“All that I know is I’m breathing. Nothing can stop me from breathing.” — Ingrid Michaelson, from her song, Breathing.
I curled up on my bed, sulking because Emily flat out refused to allow me to slather her in sunblock. She ran around the living room like a banshee, screeching, “No Mommy do! No Mommy do!”
All of a sudden, she is in an impossible phase. Every moment with her is a struggle– she refuses to nurse on a certain side, she screams when I try to dress her, she tear-asses around the house when I attempt to change her diaper or coax her onto the potty. She pushes me away and yells for daddy when I try to hug her.
She’s been my “easy” child, so this phase is super disheartening. And while I know it is “just a phase,” and it is a normal part of her development as a little, two year old human, it is hard not to take it personally, like I am doing something wrong because my toddler howls and smacks at me when I try to protect her delicate, creamy skin from the harsh rays of the sun.
So, I walked away from her and flopped down on my bed.
Breathing in, I feel how frustrated I am.
Breathing out, I accept how tired I feel.
Breathing in, I acknowledge how much I love my daughter.
Breathing out, I give thanks for her independent and strong spirit.
Breathing in, I feel my anxiety about getting sunblock on my kid.
Breathing out, I let go of my doubts of myself as a parent.
In his book Planting Seeds with Music and Songs: Practicing Mindfulness With Children, Thich Nhat Hanh describes short mindfulness poems called Gathas as a tool we can use to “bring more awakening into our daily life.” He calls them “breathing poems.”
My husband recently bought this book for my Kindle, and I’ve been reading bits of it here and there when I get a few moments. It’s a good book. It’s simple, straightforward, and sweet. A lot of Buddhism seems really complex and difficult for me to attain, but Hanh has this gorgeous ability to make it really practical and applicable.
As you can see from the above examples, I’ve been trying to use Gathas during the more difficult moments of my days.
Breathing in, I feel helpless and inept.
Breathing out, I give myself permission to be human and fallible.
I stayed on my bed, doing this for a while. When I came back into the living room, my daughter was on the floor watching Caillou.
Breathing in, I feel like a crappy mom for having the TV on all morning.
Breathing out, I pick my battles and feel okay about it.
In the end, my husband came out and performed the slathering on of Emily’s sunscreen. I didn’t lose my cool with the kids, and we all got on with our day, one breath at a time.