I remember the first time I met the voice of the younger more vulnerable one in me.
My kiddos had finally made it through bedtime routine and were tucked in their beds. The ones that needed my closeness to drift off were sleeping hard enough that I could slip out from their limp arms and legs slung over my body.
From where I am today I can only imagine, not really remember, taking myself back down the burly steps of our log home, the flat top of a log split in half meeting my heavy and tired steps.
Down, away from bed and towards the sink full of dirty dishes, maybe even two days’ worth.
I was at the lowest point in my parenting journey.
To even admit that felt like donning a heavy cape of failure. Every night as I tidied up from the long days, I promised myself that things would be different.
I said to myself: just hit the reset button. I would have these darn dishes done early in the day. I wouldn’t snap at the kids for making messes. I would eat salad instead of leftover pbj crust. This list ranged from simple todos all the way to fantastical dreaming.
Some of the things I daydreamed about doing to chase the ever elusive- relief, rest, restore fantasies were scary, even to me. Some of them absolutely impossible.
Standing in front of the sink, the piled up dishes with remains of discarded bites of my constant offerings, a few tears rolled off my cheeks.
I looked around the open living space littered with little trails of kid life left behind, and out of my mouth came the words to no one but myself- ‘I don’t want to do this’.
I had been setting up my SafeSeat in the few days previous as part of the Parenting Paused course I decided to take which was on the list of things I could do to hit reset.
If nothing more- I recognized I could PAUSE and I took the tears and these few precious words quickly there.
I momentarily forgot about my dishes. (Unbelievable!! )
I grabbed the wide-blue-eyed polar bear cub stuffy I borrowed from my boy for the practice, a photo of myself at age 4, and sat down in my SafeSeat.
I didn’t know if I was even doing it right- and yet everything inside me was saying- this is it, tune in.
Get as quiet as you can and just listen.
I thought of the words I just heard from a place inside of me- ‘I don’t want to do this….’
Closing my eyes I listened even closer- to a space inside of me.
I felt another part of me that seemed ahead of where I was in the moment offering space to these young words, and anything else that would come along with them.
Some tears, a few little grunts, sounds of breathing hard and shallow.
And my imagination half drifted half followed then to a little one, a girl- sitting with her back against a wall, knees hugged tight and close to her chest, her head bowed between with curtains of hair draping the around her little body.
A muffled voice- the one, saying- ‘I don’t want to do this!’.
And then a funny thing happened- I was so excited to meet my inner girl- I got sort of giddy.
It seemed like an insensible response to such a desperate cry, but really truly it was the start of something.
I could meet this part of me.
In a sense I thanked her for showing herself to me- and that I was here now. We could do this. I was willing to listen- excited, even.
The Parenting Paused course said I could find her, this voice… and I had been trying- and it was so silent anywhere… until I stood right in the moment in front of those dishes, and truly listened.
And that was it! I went back to the sink with a smile on my face and little more oomph in my arms for the practical task at hand.
I couldn’t be sure if she would visit me again, but we had established something- which I now know ( 6 years later) to be the start of a beautiful relationship that would support me to grow up emotionally and see me back home to myself and show up truly how I wanted to parent my children.
I’ll be guiding others towards this same experience in the upcoming course Parenting Paused beginning June 15th- if you’re curious to know more- head over to the purejoy website to learn more about the course offering by Leslie Potter and put your name on the waitlist to be notified of sign up steps.