February 21, 2014
One of my first blogs was Modeling Imperfection. As a recovering, perfectionistic parent, it was wonderful when learned to understand and accept the importance of not being perfect for my children. The role my imperfections played in making me real, authentic, and a model of loving myself, had never been shown to me. It makes me laugh to imagine how much therapy my children would have needed if they had been raised by a “perfect” parent. Talk about achievement anxiety!
This was an important step in loving and appreciating myself as a parent. However, there were still qualities about myself that I wanted to banish from my personality. Some personal imperfections were easier to accept and have compassion for than others. Deep inside, there were things about me I wish my children did not have to live with at all.
At the time, I had become deeply involved in metaphysical spiritual work for a multitude of reasons including healing myself in a quest to be a better mother. It was in this work that an amazing concept was introduced to me that brought a deep and sudden peace to my heart. As soon as I heard it, it resonated deep within my own knowing. The concept is…children choose their parents before they are born. Somehow, by mutual agreement, our family agreed to do this together.
This was a light bulb igniting for my heart, body and soul. To consider that somehow, someway, crazy kooky as I am, my daughters had chosen me, was a revelation. Whatever they came to do and be, I was the one they needed to be their mom. This meant that who I am is not a mistake or a burden to them. Even my control issue may be the very thing they need to live with to learn some valuable lesson from for this life.
Forgiveness and self-acceptance went to a deeper level. There was Divine order in who I was and the evolution I could model for them. Healing parts of myself was still very important and actually came easier once I discovered the peace of loving me just as I was in that moment. This truth gave me permission to relax, enjoy my children, trust myself, and be grateful for our shared lives. As a result, I became an even better mother.
January 17, 2014
As a 24 year old, first time mother, I felt very alone and in over my head. Being an only child with no babysitting experience, I felt alone in a darkened wood without a compass. In addition, none of my friends had children yet…except one. My oldest and dearest friend, Laura, thank goodness! She was a friend of 20+ years so truly more like a sister to me.
As a new mother, I wanted to feel less alone and more confident in what I was doing. It was not practical to think I could phone Laura several times a day. I had to find comfort and confidence on my own. From this need, I discovered the joy, wisdom, and comfort of meditation books on parenting. Over the years, there had been a multitude of daily meditation books on my nightstand ready to help me start my days. Yet, somehow, it had never crossed my mind to look for a parenting book to point me in a positive direction.
The first one I found was not a daily meditation book per se, however the entries were short, supportive, insightful and uplifting. The book was The Tao of Motherhood by Vimala McClure. As a spiritual person, by which I mean open to inspiration from any faith, the title caught my eye. I had loved reading The Tao of Pooh in college so what might this have to offer?
This book touched and comforted my heart on many days as I found my way in this new role I had chosen. Here is a taste of what you will find:
“A wise mother does not necessarily interfere with her child’s life.
Your children have their own processes – their own thoughts, feelings, and reactions – which must be allowed to unfold.
If your childhood was painful, you may get overinvolved with your children’s lives and smother them. Or you may find yourself forcing them to think and feel the way you do, to adopt all your values and live the life you wish you had.
If you do not trust your children’s process, your children cannot trust anyone or anything. Your confidence in them builds their confidence in themselves.
Assist your children in such a way that they think, “We did it ourselves!”
~excerpt from “The Tao of Motherhood” by Vimala McClure
(These words spoke deeply to me when I had toddlers and even more now that my daughters are young adults. The role of mother never ends, I am learning, and does not get easier… fyi… just different.)
I believe every parent feels alone and overwhelmed at one time of another, some of us more often than others. To find support and connection in the words of another is a simple exercise anyone can do. For me, it’s just another way as assembling ‘the village’ I need to be the best mother I can be for my children.
June 22, 2013
Thanks again to my friend Liz for her suggestion for these posts:
“How to handle a 16 year old drama queen! My parents never figured that out with me. Now I know all too painfully why.”
Wow…I feel you girl! This is truly a moment for Courageous Parenting!
(Here’s a brief recap from last week’s post “Save the Drama for Your Mama”– Part 1)
We bring these beautiful beings into the world, love them with all our hearts, and then there are moments where we wonder what has incarnated before our very eyes. My parenting perspective is that a large part of our job is to see, appreciate, and make room for our children to be exactly who they are. That being said, it is also our job to teach them how to live with consideration for others.
We teach them this delicate balance with our responses to them. Ideally, we hold respect for them and model respect for ourselves at the same time. Most important is that all this be done while conveying our love for them. Our response sets the stage for how they experience themselves and help to shape their actions and reactions.
Last week, I shared practical approaches for handling intense emotional situations with our children. The ideas were to:
1. check our response to make sure we do not match their intensity;
2. discuss strategies and behavior management during calm moments well after the drama has subsided.
There is another perspective we can take when our children exhibit patterns of behavior that drive us crazy. This perspective supports you to embrace your role as a parent as a catalyst for your personal and spiritual growth. It is the perspective of seeing them as a mirror of your self.
My friend Liz shared that she too had been a drama queen when she was young. If we recognize that behavior in our present or past, that recognition alone is huge clue that we may have something personal to gain from living with our own drama queen or king. Here’s how it works:
1. Do an overview of your current life and behavior. Are you inadvertently modeling this in your own way?
2. Make a list of all their behaviors that annoy, frustrate, or anger you around this pattern. Then read the list to your self replacing their name with yours. Recognize anything? Feel anything? If not, this may not be a mirror for you. However, keep the list so you can refer to it again at another time to double-check your reaction and insight.
With these suggestions, you are looking for ways they may be modeling things for you that you don’t like about yourself. Even when your behavior is not exactly the same as theirs, there could be similarities that you will discover.
Another possibility for spiritual growth is that this situation could be offering you an opportunity for healing. Maybe your child is behaving in a way you did when you were younger. Maybe you secretly (or not so secretly) detested your self for who you were at that time and simply had no tools for how to change. Living with this behavior in front of you is an opportunity to feel compassion for them and for your self when that was you. Finding peace with who you were at that time can magically help you to feel more peace in the present with your own child. Compassion rather than criticism is a beautifully healing balm.
This type of self-inventory is not easy; hence the need for Courageous Parenting. It is however, in my experience some of the most enriching work I have ever done. It has resulted in a multitude of gifts for my children and myself. I did not have to directly communicate any of my realizations to them. The work I did for myself changed me as a person and made me a better parent. They were living in the results of my loving myself more and feeling compassion for them and myself. A true gift for everyone!
I welcome comments from anyone who wants to share their experiences with drama in their homes and with their children. Hearing others experience and perspective helps us all to grow more. After all, we can only live one life at a time and there is so much to be gained from the experience of others!