Halloween did not go the way I had hoped. My almost 6-year-old fell off the jungle gym at school and broke his elbow. We spent most of the afternoon and evening at the ER, and a few hours yesterday with the orthopedist. He now has a red, waterproof cast that will come off in 3-5 weeks.
Over the last couple of days I’ve been watching him process the ramifications of this fall. No karate, gymnastics, yoga, soccer, baseball, P.E., running or jumping for a month. The fact that he’ll have a cast on during his birthday party. The rescheduling of a field trip his entire 1st grade class was taking to our yoga studio for class with yours truly next week. All because he lost his balance and fell. He’s been handling it really well. A strong reaction when he realized he couldn’t scratch his arm when it itched, and another one today when he understood his arm would have to stay bent inside the cast. Sadness over the fact that he can’t write or draw with his right hand, and that recess is going to be tough for awhile. Earlier this afternoon I saw his brow furrow and his lip quiver as he realized he wasn’t going to be able to rough house with his uncle in a couple of weeks. The only way I can help him with any of it is to validate what he’s feeling. To let him know I understand, and that I’m sad about it, too. That’s when I see his face soften.
I share all of this with you not because I’m confused. I’ll take a reason like this to be at the hospital with my kids any day of the week. There are parents inside that hospital who would’ve traded places with me in a heartbeat. I could weep thinking about that. This is a nothing, it’s a blip, his elbow will heal like nothing ever happened, and he’ll have a memory of the birthday with that cool red cast.
I share this with you because life is like this sometimes. You’re going along doing your thing, climbing on that metaphorical jungle gym, and suddenly you have a set of unwanted circumstances dropped in your lap. Your life gets turned on its ear for a moment. You think, wow, what did I do to deserve this? Sometimes you have done something. Maybe you’ve made choices without thinking about how they might affect other people. That’s what I would call a self-inflicted sh&t storm, and I’d take it as a marker for a place that could use your attention and care. A little uncomfortable but necessary self-examination. And sometimes you haven’t done anything at all.
Life brings all kinds of situations. Some of them we long for, and others we hope to avoid. There’s no controlling any of that. The only thing to work on is our response. How am I going to show up in the midst of this storm that just blew in? How can I be present and keep my heart open even though a whole bunch of stuff has just gone down that feels awful? That leaves me feeling raw and vulnerable and disappointed and deeply sad?
Be sad. Or be angry, or confused, or scared, or whatever else you need to feel, to acknowledge the reality of your current situation. That’s how you keep your heart open in the middle of a storm, whether you brought it on yourself, or it landed on you out of nowhere. And remember that the storm will pass. They always do. The sun will burst through and you’ll be running and jumping and down-dogging your way through life again. Give yourself the respect and time and space to process your feelings. Somewhere inside yourself remember every good thing that has been gifted to you as well. So that you both allow your pain but remember your blessings. That way the pain will be fleeting because you won’t be pushing it down and making it struggle for your attention.
May we all remember the sunny days on the playground, the hard falls in life, the ebb and flow of everything, including ourselves, and the love that makes it all so beautiful. Ally