Taking Up Space - an Encounter and Mindfulness Work in Progress
Today I went to a Aldi with all three littles in tow. As I was coming out of the store to put our groceries into our rental car (we are in FL right now), it starts to rain. I get to the car, put Lincoln in so he's not all over the place while I unload each individual grocery item into bags and into the trunk. Lillian tells me she has to pee and instead of hauling all and everyone back into the store I open both doors and help her pee on the ground. Yup. Put her into the car and continue unloading while someone waits for me to be done unpacking the cart (I'm assuming because he doesn't have a quarter and wants to use our cart) - he's just hovering over me, waiting. (Even though I told him I was going to be awhile yet.) Layla is in the front seat helping herself to some water then heads to the back to buckle herself into her booster. I'm so grateful for her (mostly) independent nature. It's very helpful. As I am finishing, the waiting man takes my cart... I shut the trunk and an older man approaches me and says very rudely "that's a good way to lose a door!" Dumbfounded and unsure what he was even talking about, I walked around the car to see that Layla had left the front door open after getting a drink and helping herself into her booster. In my head I kinda laughed and maybe even cursed. Seriously? First, there was plennnnnty of space, second, who is he to walk over and speak so grumpily to me because he is feeling frustrated?? I politely, but firmly said : "I have three children with me today while grocery shopping. One of them must have left the door opened. I'm sorry it was SUCH an inconvenience for you." Probably more passive aggressive than I would have liked, but I'm glad I even said anything (old me would have apologized profusely and scurried away.) I am enough. I am deserving of being here. Taking up space. ALL the space. ALL THIS parking space.
On the way home I reflected on this interaction in my head. And went over it. Still, it's taking up brain bandwidth but in such a different form of energy than in confrontations passed. I would have been beating myself up about it inside. I would have thought things like "that's so silly of me." "I should have known better." "How stupid." And felt bad for ruining someone else's day. Today I actively thought about how his grumpiness could have ruined MY day. It could have easily affected my children because you know how grumpiness has a way of catching on? Someone's grumpy to you....you internalize it and before long you're acting grumpy to someone else (anyone else - typically those in lesser power or authority around you... In my case, my children.) the dog chases the cat chases the rat chases the mouse... Perpetuating the grumpiness.
And then I was reminded of how grumpiness is perpetuated. I was thought "what on earth could be going on in that man's life to a. Be so frustrated with a parking lot situation and b. Turn to a mother of three, trying to grocery shop and verbally transfer grumpiness to her." ?
It certainly doesn't make it right. But I am not going to allow it to create more grumpiness and anger in my life. I'm stopping it. And instead of letting his words haunt me, I saw his words in my mind on my drive home and simply said: "So?"
Which completed deflated the power the words had over me. And I decided to verbalize some of this brain energy to my 7-year-old who has been having a hard time dealing with anger and a hard time understanding how other people could say mean things. It was so cathartic to me to not just go over it in my own mind but to verbalize it aloud for her to overhear. Mostly because I don't have all the answers. I am human. As much as I used to think they always needed to see me composed and perfect... sometimes watching the messy process unfold can be even more beneficial - for us all. A template of how to get from here to there...a road that is twisty and windy and not always black and white and certainly not perfect.
She told me "if we were there again, I would open my door and say to him 'it's not okay to talk like that. To be so rude to MY Mom. It's JUST a parking space."
And her voice was big and angry and I said "I hear some anger in your voice, how are you feeling?" And she said "It's not right that he can be so rude to you or anyone. It's my job to keep you safe and protect you" (words I recently spoke to her.)
And there you have it. Why this work is so important. Why showing our children the beautiful mess inside is just as, if not more, important than the beautifully packaged Christmas Morning we put together.
I am grateful for that man today. Even though I was a little irked, annoyed, frustrated, and even a little bit angry. Because he fit right in to our discussions this week. Because he gave me a chance to communicate with my daughter. Because he reminded me to be messy-authentic with myself and my children. Because he reminded me that we never know the whole story. Because he opened my heart to accepting protection, safety, and love from my 7-year-old and her fierce heart.
Because I needed to see my messy mindfulness working - and I needed to witness the growth I've made within.
I am enough. I deserved to be there. To be here. Taking up space. Taking up parking space.
And so are you.