After an emotionally stressful day at work taking care of post-divorce fall-out, and wrestling with some personal demons, I drove directly to my children’s school to pick them up. They were in their after-school programs and being away from them all day, it had been my habit to make a bee-line to each of their classroom doors. Sometimes when I get to my son’s classroom, he refuses to look at me and drags his feet to leave. I believe now that he must be able to see or sense the stress I’m feeling.
Tuesday, my emotions were too mixed up for the bee-line and I knew it. I waited until I could park in the furthest spot to give myself some privacy. It was then that I set an 8-minute meditation timer with the background sound of a “winter fire” (insight Timer App is AMAZING and free!). Once I closed my eyes, I allowed my emotions the oxygen, light and space they needed to “burn out” on their own. In 8 lovely minutes, I went from feeling like pulling some of my hair out to “I’m ready to be a calm, nurturing mom.” Allowing the emotions and thoughts is the key: to force peace, or any other emotion, just pushes them away!
When I walked into my son’s classroom, he played a game of peek-a-boo, to hide the wide smile on his face. He could tell my mood before I crossed the threshold. From kid pick up to bedtime, we had an amazing night! I even took the kids for a quick trip to the grocery store (something I usually avoid as much as possible). Though I did have to give the kids a few behavioral reminders, I didn’t lose my patience once (that’s a feat!).
In reflecting on this shift, I recognized that when I picked up the kids, it had been my habit to want to rush home so I could “relax.” As if rushing leads to relaxing?! Plus, when did the relaxation ever really come before the kids were in bed?! I’m seeing where this just made the kids, particularly my son, edgy (well, and me, too). So now, I’m committing to NOT rushing to relax, NOR putting it off until later. Why not now? Really!
So today I relaxed first and took a lot of pressure off of all of us. Now why didn’t I think of this before?! I really don’t know. It now seems so simple. BUT, I realized it and now I know how to do it differently!
P.S. It is also important to add that I did some visualizations today, seeing my son being happy and grateful to see me when I picked him up. I do believe this was part of how I saw the need to do the meditation that shifted me into relaxation mode pre-pickup.
P.S.S. I believe this type of mini mental break can help improve any caregiver-dependent frustration. Use it at will! Really.