I have forgotten how hard it is to have a fussy 2 year old - I admit it. My older children, have passed that stage, and are now in the stages where they are perfectly able to express themselves and their needs...this weekend, my two year old was over tired, fussy and achy, and this weekend was extremely hard - on both of us. I spend a lot of time holding him and meeting his need for extra cuddles...but you know what? That does not mean that it's was not hard...towards the end of the night, I swear I was close to tears.
He needed me all. Day. Long. and he wouldn't nap. Add to this my sky high laundry pile, food cooking and prep. , dishes needing tending, house a mess...while the other ones fought for my attention....I had a LONG weekend, and you know what, I had to put myself in peace mode, because I knew that it was the only thing to help me through.
Today I will share with you what I did to keep from loosing it:
The first thing that I did was remind myself over and over again, that he was not trying to give me a hard time, he was having one. It's easy to take tantrums and moods personally when we are tired or cranky and nothing is making baby happy - but reminding myself that it's not about me, but about what my baby needed at the moment helped me remain aware of his needs, as well as stay calm when he needed me most.
Two was to eat and nourish myself. If I don't eat, I can end up cranky...mommy needs to eat. :D 'nuff said.
Three, I left the lesser important things for another time...yes I had the biggest pile of laundry ever - like ever - but I left it for the next day, because I am only human and can only do so much in a day...sometimes things get lift for the next day, and that's ok.
Four, I talk less throughout the day. I think more about the way that I am feeling, and why. I take these days as days of introspection: this way, I am less reactive and more observant...on purpose. I've learned the hard way that it's very easy to take my feelings out on my kids when I'm cranky or moody...
the final thing was play. I played with him, and the other kids, and I took time to watch them play together. Often when I feel as if the day is taking a crazy turn, I literally, turn off "to do" mode - if I can avoid it - and I go into hyper attention mode. Where I play or pay attention to them (what they are doing, how they are playing and the way that they interact with each other, etc.). I do this because it allows me to reconnect with them on a more personal level...if I stop trying to do, and focus on what they are doing, I enjoy them in the present moment - having fun and laughing at silly things...I might even laugh a little, inbetween wanting to cry :)
The best motivators for change are our children, and heres' why - they're the best people to mirror our own behaviors back to us - especially if they are young, and are with us the entire day...save interactions with siblings and their other parent.
Allow me to explain with a story:
Before I began this journey into connected and understanding motherhood, I did not realize how deeply I affected my children. I was under the impression, that if they did or said something unfavorable, that all I had to do was tell them to stop, and that that would be it...until my behavior came back to me. My then 3 year old, was doing something with her sister (they were playing with a toy or something) and as I walked by them, I asked them, "what are you doing?" The response that I received was "none of your business!" Ouch! To say that I was taken back my this, does not explain it. It hurt my feelings. I was sad. Sad and hurt, because she talked to me like that. Now, my first reaction was to be angry. How dare she talk to me in that way? Why? I just asked her a simple question. How could she?...all of these things crossed my mind...and then I remembered that she heard that here. No. I don't remember when. I was probably talking to someone, or on the phone, or whatever, and didn't want to be bothered - and she heard me or daddy say it. Boom. Right back at me! And you know what? I didn't like it.
Now it's easy to say, hey you don't speak to me like that. I am your mother, you shall respect me, and all of that other stuff...yeah, it might work in the meantime, but what about her siblings, or another child, and they ask her a simple question, or want to know something and she's cranky or moody, or whatever, and they happen to be in her space in that moment - how do you think that she'll react with them when they ask her, "what's are you doing?" Guess what? It's probably not going to be in a very pleasant way.
You see, it's been said for a long time, that children don't do what we say, they do what we do...this right here folks. This is where the gold is, and this is where the magic happens. This is where we have to put on our big girl panties, and learn to react and behave in the ways that we want them to behave. Trial through fire. Learning and growing through not so pleasant experiences, and having the courage and love to try a different way.
After this, I wanted my children to start to communicate better with each other, and have courtesy for one another, and guess what I had to start learning? Yup. How to treat them with courtesy, and have better communication with them.
Now, I am not saying that they learn EVERYTHING that is unfavorable from us, but they do learn to react in the same way that we do, because it is what we model that they pick up...
You see, the thing is that we always hold the key to help them learn another way, but it does start within. We can only always start with ourselves - because nothing else is permanent. Learning to parent in a different manner than we learned - or in a way that may not be natural to us is hard at times, but it's the only way that we can grow. So, next time, that your child does something that you want to react to - remember two things: 1) they are watching and 2) your learn and grow into a better you through challenging yourself to see a different way. You are worth it, and so are they.
Too often, I come across broken or saddened teens and preteens, who appear down on themselves. The youth and vigor for life, that we expect to see missing. Young people, who we adults think are in their prime, walking around as empty vessels, looking for anything to fill them...in the case of Izabel Laxamana, her fix was suicide...and I ask myself does it have to be this way?
