An explosion of some sort was building....
The noise from the back seat was phenomenal - squealing, incoherent, high pitched, unrelenting. The jostling was intensifying and I could feel hands, legs and heads thumping against the back of my seat as I tried to fix my attention on the busy road ahead, brows furrowed tight in concentration against the glare of the sun.
Another thump. More high-pitched squealing. Laughter? No, crying this time. “He HIT meeeee!!!!” “No I DIDN’T….he had his head in my waayyy!!!”
I felt tension ratcheting inside me…the traffic, the noise, the endless fighting…something threatened to erupt.
And then I became aware of an infinitesimal pause…the split second between the noticing of this rising fury and its outflow. Within this fragment of a moment, the possibility of choice emerged. I chose to lean my attention inwards towards the bodily sensations of my anger, to trace its contours with curiosity, with the keen attitude of one straining to hear a conversation of great interest over a bad long-distance phone line:
...frustration and burning tightness…jaw clamped tight...shoulders, high and clenched…hands hard and gripping…breathing quick and high in my chest...a hollow empty feeling in my stomach...rawness in my throat…anger, frustration....fear?
As though buoyed by the acknowledgment of these feelings, more bubbled into my awareness - I noticed my thoughts: “They shouldn’t be fighting while I drive! It’s so dangerous. They’re so loud! They don’t even care if we crash….”
And there, hidden like glistening gems in the muddy confusion of these thoughts - my needs: A longing for calm, peace and focus. A deep wish for consideration as I tried to drive us home. And a fervent desire for us to all get home safely.
Air flooded back into my lungs as I breathed into the delicious humanness of my needs. Something opened up in me - an uncoiling in my chest that created a small but vital space, a space of softness just large enough to allow me to voice a request: “Hey kids, I’m feeling a bit scared right now because it’s hard for me to concentrate and drive safely when there is noise in the car. Can you think of something you could do together that would be fun for you and a bit quieter for me?”
As it turns out, on this occasion the answer was no, they couldn’t. And as it turns out, on this occasion that was ok. Because that small, gentle space that opened up in me was enough to hold us all with love and care until we arrived home safely.
Curious to explore the pause with us?
Join us for our next "Connecting With Children" course, starting October 17th 2023.