When my son Teddy was a little younger than a year old, he had a pattern. He would start to fade out sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. every evening. I’ve heard parents call this “the witching hour.”
When Teddy would get into that zone, one of two things would happen: either he would erupt into adorable (and often unprovoked) baby giggles, or he would start having back-to-back meltdowns in rapid succession.
An interesting phenomenon would occur at this point: Teddy would forget his coping skills.
Yes, even though he was still a baby, Teddy definitely had coping skills. What I mean is – he had activities he could engage in that were reliably comforting and calming for him. Like standing by the front door looking outside at the cat napping on the porch. Like looking at a book of baby first words. Like playing in one of ‘his’ kitchen cabinets.
However, when Teddy is exhausted and burnt out on the crazy baby life and not thinking straight, he forgets about all the things that help him feel better.
That’s where Mommy comes in to save the day. I’d pull out his favorite baby book and turn it to the page with all the cars on it. I’d shake his little tambourine so he could pretend to dance. I’d scoop him up, carry him to the window, and point out the cat. Then I’d set him down beside the window, and he’d stare at the cat, smiling occasionally. Tantrum over. He didn’t even need me to sit by the window with him.
He just needed me to remind him of the things he can do to feel better when he’s struggling.
Oh, boy. Don’t we all need reminders sometimes?
I constantly forget to do the things that help me to feel happy, healthy, and whole as a human being. I start to feel sluggish and it takes me days to realize it’s because I haven’t been running or eating healthy food. My monkey mind starts twisting and turning like crazy, and I forget that going to meetings or meditating or journalling helps me to get out of my head and back in the present moment.
Sometimes Tee or a good friend can remind me; I’m always grateful for that. Often, though, I wish I could remind myself. Sometimes, when I slow down and allow myself a little bit of Kerriann time, I’ll feel myself calming down and getting back to neutral. I daydream about writing messages to myself on giant post-its all around the house. YOU NEED TO RUN. YOU NEED TO READ. YOU NEED TO WRITE. YOU NEED TO MEDITATE.
I’ll consider it.
For now, I’m grateful to have just finished a day that included reading, writing, a long run, and pancakes. Excellent self-care.