When you feel overwhelmed by anger or by pain, two little words can make a world of difference:
It had been a rough morning. My tween daughter woke in a bad mood and, despite my light-hearted attempts and reminders of, “It’s Friday!”, she remained in a foul mood - stomping around the house, groaning when I reminded her to brush her teeth, snapping responses back at me to any question I asked.
On the way up to our bus stop, she walked quickly ahead with no intentions of waiting for me. As I slowly made my way up the street, I saw her waiting at the stop sign, back turned to me.
I felt the anger* of the morning.
*(I don’t know how we do it, parents. We absorb all of that anger directed towards us, knowing it isn’t really about us, but having to hold onto it nonetheless. Bouncing it back to your child isn’t an option. Maybe that’s why we drink so much coffee - it absorbs all of that emotion into those magical, dark, tasty grounds… But I digress.)
I felt the tension in my shoulders.
And I heard the birds. Dozens of birds, perched in trees around us, fluttering around from branch to branch, calling to one another on this second day of Spring. It made me smile.
And I thought, “this too.”
She’s angry, I’m stressed, and the birds are singing. This too.
My shoulders dropped a half an inch. I finally made it to the bus stop, and wished my daughter a sincere wish for a good day as she stomped onto the bus. I turned around to face a brilliant morning light streaming through the trees and falling at my feet. I headed home to face the mess she’d left in her room, the piles of laundry I needed to fold, and the now-crusty cereal bowl that had been left in the sink.
And I took a deep breath.