Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our choice lies our growth and our freedom.
Stimulus: A pile of dirt on the front driveway, carefully scooped from our garden and placed there with pride by my 3 year-old. His little face beaming with “Look what I did, Mommy!” An ordinary mess from a little boy on an ordinary Tuesday.
Response: My mommy brain began whirling. The frustration of YET. ANOTHER. MESS. in my driveway. This mess compounded with the pile of blankets on my living room floor and the matchbox cars scattered across my kitchen was almost too much. My mind silently screaming, “Why? Why can’t we just keep this house clean?” I felt it. The irritation and frustration at losing control of our orderly house yet again. My carefully curated home was littered with remnants of toys and snacks and little messes everywhere. I was about to launch into a lecture and give a consequence … and then I noticed it. A tiny little broom.
The Space: I paused. What was this little broom doing out? And then I saw the attempts of a young child trying desperately to please his mommy and to clean up his messes. I breathed. Just one breath. I was able to recalibrate and recognize that messes are part of motherhood. And that (as I tell my kids), mistakes are how we learn. In that pause, I was able to let go of my agitation and recognize how imperfectly perfect kids truly are. In motherhood, messes are part of the territory, whether we like it or not. It becomes our choice whether to embrace or resist the mess, whether to fight the tide or ride the waves peacefully to shore.
Today, I am humbly reminded about the power to choose our responses. I am reminded that between stimulus and response, we always have the choice to pause, to take just one breath. That one breath can give us the space to choose.
And therein lies our freedom.