Dr. Norman Finds Serenity in Chaos While Raising Toddlers During A Pandemic
The Buddha is quoted to say “Peace is not the absence of Chaos. Peace is being at the center of the storm, yet being calm in your Heart.” This has never been as true as right now, especially for families of small children.
It’s time to be real.
These last few months have been DANG hard for families with little kids.
When life up-ends my plans, I find it especially hard to do the thing I am always telling other people to do. Who wants to see the up-side, when life is crashing down all around you?
You see, I have a brain that tends towards What-If scenarios. What if that large SUV skips the curb and hits my kiddo? What if a big wave scoops my kid into water too deep for them to touch, and they panic?
Turns out, humans are hard-wired for disaster thinking.
In her book The Science of Positivity: Stop Negative Thought Patterns By Changing Your Brain Chemistry, Dr. Loretta Breuning describes the reasons our brains seem hard-wired towards worst case scenarios.
“It’s not surprising that threats get priority in our brain…meeting a need feels good, but escaping a threat feels even better. This makes sense because a threat can wipe you out in an instant.”
We are wired for disaster-thinking, because it helped our ancestors survive short-term threats. But it turns out, disaster-thinking also comes at a cost, as anyone who has been in a pessimistic frame of mind knows. Pessimistic minds are unhappy minds, long-term. And, is all that disaster-thinking helpful?
If I’d been informed months ago of what was coming, I probably would have flipped out. Lost hours of sleep, bit my fingernails until they bled. And…for what?
The sheer unexpected insanity of what was suddenly being asked of parents gave me an unexpected moment of calm. I take a moment to reflect on all the crazy, messed up things I used to worry about happening. Which, in the end, did nothing to prepare me for the crazy, messed up thing that is ACTUALLY happening. And, I’m grateful. For all the might-happens, that didn’t.
Anxiety about made-up events in the future does nothing to help prepare for actual events in the present.
And I realize I’m living, in real-time, a lesson in animal psychology.
What can be gained from this?
For me…a deep sense of gratitude. That people are honestly more selfless, honest, compassionate and resilient than I gave us credit for.
Our society hasn’t collapsed. Our phones and internet still work. And, my husband and I are a lot stronger than I thought we were, proving our teamwork can weather a pretty amazing storm.
And, when I look back at my life, I find that the times I most cherish in memory are the upside-down times, the in-between times, the times when my relationships with my friends and family glowed like bright stars in an unknown frontier. So, here’s to a moment of beautiful, unguarded, shared humanity, and to the lessons learned in gratitude, trust…and love.
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