My family is in Week 4 of quarantine, and with a strong-willed 6-year-old and 3-year-old and two parents trying to work from home, things are going pretty much as you’d expect them to. There’s been a lot of shooing. A lot of shouting. A lot of wine. And many thoughts of, “How the hell are we going to get through this?”
My wonderful therapist, who has young children of her own and GETS it, had some insight for me in our video call this week.
“The conventional wisdom is that in a time of crisis, we can either sink or swim,” she said. “We forget that we have a third option: We can float.”
If we get overwhelmed, we can sink into helplessness. If we swim against the current of reality, we exhaust ourselves. Instead, we can float on the surface until the rough waters subside.
I tell you this as someone who has rarely floated through this ordeal. I’ve ping-ponged between underfunctioning -- ruminating and getting very little done -- and overfunctioning, furiously scribbling grocery lists and flying off the handle at my family. But the metaphor resonated with me, and I’ve been doing my best to practice the float.
The way we learn to float is through the breath. We close our eyes. We take three deep breaths. Everything slows down. Here, we create the mindful space to ask ourselves, “What would it look like to float through this moment?”
For me, moments ago, floating meant giving myself a time-out from my children, who were whining and pestering me as I tried to write this. I stopped yelling at them (swimming) and feeling sorry for myself (sinking) and holed up in the quiet guest room instead.
Floating means leaning in to a screen time free-for-all during the quarantine, because it’s the only way Darren or I will get any work done. It means being okay with whatever I’m feeling and whatever my family is feeling, and cutting ourselves every bit of slack because NO ONE IS OKAY RIGHT NOW.
We’ll all have times during this crisis where we’ll sink or swim, sometimes within the course of a few minutes. But we always carry a secret weapon with us, no matter how high the tide: our breath, which allows us to float.
Sending love to you all. 💕