Momma? her tiny voice floats down the hall like an angel.
Yes, honey? What is it?
Gosh, things are going really well this morning, I think.
I DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TO WEAR!!!! HELP ME NOW!!!!
oh, snap. And there it is.
(Long, drawn out sigh on my part)
I’m cooking breakfast, making lunches, and painting the kitchen cabnits right now, honey. Just wear whatever, please?
NO!!! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!!! I’VE GOT NOTHING TO WEAR!!! HELP ME NOW!!!! the angel was gone and something else, a creature I had seen before but did not enjoy, had replaced it.
I could feel myself getting upset. This is not what I wanted to do.
I do not want this, I do not want this, I do not what this, I thought. We’d been here, in this place of discomfort, many, many, many, many times before. In fact, last week, when Estella decided to take the day off school (more about this the blog post “A Parenting Challenge”) I invited her to go to Old Navy to solve this exact problem. But at the time, she didn’t want to go. She was happy to read for 5 hours in her bed.
Who wouldn’t be?
Part of what you don’t know about Estella is that she does not like to be uncomfortable. In fact, it is THE ONE THING ON THIS PLANET that makes her drastically unhappy. It’s the thorn in her paw, the sun in her eyes, the pothole at just the right spot in the street that you always just miss it …
But here’s the thing.
When you live in a physical body, it’s rare that you have a full day where you don’t feel some sense of discomfort. It might be the temperature isn’t quite right, you’ve got to pee and there’s no toilet for another 24 miles, your food is too cold, the Starbuck’s line is too long, the neighbor’s dog is too yappee, the bed too lumpy, the traffic too slow …
When we need conditions to change in order for us to be soothed, we’re in deep do-do. It just ain’t gonna happen.
BUT WHAT AM I GOING TO WEAR!! EVERYTHING TO TOO TIGHT! I DON’T HAVE ONE SINGLE THING TO WEAR!! Her distaste for this situation was building. Nothing was helping; I was not helping. Even the alligator tears did not provide her relief.
Reeeaaally. Nothing. How can that be possible? I can’t even close your drawer. I was not impressing myself with my tone, nor hers.
Now, deep down, I know I’m not helping. I am, in fact, making things worse and I’m well aware of this. What she wants, what we all want when we’re deeply distraught, what I want when I’m mad at the world, is a hug. We just want a hug and a cuddle. We don’t want advice, especially when we’re eleven, forty-five and seventy-two.
Deep down we all know it’s not the condition, the circumstance, that needs to change in order for us to feel bettter. We just want a hug and a few kinds words such as, There, there … it’s all going to be okay. Everything is going to work out just fine. We want to be soothed emotionally, first, more than anything. It feels like on an intuitive level we know it’s not the thing that’s causing our tears, it’s the feeling.
In my limited view of the world, my narrow human perspective (which is my own), it feels like we really do understand that it’s not the condition that needs to change in order for us to feel better.
Why? Because conditions are not static. And we know that. We say, Gosh, things are nothing like they used to be, Everything is different now, and When I was young I walked uphill to school both ways!
If reality was static, we’d still be living in caves instead of condos, walking to Toledo instead of flying, and talking to each other through plactic cups with strings instead of pieces of metal the size of my big toe. Reality is flexible and we’re always adjusting, like Mirette on a high wire swoosh, sway, adjust, swoosh, sway, stand straighter.
It’s hotter today. The car says 67 degrees fahrenheit. I roll down the windows to dry Estella’s tears. She’s still crying; hate’n life as it is right now.
But that will change with a swoosh and a sway.
Estella? I muse. What if you came into this world for just that reason. What if … you came into this physical body so that you could experience the beauty of the contrast. If you don’t know what you don’t want, you’ll never know what you do. What if, just possibly, you decided to come forth into this time/space reality for the pure joy of working through this experience of feeling what it’s like to be uncomfortable and then release that dis-ease time and time again? I’m guessing this is part of your life’s purpose because 1) you choose me as your mom, the weirdo that I am and 2) life is about the contrast. Without it, we’re lost. Bored out of our minds, really. Life is about learning that we don’t need others, things, situations and circumstances to change in order for us to be happy. Does that make sense?
(Both she and Sofia were silent for a few moments. The kind of silence that makes you question whether you might have actually left the kids at the last rest stop.)
Yes, I finally got through! I think.
Sofia? Stay on your side of the car, PLEASE!!!!
And with that, Estella was back to normal.
Works like a charm … every time. I silently congratulate myself. I’m a master at the art of distraction. Long boring, talks are my, “Look! Squirrel!” strategy.
Or so, I think. Maybe I’m the one being snowed?