Southern California kids are very lively when rain actually occurs. Our daughters are no different! So when on a Sunday afternoon, out of the blue, quite literally, rain began to gush down, our kids ran to get their swim suits and boogie boards.
Then, without warning, huge gusts of wind, and a flurry of flash floods took over our little neighborhood. Within minutes, our kids were in front of our house, giving those Costco boogie boards a try down our street.
Lightning crackled throughout the sky. Old neighborhood trees fell and split with the force of the fierce downpour and dust and debris began swirling around in all directions. The kids, delighted in the excitement of it. They hooted and hollered and grabbed neighborhood friends to join them in their street-surfing efforts. I hovered near the front door not at all sure of what to think of this occurrence.
Later that day, I heard that this weather pattern was called a Microburst; a short concentration of water wherein the clouds basically cannot hold any more precipitation, and they just crack. The result, is a hurricane-like storm that only lasts for a very short time. Even though I was not familiar with this term, I’m all too familiar with the pattern.
Microbursts happen within me. It seems like blue skies for days, until it’s not!! Who knows what occurs and it never matters “what” actually happened, it just matters “why” I flip so fast. I can be cruising in the wide open skies of mothering, delighting in the warm breeze of flowing as a parent, when “Boom! Crack!”…something sends me beyond my patient line and I erupt. I can literally hear my jaw tighten and feel my shoulders raise up, much like a cracking oak branch or a water line rising above the tires, I begin to come unhinged and it happens fast.
I’m not in this parenting world to ride on sunshine and rainbows all the time. Weather patterns occur both outside of us, and inside of us. I’m OK with that. But I am intrigued by the “why” we flip our lid. I have learned, that most of the time, it has to do with not having a layer of support in that moment of need. Let me describe a typical afternoon sequence that most definitely has occurred and has sent me to microburst-mode:
2:45 – 3:10 All kids arrive home from school.
3:15 Kids eat snack I have prepared and sit down to do homework.
3:16 Yup. It was literally 60 seconds later. 3:16, massive blow-out between siblings over a fancy pencil who’s owner is debatable.
3:19 Fancy pencil is removed from the table, boring pencils replace it and homework resumes.
3:21 Massive blow out #2. Girls now arguing about who’s turn it is to clean the bunny hutch.
3.23 I think about going back to work. I would rather clean bunny poop than endure this bickering. I exit to the change clothes from the washer to dryer and resume my support services to those who need me for homework questions.
3:30. Dialogue begins… if you can call it dialogue.
“I can hum if I want to! Mom said it’s always OK to sing! (Good news, one positive message has sunk in) bonus points for mom!!!
“I don’t like your humming it bothers me while I work!”
“Your head phones are in!”
“But I can still hear you!!”
“Tell me how I can hear you!”
“I’m answering you, aren’t I?!”
3:32. I’m wishing we had another bunny hutch I could clean. But we don’t. So I endure. “Girls,” I say calmly, “Let’s play some music and if you need more quiet, you can work at your desk.”
3:32 and 26 seconds…
“That’s not fair!”
Books slams shut.
My eyes work hard to not look shell-shocked.
I regain my bearings. Things settle, homework and playtime find their rhythm and I begin to feel flow-worthy again. Then “Bam!” someone steps on my foot, or juice is spilled all over the floor just as I am beginning to cook dinner or the bunny, the damn bunny with a clean hutch, is lost …again!!
And I snap. I yell. I use huge arm motions to show my upset and point my finger at “the mess”, the “bunny” or whatever else I would rather blame. My facial expressions go between mad and shut down. Which in turn, shuts down the crew pretty fast. My microburst was building for a while. A long while but I didn’t meet it with an outlet. So it just begins to spill out in every direction. It is an ugly mess to contend with and it’s not the juice all over the kitchen at all.
It’s the feeling I’m left with. Disappointment in myself for flipping. Sadness for shutting down our daughters. Frustration in allowing myself to get to elevated and now that terrible feeling of emotional exhaustion. This pattern is so very sticky because even though I am aware of it, it is a hell-of a beast to get rid of.
On that wild Sunday afternoon, when the storm made sure it was heard and seen and felt, I was reminded we are not all that different. The stages of a microburst are, a downburst, an outburst, and a cushion stage. How ironic is that?!
Saturation happens for each one of us and all at different levels. And maybe the only way to break the pattern of the storm is to sit with it and acknowledge, “I see you. I hear you. I feel your strength and upset.”
Then, we can seek a quieter way of maneuvering all that happens within and around us.
- Nourish yourself as you ride the parenting train. Nourish often. Because it is such an arduous journey.
- Find as many layers of support as you can. Spouse, neighbors, friends, co-workers, grocery cashiers, find as many people as you can to connect with and make those connections matter.
- Repair. Maybe it’s a heart-to-heart with your child/children about what occurred. Maybe, ask them to insight you as they notice your microburst begin to build. Our children can always notice the tiny shifts in our steadiness and mood.
- Be patient with yourself. Heart-work always takes time.
I happened to drive downtown about an hour after that wild Sunday storm occurred. There were cars smashed, trees fallen, roofs damaged. Ugh. It was such an unbelievable sight, and to think it was all from such a short-lived moment?
Two weeks later, an errand led me right back to the same spot downtown. City workers had worked hard to tree trim, leaf blow, tow trucks and cars, fix broken windows etc. They did the repair. Not overnight. Not even two days later or a week later. But with time, all looked well.
We can repair when we lose it. We can always clean up what we have left behind. We can remove the debris and settle in to a clean spot to start anew.
About the Image
I took this photo while on a morning walk at the Santa Barbara Breakwater. The clarity of the water is what captivated me. Because it was a striking difference from
the shadows being cast from a nearby boats’ sail, which presented like lightning. The look of this dynamic just read to me as, “Microburst – repair – clarity.”