A Soft Place to Land

Val Curtis

Fight or flight. This is where we have been living for the past year. Juggling kids, a business, a marriage, teleschooling, and a pandemic has put my nervous system on full tilt. Did I mention that I have a tween daughter and a teen? I lucked out with two amazing kids, but man, adolescence is not for the weak of heart.

Too often, I find that all of the plates/balls/full cups spill out and over, crashing down with an audible scream of exasperation. When I am moving 110mph and my kids are at 5, I struggle. This past week, I decided, for myself, that this had to change.

Starting this summer, I began restructuring my business, so I can be available to my kids in the morning versus rushing out the door. I have made getting to my kids’ soccer games a priority. I have made getting a hot breakfast in their stomachs in the morning my goal before drop off. For me. When I take myself out of the rush, I can be present. They are dealing with SO much after teleschooling for a year and a half. Heading up to middle school and high school, full-time sports, increased homework – and hormones! I decided it was time for me to be a soft place to land because that is what I want for me and for them.

Things fall and break, anxiety rears its nasty head, deadlines come flying and I am choosing to pause and ask how they are doing versus getting caught in the turbulent river.

This has not been achieved to perfection. It is a daily practice and intention. Pause. Listen.

Yes, sometimes (loosely stated), I fall off the wagon, but I can start my day over right there and pause.

I do know that when your teen is getting ramped up, the best thing to do is to go “numb”. Just listen. Don’t feel the need to react and most of all, fix. Just listen.

We have become so reactionary to all of the input we receive from every angle. The act of pausing allows us to create space for others. This is not something that I come by naturally. I am a doer, fixer, problem-solver by nature. I am learning that doesn’t ALWAYS have to be my job. I can leave that at work.

Through our practice of scrolling through social media posts by the mile, we have become accustomed to bouncing from emotion to emotion with the flick of a finger. HAPPY – new baby. ANGER – political post. JOY – wedding. FRUSTRATION – social justice. SAD – a death. We aren’t built to process this rainbow of emotions this quickly. Everything is built to jar our feelings and it is exhausting.

I feel like I have been trying to scroll past my kids’ emotions at times as well. Let’s MOVE through this. Well, sometimes we just need to sit with it for a minute. Put the emotion out there, let it have its moment, process why we are feeling that way, be ok with it and proceed. That isn’t the scroll and swipe behavior we are accustomed to.

I read an article the other day about a mom who stopped yelling at her kids when they broke things but instead, would immediately focus on helping the child pick up the pieces. No one feels good when they break something – or are broken. This beautiful act of swooping down with your child in a loving way to take care of a mess is so moving to me. Extend this to your partner, friend, neighbor or a stranger in the grocery store. We are all broken and could use a hand. We don’t need to be fixed, but a friendly presence sure makes harsh moments more tolerable.

Our fascination with being busy and overworked has come at a major price that I am no longer willing to pay.

As a result, the only immediacy I am attempting to focus on is holding space. It isn’t easy, but it sure feels good when I can do it.