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16 Jan 09 Learning the virtues of a deep breath

I’ve always prided myself for not being a “stereotypical” woman. You know, the one whose husband refers to, with a roll of his eyes, as “the wife”. This woman is irrational and moody and seems to be in a perpetual hormone-induced bad mood. Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve learned how this stereotype can rear its ugly head before you can say “PMS”.

Let me first paint a picture of my current state of mind. Since Dec. 2, I have not had more than 3 hours’ consecutive sleep. I’m full of postpartum hormones. I spend my days with a 4-year-old who loves to find new power struggles to torture me with every day, a 2-year-old who eats only 7 things and has chosen this week to decide to start walking (yay Nicole!) and a 6-week-old who doesn’t like to be alone. EVER. In the past week, I’ve shut an unbelievably heavy door on my finger, fallen on the subway grate and stubbed my toe more times than I can count. Last night, I spilled a whole glass of water on the bed and all I could think was that if I changed the sheets, it would take away from time I could be sleeping, so I threw down a towel and went back to sleep.

In this current state of mind, I have, on several occasions, been “visited” by this stereotypical woman. Certain times, I can contain her. Other times, she’s much stronger than I and I become a lunatic. What I’ve learned is that a simple breath – a very deep one – can usually keep her at bay.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Dave was away for two consecutive days this week, which left me alone taking care of the girls without the 1 hour nap I usually take when he gets home. I was so tired I could barely see straight. His first night back, after a late meeting, Dave called to say his coworkers were going for a drink and would I mind if he went with them. God bless him for asking and God bless me for taking a breath before responding. The breath allowed me to muster, after a prolonged silence, “I’m really tired” instead of what the stereotypical woman was telling me to say.

The breath also comes in very handy with Marley, who doesn’t like not getting her way. She, too, is a woman, after all. Taking a deep breath before responding to her 100th request for chocolate, for example, gives me the strength to find the answer that will keep excessive whining, crying and tantruming (from both of us) at bay.

Life is too short to be grumpy, and we all need to breathe anyway, so we may as well do it wisely.