Pyjama Therapy

Sometimes it’s the smallest rituals and luxuries that bring about the best changes in our lives. Despite the advice of popular women’s magazines, self-care need not involve expensive spa treatments and shopping trips. One of the easiest self-care strategies I employ is the mindful use of Jammies.

I put on Jammies at Willow’s bath time (6pm) and wear them all night. It’s a mental wellness thing for me–I symbolically wash away the emotional baggage of the day with bath time, and shedding my daytime clothes helps me to get into a mindful and relaxed headspace to enjoy the precious, snuggly, fleeting moments I have with my family in the evening. Jammies represent comfort for me. They represent leaving behind work, worry, and the fast-paced freneticism of the outside world. Jammies are a physical reminder to give myself permission to slow down, breathe, and be kind and gentle with my precious self and with my loved ones.

I have multiple pairs of Jammies, giving me some leeway in terms of laundry day. My Jammies are made from loose and breathable material (usually cotton flannel or cotton with a tiny bit of Lycra for stretch), and I aim for cloth that feels very soft to the touch with no itchy tags or seams. I often ask to receive nice Jammies from Santa. I have a few second hand thrift shoppe buys in my rotation, which were purchased gleefully, as I already knew how the fabric would look and feel after being washed. I just bought a few pairs to replace some that had been loved to tatters.

Jammies are worth every cent to me. I store them in their own special spot in the bathroom so that I can change in there at bath time, and emerge from my steamy cocoon, transformed into a more comfortable and happy momma. Each pair has been blessed with the intention of bringing balance, comfort, and joy to my life, and I am ever so thankful for their service.

Death, Life, and Learning

“I will buwy this stick in the gwound and all the other sticks will come and say nice things about this stick. And how they loved the stick. And then the stick will be in the Earth. And it will help all the flowers and plants to gwow.” -Willow Mei, on burial and the circle of life.

Three-year-old children process the world’s big issues through their play. They may narrate the same story over and over until they have fully explored the topic and made it less scary or confusing for themselves. They have a natural and healthy way of coping with the world around them, if we only just step back and allow them to do so.

I never cease to be amazed at how gracefully our daughter copes with all of life’s big challenges. She continuously teaches me how to accept things as they are, how to be fully in the moment, how to tune out the things that do not matter, and how to appreciate the beauty in the world around us.

I spent seven years pursuing post-secondary education, but the learning I really needed to have in my life has come, and continues to come, through Sensei Willow Mei.

Grief Through The Eyes of a 3 Year Old

Dear Grownups,

I need you to read me "Nana Upstairs, and Nana Downstairs" by Tommie dePaola just one more time today, to see if Nana gets to come back this time after she dies in the story. I need to keep asking you if my Grandma is coming back and if I can visit her again. I need to hear the same answer, over and over, like a call and answer refrain. I need time to truly understand and process what "gone forever" really means. I need to play with my dollies and pretend that one dies over and over, comforting myself by allowing her to come back to life with my magical thinking within my pretend world.

I need you to know that I feel your big feelings, even when you think you are hiding them from me. I see the tightness in your jaws, the weariness in your puffy red eyes, the way your shoulders droop. I see your furrowed brows as you answer emails on your phones. I hear snippets of harshly whispered conversations and phone calls. I hear the tension and impatience in your voices, and I see through the false cheerfulness that you're using to cover your own fears, sadness, anger and confusion. I need to ask you why people seem so sad and mad, and I need you to reassure me that it's not my fault.

I find it distressing to hear comments like "She's in a better place", or "She will live forever in our hearts". I'm confused because dying means gone forever, but people say she is living and in another place. Why isn't she living with her family? Why can't I visit her?

I was frightened when I heard someone say, "Dying is like sleeping forever", because that means I don't ever want to let myself or anyone I love fall asleep or else we might die, too.

I'm scared because you told me my Grandma was sick and that is why her body stopped working. My daddy has a cough. He's sick. Now I worry that he is going to die. I don't want my mommy lying down in her bed because it reminds me of my Grandma lying down in bed when I visited her. I have to ask about all the people I know who are older. I have to know if they are sick. I have to ask if they will die, too. I need you to reassure me again that my Grandma's illness was different, that every cough and sniffle will not equal death.

I need you to understand that when I get easily frustrated with tasks I could easily do last week, that I need some patience and compassion instead of your criticism. When I wet my pants instead of going to the toilet, I need you to know that I am not being defiant, but rather, struggling with connecting to my own elimination cues as I struggle to understand the sudden changes in my schedule and the emotional reactions of the big people in my life. I am processing all of the huge feelings that are within and around me. When I ask you to help me put my shoes on or to hold the spoon for me while I eat a few bites of my dinner, it is not because I can't do it myself. I just feel really insecure right now and need someone to help me feel loved, cared for, and nurtured.

I need the safety net of my routines now, more than ever. I need regular meals, snacks, play, rest, and sleep. I need my bath and my bedtime story. I need my snuggles and my songs. I need my blankey and my stuffies, and everything that helps me to feel safe. I need as much "normal" as you can give me in the coming days and weeks.

I need you to understand that I may want your attention and love one moment, then may want to retreat into my own quiet space the next. I need you to understand that I am sensitive to all of the lights, sounds, smells and movement that come along with large gatherings, and that I may be easily overwhelmed. I need to not be tasked with being "on" as the "entertainment" to distract adults from their own feelings, and that I may shut down or melt down if I am the centre of attention for an extended period of time. I need you to protect me from becoming overwhelmed, and to help me when it's all become too much.

It's okay that you cried when you told me that my Grandma died, because it showed me that it is okay to cry when we lose someone we love, and that expressing big feelings is a safe and healthy thing to do. It's okay that you cried when you read me "Nana Upstairs, and Nana Downstairs" the first time, as it taught me that good readers make meaningful connections as they read texts, and that good writing can evoke powerful feelings.

In this time of hurt and healing, please don't forget about me. I need you. I need you to model healthy grieving and self-care coping strategies. I need you to take really good care of yourselves so that you can take really good care of me.

Love,

Your grieving child