Parenting books have us believe there’s a way to ‘find’ more balance, more peace of mind; that there’s a ‘magic bullet’ for dealing with tantrums, to feeling more in control.
Such books can set us up for a lifetime of feeling there’s something we need to ‘know’ or somewhere we need to ‘get’ with our parenting, to feel we’ve really got this thing down.
I’m here to tell you: you don’t need them.
All you need is two (and they’re really one) self-evident truths.
It's NORMAL to feel overloaded by this parenting malarkey.
It's normal that some days we cope better than others.
It's normal that sometimes we love being parents and other days we wish we could just crawl back under the covers and pretend it never happened.
It's normal that some days we feel like we have time, love and attention to give to our kids, and other days we feel distracted, frustrated, impatient, and struggle to ‘Find The Love’.
These things - these, different experiences of parenting - are normal: because we're human.
And this is the biggie (and for me, the game-changer, or at least the: drop-the-beating-myself-up-for-EVERY-SINGLE-THING-I-DO-THAT-I-CONSIDER-UNDER-PARR-AS-A-PARENT - er):
We human beings experience a kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings according to whatever energy is running through us in any given moment.
We don’t control that energy.
Therefore, and THIS IS CRUCIAL:
We don’t control what energy we bring to the parenting party in any given moment.
What we DO have available to us, is the possibility of seeing that THAT: -
we’re feeling whatever energy is running through us in that moment -
IS ALL that is ever happening when we’re having a ‘sh*&’ day or struggling to find the love for a tantruming child.
The reason we feel panicked, or angry or like all our emotions are backing up in a dead-end alley and we’re about to explode the pressure is building up so much, is that that happens to be the energy that is running through us, that we’re ‘feeling’ in that moment.
What we’re feeling has NOTHING to do with what’s happening outside of us.
It simply can’t have, because sometimes my daughter is having the biggest meltdown and I feel the utmost compassion for her; other times I feel like giggling at the absurdity of some of the lengths she’ll go to keep the tantrum going; and other times I feel like screaming and having a tantrum myself.
Pretty much the same tantrum from the three year old: completely different reactions from (the schizophrenic -seeming) mother.
So IT CAN’T BE what’s happening out there making me feel what I feel.
I feel what I feel when I feel it, according to whatever energy is running through me in that moment.
Give yourself a break:
THIS IS LIFE:
There IS NO MAGIC BULLET - much as parenting books will have you thinking there is, and those same books will have you endlessly berating yourself that you haven’t managed to find the ‘bullet’ or utilize it yet.
See the truth of what I’m saying.
Stop looking for WHY you lost it in that moment; WHY you didn’t have better to give - or to bring - to the situation; WHY you added fuel to the fire of a tantruming toddler when ‘you could have taken the higher ground’. (God, I’ve been there and I KNOW doing that kind of analysis doesn’t necessarily stop me doing it: it might, it might not; it depends what energy is running through me the next time around).
All I know is that the more I try to look for WHY I can’t parent better - more easily, more calmly, more consistently (ie. less like an out of control maniac), the more I try to look for reasons as to those things, the less chance I’m going to see what’s REALLY going on when I’m struggling, and what’s REALLY going on when I’m not struggling, and having a ‘good parenting’ day.
Because, both those experiences of parenting: the struggling experience and the ‘I got this’ experience, and all the experiences in between, come from the same place; from the energy running through us, moment to moment to moment.
There is no connection to what happens out there and how you feel in any given moment (even though it might really, really look like it). Look again at my example of the tantruming daughter and all my different 'reactions'.
The only connection to how you feel in any given moment, is what energy happens to be running through you in any given moment.
Again: end of.
There is no more need to look for any other explanation, or any other ‘solution’, because this is the only one.