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..