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Smelly Socks: Kids teach us how to dance in rain of life's storms

By Victoria Advocate
May 22, 2014 at 12:22 a.m.

Johanna Bloom with her two sons, Austin and Jamison.

The popular saying goes, "When it rains, it pours." Figuratively speaking, it has been pouring lately at our house. Although we always welcome actual rain, what I have been receiving lately is not moisture from the sky. It just seemed like everything that could happen, did happen and happened at once.

On top of everything, my mother and father were out of town on a "little" 11-day vacation. So while John was super busy at work, I had no one to help with the bombshells that kept coming my way.

I have never handled stress like I know I should. It always seems to throw me for a loop, making me light-headed with a tendency to hyperventilate. I assure you that this is not a good look for anyone. Some people thrive under pressure; I just wilt.

In fact, "high-strung" enters most people's minds who know and would describe me. My husband refers to me as Anxiety Girl, as it is my personality to get easily overwhelmed and frustrated.

I am well-aware that this is a terrible fault of mine, and I am definitely working on focusing, calming down and letting the worries go. I have two boys who are constantly watching my example and learning from me how to handle things.

Although I do have certain qualities that I hope the boys learn from me, this is one instance that I sincerely hope they observe and follow John's example. John is much more tactful and calm and uses a quiet control in stressful situations.

Despite my example, both of my boys do much better handling stress. Austin, my 13-year-old, says I need to do what Popsy does when he is a little stressed out. Popsy just loads up Mimi, and they take off for a spirited drive down some windy, curvy country roads.

I explained to him that that is the beauty of having your kids grown and out of the house. I might also mention that I don't have a cute, zippy convertible like they do. Also, by the time I load up everyone and everything that accompanies everyone in my Jeep, I would be taking a lot of the stress with me.

The other day, something else fell on my already overflowing plate. My mind immediately began racing in a million different directions, and I felt my eyes get hot with tears. Practicing slow breathing, I could hear the boys on the other side of the house talking, which was out of character for them. They are usually trying to outdo each other; however, this time, they were sitting down and actually communicating with each other.

Since this just never happens, I got a little concerned. I was trying really hard not to let the boys know how badly things were really bothering me but evidently wasn't doing a very good job of it. I know that it is a mother's job is to just handle certain things, and mothers usually handle them in silence. But I had just reached my limit.

My 10-year-old Jamison, came to me and said, "Austin and I have decided that you need to come with us immediately." I noticed that my youngest son had his most serious and concerned look on his face. He tends to scrunch his eyebrows up, forming forehead wrinkles that make him look worried. This is a certain look that he saves for special circumstances when he wants complete, undivided attention.

Austin was on my other side with his gangly teenage arms around my shoulders. "Mom, the stress has gotten you. We noticed your eyes are going around and around in circles, and one time, it looked like your head might spin around like an owl. This is serious. Come with us."

They both proceeded to walk me out of the back door and straight to the freshly cut carpet grass in our fenced in backyard. They had me take off my shoes, shut my cellphone off and sit cross-legged in the grass. Austin and Jamison both sat down with me and said, "Now, take a deep breath."

After they convinced me to take three or four of those deep, cleansing breaths I began to feel much better and rather a little silly for getting so consumed by stress.

Austin spoke up with maturity and said, "Mom, it is a beautiful day. The air smells wonderful. You have us. We have you." Then Jamison piped in, "So just what do you have to be worried about?"

"Sorry guys, but when it rains, it pours," I found myself repeating to them as an excuse for my lack of situational coping.

Austin squeezed my hand for emphasis and said, "You can hate the rain or you can dance in it."

My boys' point was well taken, and that day, I learned a valuable lesson from two of my greatest teachers.

Johanna is a proud, seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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