“And though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare
It is a thing we don’t do often enough. Just stop and take a big breath. It is amazing what happens in our bodies when we do this, on purpose.
It’s not something I ever thought much of, until I had a little girl who feels all the feelings. A big deep breath would become the first step in her calming down and working through her emotional discomfort. (A necessary life skill if you ask me)
It is a strange marvel to watch her heart swell and burst multiple times a day. I feel like she’s constantly coming down from a tantrum. It used to be such a stressful thing for me.
Her initial impression may be deceiving. She’s a tiny blonde, blue-eyed, dress-loving, (off-key) song-singing, nerd glass-wearing princess. But she goes from zero to sixty with all the irrational theatrics that distinguish toddlerhood from all other stages.
She always knows what she wants, logical or not, and in a beautiful but infuriating way she fights for it – multiple times a day.
We named her Lenayah. I wanted to name her after Twinflower, called Linnaea borealis. We altered the spelling to honour my Grandma’s middle name, Lena; my dad, Len; and added the ‘-ah’ as a way to reflect God changing the name Sarai to Sarah by adding his breath into her name.
In the past year or so, not a day goes by where I don’t remind her to ‘take a big breath and calm down’ when she is feeling upset. Well, this happens often throughout the day. We say it so often in our house it is as much a family motto as ‘flush and wash..but seriously, flush and wash…did you flush and wash?’. If Levi is feeling ‘big brotherly’ he will even come to Lenayah when she is upset and remind her to take a big breath, he’ll try to walk her through it…..sometimes it’s great having a third parent around….sometimes (that’s a whole other post).
I used to panic when she would. Her stress would invade and riot in my own body as she would feel all of her upset. For someone who avoids stress at almost all costs (type nine problems), this was a wake up call to me. I have a daughter who lets herself ebb and flow with emotions, passions, creativity. I had stifled all these similar pieces in myself and layered on ‘reasonability’ and ‘safety‘ in its place.
[Tweet “God gave me a child to experience emotions & discomfort alongside. Because I avoid it, therefore I need it”]
So God gave me a child to experience emotions and discomfort alongside, because I avoid it, and therefore I need it. And she needs me. When she is upset, I can be her still, and remind her ‘take a big breath’ and we do it together. For a moment there, she is still too, she is giving in, she is letting go. For a moment, at least. She is three after all.
But in these moments I know she is starting to ‘get it’. That feeling of being in control of something as simple as your breath. It leads to a pause where you can be still, give in, let go, move on, evaluate, and breath again. It lets you reset and restart. I can’t blame her if she fights this feeling with all her toddler know-how, but she is taking a breath and that is the very first step.
As much as her tsunami of emotions can terrify every locked up and anxious part of me, I’m so glad she is who she is. I’m so glad she isn’t restricted like I have become. I’m excited to see where her passionate love and creative mind take her. Because I know it comes with a certain blend of bravery and humility to let your emotions be a little on the reckless side and make you vulnerable.
As long as she stops to breathe along the way, this little one will do tremendous things in her world.
She already has.
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