Reading time: 3 minutes
(Originally written on October 14, 2015)
I was THIS close to calling my 4 year old daughter a PAIN-in-the-ASS (PITA!) today to her face. And that wasn't the only 4 letter word I felt like spewing. For someone who strives to treat my kids with the same respect I want them to show me, I felt like I was slipping to the end of my rope while hanging off the edge of a steep cliff.
I knew that releasing those four letter words would be like opening Pandora's box to expressing all of the rage that was brewing inside. I mustered up the energy to take a few deep breaths, allowing myself just enough time to rationalise that yelling and screaming wouldn't improve the situation or make either of us feel any better.
My daughter was tired and functioning in a mode where she felt every.single.thing was an emergency requiring immediate(!!) attention. I was lacking sleep myself and feeling triggered by the constant demands, whining, and fighting with her brother.
I picked her up from kindergarten and she yelled at me to buckle up her car seat NOW!!! As my hands were loaded with bags and jackets, she screeeeamed for me to carry her from our carport to the front door. She whined that she didn’t like the lunch I made. She had a near full-blown meltdown every time her brother took the ball from her in our backyard soccer match. She peed on our living room floor (did I mention she is 4 years old?)! She called me “stupid mommy!” in her sassiest tone when I tried to straighten out the tablecloth that kept sliding around the table as she coloured. And the list goes on and on.
This wasn’t an entirely uncommon day for my highly spirited child. In addition to being tired, she clearly had built-up emotions that needed to be released and worked through. But today wasn’t the day for having conversations to work through issues, or for sharing hugs or a listening ear. Today wasn't the day for me to feel centered enough to tap into my parenting toolbox and instinctively know what my daughter needs. No, today was the day where I felt like a punching bag, and either wanted to punch back with my words or run away from the struggle.
Being an empath by nature, I find it very challenging not to get drawn into her drama and start acting like a PITA 4 year old myself. If I hadn’t just committed to a Positivity Challenge* with my hubby, then an entirely different four-letter word than PITA would have come to mind.
And then bedtime came. Suddenly my little PITA was filled with nothing but…love. L-O-V-E! She climbed up onto her brother’s bunk and gave him a sweet kiss good night. She climbed down and kissed his hand as it dangled over the edge of the top bunk. She hugged Daddy goodnight with all her might. As I was lying beside her in her bed, she told me I was the best “foodcooker” in the universe. She snuggled up close to me, kissing me a million times, each kiss melting away all the frustration, all the annoyances, all the urge-to-spew-4-letter-words feelings.
In just a few minutes, life transitioned from me wishing this day would be over already, to me wishing this beautiful moment would never end. Just like that, this other 4 letter word, LOVE, transitioned my feelings from one extreme to another.
And that’s when I realized that perhaps this is what polar opposites are about. Yin and Yang. Sun and the Moon. Positive and Negative. One can’t exist without the other, even though it’s quite easy to fool ourselves into believing we can find this sweet spot where life remains harmoniously balanced.
As someone who deeply craves harmony, I struggle with gracefully dealing with these extremes. But today’s extremes of destruction and redemption shed new light on an old issue. Maybe we need both the easy and the challenging moments so that we can more appreciate the easy and better work through the challenging. Maybe understanding this concept of duality can give us the perspective needed to allow our children - and ourselves - the time and space to release pent-up "challenging" emotions and to create more space for the "feel good" emotions.
When those sweet redeeming moments come, they make all of the crazy, difficult moments fade into the background and seem completely worth it. If just for a blissful moment.
*I will write about our Positivity Challenge in an upcoming post!
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Michelle Borner, a mom on 23 missions, blogs about her Deep Thoughts on a wide range of topics from parenting to conscious living to lessons from brain cancer.
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