A couple mornings a month, usually on Saturdays, I wake up feeling rotten inside. Sometimes I can’t stop crying or I am super irritated or I don’t want to get out of bed. My heart will feel dark and disturbed, my brain will feel chaotic and fuzzy, and my body will feel lethargic and empty.
Most of the time I attempt to just will these days to go away. I try my best not to snap at my kids or my husband; I try my best to be upbeat. But my feeble attempts usually don’t work and I end up completely losing it over something absurd (like a pinch of salt being spilled on the floor).
I would rather just go away — away from the house, away from my kids, away from everything. Sometimes, when I actually do get a chance to run errands or walk around the block alone, I can pep-talk myself into facing the rest of the day, but then returning home is hard and the darkness and fuzziness quickly come back.
Some days my insides are dark and irritable. Like today. Today is one of those days.
I woke up feeling dreadfully heavy and murky. Yuck. Bleh. Not this again. There was pain in my head and darkness in my heart; the junk was everywhere. I held baby Baby Moe and slowly walked down the stairs, every step taking me closer to the early-morning sounds of our two very excited big kids. As I stopped at the bottom step, I glanced at the meditation room to my right, longing for the glorious space and calm to rebalance. I thought maybe if I could get some time in there to read, meditate, and journal through the junk it would start the day off in a hopeful way. But how could that possibly happen? What personal time does any parent have when her children long for attention at every moment?
I made breakfast. I felt like crying with the incessant requests made from my kids: Evi wants more to drink. James wants something different to eat. He needs a clean napkin. Now the water doesn’t taste fresh enough. The baby needs to nurse — no wait, the baby wants my coffee. They all want to play I-Spy with food in their mouths.
So, naturally, I snapped.
I took a deep breath. No, deeper than that. I took a long enough breath that the kids started to worry about what was going to come out of my mouth.
I took such a long and deep breath that the battle with my kids dissolved enough that I could see it was really a battle with myself.
I looked my kids, silently. And then I let them in. I let them see my junk.
I hugged each of them gently and lovingly while I explained how I was feeling. I told them how my brain felt fuzzy, how my heart felt tired, and how my body needed to get grounded and rebalanced. I explained that it was normal to feel this way and that it would help to have some time and space in the meditation room.
Their reactions were beautiful and deserve all the adoration in this story: James recounted times when he felt junky and told me that my hugs always make him feel better — and so he gave me a hug. Plum empathized and said that when she was a mommy, she also worked really hard and needed to get grounded every day. Baby Moe nursed and tenderly played with my face. The kids not only understood my needs, they were amazing at finding ways to meet them.
After they finished eating, they each played by themselves. I went into the meditation room with my book and journal. I left the door open and I let them see me. I let them see my process. I let them see me cry, convulse, breathe, feverishly write, and meditate. I let them see me with tears streaming down my face.
With red eyes, a drippy nose, and puffy cheeks I finished up in the meditation room. I felt completely released, refreshed and whole. I left my meditation and went to my kids, sat down quietly, and joined their play. Baby Moe quickly crawled up on my lap; Plum got me a Kleenex; James wrapped his arms around my neck and whispered in my ear that he loved me. Then we all went outside to play hide-and-seek.
I had been afraid to let my children see inside me because I did not want the darkness to spill out onto them. Instead they brought a bright light into the darkness. Meditating through the junk, working through the darkness, letting it show, letting it out — with my children playing right there, there with me — was completely transforming.
I let the kids see me, even the painful parts of me, and they were ok. They were okay and I was okay and we are all okay.
My honesty and their love and acceptance freed me in a new way. Letting them in was the best decision I could have made today. They don’t expect me to be invincible or without my own needs. They just want me, all of me, exactly how I am. And they already know about that sacred, junky space and how to fill it with empathy and hugs.