It’s no secret that children can often be our best teachers but it comes as a surprise that a five-month-old baby is teaching me something no one else has been able to.
Our newest little Goddess is teaching me how to calm myself – from the inside out.
Perhaps it helps she is not yet able to talk.
I recently saw a thing on Facebook that said; “never in the history of calming down has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down”. Truer words have never been spoken.
NOTHING CALM ABOUT THESE WORDS
Recently I was walking in a crowd towards a football stadium with Hubby when we overheard a young girl say to a middle-aged woman; “where’s the fire?”
“What fire?” the woman asked.
“Exactly” was the reply. Then the girl went on to say the woman needed to “take a chill pill”.
They are almost fighting words for me and Hubby asked if I was tempted to hit her. I was.
I may be a bit touchy on the subject – perhaps from living so many years in a house full of men who constantly told me to ‘chill out’, ‘calm the farm’, ‘take a chill pill’.
Again; never in the history of calming down has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down – no matter which way you phrase it.
The point is, telling someone to calm down actually increases the stress and intensifies the feeling they are not coping.
I guess our little Goddess is telling me the same thing but it makes a difference she does it with tears instead of words.
I started babysitting her one day a week when she was three months old. She tends to fight sleep so gets a bit overtired and cranky by the end of the day. This is when she starts to cry.
I’ve raised three babies and taken care of countless more so I’m no stranger to baby tears and can usually cope quite well.
This little girl’s cries are different. She sounds like she is being tortured. Many times I’ve felt the need to reassure Hubby, working in another room, that, despite the screams he’s hearing, I’m not sticking needles in her.
The first time she did it I was horrified and tried everything I could think of to make her stop. No amount of cuddling, rocking, soothing or giving her space seemed to work. Naturally, I made sure she was not hungry, windy, or wet, or cold, or hot – all the things you check with babies.
I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was Grandy, the woman who made the Goddesses laugh and play and create and have fun. Why couldn’t I make this baby happy?
The following week I felt much less confident and the crying seemed to last longer. It intensified along with my feelings of concern and helplessness.
It was getting to the point where I was on the verge of panic when this sweet little bundle – she’s all smiles and laughs in between the tears – arrived in the morning.
Then I finally realised our negativity was feeding off each other. She would cry and I would get stressed and anxious. She would feel this and cry more. I would get even more stressed. It was a vicious circle that was stressful and exhausting for us both.
By the time I had this light bulb moment, my mind and body were used to going straight into panic mode on hearing that angry little cry. It was a thought habit. I was sort of programmed to panic the minute her sweet little face started to contort into an expression of rage.
FINDING MY INNER CALM
I knew I had to find my inner calm, for both our sakes, not to mention Hubby and her three-year-old sister who also spends the day with me.
So it was afternoon and the cry had just started. I looked the Goddess in the eye and told her I understood what was going on and I wasn’t going to let it panic me. As I held her in my arms. I took a few deep breaths and then concentrated on a ball of light I imagined sitting inside me – near my heart.
This ball of light represented calm and I turned it into pictures, like the sunset over the ocean, to increase the feeling of calm. I was so busy with the visualisations it took me a moment to realise the crying had stopped – even before it was in full swing.
I had found my inner calm and it worked – the little granddaughter was looking up at me smiling as if to say; “well done Grandy, you’ve got it now”.
After that, it was all smiles, tickles and laughter with not a speck of panic in sight.
It occurred to me I didn’t need a dark, quiet room and a certain amount of time to achieve the calm that meditation gives. I had done this holding a screaming baby while The Wiggles were singing (for the three-year-old) in broad daylight in a matter of moments. It was very empowering.
I realised I could use this new found talent in any situation I found stressful because I had tapped into hidden reserves of calm that were sitting inside me all along.
The next chance I had to test this was when working on our desktop computer. Can anything make you more stressed than a computer that is vital for work but persistently breaks down? It seems every time I touch this computer there is some major issue and often just walking into the office makes me feel stressed – another thought habit I guess.
Anyway, the usual glitches presented themselves and instead of allowing this to destroy my mood I walked away from the computer and used my visualisation technique to feel the calm once again. I pictured that bright light, had fun turning it into calming pictures and, as it grew it gave me a warm, comforting feeling and I was once again tapping into my inner reserves of calm.
I was tested yet again shortly afterwards when this site broke down. Bloggers will understand the term ‘white screen of death’ – sounds scary doesn’t it? It’s when no one, including you, can access your blog.
