For the past several days, I have been woken up at least twice a night by my son Choo-choo. Lack of sleep is usually bad for just about everyone, me included. I end up exhausted, obviously, but there is more to it than that.
Choo-choo is a total, complete threenager right now.
I’m not sure I fully understood what that term meant until my son turned three. He whines, he rolls his eyes, and he never wants to do anything. Throw in some slammed doors and you’d totally have teenage me.
So yesterday, I told you all about my first venture to a women’s retreat in my area. It was a chilly, rainy day that was spent from morning to late afternoon in a gorgeous cabin-type venue in the quiet middle of nowhere. We had already finished breakfast, introductions, and art therapy.
After a healthy (and delicious!) lunch, we were taught the art of tapping.
No, I don’t mean tap dancing or even the perfect way to tap a keg but “tapping” as part of the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. Tapping is essentially an acupressure technique designed to relieve and reduce stress and remove negative thoughts. What it does is interrupt the brain’s panic during stress to shift its focus back from emotional to rational.
Diesel and I are celebrating six years of marriage this September. At the time of our wedding, we had already been in a relationship for over six years. This means we have survived a dozen years together.
Earlier today, Choo-choo and I were playing with his motorized train set. It’s all bright and colorful and VERY loud. The trains have a limited amount of phrase and songs, and they run on a loop. I can only hear those things repeat themselves so many times. Not to mention the fact that noise is a huge trigger for me.
So there we were with the trains saying the same things over and over and getting stuck and crashing on the tracks again and again. Choo-choo kept squealing, “Help them, Mommy!” like I’m the designated train fixer even if he was closer. Then he would push them to help, and the gears inside would start grinding.
At one point, I couldn’t figure out which was grinding louder: the gears or my teeth. I had been deep breathing for a while, but I finally needed a break. It was all just too much.
“Mommy needs to walk away,” I told him. Choo-choo happily continued to play as I stepped into the next room. Just a few minutes in there by myself, but still within earshot of my son, helped me tremendously.
My body released its tension. The shaking subsided. My chest no longer hurt. I was able to calm and center myself to a more loving and less frustrated place.
I then rejoined my kid in the living room, where we resumed our playtime with his still loud and annoying mountain train set, only this time I had more fun.
(On a side note, thank you, toy manufacturers, for producing talking/musical toys and not adding any sort of volume control. Sincerely, every parent ever)
…is a phrase I find myself saying to Choo-choo all the time. All. The. Time. He prefers to play during his meals, and while I’m sure that’s normal for a two year old, it irks me to no end.
I have learned to step away, deep breathe, then return to the table. I even tell him why I’m doing it so he doesn’t wonder or worry why Mommy leaves the room.
So, the other day, Choo-choo was playing more than eating during lunch. I knew he was hungry. I was annoyed. Then came the dreaded “Eat your food!” line again.
To my surprise, Choo-choo turns to me and says, “Walk away and breathe, Mommy.”
I did, and as I did, I couldn’t help but feel conflicted. My son knew what I needed to calm myself and yet I was sad he had that knowledge in the first place. I returned to him with a smile.
I wish I could say he finished his lunch right away or that I didn’t have to step away to deep breathe. What I can tell you is all my deep breathing to reach a place of calm has influenced Choo-choo to the point that when he is angry, he takes a deep breath and feels better.
I have taught my son how to work through his emotions, and right now, nothing could make me prouder.