In the spirit of putting more of myself “out there,” here it is, as promised – my completely honest post.
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It recently occurred to me that because I tend to focus on positive things on my blog, that I may give the impression that I have this parenting thing all figured out. And while I do feel like I excel at baby rearing, I find myself struggling with this toddler/preschooler rearing.
It all started when Ava decided to grow up, exert her independence and have a mind of her own/free will. How dare she, right? Of course, a good deal of her gaining her independence seems to have coincided with me being pregnant with Julian and now, of course, being a mother of two. Just when I thought I had it all figured out and parenting was a piece of cake, I threw a pregnancy and new baby in to the mix. I always say I like a good challenge and boy oh boy, is that what I got.
Hmmm. I am just beating around the bush now. Gosh, delving into all of this honesty stuff is seriously harder than I thought. OK, here goes…
Over the past few months I have been losing my patience with Ava more and more. I have found myself doing things that I never wanted to do in my parenting journey – like yelling, talking down to her and (gulp. here goes the brutal honesty) physically wrapping both of my arms around her and squeezing her a little too tightly. The last time I squeezed her, she got scared, started crying and said, “Don’t do that, mommy.” And I about died with guilt and shame, sadness and remorse.
What had I become? Who was this woman who has always had the patience of a saint when it came to her children suddenly causing one of them to be afraid of her?
I had a talk with Ava after that and told her that I was sorry and explained that I had been upset and frustrated and I shouldn’t have reacted that way.
Soon after that that I IM’d my husband Jody at work to tell him what happened and to tell him that I needed to do something to help myself and keep me from losing it like that again. I was scared of what I had done and knew that I needed to do something to prevent it from turning into a habit.
Thankfully, Jody was very supportive of me and never made me feel shameful for what I had done. Believe me, I felt bad enough all on my own. He was relieved that I told him what happened and said it was good that I could realize that I had a problem and want to do something about it.
Since I had had previous success with hypnosis (both Hypnobirthing and hypnotherapy while pregnant with Julian) in the past, I decided to email my friend and certified hypnotherapist to tell her what was going on with me and see if I could make an appointment. She responded and said that hypnosis could definitely help with my situation and we scheduled a time for me to meet with her.
The first part of my session was just like any therapy appointment. We talked a lot about what was going on in my life, how things are going with two kids, and more specifically about what was going on with me and my reactions to Ava. It was hard to admit that I’d scared her like I did, but it also felt somewhat freeing to get it off my chest. Of course I started crying when I told her about how Ava reacted and she could sense my guilt and sorrow at what I’d done. She immediately reassured me that while a lot of parents don’t talk about it, what I was going through was very normal. She spoke from personal experience about how hard it is to raise two young children and told me of her past struggles as well. I told her that while I figured it was normal, it was not a path I wanted to continue down. I told her I feel that I’ve inherited some bad traits – like feeling like I have to be in control and having a short fuse – and I want to do whatever I can to break the cycle. She agreed that wanting to change is good and said that there are things I can do to help me with my temper and keep me from losing my cool.
So we talked about some practical things I could put into effect to help myself.
1) Using Rescue Remedy – I used it a lot while I was pregnant but had forgotten about it since then.
2) If I feel like I’m getting close to the breaking point, put myself in “time out” for a minute or two, long enough so that I can calm down and act rationally. It’s something that Ava will understand and it will give me a break to regroup.
3) Implement a quiet time for 20-30 minutes each day with Ava and buy her a special timer. She gave up her naps before Julian was born, but I feel still needs some down time each day which she currently isn’t getting.
4) If everyone (me and the kids) seems to be having a bad day, change up the scenery. Take the kids for a walk, or go to the park or for a drive or something.
5) Call someone if I’m having a bad day.
The rest of the session was spent with the actual hypnosis, which lead to my identifying a “warning sign,” if you will, that I’m about to lose my cool, and coming up with a way to calm myself and act calmly. It was a long session, though it didn’t feel long at all to me while I was in hypnosis (funny how that works), and I came out of it feeling refreshed and thankful that I decided to give hypnosis a try.
So now I’m in the process of putting all of these things into action. I’ve already done a few of the practical things and they are helping me a lot. I also realized today that we (me and the kids) really do need to get out more during the week. We spend way too much time cooped up in our house. Now that the weather is being nicer and Julian isn’t a newborn, I feel more comfortable going out and doing more.
And the hypnosis seems to be working too. I feel much more empowered than I did before. I know this is something that I can control and fix if I continue to work on it and that is my plan.
So, there ya have it – my brutally honest post. There will likely be more in the future of the crunchy domestic goddess.
And are you up to the challenge of writing a raw, honest post too? Let me know if you do and I will link them all in a future post. Then we can all marvel at our honesty (something we need more of in this world) together.
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On a related topic, I recently learned about this great website called Enjoy Parenting. Scott Noelle, a parenting coach for Attachment Parenting-minded parents, sends a free (short) daily inspirational e-mail, called the Daily Groove, out to subscribers. I signed up for it and have been enjoying Scott’s emails and finding that I can apply so much of what he writes about to my parenting journey.
