Surrender

September 7, 2010

Prior to having H, I had an idea of what kind of parent I wanted to be.  There would be rules.  Structure.  Expectations.  But there would also be understanding.  Acceptance.  And non-violent teaching.  It’s always good to have a clear plan before jumping into the hardest thing you’ll ever do in life.  And to have your spouse on board, which mine was.

And then, there is the reality.  The reality of how hard it is to stick to the plan, and even harder to get the results you want.

I have read parenting books.  All of them.  Well, almost all of them.  The ones that sat comfortably with me preach the same things that my gut tells me.  And, for the most part, I have stuck with my gut instincts.  I have not spanked.  I have not forced long periods of isolation time-outs.  I have tried my hardest to utilize loving, logical ways to discipline teach my son.

Sometimes, it “works.”  Many times it does not.  When this happens time and time again, I get frustrated.  And then it comes to a point where I can’t handle any more, and I get angry.

And I yell.  Or say things I wish I hadn’t.  I give in to the side of me that I like the least.  The side I don’t want H to see, or worse, become.

I know I am not alone in this struggle- I hear it from every mother I know.  Teaching a child can be a convenient time to exercise control at a time when you feel so little of it.  And when a child behaves in a way that is not pleasing, it can be like looking in the mirror.  For me, this has been one of the hardest things about parenting.

I believe that each one of us is made up of many characteristics- some that are beautiful and inviting and do not need to be harnessed or re-channeled, only encouraged.  And others that can be powerful, or controlling, or hurtful.  When put to good use, these help me form solid opinions.  Help me assert myself.  Keep me from feeling vulnerable.  But most of the time, I don’t need them.  And when it comes to parenting, every time I surrender to this side of me, I regret it. Rarely does it get me the results I was after.

And then I remember that raising my son isn’t about momentary results, such as did he brush his teeth without a fight or pick up his toys without throwing.  It’s about helping this beautiful boy grow into the best adult he can be.  About the relationship between us.  About the light he passes on to each person he encounters.  The same light that is the beautiful side in me.

Sometimes, when I face a difficult challenge or something I want to change, I make myself a little note and hang it up where I can see it.  A constant reminder of where I want to be.  A little pep-talk on paper.  And I have made myself a little note for my latest challenge in motherhood.  And hung it over the stove, where I spend the majority of my waking hours.

My little note is a reminder of the beautiful side.  Just like a friend recently said, my child is going to act like an almost-three year old, whether I ignore him, yell at him, or give him a hug.  And I know which response I would rather receive. Am I still going to make him brush his teeth?  Of, course.  But I want to experience that moment without focusing on how much he is annoying me.  I want to surrender to the moment..

Surrender to patience. Surrender to goodness. Surrender to love. Surrender to the moment.

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7 Responses to Surrender

  1. Holly B on September 7, 2010 at 8:51 am

    When my children were babies, I always thought we would have the Norman Rockwell kind of family/hoe life. Reality bites and we ended up being more like the Addams Family.. but in the end, it all works. Most of the time. For all other times there’s boxed wine for mom!!

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    Reply:

    Hooray for boxed wine!

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  2. San Diego Momma on September 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    This post really spoke to me.
    I too had such grand illusions of parenting…and found in the end that being a parent magnified my weaknesses AND my strengths.

    I love the idea of “surrendering” to the moment and always, always keeping in mind that we are raising our kids to be the best they can be…which really informs/guides how we discipline. (Easier said than done.)

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    So, true, right? Parenting is such a lesson in adapting. And letting loose with our expectations. Something I am still not very good at, but I’m trying!

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  3. Natalie on September 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I think the thing I’ve most learned about parenting is not to expect anything to go the way you think it’s going to! I was like you; I read all the books, thought everything was going to go as smoothly as it does in TV land, and it didn’t. It’s crazy, and hard, and unpredictable…but I am learning to love it a little more every day!

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  4. Nancy on September 7, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a friend who had gotten it from a friend.
    “whatever it is that you are doing — if it’s not working, do something else”.
    You have articulated what 99.99% of mothers feel/think 99.99% of the time! Before you take it on, it looks deceptively simple and clear.
    Please know — you are doing so well!

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  5. kris on September 8, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Sigh.

    I remember how I envisioned parenthood. How silly that vision seems now, as it neglected to take into account that other strong-willed little people would be in the room, voicing opposing opinions. Snort.

    I have learned to be more patient and flexible than I would have ever thought possible.

    And I also lose my temper occasionally.

    Sigh.

    But I have also learned to forgive myself, to switch tactics and try again.

    It is so worth it.

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