Music festival, parenting, fun new playroom

Today we went to a kids’ music festival, and met a couple of friend-families there. I am pretty sensitive to volume, and it was too loud for me, but we did have a good time. Hazel had a spectacular time, playing in the bouncy houses with her friend S, dancing to the music, getting to drink chocolate milk.

One of the other families has also undergone serious sleep challenges, and it was so good to talk about their experiences. They’re working with the same consultant, so they’re quite familiar with the process we’ve begun. I am so deeply grateful for my community. Facing challenges with the support and understanding of other people makes the process more bearable, and there is a poignancy in the commiseration offered by those who have traveled the same road, or are in the throes of that journey at the same time which especially helps to make one feel not alone. And in the deep of the night, that is a very good thing.

Holding in one hand the knowledge that time flies, that they grow up so fast, that we’ll miss our babies when they’re older; and holding in the other hand the feeling of the minutes of the night stretching out to an endless dark horizon is a very strange experience. One internal voice is crying, in that period of wakefulness, “I am desperate for this to be over!” while around, through, and over everything is another voice singing of love and anticipating loss. Of course, what that ultimately means is that if I allow either of those voices too great a prominance, I’m not really able to be present in the moment.

I have given Fear and Anger seats of high importance in my brain and heart for many years. Having children has been an opportunity to return those feelings to their natural position, just two within the crowd of my other emotions. They don’t particularly like it, so they scream and stomp, and rant about doom and gloom a lot. But I’m learning that I really don’t have to obey their dictates. I can receive their messages, decide upon their importance, and dismiss them. I don’t have to keep them around while I’m trying to wash the dishes, feed my kids, practice, or sleep. We picked up a new phrase when we were visiting my brother and his family: “No, thank you.” Said kindly and politely, we find it is quite effective as a response to a behavior we’d like to discourage. I have begun using it internally, too.

The flip side to that is that we’re trying to remember to ask ourselves, when Hazel wants to do something, “Under what circumstances would I be willing/ok with/happy to say yes to this request?” (Shorter version: “How can I say yes?”) It’s very helpful, tends to encourage us to break our habit of “No.”

And finally, we’re trying to remember to start always with an acknowledgement of feeling before going on to something else. The other day, Hazel came running down to show me the clothes she was going to wear to school. Instead of seeing and acknowledging her excitement, and then making a suggestion that she also bring something else lighter in case she wanted to change when it got hot, I just said, “You need to go upstairs and change. That is too hot for today.” Ugh. Her face fell, and then she went off to show someone else, someone who’d give her love and appreciation, not just denial. So, feeling first, practicality second.

And as always, tomorrow is another day.

I did almost completely finish up putting the upstairs playroom together this afternoon. It’s looking awesome. It’s got a couple of wall-mounted shelves and a wall-mounted wire basket for paper, a cool light fixture with an octagonal silver base and bright yellow shade, a Curious George wind-up clock we found when going through the basement, a couple of bins full of stuffed animals and dress-up clothes, a string of lights in the shape of miniature Chinese lanterns for nice dim lighting at night, and a blue clock that works on water. Neato. Maybe tomorrow we’ll spend some time drawing and playing with Hazel’s dress-up clothes. I will miss them all when I’m gone at my Chamber Music weekend the next couple of days. More on that later…

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