Here are a few Daily Grooves from the archive that I thought were particularly noteworthy and applicable to what I’ve been struggling with lately:
Transforming Anger, Part 1
by Scott Noelle, posted on 2006-07-27
Amongst peace-loving folks, anger gets a bad rap. This is because anger is usually present when violence is committed.
But anger is a form of energy that can be applied constructively, too. That was Nature’s intent.
Anger arises naturally whenever you perceive a loss of personal freedom or power. It’s there to energize you on your way back to your natural state of empowerment.
If you get angry about some behavior of your child, and then you scold, punish, or yell at him or her, you’re simply misdirecting the anger energy.
Just remember: the anger is there to uplift you, not to put down your child (or yourself). It’s there to help you break free from disempowering thoughts and reconnect with your Authentic Power.
The transformation of anger begins with acceptance. When you resist anger, it persists, escalates into rage, or descends into depression.
Accepting anger doesn’t mean tolerating violence. The compulsion to express anger violently is a byproduct of our “dominator” culture in which force is confused with Authentic Power.
That compulsion can be greatly reduced if you dis-identify with your anger, which you can do by observing or “witnessing” it.
Take a deep breath and locate the sensation of anger in your body. Use your intuition to sense its subtle qualities. Can you feel its “edges”? What is its “shape,” “color,” “temperature,” “weight,” etc.?
Put aside all thoughts of right and wrong for now. Just observe the physical sensation and be present with it.
You are not the anger. You are the Witness, observing the anger. Let yourself be curious and eager to discover what anger can reveal. It wants you to remember Who You Really Are.
Transforming Anger, Part 3
by Scott Noelle, posted on 2006-07-31
(Continued from Part 2)
Once you make peace with your anger, you can harness it’s energy and use it creatively.
Remember, anger always arises from a perception of disempowerment. This must be a misperception because Who You Really Are is truly powerful!
So, to reconnect with your Authentic Power, the trick is to direct the anger at the misperception. Let yourself get really pissed off that this LIE has found its way into your mind! It’s a rude, obnoxious, uninvited guest!
Most important: Shift your thoughts as quickly as you can from being angry at the misperception to being determined to perceive the higher Truth. For example:
“Dammit! I’m sick and tired of believing that a child’s behavior can shut down my heart! My heart and the Infinite Love that fills it are so HUGE than nothing can stop them! Nothing but my belief, that is, but I’m NOT BUYING IT anymore! I AM powerful!! I CAN choose what I focus on!! And I AM DETERMINED to choose thoughts that open my heart!!!”
At this point in your thought process, you can really have some FUN with your aligned anger energy! For example:
“This is all bullsh*t anyway, because I know deep down that my kid is doing the best s/he can with what s/he’s got, and the real reason I’m mad is ‘cuz I’m imagining how my parents would react to that behavior… Like it’s any of their freakin’ business!! I don’t give a RIP what my parents, or the neighbors, or ‘society’ thinks about my choices! I AM FREE TO BE THE KIND OF PARENT I WANT TO BE!!!“
Of course your thought process will vary depending on the situation. The overall strategy is to transform your anger into a passionate determination to connect with your Inner Power and Freedom.
Authentic empowerment feels WAY better than the shallow satisfaction of forced compliance. And once your heart is open again, all sorts of creative solutions will come flooding in!
Detoxifying Parental Guilt
by Scott Noelle, posted on 2007-03-16
Are you plagued by guilt whenever you fall short of your parenting ideals? Such guilt may seem a natural response, but it’s not… It’s cultural.
Our culture conditions people to believe that their worth depends on their behavior, so that when your behavior is “wrong” you doubt your self-worth, i.e., you feel guilty.
But if you knew absolutely that you are worthy of love and respect — unconditionally — you’d never feel guilty. You’d simply feel “off” whenever your behavior was out of alignment with your values.
That “off” feeling would be a welcome sign that you need to adjust your course. And with your self-worth beyond dispute, you’d be confident in your ability to get back on track.
So next time you feel parental guilt, say to yourself, “This has nothing to do with my inherent worth — that’s a given. I made a mistake, but I can learn from it. I got a little lost, but I’m finding my way.”
by Scott Noelle, posted on 2007-04-25
Hiding the truth (from yourself and/or others) is a constant energy drain. To free yourself from the burden of secrets and lies, you must cultivate the skill of radical honesty: willingness to reveal any truth, no matter how “unacceptable” it is. (See recommended book and website, below.)
Withholding truth is such an integral part of our culture that you probably don’t notice when you’re doing it. So, for today, pay close attention to your thoughts and expressions, and continually ask yourself, “Am I being as honest as I could be about that? Is there a deeper truth?”
Examples of “acceptable” dishonesty include saying you’re “fine” when you’re not, and not saying how you feel about the way your friend treats her child.
When you spot a white lie or withheld truth, notice how it feels in your body — the energy and effort required to distort or ignore your true feelings.
Then imagine being radically honest — telling it exactly like it is. If you could be that honest and keep your heart open, would you?
• Recommended book: Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton