•I am being a solo dad for about two weeks while my wife is in LA supporting her family after her father passed away.
Sat. AM I drove back from LA for the 4th time in a month - the kids and I figured that combined was about 36 hours of driving - oh my back. Luckily we had a book on tape that caught our attention - The Nation by Terry Pratchett. A young adult story about 2 kids from different worlds lost on an island together.
The drive is long and long and long, it's basically 5 1/2 hours @ 75mph on a straight, straight, straight road that goes through the central valley of California. I got home and eventually made it to the gym's hot tub, a place where I know God lives, it's one of my churches. Back at home, the older kid took of for a sleep-over and I just crashed on a chair writing in my journal about the last few days, the memorial service, all the people who showed up. At the service alone there was close to 1000 people giving their respect.
An interesting note about my father-in-law. He was a world-giver and always supported the under-dog in other cultures and politics. He was also a difficult man to get close to and his immediate family felt this the most. By getting sick and then dying, he came home in a way that they had always wanted, his children bonded in ways they always wanted, and there was a great deal of deep healing for everyone. It was truly a beautiful thing.
Back to Sat. night and being exhausted. My younger daughter wanted to watch a movie, get on the computer, do something with me. I sensed she wanted to be distracted. I told her I was so tired I was just going to write and be quiet and if she wanted to read, draw, she was welcomed to hang out with me. I didn't think she needed a movie or computer, I sensed otherwise. She didn't like this at all and got upset.
Her god-father had recently given her a bag of presents, inside were a new unopened deck of cards called Self-Care Cards by Cheryl Richardson. She didn't want them and I kept em. They were on the table, I opened them up and before I shuffled them I fanned them out in my hands and invited my daughter to pick one.
She picked SILENCE. It read, "Rest your mind. Silence is good self-care." She instantly said, " I don't like this card!" We picked a few more cards, one for mom, her sister, me, and one for us. I picked TENDERNESS. It read, "Speak gently to yourself. Cherish the child within." The card we picked together was BOUNDARIES. It read, " Set boundaries. Protect your precious time and energy."
The next hour or so was pretty messed up. My daughter would just not drop in, she got more and more desperate to have something external help her escape. I felt it, felt her pain, and didn't have it in me to fix her. I kept inviting her to join me on the couch. She tried, cried, begged, called mom in LA. I kept clear, healthy boundaries. I even gave myself a timeout so I wouldn't get triggered and get angry. In the end she fell asleep early laying on the couch, laying on the dog. That was good for everyone.
I was glad I let her work it through. It was very difficult to not get triggered, or to give in when my truth was that I was exhausted and if I did, it would of been a lie, or if I just let her disappear into TV or a TV show on the computer, it would of been a cop-out.