While something like this would normally send me into a panic, I knew I couldn’t afford this as I was having a playdate with two of the Goddesses.
With that thought, the beautiful little face of my baby Goddess – the one where she seems to be saying ‘well done Grandy’ came to mind and I immediately felt calm – a new thought habit.
There are sure to be more stressful situations to challenge me and maybe times when I let fear and panic take control before I remember my inner reserves. But for now, I am grateful to the baby who, without saying a word, helped me find my calm.
All the same, if you tell me to ‘chill out’ I may have to hit you. 🙂
Wishing you serenity and a gleeful week, Tamuria.
Beverley GoldenMay 12, 2016 at 9:53 am
What a beautiful baby, Tami! Fabulous smile and I can see why she is your new vision of “calm”. I wish I could find something so soothing, as I find that often, without even thinking about it, I am stressing out…sometimes for no reason. Sometimes a walk helps. Sometimes petting the cats helps. Sometimes I just can’t find my “inner peace”. Maybe I need to bring a baby into my life and see what happens. 🙂 I do agree with you that often unconscious recurring thought patterns surface when we are thrust into “familiar” situations. I love the idea of having inner reserves of calm. Maybe just that thought will be enough for me to bring them up from wherever they are buried within. Thanks for the inspiration!
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:40 am
Of course, I agree with you Beverley that she is beautiful – that smile! Once you work out how to tap into those hidden reserves life is better. It’s no guarantee of calm all the time but it certainly helps.
Kristen WilsonMay 12, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Little babies are adorable and you just can’t help not loving on them. I am usually a little high strung and my honey is the complete opposite… and is amazing and helping me ‘chill out’ and not by telling me to chill out either..but telling me he loves me and/or usually making me laugh. It’s the little things… and to not sweat the shit we can’t change/control, ya know?
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:41 am
So true Kristen, appreciate all the little things and don’t sweat the small stuff.:)
Sabrina QuairoliMay 12, 2016 at 12:43 pm
I am the same way. Don’t tell me to stop my feelings. It’s my feelings and I have a right to feel them. Thanks for sharing.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:42 am
Absolutely Sabrina. We all need to go through feelings to come out the other side – they all have their value.
Christy SoukhamneutMay 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm
In by cute baby pics. I am
Known as the baby stealer in my office (I do always return hem to their mother) Babies have a way
Of calming me Love the inferences you draw.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:44 am
Thank you, Christy.It’s great you can find your calm with babies and have the opportunity for plenty of cuddles.
Susan Mary MaloneMay 12, 2016 at 10:22 pm
I just love this story, Tamuria! I don’t take care of a lot of babies, but I do compete with dogs, and have puppies–where the mom is pretty stressed. And like babies, my fur kids feed off my energy. If I get stressed, well . . . Nothing taught me this better than whelping litters, where oh, is the mom freaked out! But if I stay calm (no matter what is occurring, and that’s often not pretty!), she calms and can much more effectively handle the situation.
I love the image of that baby goddess calming you in other instances too!
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:47 am
Susan thank you so much. I can imagine there would be some pretty hectic situations that would challenge your calm when dealing with puppy litters.Dogs are like kids in that they can sense our moods and be affected by them. I guess that puts the responsibility on us to stay calm and in control.
Vatsala ShuklaMay 12, 2016 at 10:44 pm
I’ve just had an Aha Moment, Tamuria. Many years ago, my boss at British Gas had brought his newly adopted daughter Jennifer to the office and the minute our Country Manager’s secretary who was a mother of a teenager picked up the baby, the little one went into a howl. The secretary had been having a rough day with lots going on and that wasn’t how the rest of the single ladies thought the baby would have reacted.
When my turn came around, I was frightened because the baby was so small but remembered that I had assisted my dachshunds with their litter and if I could hold a puppy in my hand, why not a baby? So I smiled and with literally Dutch courage picked up Jennifer and said Hello. The baby laughed and started playing with my earrings!
Little babies and puppies do pick up our moods and confidence levels. I’m so excited about your discovery of a technique to help with inner calm, especially when the Tech Gremlins decide to play havoc.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:51 am
The Tech Gremlins – love that! They really are a challenge to keep the calm and I’m glad I’m now able to keep control of my own serenity as the problems are so not worth getting stressed over. Sounds like your experience with the puppies was a great help when it came to holding that baby Vatsala.
