scissors. By cutting twine. There are now approximately 8,000 pieces of twine all over our house. “It’s to make a nest for Ducky” she says.
Yesterday we were out front on the sidewalk drawing monsters (from this out-of-print find), when she started doing her crab gallop up and down the sidewalk. I put down my chalk and let her movement become the sole focus of my attention. This has become an absolute necessity for me as her mother, to place my awareness on her like this. Otherwise I am tricked into feeling that my own thought train is more tantalizing than the miraculous being before me, and I become increasingly irritable at being interrupted. Surrendering to interruption and letting it be a reminder that I have strayed from the present moment is becoming easier and more rewarding…certainly more rewarding than my own internal frustration that was creating a chasm between us.
This was a moment I almost missed while I was absorbed in capturing photos of bumble bees (on the pro blog this Friday). The shade under the willow tree made it difficult to see what she was doing. I walked under the branches to discover that, for the first time and much to my surprise, she was creating a fairy house by herself.
Suddenly her sideways gallop changed slightly as she was able to keep her back foot off the ground, and The Moment happened. It dawned on me…she wasn’t galloping…for weeks now, Fern has been trying to learn how to hop.
I cheered and clapped and joy exploded out of her face as she exclaimed “I did it!”.
This spot in Tennessee Hollow makes for a childhood dreamscape.
I’ve had a hard time inhabiting my life these last few months. Stress has been high and day to day events challenging and unsatisfying. I have been tense, Jeff has been tense and consequently, Fern has been tense. There has been more tantruming and defiance and my own shadow has been enacted out before me in the technicolor 3-D shape of a 3.5 year old girl. Add shame and, that heel-nipper of all parents, perceived failure and the whole things collapses into an ugly feedback loop.
Our lives are far from the desired ideal. When The Squeeze really happens, trying to outsmart my deeply conditioned Run Away! response is torturous. Especially when I get stuck thinking that what I’m supposed to do here is accept things as they are. Not that this isn’t good work, but when too much Sucks and internal feelings run too high around the cliffs of desperation, the disappointment in accepting is a path that also leads to these caverns of old Rage…and folks, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
There’s one other option, and I think it’s actually the appropriate one. It’s the greatest gift of having a child. (And I don’t mean this in a bypassing sacharine way). The gift is that I have an unconditional reminder of my own heart, in the form of pure love for my daughter. When I hate my life and myself and I can’t stand it one more minute, it’s the reality of this love that loosens my grip. Loosens my grip on the thoughts and the story and helps me to drop down. In this way, the circumstances are given allowance. I don’t have to accept them, like I’m the unfortunate recipient of an unwanted gift. (Here, says Life, a pile of cat turds Just For You.). Rather, the circumstances are of no consequence, and ebb away into some far corner of my psyche. The world comes back into focus, the wonder of being alive sparks exuberance and my heart opens.
That’s how I come back to the present moment.