Friday, August 19, 2016

I Want To Be Heard


I've had a couple of recent 'mom wins' that have made life easier and helped me feel an ever-elusive feeling in parenthood- 'Hey, I got this.' I've needed some mom wins lately, after being apart from James a lot during treatments and my recent, restorative (but long) Caribbean get away. One 'win' is that I have finally landed upon my son's latest 'instructions manual.' Yes, my child requires instructions... I realize not all children do and I've accepted that he is a very special, complicated and wonderful creature who is a bit too exotic for me to intuit all of the time, hard as I try. Finding the instructions for my exotic creature hasn't always been easy and has involved a lot of trial and error. When the right instructions finally find us it feels like divine intervention; James' often come in the form of a well researched book that helps explain the 'sparkly' kids. Sparkly is hard. Sparkly is great.
Lately, I found 'Happiest toddler on the block' by Harvey Karp, M.D. This book has me making my own mini tantrums using something akin to 'cave man speak' (he calls it toddlerese) and probably looking rather silly in public- but, I tell you what... when I use it right? No tantrum. Not a one. The basic idea is that toddlers loose their ability to think clearly when they are upset and that responding to their wants and wishes won't cut it until they are 100% certain that you GET what they WANT and NOW.  Essentially, they want so much to be heard that simply being shown they are, indeed, heard is enough to calm them to think more rationally.

The other 'mom win' is that I've found a far-reaching wearable audio baby monitor (it even has vibrate mode) that I can use while busy in the field or barn with the horses or chickens. I used to avoid going to the barn during my son's nap or after he was in bed because with a toddler, a continual line of communication and monitoring is important for the secure feeling of both mom and tot. When he knows I can hear him, he will trust that I can run to his side if something were scary or wrong and I, hearing him, can trust that he is safe, despite being outside of my arms reach. I can use both of those arms to attend to the other creatures on the farm that need me. An open line of communication is key to trusting, loving relationships across the board.   

Lately I have been spending a lot of time considering prayer. My previous post about 'the helpers' had quite a bit to do with prayer. An offer of prayer has been a gift I have gotten to open so often lately, expressed both in person and in the pages of the daily cards that come in the mail. I know there are several prayer groups that continue to honor me with their time, week after week. I also know that countless more individuals also honor me with their thoughts and prayers on a daily basis. I have also attended the healing prayer service in the chapel in my church almost weekly.

Prior to my diagnosis of Mucosal Melanoma this January I considered prayer to be largely for two purposes; to express gratitude and to make wishes known. I never considered prayer to be for the purpose of shifting the great divine plan for our lives. To be clear, I still do not. I believe that there is a plan and, should we choose to feel gratitude for it, it can be wonderful and spectacular. Every morning when I wake up, I try to make one of the first thoughts I have to be "Thank you for another day." I encourage you to try this. However, beyond this, my own understanding and appreciation of prayer have graduated to a greater understanding since January. I have experienced personally, and witnessed, functions of prayer that I never fully understood, or appreciated and that I still have much to learn about.

I WANT. We are not very different than we were when we were all toddlers. Wanting something very badly and not getting it is hard for anyone of any age. The threshold for what causes this and how we express it may change a lot across our lives but the basic principle is the same. It is so very difficult to think with clarity about our circumstances when our wants don't match our foreseeable receivables. Using prayer to either make our wishes known to the universe or ask for peace can shake up this problem and calm us enough that we can think more rationally and be open to finding or accepting the things you might need. This may come in the form of searching online for a book about sparkly toddlers, or it can help you be open when people come into your life offering help. When you are upset and feeling independent and defiant against life, including cancer, it can be hard to accept the form in which help comes to you, or harder yet -- asking for it. Also, when calm you are more capable, and accepting, of seeing, through adversity, what might be a 'calling' or 'purpose.'  Finally, it's been in moments of clarity like this that some of my more helpful mantras have come to me. A favorite, "You're not going to die today: You're not going to die tomorrow."

TO BE HEARD. We want to know that someone or something is out there to hear us. That we aren't simply shouting our wants into a void, without even deaf ears to fall on. We don't want to feel alone. We want to know that we can be heard, and right away, even if those arms are otherwise occupied helping other creatures. Here again, an open line of communication is key to trusting, loving relationships. Prayer helps us to not feel alone. Similarly, knowing that others are thinking about and praying for us strengthens our voice, strengthens our resolve, and helps us feel supported by our family, friends and community. We feel heard, but multiplied by the hundreds of other voices that are singing in unison with our own. There is no dark void. The ears are not deaf.

We are heard.