Put Your Damn Shoes on Already
It’s funny. I don’t remember a lot around my childhood. I mean I do, and I don’t. The work of really becoming a peaceful parent, that peeling back of the unconscious layers, has uncovered things I hadn’t ever thought about before. Not necessarily new memories, but memories that I had completely forgotten about until I began the unearthing process. For a lot of us, everything gets kind of blurred or generalized like, “I had a good childhood”. That was something I had said (and it’s still true) but it’s almost like my standard of what is good has raised significantly because of the work I’m doing.
I’m lucky. I’m lucky that I discovered peaceful parenting early on, so I have been able to refrain from a lot of the same patterns of dominance, control & emotional suppression that I witnessed as a child. But that’s not to say these patterns don’t linger under the surface and want to rear their ugly heads from time to time. Some are easy and don’t ever have a pull on me. Spanking is one of them. I have no internal pull to spank my kids. Ever.
But I do sometimes find myself wanting to tell my children to stop crying. Just stop it. To distract. To avoid the thing that will cause crying (think permissive parenting). In general, I can see this behavior coming from two different places.
One, from a place of pure auditory annoyance.
Second, from a place of wanting to toughen up your kids.
I think as a child myself I was encouraged not stop crying, whining, fussing, etc probably from both of those places. My mom was probably just in overwhelm and the sound of whining can be just like nails on a chalkboard. Probably for her sanity, she just wanted me to stop. Especially when it’s incessant & seems intentional vs. being truly upset by something. (Age plays a factor here too). I can TOTALLY relate to this.
My dad was probably coming from the “buck up” place of wanting me to be tough and resilient. Which to him (and a lot of men), means don’t show your emotions…even better, don’t feel your emotions. I am never, ever in this camp. I always want my kids to know that they can express their emotions. ALWAYS. I am their safe space.
BUT, I too get in overwhelm and it is sometimes just too much for me in an auditory sense. Especially with two children who are at the same age & developmental stage. I do feel the pull to just dominate and force the situation in a hurry-up-put-your-shoes-on-let’s-get-out-of-the-door or just-get-in-the-damn-car-seat-already kind of way. I hate it. Because when I really am present in the moment and can see the situation for what really matters (connection) rather than the thing that feels most important in all the rushing around (getting somewhere quickly), I have all the patience in the world. For example, when I focus on the fact that I have a 2-year-old really wanting to learn how to put their own shoes on, I can see that this is a child who is blossoming, who is thriving and needs my support and my patience to allow them to learn. And how that matters more than hurrying to get outside. Or, when I slow down for a minute to see that my 2-year-old is really wanting some control and autonomy over her own body (don’t we all want that?!) while trying to get in the car, I can relate with her on a fundamental human level. I wouldn’t want some giant forcing me down into a 5-point harness. From that place I can take a deep breath and remember that my child feeling a sense of bodily autonomy is more important to me than making the appt on time. I know, I know. I can hear you all like, “What?! What about if you have a doctor’s appt?” or “I have to get to work” or something else that feels equally important to get to on time. I get it. I hate being late. But when I look at the big picture of life it really is more important to me how my children feel and what they learn than getting to where we’re going on time. So what do I do? I plan life accordingly. I allow for ample time to do these sorts of tasks. I establish predictable routines to help them move at the pace I’d prefer. And over time, the trust that is built between my children and me really does allow for more cooperation, so these sorts of things become less of an issue.
It really is playing the long game here.
That doesn’t mean I don’t falter. Just yesterday, I forced getting my daughter in the car seat because she took forever to do it willingly and I really wanted to have the time to take them to do gymnastics for the first time (I knew they would LOVE it). We had to go to the chiropractor first though, so we had to get going. If she only knew that I was trying to do something for her. Well, let me just say the whole situation took WAY longer because she cried & had a melt down at the chiropractor’s office which required me to be with her until she overcame it, thus taking longer to get adjusted. She was in a pissy mood. Gee, I wonder why?
This parenting gig. It’s so hard. So. Freaking. Hard. But with mindfulness and self-reflection I’m getting better at it every single day.