Just Breathe

Just Breathe

A guest blog post from EFC Edina parent, Mary Lou Wichlacz:
I’ve always thought it is a bit ironic that the first breath of life is, in the best of situations, accompanied by a piercing cry. A cry means the child is healthy, recognizing the shock of moving from that warm,  comfortable womb that was home for months, to a new world that can sometimes be confusing and harsh.
As a mother of a 2-year-old (Lenny) I’m beginning to find myself using the phrases, “life sometimes isn’t fair”, “you need to suck it up”, “you can’t always get what you want”… all phrases I mumble to just myself, not to my child. It was hardly a conscious decision to not make these comments to Lenny, but the other day during a particularly challenging daycare drop-off, I found myself whispering to my son, “This is the way it is, you have to get used to it.”  I walked away feeling really ashamed.  
As a parent I want my child to feel anything is possible. Yes, I want Lenny to get used to a routine, I want him to have some predictability, but ultimately I want him to expect and have more than the predictable. I thought my life B.L. (Before Lenny) was unpredictable – unpredictable maybe, but I was always in control. Now parenting a toddler, lack of control and unpredictability sometimes go hand in hand. And that’s when I quickly replace the “you need to suck it up” with a calming “just breathe”. 
I recently listened to an episode of This American Life on NPR that was titled “Unconditional Love”. One of the stories featured parents of a teenage autistic son. The parents sort of laughed when they spoke about the comments (which are meant to be compliments) generated from friends and random strangers… “You are amazing… I don’t know how you do it… I could never do it.” The parents’ response to these compliments is always, “What would you do, be a jerk and not take care of your child?” Well, they didn’t use the phrase “jerk”, but you get the point. 
Like these parents, we all consistently rise above the occasion – walking away and giving up is not really an option.  While I would never compare my experience with Lenny to that of parents who deal with developmental or physical challenges in their children, I do keep these parents in mind, pretty much every day. It puts things in great perspective on the days when I’m reminding myself to “just breathe”. For while life sometimes doesn’t seem fair and I can’t always get what I want, as a parent I have received so much more than I ever expected. And I’m really starting to understand why, in the best of situations, some breaths are accompanied by piercing cries. 
Click on the link to listen to a free web stream of the “This American Life” episode referenced: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/317/unconditional-love