Talked with my coach yesterday and spent a fair amount of time on my overwhelm and subsequent crying breakdown last weekend while taking care of Peter. Mostly, I was tired from physical exertion and having to be present 24/7. Lugging a solid six-month-old baby up and down two flights of stairs many times a day was a bit more than this old farty chick is used doing. (And when I say “a bit” I mean “a LOT”, mmmkay?)
But beyond the physical exhaustion, there was something else. My meltdowns came when giving him a bath – he screamed (and I mean SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER) the whole time and I felt like the most incompetent person ever. Logically, I know that the water temp was fine and I wasn’t hurting him but it really took me to a place of “I am beyond inadequate” that wasn’t just about this situation. As soon as I got him dressed for bed and he fell asleep in my arms, I totally melted down. Cried and cried and cried like I haven’t in a long time. And even as I sat there crying, I knew that the tears were about so much more than exhaustion and even inadequacy.
With my coach’s help, I came to understand this: I spent all my time up in my head. I live in the mental realm where anything can be solved by thinking about it and researching it. The three days with the boys forced me – hard – out of that mental realm. I had to be present in a physical way 24/7. If this were easy for me, I’d have done it a long time ago. The meltdowns represented my reaction to being booted from my comfort zone in a way I had not anticipated. I couldn’t “fix” Peter’s crying in the tub by thinking it out. I couldn’t “fix” the fact that every time I put him in his crib he inexplicably woke up and I had to start all over again by thinking about it. I just had to walk through it one step at a time. By Sunday, I had come to some understanding about the flow of things and I guess that’s how parents do it. (And God bless them. I’d be an entirely different person if I had a child.)
Jaelin (my coach) helped me understand what a gift that weekend was – I got a visceral understanding of just how hard it is for me to be present in my body and out of the mental/spiritual realm I inhabit all the time (i.e., my comfort zone). So hard that it brought me, quite literally, to my knees. And yet, being able to do that is a key to a lot of things for me. Those tears I cried while holding Peter were cleansing, healing a deep place inside me that desperately needed healing. The immense joy I felt looking in his eyes or getting a hug from Luke filled me back up in a way that mental gymnastics can’t even touch. Each has their place and part of my work is to learn that balance.
There’s much more healing to do. But I am thankful for the lessons, the tears, Peter (my little teacher) and Jaelin. As I begin to turn the corner on my 40s and head into the next decade, it becomes even more clear to me that we are given many (if not all, but that’s arguable) experiences to grow and progress on a deep soul level. We are always free to take them and learn or not. But they’re there – just the same.