The Side of the Road

By Jessica Williams,


I had a lot on my mind this morning and some of it threatens my equilibrium and presents as unequivocally stressful.

And, despite the fact that there are more pressing problems worldwide, and that there are many blessings to be counted on a daily level, in my micro world, there is a lot going on and this morning it was getting the better of me, causing me to be distracted and on edge.


And, so, I humbly asked my three children, ages two, five and seven, if they might see to it to rise up and take the high road when presented with an opportunity to protest simple directives, squabble with each other, jump off of the furniture in the receptionist area of the dental office, drink excess water from the water fountain causing a spill down their shirt and onto the floor in the hallway of said office building, and drop unwanted crackers and apples onto the floor of the car when leaving said office. But, apparently, today of all days, this was too tall an order, especially for the two younger children. (As an aside, I notice that I didn’t Set The Stage in the traditional way; I was wearing my stress on my sleeve and my tone resembled a plea :-)


Fifteen minutes after leaving the dental office, my youngest decided to use the proximity of the backseat to pull my eldest’s hair, which illicited volitile protests and self-defenceThings continued to escalate in the back seat and the volume, on top of my already crowded mental state, began to seriously challenge my ability to keep my cool.


At that moment, I glimpsed my life-line. I happened to be driving parallel to the pacific ocean, and there it was, in all it’s magnificence, beckoning me to stop looking at the problems in my mind, and start looking right in front of me.


At that moment, I pulled over to the side of the road. I put on my hazards, told my children to sit tight, I just needed a moment, and I got out of the car by myself. I stood on the side of the road and stared at the ocean. I breathed and forced myself to remember the practice from my mindful meditation childbirth class eight years ago. Aloud I said,

“In this present moment, I am staring at the ocean.”

“In this present moment, I see purple flowers.”

Each sentence bearing witness to only what was in front of me, rather than the thoughts in my mind, helped to ground me.


After my second sentence, I was approached by a stranger, “Excuse me, but you aren’t allowed to park here.” I replied with, “I pulled over for my mental health, so I wouldn’t crash my car.” “Oh,” he said, and he let me be.

And that was it. I glanced at the water once more, returned to my car and we started on our way. The kids started in again soon enough; they were clearly done with the early rising, the dental office visit, my stress and the long drive. And, then, out of the upheaval came a mother’s favorite sound, laughter spilling over laughter as the energy in the back seat shifted into a game hilarious to siblings. The pause, deep breath and two present-tense sentences were enough to refuel my soul-tank to make it to our destination safely, and I arrived with a heart softened with love and gratitude for the present moment.





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About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of with the best of today’s progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.

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