Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On Parenting: How to Bring More Balance to Your Life and Comfort to Your Soul.

Do you remember when babies were your life?  When each day was a whirlwind of food stops and diaper changes and the need for more sleep.

What kept you going? 

What provided a counterbalance to your exhaustion and brought you joy?

Your baby's smile that crinkled her eyes when she spotted you?

 The sound of gurgling chatter from his crib? 

A blissful uninterrupted nap or shower....for you?

We all rush around depleting our emotional and physical energy reserves, responding to work deadlines, children's karate classes and our parents' failing health.

And when the opportunity comes to refuel, to take a long walk, a weekend away, a meal for two, or to join a celebration out of town, it sometimes seems easier to turn the chance down. 

We're too tired, We don't feel 100%. It will take so much planning to leave the kids for two days….and on we go. 

Sound familiar?

The philosopher, Alan De Botton says, " The difference between hope and despair is a different way of telling stories from the same facts."

 I would go further to say that our view of a situation often depends on where the story starts.

 If we are already exhausted and depleted when we are hit with a new challenge, our ability to cope is already undermined.

 However if we are in a positive mental and emotional space, our feelings about the same situation may be much more positive. 

Just a few weeks ago, I was reminded, how important it is to replenish our stores of positive experiences and how they impacted my response to another Cannon caper……..

……..Benjy was lying on a hospital gurney, pale and yawning and I was in peep-toe high heels and a blue cocktail dress.

It was just another Sunday.

Our eldest son was in the emergency room and Jonny and I looked completely out of place, in our party attire.

We'd rushed from a beautiful Bar Mitzvah celebration straight to the emergency room.

When I asked Jonny on our dash to the hospital, what the chances were of us having to leave a bar mitzvah party and run to an ER to meet one of our sons?

He replied, without any hesitation "Oh, 100%."
To which I found myself laughing out loud, long and hard.

 It has got to the point, with our family's health shenanigans, where laughter seems to be the most sensible response!

I reassured myself en-route:-

"We've seen Benjy in much worse situations. 
We've sat by him through 2 heart surgeries. 
We've watched him clench his teeth in pain, after second degree burns to his foot and we've nursed him through shoulder surgery

This doesn't seem so bad……..does it?"

                                                                                   Just two days earlier, our hearts brimming with pride, we had witnessed Benjy receive a prize from the Philosophy Department at his college. He toted a plaque with his name on and we all admired it and examined it and photographed him with it.

Now he sported a different name tag. This time around his wrist. With date of birth and a needle above it, where his IV had been inserted.

This irony was not lost on me.

How does life change in an instant?
How do the highs turn low? 
How does the pride turn to worry? 
And the confident child look so vulnerable?

How do we bounce from celebrations to health concerns in just 72 hours. Again. 

And how do we not get dragged downwards emotionally and physically by the relentlessness and responsiveness of parenting?

Yet here we were, responding to another health challenge. 

This time an allergic reaction to peanut butter, hidden in a hummus mix.

A reaction that made Benjy's chest hurt, his throat itch and his breathing become labored. 

One that mobilized his girlfriend and their close friend to drive him to a hospital and call our home to try to locate us. 

One that found Aron, Benjy's brother who is an EMT asking questions by phone to Benjy's girlfriend to ascertain the severity of his response. And to reassure them, they were taking appropriate action.

One that had us standing by his hospital bed, wishing we were in sweats!

And was there something to learn from this latest experience?

When it was all over - did we just hang this story up with all the other health challenges we've lived through, labeling ourselves unlucky. A magnet for health issues. A family that swung from crisis to crisis?…

I noticed how calm I'd been, almost laid-back and it took me a while to work out why.

It wasn't because I wasn't worried about Benjy or that I wasn't thinking, " Really? Another medical situation in our family??? "

Believe me all those thoughts and more went through my head.

But I felt that my reserves of positive energy had been topped up that weekend. The stories I reminded myself about were edged with hope, happiness and joy. We'd already watched Benjy receive his prize and spent a wonderful 2 days celebrating with dear friends, until the dash to the ER. 

That although this was the latest in a string of health issues, I felt less, depleted and stressed than I had felt in the past.

It's taken me a long time to implement these opportunities….so learn from me ----don't  wait .

 Next time when you're hesitating about taking some time for yourself or finding the energy to plan, commit and celebrate a milestone - Think of these happy moments as an investment. 

Think of the 'highs' as an insurance policy. 

Think of these good times and wonderful stories as a way to replenish your reserves and resilience and a crucial way to lift your thoughts and nurture your soul.

That these pockets of  'up' time will help to bring perspective and balance when the switch of good fortune flips.

Don't wait to grab that chance: to read a great book in one go. Laugh with your best friend. Lie on the grass and look at the sky. Get a massage or take that trip with your husband when he goes away for work.

I'm with mine, in Montreal, right now as I write! I am topping up on good times, great memories and some sleep--to bring balance to my life and comfort to my soul. 

And I've finally learned, self-care is not a luxury. It's a necessity, for telling positive stories and  living a more balanced life.

How about you?

Tell me below what you have done to rejuvenate in the past? 
What are you going to do now to bring more balance to your life?

Have a very happy week.


P.S. You can always email me at gilly@bringingbooksofcomfort.org or contact me via 
Twitter @bringingcomfort

P.P.S. Getting Brainstorm in your inbox every week, is simple.
Enter your email address below to subscribe and follow the prompts. See you next week!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. LOVE THIS, Gilly!!!

  2. Gilly - this is exactly what I needed today.

  3. Wow, Gilly. It can go from high to low fast, can't it. I would have never ever thought about peanut butter being in hummus. Now that you talk about it, I think we had a similar experience, but just not as severe.

    Thank goodness your son is fine. I can't believe, prize to the ER in less than 72 hours!

    You know what, I am acting on this very post. I'm going home for an extended vacation without the kids and hubby in the beginning of February. 9 days of rest and relaxation before...poopy newborn diapies and snot. I'm doing it for me, because I need it - and boy I am looking forward to it. I cannot wait to fly outta here!


    I think this is advice that every parent needs!

    I do think that most feel guilty for doing something for themselves, or taking the time they need. I on the other hand, have no problem with it.

  4. Yes, life is fickle - grab the good with both hands and savor it! my new motto. :-)

    So glad you are taking some time for yourself, Lisa! I'm sure you need it and I'm in awe of what you must cram into a day! Enjoy, enjoy. Looking forward to hearing all about it on your blog. Gilly