Jackie HarderMay 13, 2016 at 5:54 am
Fantastic! Love this. Great insight that you were feeding each other’s distress, and good for you for finding a calming space where you could deal with it so effectively. One of the techniques I’ve learned recently is called “coastline breathing.” No imagery necessary — just pay attention to the PAUSES between your breaths on the inhales and exhales. After about 3 breaths, I’ve talked myself down off the ledge. It’s marvelous! Try it the next time you need a quick way to get to your calm place. xxoo
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:53 am
Great advice Jackie and I will certainly try “coastline breathing” next time I’m feeling stressed. I don’t think you can have too many techniques when it comes to keeping calm.
joan potterMay 13, 2016 at 10:10 am
Tamara – well, in her pic your granddaughter is a cutie! When I first started reading your article, I thought maybe she had colic – but it sounds like you were right – you two were feeding off each other’s anxiety. Isn’t it funny how babies and animals can sense such things – while we can be so oblivious? Good for you for diagnosing the problem – & treating it as well!
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:56 am
Yes Joan, she certainly is a cutie. Colic was my first thought too but it soon became obvious that she was super sensitive to my moods – more so than I had experienced with the other little Goddesses, which is why it took me a while to work it out.
Rachel LavernMay 13, 2016 at 1:06 pm
What a cute baby!
I believe that we can control our own experience of life, and that we do not merely have to react to circumstances outside our control. But before we can take control, we need to learn how to relax and be in a state of inner calm.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:57 am
Thank you Rachel, she is a cutie. Yes, we need to be in a calm place in order to take control.
Joyce HansenMay 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm
What a wise grandchild. I guess she’s also prepping you for when she starts walking and getting into things.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 11:59 am
Hahaha, yes she could well be. Luckily her sister and cousins have also prepared me so I know what’s in store and I’m ready.:)
KristaMay 13, 2016 at 11:03 pm
Great story and great advice. I have a granddaugher that tends to get cranky and frustrated. I will have to practice my calm, so she can’t sense my panic – I never considered that. My husband is much better at this – he is usually the one to handle the ‘out of sorts’ behavior – mostly because I don’t handle it well. Great pictures, they made me smile.
tamuriaMay 14, 2016 at 12:03 pm
My Hubby tends to be the calm one around the Goddesses too, but I can feel his frustration when he’s trying to work (he’s an editor) through the screams and that only adds to my stress which, of course, adds to her’s. I’m relieved to know if I stay calm the situation won’t escalate.
Joan M HarringtonMay 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm
I can totally relate to your awesome story, Tamuria! When someone tells me to calm down or chill out I just become more upset lol
I so love how you found the way to calmness through your grandaughter and at the same time found the way to calmness.
As you said it was inside of you the whole time you just had to tap into 😉 Thank you for sharing as I have learned something as well to help me with my own stress and how to find that peace and calm 😉
tamuriaMay 25, 2016 at 8:47 am
IF my own experience helps others to find the way to tapping into their calm then I have achieved my goal.Thank you for the lovely comment, Joan.:)
Carol RundleMay 16, 2016 at 10:51 am
As they say, out of the mouths of babes… Seems you and your babe know exactly how to handle each other and you got a great new way of handling stress. Cheers!
tamuriaMay 25, 2016 at 8:49 am
I’m forever amazed at how much my little Goddesses teach me, Carol.The youngest Goddess and I really do have it figured out now and she is an absolute joy.
Teresa SalhiMay 16, 2016 at 11:47 am
What a lovely story and a great reflection. Everyone and everything is our mirror. Easy to say and much harder to realize this in ‘the moment.’ But what a wonderful aha for you and I could feel myself having an aha like that too. Thanks for sharing this beautiful journey with your grandbaby. 🙂
tamuriaMay 25, 2016 at 8:51 am
So true Teresa, everyone and everything is our mirror and we learn so much, especially when we open our eyes to that. It truly was a wonderful aha moment and life has been so less stressful now I’ve learned how top tap into my calm.
Lisa SwansonMay 18, 2016 at 8:00 pm
I remember when my first daughter was only a month old and when she started crying, my mother was so much better at getting her to calm down. Then she told me that when my brother (the oldest in our family) was a baby, her mother was able to calm him down better than she could. We came to realize it was because the of “grandmother’s” experience she was calm herself which in turn helps the crying baby. So glad I learned that lesson very early on.
tamuriaMay 25, 2016 at 9:04 am
It is wonderful you learned that lesson so early Lisa. I didn’t seem to have a problem calming my own kids so was never really challenged re my own calm when it came to their crying.