Saturday, February 12, 2011

Day 41: Setting the Tone

I will choose to find a positive perspective under even the most negative circumstances.
I will choose acceptance over resistance.
I will choose to focus on the things I value about my children, not the things that drive me nuts.
I will choose to extend the same grace, love and forgiveness to myself that I try to lavish on my husband and children each day.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. Max, who usually doesn't require me to lift my head off my pillow at night, needed a 4am potty break. Then again at 7am at which point he decided he wasn't going back to sleep. Beyond the fact that I was tired, I was irritated that his plan to start the day didn't align with mine. I was already envisioning all the yelling I was going to hear from a tired baby and how I wasn't going to be able to take it. Talk about setting everyone up for failure! And wouldn't you know, our morning nap - if you can even call it a nap - was a huge struggle.

When Jack woke at 7:30am I was resentful because I wasn't ready to take on the day yet. Of course these feelings of preemptive resistance were only self-fulfilling. I had an appointment to pick up some goat's milk nearby, and decided I needed to go alone. And although Daddy being home usually trumps me, today my leaving was the end of his world. He could feel me pushing him away and it made him need me that much more. Eventually we worked through it and I headed out.

The chance to get away for a short while gave me a much needed opportunity to breathe, but I couldn't shake it all off. The rest of our day was a roller coaster. One minute I'd breathe through it and respond calmly to him, the next I'd raise my voice and get disrespectful with him. I just couldn't give myself to him without resentment today, and being the sensitive and perceptive little man that he is, he felt every bit of it. It's really hard being Mom to a kid like this, but thankfully it forces me to be real with myself and him.

Before his nap I told him when he woke up I would put all my work away for the night and focus on him. And we did have a really fun hour of playtime before Max got up. In that hour I was open and available, I was engaged and playful instead of distracted or setting limits, and there wasn't a moment of conflict. Once Max joined us and responsibilities arose - cooking supper, keeping the laundry going, getting him to the potty - the fun was over. Max would yell and he would lose it. He wanted to nurse while supper was cooking. One of his toys wouldn't balance like he wanted and he was a puddle.

A few times I yelled over him to get his attention, which of course heightened his anxiety and made things worse. Other times I spoke calmly, bent down, touched him and connected, and voila, my self-regulating helper showed up to bring Max a book and pat his head to stop the yelling. 

I see it every. single. day. What I resist, I create. And yet I still fight with myself. I'm constantly engaged in an internal power struggle and it colors the rest of my world in conflict because that energy is what my children live by. I'll write it again because it's that important: My energy is what my children live by. When I walk into a room, they know exactly how I feel before I open my mouth or touch them, and they feel what I feel. Too many days it's something I don't want them to have to feel.

I feel like I'm captive to my defaults, to resistance and pessimism, but this isn't the truth. The truth is that I am free. Free to find joy in my life and in my children. That freedom doesn't change when circumstances change. It doesn't change when moods change. At every moment of every day, I am free. This is a concept I want to flesh out in another post tomorrow. But for tonight, these are the words I will sleep on: I am free.


  1. I really, really LOVE this post Meredith. This past week has been a really hard week with dealing with illnesses, and Brad being gone all week. I know that my attitude toward the girls was not a positive one, but I just felt "done" with it all. This is so true that our attitudes shine through no matter what to our kids, which sucks, lol!

  2. Sophie doesn't sleep trough the night yet. She is 10 months old today. I haven't had a single unbroken night for 10 months. I stopped resisting it early November, when I understood she would not sleep from 8 pm til 8 am like her bro and sis do. As long as I resisted, I felt the tiredness shadow my days. When I decided to go along the flow, the tiredness stayed with me, but I was able to function as a positive parent. And my 2 yo was all happy, suddenly. My 5 yo was communicating a lot better, too !

    Choosing acceptance is really worth it.

    And yes, our children react to everything we are, we do with them. Choosing acceptance help us build a virtuous circle.