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A story that leads to silence of the best kind

It all started with a phone call.

Well, let’s backup, really it all started on Facebook.

I get a lot of good parenting advice on Facebook. Truly. I suppose it’s dependent on two things: asking good questions and who you know.

Some of my favorite and most helpful insights come from a woman whom I’ve actually never met in person—and yet we are connected. She lives on the other side of the country and is the good friend of one of my best friends. That’s why, when I felt like I really needed some seriously good advice on managing motherhood, was dealing with a particular perspective on parenting that I thought she would understand (see my Mamma Warrior post), and was trying to find a way to manage this mothering business with grace, I called on her.

Like I picked up the phone and called her. Never mind that we only see each other on Facebook. I knew she would be game. Before I even go on here I have to give a shout out for that deep womanly connection that allows you to A. feel that someone is a sister to you even if you never meet in person and B. take time out of your busy schedule to help a sister because you feel the same. Thank you dear Marcella and all the sisters out there!

You know how even just a series of off handed conversation topics can add up to a big personal ah-ha! Well that’s how it went for me. These are the four things she said to me that added up to a big shift for me.

Photo by Francis Martin Hain
Photo by Francis Martin Hain

First, once, on Facebook she mentioned my nervous system. I can’t remember what I was posting about—some hardship I was having dealing with my son or a day of constant whines and cries of teething or I don’t know. Her response was something like “You can’t compare yourself to other people. Every person has a different nervous system.”

Then, on the phone, she told me a story about how she once called a family meeting to discuss some behaviors that were completely insane making to her. Like she thought to herself things like, “This can’t be normal. I can hardly cope when this happens, this is making me crazy!” She told me how as she was sitting there bringing these behaviors to the attention of her family she saw on their faces—not looks of understanding and sympathy, but ones of sheer bafflement. In other words, in no way whatsoever were they experiencing this behavior the same way that she was. And yet it was excruciating for her.

Number three, during our phone conversation she mentioned that given who I am and how I’m made, it’s very likely that I have some extreme sensitivities that others don’t.

Then, number four, she asked me how much quiet time I was getting per day.

A light illuminated. It took me several days to sort of ponder through it and put it all together but what I realized is that the bottom line for me was that some of the completely necessary and unavoidable moments of mothering toddlers (like whole days of clinging, whining and crying due to teething for example) taxed my nervous system beyond its capacity. These things set my inner systems to “fried” almost immediately. Already at “fried,” I had little (read, NO) graceful coping mechanisms left. What I needed, very simply, was more silence.

I upped my morning meditation time. But even more than that, during this quiet time, I concentrated on collecting the quiet—on really attuning myself to a vibration of calm and silence. Then I started doing it during the day too, both at times when I wasn’t feeling any stress, and especially when I was feeling it. When my daughter was whining and crying at my feet and I literally could not pick her up because I had a whole pan full of hot food on the stove in front of me. In those moments, I shifted my focus from the feeling of overwhelm to calming my nervous system. I consciously sought out the quiet behind the chaos. I poured it into myself—even as I was managing the cooking, trying to soothe her, and addressing my son.

It made a whopping difference! The whining or crying may not have changed, and the tasks piled up on one another in that moment had not shifted, and yet I found I could deal with them in a completely different, more centered and easeful way.

Instead of having this internal feeling of absolute craziness—like I was going to explode from all of the stimulus, I started to focus and center on the calm, and bring it to me. Sometimes the only thing it changed in the situation was my inner vibe but let me tell you that is A LOT.

So, I’m posting this in the off chance (wink) that you have experienced moments of overwhelm as a parent. Maybe it will help you too. We may all have different internal limits, and children, but if calling in the silence has the affect on even one of you that it does on me, this will be a post well worth it.

And now, I’m going to shut-up. 🙂

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