When I had my first baby, I had no idea the challenges awaiting me. One particular time, I just wanted my baby boy to stop crying so I could get a load of laundry into the wash. I tried everything in the little booklet the hospital gave me, to quiet him down. Nothing worked. I remember feeling my pulse race, my skin getting red and hot, and this new and unexpected anger coming up as my baby cried and cried.
I gently put the screaming baby down. Walked over to the garbage can. Kicked it clear across the room. … did it solve anything? …. no. Did I feel better? A little…. but not much.
I’ve since gotten a lot more comfortable with the unpredictability of newborns. I have also since read about how when you react with anger (or any emotion) consistently, you train your brain to continue to react with anger to similar stimuli. This is called neuroplasticity. So the more I practice reacting gracefully to the dumped cup of juice, pulled hair, interrupted nap time, the more naturally a graceful reaction will come.
Around this time, it so happened that in a mother’s group I was attending, we did a book study on the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. My chapter was “Keeping a contented heart”. There were 2 parts that impacted me profoundly. The first, was when the writer tried to play the “glad game”, where she tried to be glad about everything for a whole week. I love the glad game, because everyone has their moments where they want to kick a trash can across the room. But, I’ve noticed the kids are much more cheerful when mom is glad. Since reading this book, I have actually woken the kids up to my singing… (feel free to call children’s services). Moms really do have an amazing power to make a moment good or bad. Yesterday, Elise was trying to help me by collecting the cups that are often left everywhere on the main floor. She unknowingly grabbed my jumbo sized full coffee cup and spilled it everywhere. She looked up at me, about to burst into tears. I gave her a big goofy grin and scooped her up. We grabbed the paper towels and cleaned it all up together. I thanked her a bunch of times for helping, and now she begs for paper towels to help clean everything (even imaginary messes).
The second part I loved was a prayer to “shield the joyous ones”. I loved the prayer to shield the joyous, because although you want to treasure every moment with your little circus, there are moments that can potentially take away that pure joy. For example, when you go to the grocery store, if you have more than one or two little kids following you, people are staring… (and apparently feel strong urges to score your parenting abilities). It can be a little tough keeping your sunny disposition when one of your kids decides it would be a good time to have a huge fit. *Cough Caleb *. But I’ll keep praying that these little bumps along the road don’t change that feeling of amazement that the hospital let me take these little bundles home with me… for keeps!
This post is best read while listening to, Keep on the sunny side by the Whites.