How to Handle Growing Pains

March 21, 2018

I never believed that growing pains were a real thing until I had my kids.

If you google, “are growing pains real?” all of the results will tell you that there is no legit proof of growing pains in kids, but those people have probably not woken up every 30-minutes with a toddler who is cutting teeth.

When you are growing teeth in your mouth, it is super-painful. I have many sleepless nights comforting crying toddlers to prove it.

I think growing pains are a real thing for everyone long after childhood is over.

Think back to when you broke up with your first boyfriend or girlfriend. It definitely needed to happen, even if you weren’t the person who initiated the break-up. It needed to happen so you could grow and move on and meet someone else and repeat the painful process all over again.

Or think about the time you were passed over for a job that you were more than qualified for and really wanted. It hurt. Maybe it still does. And it also likely pushed you to pursue something else that you love even more.

Think about a yoga class you went to that was hard and fun and you woke up sore the next day. I recently when to a yoga class in my tiny town and we did 30 minutes of supine abdominal work. And then more plank abs work after that.

I was trying to be cool when I was in class, but I was dying. It was so hard. Lots of levels were offered. Uncharacteristically, I didn’t always choose the hardest option, but the woman next to me did. I later found out that she’s 76. Yes, a full 40 years older than me, and doing abdominal work like it was restorative yoga.

My abs got a little shock as they stretched and worked harder and in different ways than they had in awhile.

Growing pains.

Becoming a parent has given me enormous growing pains. Still does, pretty much every single day.

I struggle with so many parts of motherhood. Loving my children comes naturally. Parenting them does not.

Every time I make a mistake as a mother towards my kids, it hurts. I can feel the ache physically, deep in my belly. Sometimes I cry.

I also learn a lot. I think about what I would have done differently and how I’ll do things differently the next time it happens.

Growing pains.

Our democracy is going through some major growing pains. We are not the same country we were in 1776. And while some things that existed then as necessary law still benefit us, others no longer do. The balance of power is shifting. Sometimes it feels like things are getting uglier every day. And yet, we aim to grow and move forward.

Or at least the best of us do.

Because despite the ugliness that has risen to the surface, people who were not politically active before are also rising up and speaking out. Change is happening. We are creating it.

I’ve never been much of a fan of the phrase, “No pain, no gain,” mostly because from a yoga standpoint, pain is usually an indicator of misalignment. It’s not a place you want to hang out in too long because the longer you are misaligned, the more pain you’ll be in, and the likelier it is that you’ll create an injury.

The thing is, I don’t think that pain is a bad thing. Not in yoga and not in life.

Pain is your body or your life talking to you.

Pain begins a conversation.

You can ignore the pain and just stay where you are with your hands over your ears, refusing to engage.

Or you can listen to the pain and respond by realigning. You can choose to create a conversation with your pain.

I realize that sounds terribly “emo” and melodramatic.

But pretending the pain doesn’t exist and hoping it will just disappear on it’s own without any work or action is unrealistic.

You can’t really stop a child from growing taller or cutting teeth.

In the same way, how does it benefit you to stop going to that challenging yoga class or stop falling in love just because you experienced some growing pains?

There is a grain of truth is the whole, “no pain, no gain” idea. Pain is a totally natural experience of being alive.

Being in pain sucks most of the time but it often has a purpose. Sometimes, we need pain to motivate us. We need pain sometimes to recognize when things aren’t aligned in our lives. Or, as in the case of a teething baby, that we’re missing something. Actually, in this case, it’s not the baby that needs the pain. That just all around sucks because they don’t know what to do with it.

But the pain does signal something to us, as parents, that change and growth is occurring. It says, “pay attention. Your kid is headed for a new stage of development. So give her tons of love right now because it’s going to be as hard for her as it is for you.”

So maybe the next time you’re experiencing some growing pains, be a little kinder to yourself. Give yourself some extra love and a little extra space. Have a conversation with your pain and start to understand it a little better.

And get ready because those growing pains are probably telling you that something big is coming.

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