Posted by: alegra22 | July 12, 2011


“Our internal pressure isn’t equal to the external pressure of the atmosphere,” my husband said to me as we sat in the shadows, my legs across his lap. He moved his thumb along the arch of my foot and smiled, a give-away that he was feeling confident about his next line.

“The pressure in our lungs must always be slightly less than the pressure outside of us, otherwise there’d be no inspiration. If we matched the external pressure, we’d suffocate. Not too bad, aye? That deficit is what allows us to breathe, we need it.”

It was the end of a long conversation we’d been having about Sol and the energy it takes to circle around the cathedral of his heart, looking for entry. Sometimes his moods and arguments pile up in front of me, walls of carefully stacked and ancient stone. I can’t find a foothold. I begin to shrink, my reactions child-like. I want to kick at the foundation, throw a stone at the stained glass windows, walk away, but I can’t.

Dan had caught Sol stealing something from the shops. It isn’t the first time we’ve dealt with this issue. It’s an iron gate that we rattle. We try the lock with several combinations, and still, it remains unmoved. “I wanted it,” Sol tells us. He isn’t impassioned or ashamed like Zaviera might be, he is simply stating facts. He wanted the object, he took it. We go over the same discussions we’ve had before, “You can’t take things that don’t belong to you. How would you like it if someone looked at your bed and thought, ‘I want that, I’ll take it.'” He shrugged and replied, “They wouldn’t be able to carry it out. They’d have to break it and then it wouldn’t be good anymore.”

We gave him a consequence. We explained why we were giving him a consequence. He argued. Internally I questioned my words. Externally he questioned my words. Finally, I exhaled and sent him to his room.

Every day an hour arrives where I find myself circling around my son, searching for the entry I found the day before. Every day it has changed location, as if the stones shift while my back is turned.

After an hour had passed with Sol remaining quietly in his room, I inhaled. I filled my lungs until they reached maximum capacity: my resentment and confusion, my frustration and fear. I exhaled and let it all go.

I walked back to Sol’s room. I sat down on the floor with him and joined him in coloring. I told him a story of the time I stole something when I was his age. We discussed the difference between doing bad things and being a bad person. I told him I trusted him, that I believed he was a smart and good boy. I told him I was sorry he had to learn hard lessons with uncomfortable consequences, but if he didn’t learn the lessons now, it would hurt more later.

“The next time you feel like doing something that you know is wrong but is just too hard to resist, I want you to try to come to me,” I said. “We’ll work out a different option, okay?”

He nodded. I knew it wasn’t enough.

“I want you to shake on it. It needs to be a deal.”

Sol takes his deals seriously. When he needs extra-reassurance that my word is my word, he requires a handshake.

“A pinky-promise?”

“Yes,” I said.

He smiled shyly, a rare moment when the gates of the cathedral swung open effortlessly and I wandered in, my pinky extended.

I’ve been thinking about this all day, the way I’m learning to no longer try to match external pressure in my life, I’m understanding the power of accepting that I am made with an emptiness that isn’t meant to be permanently filled. Between inhalation and exhalation there is a moment of relationship, a beautiful pause. It is here in this space that I find intimacy with others, myself, and God.

It has been an another unexpected lesson of parenthood.  Trying to fill myself to capacity only prevents me from being inspired.



  1. Breathing gives me such a connection with God, especially when I am in the throes of motherhood and feeling uncertain about the path before. I love the imagery you’ve written here Alegra; it is beautiful and stunning in the same moment. I wish I had learned how to breathe when I was a child. It wasn’t until I was an adult and learned meditation that I learned the power of breath in calming my mind and heart. I think children would benefit so much from it, but when I ask my high-spirited four-year-old daughter to try breathing it doesn’t always work out. Your understanding of your son runs deep; it shows from all of the posts you write in your blog. He is so lucky to have a mother like you 🙂

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