“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.”
~ Navajo Proverb
This has been a rough month. We experienced the loss of a loved one. Our computer died and took all of our files with it. My wallet and camera were stolen. With the school year winding down and the summer around the corner, we are simultaneously planning our summer travels culminating in an overseas move and saying good-bye to our home and friends of the past three years. And in the midst of all of this, I’ve been less than conscious of my desire to be conscious. My mind has been clouded with thoughts and emotions. I’ve been short with my daughter and our relationship has suffered. I’ve been less attentive to the other members of my family. In short, I haven’t been living as I want to, consciously and authentically. I’ve been allowing myself to be hijacked by my emotions and overwhelmed by my thoughts.
What does any of this have to do with Conscious Parenting, or Inspirations, you ask? Everything. Because the destruction caused by the rolling clouds of unconsciousness shows how important it is to be on this journey. When I don’t stay conscious of my desire for A More Conscious Life by using mantras, practicing consciousness habits or reflecting on and researching posts for this blog, I very easily fall back down the slippery slope into the abyss of unconscious thinking. So in the last few days of this month, I decided to try to turn things around.
“Just Be Kind”
First, I returned to my most basic of all mantras, “Just Be Kind,” which you would think would be unnecessary, but it helps to keep me on track when my four-year-old screams in my 19 month old’s face for trying to tickle her, something she’d been doing to him a moment before. Or when she decides that a well placed kick is an appropriate outlet for her anger. “Just Be Kind,” helps to bring me down from my instinctual “Fight” reaction and back to a place I can respond more calmly.
Then I started on repairing the fractured relationship I’d been cultivating with my daughter, who had responded to my lack of consciousness with even greater intractability, bossiness and negativity. I realized that in order to maintain a sense of personal control when daily events seemed to be spiraling out of my grasp, I’d become more controlling towards my children and my daughter had responded by ratcheting up her own controlling behavior – directed at her more placid younger brother. I began by practicing the basic positive parenting technique of offering choices to allow her more of a sense of control and release her from the grip of my own controlling behavior. As I started offering her choices throughout the day (“Do you want to hold my hand as we walk to the car, or hold on to my belt?” “Do you want to leave in five minutes or two minutes?” “Do you want to walk home the long way or the short way?”), I found that she responded more positively and I also realized how often I had been trying to impose a choice when there really was a lot of room for flexibility.
Challenge All-or-Nothing Thinking
As my unconscious behavior translated into my daughter’s unhappiness, I found myself wondering why she “always” wakes up angry, or why she “always” has to take her anger and frustration out on her brother, or why we “always” struggle to have pleasant mornings. Once I noticed my all-or-nothing thinking, with the use of “always” to describe a situation that really doesn’t happen every day (just more often when I live unconsciously), I decided to challenge my thinking and try to remember times when she doesn’t wake up angry, take her frustration out on her brother or contribute to less-than-pleasant mornings. As I took the time to consider our morning routines and my daughter’s needs, I realized that she has always needed a little time to wake up slowly and before her brother was born, her mornings would start with a long snuggle and a lot of one-on-one quality time. However, since she has become a big sister and started going to school, I have depended on her growing independence to get her through some of the morning routine that I used to assist with, such as waking up and getting dressed. I realized that her mood, probably had to do with the same needs she had always had, that were no longer being met when she was faced with a busy mom, with a baby in one arm and a cereal bowl in the other.
Once I realized all this, I sat down with my daughter and had a talk with her. I told her that I know that neither of us had been happy with the way our mornings had been going lately and that I thought I knew why. I explained my thoughts and she agreed that she would probably be happier with a little more time to wake up and connect with me before coming out of her room to meet an eager-to-play toddler. We even devised a “secret” knock she could use on her bedroom door when she wanted me to come in.
This morning, as soon as I heard the knock, I made sure my son was safe with this father and went in to greet my daughter. She spent a few minutes snuggling and talking in my lap. Once she was fully awake, she asked me to read her a story. After her story, I left to make breakfast and served her breakfast in her room when she said she wasn’t quite ready to play. After a lot of back and forth parenting between two rooms, my efforts paid off when my daughter, her reserves of quality time replenished, came out and was able to play happily with her brother while I finished packing her lunch and ushered everyone out the door.
I hope some of this month’s parenting inspirations have resonated with you. If so, I’d love to hear from you!
Thanks for reading!