In a society that values productivity, numbers, and letters, virtues such as compassion, empathy and love are seen as secondary and not as important. We push our children to do more, listen more, act better, do better, but are we? We expect that they become the models of what our visions want them to become and we forget that they have already arrived, brining who they are...only we've forgotten to look. In her case, the last straw seemed to be the public shaming from her father - although, there is talk about bullying and things of that nature happening in her life.
Izabel Laxamana's life is typical to many younger people that we see: bullied in school, and shamed by her father, and yet, many many times, when we hear about this happening, some think, eh this is normal, and dismiss their feelings by saying, they have to learn to accept this part of life. But I ask you, how many more children are going to take their lives due to feelings that are too dark for them to understand, before we accept that we have to try another way?
I've seen it many times. Tired parent. Parents that are trying to make a living. Exhausted. Trying to scrape together enough money to get by, and taking their frustrations out on their children. Parents who are trying to reach their children, and have them do what is necessary for them to be successful, in order to lead the lives that the parents dream of...only it's hard to listen when you're not listening. Children are crying out in mass about what is going on in their lives - the second leading cause of death in children/teens ages 10 to 24 IS suicide - and about what they don't approve of, what it is that they need in their lives, only we don't listen....and one would say: I ask them, but they don't tell me. Or, they don't listen. Or, my child is not behaving properly. Only...What we think is "bad behavior" is actually a cry for help. They say I need to be heard, and I don't know to ask for it properly - or I don't think that I will be heard - and you will won't understand.
The problem is that we don't know how to identify the behavior, because many of us, are dealing with our own sets of problems and think that our children's problems are somehow less than ours - until it's too late. Until cases like Izabel Laxamana's pop up...this does not have to happen.
I use this post as a call to action. A call to have any parent out there rethink their strategies: children don't have to be shamed (publicly or privately) or punished to make them behave better...we can learn to do it another way. You can challenge your beliefs and stories. Learn to listen to their song, and DISCIPLINE them in a way that brings you closer together and helps you both learn to heal...HEAL WITH THEM.
I've quoted before, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous lines
and they seem fitting again. Let's not let her life mean nothing. Let's take it as a lesson, and allow it to mean everything. Yes, what we tell our children, how we treat them, the way we think about them, makes a difference.
The truth is that this dad was probably doing his best. The best with what he knew - because come on, that's all that we can ever do at any moment - only it didn't help his daughter, Izabel Laxamana.
So, how do you know if your child needs you to learn another way? I'll tell you, it's pretty simple. Start by asking yourself the simple question, "does my child open up to me?" When he or she is hurting (crying, sad, upset, angry, frustrated) do they turn to you and open up? Do they feel safe feeling vulnerable with you? If not, it might be time for another way.
Do you need help? You can start by listening to your child. Quieting your old stories, and learning to listen to your child.
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There is no question about it, parenting is one of the hardest things that humans can do. From all of the tasks that we assign ourselves, and are given, raising a human being is difficult. Often it can be hard to pinpoint the reason why. We think that it has to do with the child's behavior. Or the never ending list of things to do, or the fact that it never seems to end...but does it really have to be so hard?
I have learned that what makes parenting so hard, is not the child (or our children) but rather the story that we have adopted of what or who our children should be. What they aught to be doing, and in the manner in which they should behave. It is the fact that we have already created a story of what should happen, and have a list of expectations about their "proper behavior," that often causes us unnecessary grief - a lot of the time.
So often, we are try to mold them into someone or something that we fail to see who they already are. We remove from them, who they are, while removing the pleasure of getting to know them, and their beautiful complex natures.
I find that when I treat my children like human beings, and not as people to mold or make to fit into something, I learn a lot about my child and about who I am as well...
you see, the actual reason that so many of us have issues with our children, is because we first have to parent ourselves. We have to learn to understand our emotions, their origins, and the reasons to why we behave in certain ways - so that we don't pass these things down to them.
The real reason is because our actions towards our children have a great impact on the way that they view themselves. Because they watch what we do not what we say; because our impact and what we put into them, carries down the line; and because they learn to interact with others, by the way that we interact with and treat them.
Parenting is hard, not only because we are raising human beings, but because we are learning to undo our stories in the process - and when we don't we can create unnecessary tension, reasons to rebel, or a reason to fight with us - and rather than having an impact, we can - without wanting to - push them away. When we learn to start to understand them, while learning to relate and understand them, as early as possible we release ourselves, as well as them from repeating unnecessary patterns - starting from within, and undoing old behaviors, is where it starts.
I know, it's hard. Most of us were not given these examples going up. Most of us learned to react. We learned to ignore. We learned to not trust or listen to our children. We learned to treat them in a way that disconnects us from them, creating more of the behavior that we don't want...but the great thing is that is can be unleaded. You can learn to listen to that inner knowing. You can learn to understand your needs as well as your child's needs. And. You can learn to silence that voice that is telling you sweet little lies, and learn to bring joy back into parenting once again.
Although the our 12 week program is not available at this time, don't forget to sign up for the waitlist to be the first to know of when it does open. Also stand by for other goodies to come :)
Let me know your thoughts below :) I can't wait to hear them.