I do not consider myself to be a leader by nature, nor a follower. Perhaps I identify most with the term “observer,” far preferring to sit at the proverbial corner bistro table and watch the world unfold as it does with little interference from me.
If you asked, I’d tell you I’m an empath. I can sense when you’re feeling heavy or light, whether you’re overwhelmed or tense, how your emotions might dictate our plans. I observe, observe, observe. I react accordingly, adjusting my own demeanor based on the given mood, or moment.
And sure, while important to offer flexibility, this does not often bode well for a parenting strategy. We can only do so much observing-and-reacting before we’re required to steer the ship from emotion and circumstance to truth and perspective.
And so, a small reminder for myself:
Be the thermostat.
My friend Kelle taught me this once, and her dad taught her. While I’m prone to measuring the temperature, to reading the room, to quietly adjusting my own layers to better acclimate, a thermostat declares the room cold and makes it warm.
We all hold in ourselves the power to transform – in ways small and large – a room, a year, a life. We can make it hot or cold. We can make our homes into caves or havens; we can make our days stretch or snap.
It is ours to decide, and we must decide.
Yesterday, we all woke up in stormy moods. The clouds hung low outside the window, mocking our attitudes. I puttered around per usual – frying eggs, washing pans, spooning baby food – and as the day went on and the coffee wore off, the sun still hadn’t come out. My responses were shortened, strained. Bee carried a furrowed brow. Scout grew fussy.
I practiced deep breaths, spritzed some rosewater on my face, willed myself to snap out of it. The kitchen dance party playlist wasn’t cutting it; I found the extra noise to be grating.
Be the thermostat, I reminded myself. Set the tone. Rise above. You’re the grown-up. Make it warm.
I dug out an old puzzle for Bee, did 20 jumping jacks for myself. Read Proverbs. Made a few silly faces for Scout, then a few more. In very little time, with very little effort, the energy of the room offered toddler smiles and baby giggles yet again.
Eventually, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, but it didn’t matter: the house was warm enough without it.
Tell me: what small steps are you exploring these days? I’d love to hear!
p.s. These are a series of small steps that will (hopefully) provide one giant leap to greater things. Not for mankind, but for me, and perhaps for you, which will always be good enough in my book. More to come.