One mom's attempt to live out her ideals with authenticity and optimism
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Day 93: Circling the Drain
I'm painfully aware of most of the things in my life that could stand a little improvement. If only knowing were enough. But then I wouldn't be here writing, and you wouldn't be here reading because we'd never struggle with ourselves or our kids.
So here I am reminding myself yet again that I set the tone of our home. Let's repeat it once more for the sake of emphasis: I set the tone.
The way I approach our communication, our relationship and our schedule determines the manner in which my children respond. Not in specific words or deeds, but in energy.
Some days I throw pleases and thank yous at Jackson in a disrespectful way, and other days I forgo "manners" and speak kindly even if the so-called polite words aren't used. I may choose to sacrifice an errand so that he can play, but do so with resentment or I can prioritize the to-do list with respect and cooperation.
The bottom line is this: Our day spirals down the drain when his needs - usually for respect, attention, love, or acceptance - go unmet and he's forced to take more drastic measures to make them known.
Labeling his behavior as "naughty" (if I hear one more parent call their kid this word when we're out I think I'm going to start publicly ranting) would nicely lift the burden of responsibility off my shoulders and rest it on his, but leave us continually spiraling downward.
When I see him as an adversary, as something standing in my way when I want to accomplish a task or get somewhere on time, it inevitably blows up in my face; he becomes more adversarial as he feeds off my energy and seeks my attention where he knows he'll find it that day. When I treat him like an inconvenience, he becomes more purposefully inconvenient to show me how much he needs me.
And thankfully it goes both ways. When I treat him as an active participant in our day, he rises to the occasion and finds ways for us to cooperatively get all our needs met. When I honor the equal importance of his tasks, he bends with me so that we can both feel satisfied with the outcome.
So I'll choose to accept responsibility for our "bad" days - tough to swallow for a person who's nature is to place blame! And I'll do my best to refocus my energy in a positive way - no small task when my default is no, can't, and won't!
I don't know if I'll always struggle to live according to my conscious beliefs rather than these defaults, if I'll spend my life re-learning the same lessons - what I know about brain development and windows of opportunity tell me I will, but what I know of the transformative power of spirituality and love tell me otherwise. What I can say for sure is that there's no endpoint on a journey of personal growth. So whether I spend a year, a decade or a lifetime on these issues, what matters most is that I show up.
I've learned over the years that writing is cathartic for me. And recently I found that writing also, somewhat ironically, makes things "stick." I've been struggling to stay focused on and put into practice some of the parenting strategies and ideals I consider to be central to the development of a healthy relationship with my kids, so blogging is my attempt to make them stick.
The process of growth that my children are forcing on me...*ahem*...guiding me through is stretching me beyond what I thought my limits were, teaching me I am capable of more than I thought possible, capable of change.