“There is one way of breathing that is shameful and constricted. Then, there’s another way: a breath of love that takes you all the way to infinity.” Rumi
There are times where I get to the end of the day and realize I haven’t really been breathing. Oh sure, I’ve breathed. But whole days go by sometimes where I never really take a breath.
When my boys were younger, (funny to say that because they’re only 2), I started doing this thing with them when they started getting too wound up and out of control. I’d stop whatever we were doing and I’d say, “Let’s breathe.” We take a deep breath in together and bring our hands together, then let it out and open our hands. It was like a magic trick and I even shocked myself when I discovered this little ditty was actually working.
I’ve stuck to it ever since and it continues to work.
The best thing about it though, is that it ends up flipping itself around and working on me. It forces me to stop and before I can allow myself to get too frustrated, too overwhelmed, too over the craziness, it reminds me to breathe. Something instantly changes both internally and externally when we simply take a breath. It’s so simple that it’s miraculous.
The other day the boys were doing something, I can’t remember what, and it had been a long day. I started feeling myself reaching the end of my rope and it started feeling like the walls were closing in a little bit. It was like one of those moments in a movie when the actor is still but the world is spinning around them because of some traumatic turmoil and sense of being out of control, only this wasn’t so dramatic.
I guess my Ethan could tell the end was nearing and he all of a sudden comes over to me, places his tiny hand on my leg and says, “Mommy, breathe,” and started doing the hand motions and deep breaths. I didn’t know if I should laugh, cry or burst into song. I smiled feeling the weight and heaviness of the day shatter, I looked into my son’s wise 2 year old eyes, and I took a breath. Maybe my first breath of the whole day. We breathed together for a few moments and then Connor joined in. Now it was like the scene in a movie where the actors are still and the world around them is spinning, but this time because time is standing still and there is only us, right now, together, breathing.
My sons have the ability to suck the life out of me sometimes, but in the same moment, they breathe it right back in.
Tonight we had another need for breathing, and it again softened the stiffness of the moment and breathed life back into us so we could trudge the murky waters of a prolonged bedtime. When they start getting a little too far from where we need to be and my requests for obedience are being ignored, I say, “Look at me. (And they do). Put your listening ears on. (And they do). Now let’s breathe.” (And they do).
Tonight I ended up not being able to keep it together and busted out laughing during the process because the cuteness overwhelms me and I can’t help it, but it worked. It made them giggle too and instantly, all was right in the world again.
I’m so thankful for these tiny nuggets of useful parenting skills I’ve accumulated over the last 2 years, and I’m even more thankful for what they teach me.
Sometimes life gets tough. Sometimes the weight of it all gets heavy and makes it hard to breathe. Some days, though I’m a grown up, I still feel like a child that needs a lot of help and guidance. Sometimes, I get too wound up and unfocused and end up too far away from where I’m supposed to be, ignoring the calls for obedience in my life. In those moments I often feel God’s presence and hear Him say, “Look at me. Put your listening ears on. Now, let’s breathe.” We lock eyes, He smiles at me, I take a deep breath in, and then I breathe it all out.
God uses my children to get to me and I am so grateful for His methods. Sometimes, all we need is to stop, listen and breathe.
“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” Mary Oliver