Sitting with Sophia
It’s Thursday morning. Herb takes the girls to school, allowing me a day where I can get straight to work. I woke up early, luxuriated in a longer meditation practice and eventually made it to my desk in the living area to prepare for the day’s classes. My girls were in the background, eating the breakfast that Herb had made. My eldest, Sophia, has been taking a lot more responsibility at home, mostly of her own doing. She enjoys making her school lunch most days the night before. She is immensely interested and helpful in the kitchen. She often helps her younger sister, Sonia, in both small and big ways. Along with this, she has all the very normal moments of a ten year old.
This morning lunch was not fully prepared. Herb was upstairs getting ready, while I was working. I could hear Sophia negotiating with Sonia to help share the responsibilities of the morning. The negotiations got edgy in moments and I felt it building. I continued to give them space to find their own way instead of running in to help alleviate the situation. I sat with the edginess that carried over into me.
There was no nice, clean ending to the story between Sonia and Sophia this morning. Their frustration grew and eventually Sophia was brought to tears. At the risk of sounding callous, it could have been easy as a parent to march in and hand out orders or to be aggravated myself as I was trying to work. Instead I called Sophia over to me. She resisted coming, but I kept asking her gently. She eventually made her way into my arms and we sat together. I told her I could see that she felt like she had a lot on her plate this morning and that she was feeling frustrated. We continued to sit together and I kept my arms around her. I didn’t ask her to do anything differently or to figure out why the situation became so charged. We simply sat quietly. I eventually asked her if she would breathe with me. She said no. Her body felt tense. After a few minutes I began to take deeper breaths, and in time she began to follow. I asked her if she would relax her fingers, slowly her lips, forehead, belly and heart. I am not sure that she really listened, but I offered regardless.
I finally asked her if she wanted to take some lion’s breaths, where you exhale with your mouth wide open, tongue extended to chin and an audible roar. If anything, I thought at the least it might make her smile, even laugh. She was a firm no to the lion’s breath so I did it for her. After several rounds she could not help but laugh. I gave her a tight hug and told her I loved her and that I was here to help her anytime she needed it. She went off to school with a smile that was still a bit hesitant, but a smile nonetheless.
Parenting is far from a perfect process. If anything it is quite messy, but the unforeseen moments of connection that surface from the messiness are worth every second.
p.s. Below is a link to a wonderful Parenting series by Jenn Wooten that happens to be around the corner.