So far . . .a little better. I have had several moments during the days since my last post when David or one of the kids has done something frustrating and have I felt myself start to descend into that darker, more victimized place. In most of these cases, I have felt it start to happen (it literally feels like a trickle of hot lava that starts in my throat and flows into my stomach) and I’ve caught myself by thinking: “This is it! This is me going into upset.” more…
Category Archives: parenting
We spent the last five days in Jackson, Wyoming — skiing, snowboarding, drinking hot chocolate and having snowball fights. Our annual trip to the snow has become a very special family tradition. more…
Yesterday my oldest daughter turned 11 (11!!). Coincidentally, she also had a dance concert and a small musical theater performance over the weekend. These events gave me ample opportunity to really watch her and to appreciate how much she has grown and has started to create her own life.
My daughter and I have had seemingly constant conflict during the last 5-6 years. Given this tempestuous dynamic, I have worried a great deal about how our relationship would fare in the inevitably rocky teenage years. Fortunately, with the help of Breck and my incredible husband, I have worked really hard during the last few months to understand what it really means to accept my child for who she is. To realize that parenting her does NOT mean changing her.
I am learning to uncouple boundary setting and disapproval. I am questioning whether I really need to stop or alter behavior that has no tangible impact on me or anyone else, but merely contradicts my values or preferences. I am figuring out that, in many ways, I serve my daughter most by just getting out of her way even (and probably especially) when it scares the living daylights out of me.
I have been shocked and delighted at the way these changes in my approach to parenting my daughter have brought about an immediate and notable change in the closeness and ease of our relationship. The number of times she seeks me out, invites my participation in something or just wants me close have increased dramatically (She even wanted to go to her birthday dinner last night wearing matching outfits with me– in public!!!). We still butt heads on a regular basis, but the flare ups are brief and not accompanied by lingering resentment.
By no means do I feel like I have everything figured out. I know that, as my daughter grows, the parenting challenges will only continue and increase (and matching outfits will exist only in my memory. . .) . But I am deeply grateful for the relationship we have today and for the possibility that I can keep growing and maturing right along with her.
My bookshelves are lined with numerous parenting books, most of which I have never explored beyond the first chapter or two. With some, I have found that I get the gist of the author’s theory within the first few pages and I can’t bear the thought of wading through endless chapters of research and anecdotes. With others, I have been so overwhelmed by the ambitious premise of the book (think, “why your infant should only eat homemade raw whole organic baby food”) that I shut down with shame and refuse to take in anything that might be helpful. With still others, the advice has just clashed with my basic parenting instincts. Despite my poor track record, I have come upon three gems that have pulled me in and have impacted the way I parent. more…
I hate losing my cool with my kids. I feel like a jerk and I feel mean. In my head, I long to be a combination of Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and June Cleaver, floating from room to room dispensing unconditional love to my children. I imagine myself remaining calm and serene in the face of any provocation while drawing on my vast life experience to dispense endless nuggets of wisdom, which my children gobble up like little Pac-Men (and Women). In reality, I feel more like a unpredictable mixture of Lucy Ricardo, Cinderella’s stepmother and Pee-Wee Herman. So much for grace and serenity.
The kids were home from school today because of Veteran’s Day. The tantrums and fights were non-stop and I exploded at least once an hour. In those moments, I feel as though I have made no progress at all in my pursuit of calmer and more connected parenting. I feel like a total failure as a mother and I am ruthless in assessing my missteps.
I MUST remind myself that I am not chasing an ideal as a mother. I want to be an authentic and effective parent who acts from intention instead of reaction. But within that pursuit there are a few things I need to keep in mind: (1) Transforming any area is a long and challenging process, (2) I will always be a work in progress, and (3) It’s important for my kids to see me as a human being who makes mistakes and can clean them up with love and humility. Ahhhhhh (long exhale as I regain perspective)
On another note: Below are some pictures from the field trip I took this week with my son’s 2nd grade class to Cabrillo Marina tidepools in San Pedro. It was fantastic!!
Ever since I read the book Screamfree Parenting by Hal Edward Runkel (one of the best parenting books I have read, by the way), I have been looking for ways to be calmer and more connected during emotionally-charged interactions with my kids. When my kids have strong emotional outbursts (tantrums, yelling, slamming doors, sibling fights), I tend to take on my kids’ emotional state. While I’m trying to handle the situation and set boundaries, I am also fighting against in my own internal maelstrom and feelings that “something is wrong.” This conflict between my attempts to reason and my emotional flooding results in me getting reactive (e.g., yelling or withdrawing) or trying to fix the “problem.” I really want to find a calmer place in those explosive moments so I can be a guide for my kids rather than a participant in their drama. more…
These two pictures of my daughters getting ready for Halloween fill me with emotion. I look at the image of my oldest daughter helping her younger sister with her make-up and it warms me from my head to my toes. They look so grown up to me with their long hair and their long legs. A few years ago they looked like tiny little girls in their costumes — now they look like young ladies. However, when I look back at these same pictures a few years from now, I will think that they look like tiny little girls compared to the teenagers they have become. It’s so bittersweet to look at these moments captured in photos while knowing that the moments are already gone.