On hope lying dormant, then sprouting

It’s been a long time. I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing here, and my overall happiness factor has suffered as a result. This is a time when my overall happiness factor needs bolstering, given the doldrums of winter and staring daily into the belly of the beast of our current president. It’s hard at times like these to remember that somewhere, beneath the surface, is creativity and life and hope.

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Photo by Steven Depolo

This has been a really tricky time for me. Feeling seasonally depressed, creatively deflated, politically afraid and disoriented. Not to mention the fact that the two glorious humans I co-created are growing ever bigger and more complex by the day.

Cal has hit the peak of 3-and-a-half-ness. Oh sweet heaven above. This is a challenging age.

Lucky for me, a teacher of mine, from way back when Jo was an erratic, tantrumy 3 and 4 year old, gave a talk at our preschool. She reminded me of some stuff I knew once. Like how little kid brains are constantly trying to make sure they’re connected to our adult brains, and how when they’re feeling not connected or overwhelmed, their brains can freak out in the form of a tantrum. And during the tantrum, it’s the opposite of helpful to enforce or discuss rules, since their brains have gone all reptilian and they can’t even access the reasoning part of their brain anyway. She also reminded me of this: if a kid is headed towards a tantrum, the best long term choice for all involved is to walk straight into it with them. I know this goes against every natural human instinct in the book, especially when you’re Just So Sick of that whiny, little 3-year-old voice. But I’ve been trying that thing I used to do–the equivalent of walking straight into a hurricane–and it effing works.

I actually just read my own blog post that I wrote 2 and a half years ago as a tutorial. It’s both a shock and an embarrassment to find that not only did I have some pretty refined strategies for how to handle tantrums once, I actually wrote a step-by-step guide about it. Fast forward a couple years, and that same grounded parent and writer is at her wits end with this little person, with scarcely a clue for how to cope.

Well, thanks internet, for preserving a former version of myself who knew what she was doing. There I was, beneath the years, like a bulb sleeping under the frozen ground. Just waiting to be remembered.

4 thoughts on “On hope lying dormant, then sprouting

  1. Oh my freaking guardian angel! How did you *know* I needed this today?!? This blog AND the one you linked to within, absolutely saved me from a mother shame spiral like I have never gone down before!!! I have an almost three year old and an 11yo, and I swear the elder child was never like this, but it has been awhile (A LONG WHILE) and I’ve forgotten all my tricks. How I love your Root analogy and how I am going to use it, every day, several times a day. So timely, thank you, thank you, holy effing cow..THANK GOODNESS FOR YOU!

    1. wow wow WOW thank you for this comment. You are as welcome as any human has ever been. And let us, on some magical plane, go and drink away our troubles over these erratic, fiery three year olds!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for this – especially the link to your older post, which I read some time ago before it was something I needed, so I dismissed it as – that’s a bummer to have to deal with 🙂 I now have a 3 year old and am pretty much parenting alone through some tough relationship challenges… that are affecting my 3 year old of course. So while I feel the need to be that much more supportive and understanding and patient with her all the time, the rest of my personal life is using up most of that energy and I sometimes have a hard time with her (cause you know, she’s 3).. and she can tell.. so she gets clingier and whinier and says no and then yes to everything and… spiral spiral. I just needed a new take on how to deal with her beyond deep breathing or walking away, or trying to reason as she flails, which of course doesn’t work. This growing roots approach is great, I will use it to the best of my abilities – probably multiple times this evening! Appreciate your honesty, wisdom and thoughtfulness of this and your other posts! PS – I’m your sister Jen’s friend, maybe our paths will cross again some day in good ‘ol Oakland? 🙂

    1. Maraih, YES its so helpful to have something between deep breathing and walking away. The roots metaphor helps me just be there and listen. And remember that sometimes that’s exactly what I need people to do for me too.

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