Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: November 2014 (page 1 of 2)

Crayons and fires

My third-born developed a pattern: when she’s lonely, she’s destructive. The moments that we we want her to go and play like a nice little girl, she shoves herself back into our line of vision, sometimes with a crayon on our wall. She can’t contain her emotions and will react to small frustrations with bites upon her older siblings. Usually, she’s asking for something (a nap or a cuddle most often) but she uses the wrong words. The wrong means.

As a mother, especially of many, sometimes I don’t want to have to give that to her. I might prefer reprimand and get angry that she took her aggressive feelings out on other things and people. It’s inconvenient to sit and listen and hold, especially when I cannot identify with her feelings of frustration that come with broken crayons or a brother that won’t do as he’s told. These seem like pretty insignificant ordeals in my world, but to her corner of the universe, they matter. On my Good Mom Days, if they matter to her, they matter to me. That’s how things like empathy, kindness and love take root in a heart and grow us into beings that recognize the holiness in all things and people.

I chose not to learn a darn thing about Ferguson (chastise me later). I don’t know the names, the actions, the anything. I know there’s a police side and a black side and a whole lot of feelings. For a second just join me over here and set your opinion aside. I want you to hear me clearly. I’m not talking about agreeing or disagreeing with a grand jury right now. I don’t know who or what to agree or disagree with, and knowing my track record, I probably agree with everyone.

Right now there is a population of people who is so angry, they feel the need to burn things in order to get our attention. We might want to yell and discipline, but if we’re good humans, we should stop and question why riots have to happen in order to get our country to talk about race.

We have brothers and sisters in this country trying to say something. They’re telling us about a hurt, something so outside our immediate context that we have difficulty identifying with them. We want to blow it off, tell them to stop the current behavior and believe we’ve fixed a problem. Hear me: I’m not justifying behavior. I don’t like crayons on my walls nor fire in my streets. It’s not okay. But behavior modification will not fix this problem – it’s a symptom of a larger issue.

My three-year-old has taught me about human nature in her action. She has also shined a light on my propensity to gloss over her very real hurt with my reaction. Finally, in the third year of raising the third kid, when we see these behaviors I have come to ask myself, “does she need something from me that I’m not giving her?” The answer is nearly always, yes. She needs my attention. She needs me to hear. She needs me to try to imagine her world and what this is like. When I give her those basic internal needs, she exhibits the kind and loving behavior we seek from her. Her behavior has a direct correlation with her sense of security and place in our family dynamic.

What we lack in understanding, may we make up for in a willingness to listen to the real request of these behaviors.

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Celebrate Sunday

[box] “O God, who makest us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of they Son our Lord…”

-The Book of Common Prayer, A Collect for Sundays[/box]

Antonio Brilla's The finding of the empty tomb of Christ

Antonio Brilla’s The finding of the empty tomb of Christ

I’ve heard it said that we’re an “Easter People.” But on any given Sunday, is that true? The last time I have chanted He is Risen! was on Easter and then alone.

We tend to point to a cross when we need the empty grave. 

Why are we so stuck on Friday? We recount the sin of that day, the hurt, the awful. Friday has its rightful day of the week, the day of mourning and grief.

But it’s Sunday! He took that to the grave and left it there.

We choose to gather on Sunday, the day the women sprinted back to the disciples and revealed that Christ had beat all that we feared. Their burial spices were useless because Jesus left an empty tomb. Life, as we know it, will never be the same.

Today, on Sunday, don’t live in Friday. Live Sunday. Resurrection. Every Sunday.

[box] “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

-Jesus, John 16:33[/box]

 

 

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Learning our words

Mr. M entered that frustrating stage of toddlerhood where the language input is a vast playland, but the verbal output is excruciatingly minimal. “Ungh” and “eeeeehhhhhh!” apparently have two separate meanings but those meanings can evolve based on circumstance. Understanding early toddler language is worse than learning English as a second language. Using sign language as a bridge is helpful, but overall I feel as if I should be able to list “translator” on my resume following the job of raising non-verbal humans.


A while back, one of the children came home complaining that a boy at school had been kicking during meeting time. We talked about the appropriate course of action – asking politely to stop, getting the teacher to help. In this case, both of those avenues had been pursued. “Why would he hurt us?” they asked.

Well, I said, sometimes kids need something and they don’t know how to ask. Sometimes they don’t even know what they need, they just feel like someone needs to give them something, so they use whatever is available. Sometimes that means people hit or use unkind words, or don’t use words at all.


 

I wish these were isolated incidents. Yet life seems to be about learning our needs and how to express them in a way that actually fulfills them. How often do I crave connection and try to find it in the bag of Peanut M&Ms? Or seek approval through making loud and inconsiderate comments? What I’m asking for is love, but I never use those words.

What if we began to see all of the ways in which people simply don’t use the proper words? The rude person behind us in the checkout line. The irate driver in the lane behind us. The explosive father. The overly-involved mother of the playgroup. The disengaged husband. The drunk neighbor.*

We’re all seeking something and often it takes a lifetime to figure out both what it is and how to ask it of others. Our frustration grows as they don’t respond appropriately, giving us more milk instead of green beans, but we only have the sign for “more” and “more” of what remains a mystery.

Back in the day, my partner-in-crime, Kristy, would reach a point of stress and frustration and turn to me and say, “what I need for you to do for me is…” and she laid out exactly what was expected of me. Sometimes it was “5 minutes of quiet” or “carry this box to the other room.” Imagine if we all utilized this skill? Mommy, what I need for you to do for me is give me a hug. Dear, what I need for you to do for me is keep the kids for 2 hours so I can remember my personhood outside of their existence. Church friend, what I need for you to do for me is express you’ve forgiven me in a way that I can move on without always feeling I “owe” you.

Let us learn our words.  Let us be patient with those who don’t know them yet. And let us teach others how to use them.

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