Two-year-olds have a notoriously “terrible” reputation, but this age feels particularly triggering for me. While helping my son navigate the throes of toddlerhood, I am also re-parenting my inner two-year old. I am re-experiencing my own self as he ages. Here I am with an all-new opportunity to care for my emotional wellbeing, mental health, physical expression, and spiritual connection in ways that weren’t demonstrated to me all those years ago. And it is often overwhelming.
Validating my emotions
The gravity of my son’s being pulls me into his tumultuous orbit. And then, in the blink of an eye, I am two. I am both mother and child. Adult and adolescent. I am two years old. Again. When I face off with my son, his expression is tender yet resolute. He has already pushed every button and tested every boundary and refused to listen to a single thing I say. Every nerve in my body is poised and ready to fire. But I’m used to swallowing my rage, wiping away tears as I try to make myself scarce.
Re-parenting myself starts with validating my emotions. I notice that with Milo, emotions swell like violent waves and break tide in a matter of moments. Energy pulsates throughout the body of my little boy and permeates his every step. Then, he roars with vibrant surety that his wants, desires and needs are rootedly valid. “I feel angry,” I teach us to say. Together, we feel.
Acknowledging that mindset matters
I return to a time when I learned to just sit down and do what they say because my constant curiosity was just too much to handle. I remember the feeling of being shushed into submission because my voice was just too loud to bear. I recall my impressionable innocence being molded to favor boring over boisterous.
Little black girls with an attitude grow up to be angry black women with an agenda, they told me. And they wanted me to be anything but that. I try to dust off the old saying that, let’s face it, was meant more to stifle than to soothe: just calm down. But conforming to society’s standards of what a docile, black woman should be nearly broke my baby heart. But I was too young to remember it, until now.
As an act of re-parenting, I remind myself that I have the freedom to be exactly who I am. I am making sense of all the judgmental chatter I have held onto by future self-journaling when I am anxious about who I am becoming. Sifting through my thoughts helps me to stay rooted in the present.
Activating physical responses
Birthing myself into motherhood has opened something up inside of me. I feel everything. Big and true. My nervous system has flipped a switched over to the sympathetic side of things, but don’t be fooled by the name. All those messy emotions I learned to ignore? Well, now, they’re staging a coup. I want to punch, kick, push, yell, or slap. In all honesty, I am surprised by how much fight I have within me.
Within the sacred MotherCircle Kimberly Ann Johnson created, I learn to tap into this MotherJaguar, wild and free. So, unlike the first time around, I encourage myself to express everything that is swirling inside of me. As an act of re-parenting, I allow myself to stomp my feet in the earth. Like a toddler. Something about the combination of grounding and pushing the energy out helps me to down-regulate my system and fully process the upheaval. I’m also experimenting with dance and movement in a way I never have before.
Slow down for the spiritual
I was always in a hurry to be more than what I was. I chased accomplishment after accomplishment as a way to ascend. I socialized and fraternized but I rarely made time to connect. Spirituality seemed too nebulous and unfulfilling to try to understand. So, I tried to skate right by it.
“I have a belly button, just like Gram,” Milo muses. “Just like Dada. Just like G-Pop. Just like Mama.’ Only two, and he is already aware of how we are all connected. I encourage him to slow down and listen, and he helps me to rediscover the wonder of creation. And because I want him to do as I do, I’ve made the space to slow down and pray and meditate. I’m exploring what it means to be connected to a presence much greater than myself. And it is oh, so comforting.