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making room for the grumps

liz lamoreux

jan 11

When I downloaded the photos I took from this morning's "backyard adventure," I was delighted to find this one among the ten or so photos I took of Ellie Jane holding this little dandelion. When we first stepped outside, she went right up to it, plucked it off the stem, and turned and handed it to me. This is the first time she has ever really given me a flower like this.

Of course, my heart melted as she smiled at me and then ran off to play with Millie.

Later, I handed the little flower to her to try to capture her holding it and took several photos before she tried to reattach it to the stem and then threw it onto the ground and stomped her feet on it several times before running off again.

Being one is awesome.

But here is what this photo doesn't show:

This morning, when I saw blue sky through the window, I decided we would bundle up and walk down to the coffee shop and take in the slightly warmer weather and the bits of sun. Blue sky is something to be cherished here, and after almost 8 years, I am learning to get out when I see it because I know I need to breathe it in.

And oh my goodness I need to get out of the house.

As I was getting ready, Ellie started to get a bit fussy as she wanted me to hold her instead of brushing my teeth or going to the bathroom or putting on my clothes. Then, when it came time to change her out of her pajamas, she came very close to all out refusing to put on her pants. I finally said, "But we can't go outside if you don't have on pants." Millie was right there and heard "outside" and started jumping and barking with excitement. When I put Ellie down, she ran to join Millie at the back door, ready to go out. These kids clearly understand the word "outside." But I noticed Ellie was also rubbing her eyes, which is the "I am gonna want to take a nap really really soon" signal.

In that moment, I looked at Ellie and saw her holding "the grumpy tireds" in one hand and "excitement to get outside and play" in the other. In that moment, I knew there would be no walk to the coffee shop where I would find myself in that pushing the stroller while breathing in all the goodness that is getting outside of my house, of my head rythym and then the joy of interacting with another actual adult while ordering coffee experience.

In that moment, I realized I was holding the grumpy tireds and excitement to get outside too. I was feeling disappointment bubble up a bit but I was also really aware of how the grumps were on the outer edges of the moment threatening to take over for both of us.

So we went to the backyard and we gave the grumps some space to run. I took my camera just like I planned to do on our walk. We listened to the birds and ran and danced and found evidence of spring and looked for the sun and watched Millie and picked up leaves and rocks. 

It was still beautiful and real and full of deeply living. It was just different from how I hoped this morning might unfold. And then we came inside and Ellie promptly took a nap.

As I think about this, I keep coming back to this simple thought: Noticing the grumps and then making space for them is part of our daily life.

Sometimes it is as straightforward as a mama and toddler who were up in the middle of the night and didn't get enough sleep so rest is more important than a big adventure because tired grumps are in the air.

Other times it is much more subtle and the grumps arrive wearing t-shirts that say things like "emotionally drained" when we don't set boundaries with people in our lives or "full of envy NOT inspiration" when we spend too much time online instead of living or "drowning" when we don't practice self-care and just keep going and doing instead of being.

Bringing awareness to these simple, but important, "real living" moments is one way I try to stay in the present. When I do this, when I take a breath and really look and listen and let myself feel, I can notice what is in the air around me, around us. And on a day like today, I am able to notice when the grumps arrive.

This evening, I am reminded of what I know: Life is lighter and often full of more joy when I give myself the gift of paying attention


I am so excited to share that registration for the next session of Create Space has begun. This course is a conversation in making room for all that we experience: from joy and beauty to grief and all that is real in our day-to-day lives. It is about giving yourself the gift of creating space within and around you using accessible self-care and being-present practices.

I have tweaked the course a bit since the Fall session, and it is now five weeks long. During the third week, we will take a break from the lessons to create some breathing space to catch up and let what we explore in the first two weeks sink in a bit. There will be inspiration and check in posts throughout this "breathing space" week. There will also be a PDF given at the end of the course so students can continue to explore all that they have learned at their own pace. Read more about Create Space and register here.