Exhale

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A few days ago was One Of Those Days. The boys were exhausting, we had barely slept the night before and had to entertain them the whole day and above all, Birch just wouldn’t go to sleep in the evening. I had been humming and rocking him for the better part of an hour and definitely reached the end of my patience and calm. It was nearly 10pm and we hadn’t had one hour for ourselves this day. Leander came up and said: “Shall I take him?” “I don’t see the difference”, I said annoyed, not wanting to bother him – he is the one having to work at the moment and I try my best to give him the time he needs both for work and relaxation. “If you want to read or play Playstation, I can take him”, he said. “I just want to go to sleep, but you need the time for yourself as well”, I said, tired. “Well, it’s an offer”, he said, getting annoyed as well. “Yeah, well, then take him”, I snapped back. (I mentioned that we were exhausted, right?) I gave him Birch and immediately regretted my annoyance and followed him in the other room. “I just don’t know what to do when he doesn’t want to go to sleep…” I started, trying to make peaceful conversation. “Now go to sleep!” Leander snapped and I immediately was furious. “Alright, I’m already leaving!” I bitched and stomped out of the room, went to bed and boxed angrily into my pillow.

I hate being angry.

I’m a pretty passionate person and can be very emotional in a discussion but I don’t like to fight. It leaves me with this thick, black cloud in my belly, a tightened throat and my whole body starts to clench. My emotions are always very strong and close to the surface and more often than not it takes quite a while for an emotion to dissolve – even if it’s just a movie that had me in its grip, I sometimes need hours to come back to reality. Hours in which I can barely stand to be touched, even less so being talked to. The same was true that night. I knew it was stupid to be angry – we were both tired and exhausted and totally overreacting in a situation that basically had no grounds for a fight. Nonetheless, this dark, thick cloud of anger was swirling in my belly, I had my fists clenched and felt like I couldn’t breathe. Angry tears were in my eyes and I was SO annoyed – more with myself and the situation itself than with Leander and I couldn’t find a way to let go of the moment.

It took him not ten minutes to bring Birch to sleep. He put the baby to bed and came to bed himself, giving me a fleeting kiss while laying down. I exhaled. I knew this was his sign of peacemaking – a kiss and giving me the space I needed in that moment. He couldn’t react to my try of conversation before when we were still both too wrapped up in the exhaustion of the moment, but now, in the dark, with the two babies peacefully sleeping, he could tentatively reach out to me, saying without words: It’s okay. I love you. Now it was up to me. I could hold on to my anger or just let it go.

Slowy, my body relaxed. I inhaled, exhaled, visualizing the black cloud in my belly as it left me with my breath, dissolving into light. It took me another minute before I could turn and kiss Leander back, before I snuggled into his arms. Exhale. And I went to sleep, with relaxed body, open throat and no clouds swirling in my body.

It could have gone differently. We both could have held on to our anger and our being annoyed, but we chose to let it go. We knew it was the situation that was exhausting and not the other one. I think this is one of the most important things one has to learn, not only with children but in general: you have the choice. We can’t avoid situations where exhaustion or annoyance get the better of us – there will always be one time or another where we’ll get angry and loud and unfair. But we have the choice to actively let go of the emotions that come with it. Acknowledge them and then exhale.

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