Parenting is hard. It's really hard. My children have been my biggest teachers in terms of me healing any old wounds that still linger around inside. Ellie is a little reflection of myself as a child and she has many, MANY characteristics that I have. I often find myself getting mad at her and reacting to her "misbehaving" with the same behavior. If she's losing her temper quickly and overreacting to a situation, I lose my temper and overreact. I know that the things that trigger us the most in others is what needs healing within ourselves, and wow is that even more true with our children. I have been feeling that my temper has been getting out of hand and so I started to read this book by Dr Laura Markham. I know about her through her newsletter, blog and Facebook page so I already try to do some of the things she suggests.
The interesting thing is the entire first chapter is focused on exactly what I said above. When something our children doing is triggering us, it's a need for healing within ourselves. We must figure out what that is, and fix it. The other thing it says is that self care is a must. I think that is my first issue. I suffer from trying to be the perfect mom that is always there for my kids and in reality, I am doing myself and my kids an injustice. I am realizing that I am super tired and I need a break every now and again. I also realize that much of me getting mad at Ellie is fear of what others think and fear. I have fear that she won't fit in (my own issue), fear that she'll be lazy (what others think), fear that she'll be out of control (my own issue), and really, I could go on. When I let go all of that stuff that I've created in my head and just focus on being present, I can respond with love, in a calm manner. It doesn't mean that Ellie is going to start acting perfectly, because she's a toddler, but it means that hopefully, I can be more patient and loving with my guidance. It's also, hopefully, a lot of work upfront so that I can keep a strong connection through those teenage years when she's going to want to rebel.
I don't know if it's a southern thing or a generational thing, but I feel like we parents are expected to get those kids to "shape up" without any thoughts of the lasting effects on them. We're supposed to teach them about tough love and how to mind. You see all of these articles about how this next generation of kids growing up are lazy, worthless, blah blah blah. After being a head hunter for more than 9 years, I encountered all KINDS of people, and let me tell you, laziness is not specific to this generation. I know in my head and heart that I do not believe in that type of parenting, but ya know, when Ellie is throwing a tantrum in public, that fear rears it's ugly head, the doubt that maybe I'm wrong and all those people are right. It's scary. More than anything, I want her to be a loving, kind, generous, respectful, hardworking adult who's curious about life and not afraid to take risks. I don't actually know if the path I'm taking as a parent is what's going to lead her in that direction, but I have hope. And it's different. It's different than what our culture believes is right. So it's even scarier because not only do I have my own doubts as a parent, I have the doubts of everyone around me, judging me, telling me that what I'm doing is wrong and I need to get that gal into shape. (No one actually says that to me, but it's in Facebook memes, articles, comment sections). Luckily, I've never been afraid to be different and I have books that guide me and make me feel good about my choices.
It's hard being a parent. It's the biggest challenge I've ever had to face because I can't run away when the going gets tough. And I want to be perfect at it because I don't want to screw my children up. But, I'm human and I'm not perfect. My kids each too much sugar, they have too much screen time, I yell too much, all of that. I do think that I'm doing some things right though, and I think that in the end, I just have to keep trying to do better and be better.