My wife and I like to play with our words in relation to our parenting duties. Sometimes it's for fun, but more often it's with hopes that saying something in a new way will finally hit home in our boys' brains. For instance, we've found that for some reason, saying "pause" in place of "stop" or "don't" tends to get better attention and compliance from our boys.
Is this because they've learned the meaning and value of this word through their digital screen time? Or maybe it's just an ear-perking novelty to hear an adult yell, "Pause!" at a child about to belly flop off the back of a couch.
Maybe there's something hardwired into us humans that naturally appreciates a pause. We inherently know it's value. But what is the value that comes with a pause? I think there's more to it than just preventing broken bones. I was inspired to look more closely at this concept just recently.
A little over a year ago, my wife and I decided that we would want a house with an extra bedroom so each of our boys could have their own room as they grow up. Well, that was no small decision I have since learned.
Market research, financial planning, house repairs and upgrades became the order of the day. It was a rabbit hole that I dove into headfirst. I kept my plate full with the majority of these responsibilities while my wife held down the fort in 100 other ways, as she does.
I often felt like the primary driver behind this big transition. This was gonna happen only with my relentless yang/fire/masculine action. Or at least that's the feeling I had with each new step and decision to be made. My wife was more surrendered; allowing the pieces to fall as they may. As long as we were moving forward, we were both fine with our seemingly disparate approaches.
Finally, it was go-time. List our house. Offer comes in. Negotiations. Sold. Boom! Big green check mark on the list. Next step: buy a house.
We offer on a home that we've been watching for several months. Negotiations go well and a bit quickly. It's 10:00pm and I'm ready to say yes and ride off into a blissful suburban sunset. But, the process felt too rushed and forced to my wife. She wanted to give the decision some space and sleep on it.
My yang fire stirred up and we spent half an hour debating our differing approaches to success in this deal. I was in fear. Fear we would lose this preferred house after all the efforts put into making this happen. Fear we would have no place to move to in the middle of January. Fear our financial planning would well, not go as planned.
But then, I was still grounded enough to look closely at my wife's face. I saw trust and surrender and optimism in her eyes. I saw power in her willingness to pause. I exhaled and softened and we put our foreheads together before going to bed in shared patience and calm to sleep on it.
My apologies, but there is no drama-worthy ending where waiting the extra night saved us a big pile of cash or where an even better house came on the market the next day. What happened was our offer went through late the next morning, most likely just as it would have the previous night.
But the experience my wife and I shared in signing the documents then was much different than how it would have felt the night before. The positivity that came with our overnight pause created a present and empowered decision point that will colour our perception of our new family home into the future. Rather than reacting from fear, we were creating in consciousness.
This moment of pause really stood out to me in hindsight. It was a moment that evoked the oft-overlooked pause that is there after we exhale. A pause that may be very brief or possibly unending. But a space nonetheless that holds depth in its connection to stillness and power.
It's good to give attention to these pauses, whether organic or engineered. You can practice this in meditation, or in line at the grocery store or apparently when buying a house.
If you think you don't have the option or ability to pause; you may benefit more than most from the practice of following your breath in mindful breathing or meditation. Focus on the exhalation of air; on clearing the exhaust of overspent physical and mental energy. Let it go and then pause. Rest in the peaceful emptiness; let it all go so that you may start up fresh once again.
As they say, it can be rough to be the seller in a buyer's market, but it's great to be the buyer. We're all going to experience both throughout our lives. The pauses allow us to acknowledge and respect these winds of constant flux without getting thrown too far off balance. The highs and lows of life are the inhalations and exhalations of a life being fully lived. The bellows coaxing a glowing coal up into a beautiful bonfire; always pausing momentarily before drawing in the ever-present energy of life once more. I've concluded that even if it's still primarily through prompting from Mom and Dad, I believe our boys innately understand the value of pause. It allows second thought, rest, appreciation and presence in the moment. And maybe more important to them, as opposed to "stop" and "don't," a pause holds the promise of continuity and opportunity for life to carry on and evolve.