5/7/19: Say "underwear"!!!!!
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I love it when people tell me “the days are long but the years are short.” Yeah, you’re right, I will “treasure every moment.” Actually, I’ll tell you what I will treasure, and it’s this: the fact that right now, the worst insult my kid can throw at me is “Mommy, you are a BAD GUY!”
Hi, this is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra.
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Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.
Today’s mantra is: Say "underwear." Say "underwear."
Today’s mantra comes to you courtesy of my 3-year-old, Rosalind. Yes, she is three and she totally has a mantra - she is winning at life just like her mom. Her mantra comes from a book called Underwear, published in 1988 by Mary Elise Monsell, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger, a book which belonged to my husband when he was a child. It entered our home collection last winter, and for a little while we read it multiple times a day. It’s adorable and the illustrations are fabulous - it’s about Zachary the zebra and Orfo the orangutan who travel together to a yearly Underwear Festival and just adorn themselves with underwear of every type and enjoy the silliness of it all. They also befriend Igor the Egret and Bismark the Buffalo, and Bismark is not into the whole underwear thing. He sees no utility in underwear - can you eat it? No? Does it make you run faster? No? Then get outta here with this. He is all work and no play, and the other animals feel sorry for him. This thing that makes them so happy is somehow out of reach for him - he cannot see the unalloyed good in simply feeling joy. “Buffalo,” he says, “don’t need to feel happy.” Finally the other animals say to him you know what, you’re right - I bet you can’t laugh even if you say underwear ten times.” Bismark decides to give it a try, and - spoiler alert - before long he is totally overcome with laughter. This was Ros’s favorite part - she would make me read this page again and again, re-enacting each time the way Bismark’s sour puss turns into uncontrollable giggling.
It has been a while since we read Underwear together. But the story has entered our shared lexicon, I’ve noticed. If you’ve raised a child, cared for a child, I don’t need to tell you that negotiating with a strong-willed three-year-old can raise your heart rate well over the ventilatory threshold. I work very, very hard at keeping my voice level, at not yelling, at preventing the drama of which pajamas are available to wear from taking hold of me. But in order to do this, I feel myself harden - I dig in, breathe deeply, and hold the line. Ros senses this in me, and once we’re through whatever the moment is and she can see that I am still white-knuckling it, she looks me in the eye and commands me: “mommy, say Underwear.”
The more I think about it, the more this impresses me. She’s trying to get me to crack a smile, of course, but it goes much deeper than that - I truly think that this gets to the core of what a mantra is supposed to do. It’s not a chant, it’s not some aspiration that you wish were true - it’s an anchor, something concrete to grab onto that keeps you centered and focused in a difficult or uncertain situation. When Ros feels me clamp down, she turns to Underwear to restore our equilibrium with a dose of lightness. She is reaching out for what has become a totem of joy and reminding me that I need to take hold of it as well. She is also asking me to reassure her that we’re good even though she knows I am frustrated. The crazy thing about this is that I remember having these feelings as a kid - I remember looking at my mom or my dad, knowing they were mad at me and had good reason to be mad at me, and wishing that they would just give me a sign that they still loved me. I hated when anyone was mad at me - still do - and so I clung to the reminders that love was always there. As long as I knew lightness would return, I was okay.
This is a highly perceptive gift that my child has given me - a signal that she needs that reminder from me. The really amazing part is that she is fully supplying me with it. She says “say underwear!” and I don’t even have to come up with the words - all I have to say is Underwear. And then she wants me to say it again, and I say it again, and seriously, people, you try to say "underwear" 10 times without laughing. It is not easy to do, no matter how pissed off you are. And I just really admire the emotional intelligence that I feel like this shows on her part, and I appreciate so much the fact that we have this way of communicating with each other, that we have this signal that lets me know, okay, it's time to exhale, it's time to take a step back, and it's time to say "underwear,"
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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!