These are, I know, the best years of my life. The most emotional, ecstatic, draining, long, short, turbulent, and peaceful years of my life. The reality is, every piece of it is perfectly imperfect. If you had asked me two weeks ago, I would have said things are brutal, and hard, and I that I was blowing it and letting everyone down. There are certain people who live in my head, and even when they are not with me, I can hear them. Various people from different areas of my life; but of course they are the people I care the most about–and I care the most about what they think of me and how I am handling ‘things’. Some are more obscure: the child psychologists and behaviour specialists I’ve never met but who I’m sure exist. Well two weeks ago they were all in my head. And it was stressing me the F out.
Making these people proud (even when they were nowhere near me) was what was driving my every action, my every response, and my every EMOTION…because I love them, but still. And I started to notice this pattern: I would act or respond to please these voices, and I would repeat repeat repeat…and then I would BREAK. I would yell, or cry, feel out of control and completely disconnected to my thoughts and actions. Like, it got to the point where I sat and watched an hour long webinar about parenting strategies, and considered paying money (like significant money) on a parenting help resource. (???!!! No judgement though if you have done that.) And suddenly I realized, this was happening because I wasn’t being ME.
There are no two people on this planet who think or act exactly alike. There is no single ‘life’ or ‘child rearing’ training program that every single person can use and be successful with. No perfect strategy that works for every kid, or every parent, or under every circumstance. But there is what feels authentic to ME as a mom and as a person. So when I made this connection, or realization, it was just this feeling of liberation. Literally, at that moment, I gave myself permission to let go of the voices and listen only to one voice–my own. I promised myself that I would do things as I saw fit, I would respond in the moment the way that came from within so naturally, and I wouldn’t give a rats ass who was around to see it. And I can say with absolute certainty that this week has been, by far, the best week my family and I have had in a while.
Okay, so what does this look like? Not that it matters, because like I said, every single person is different and the whole point of this post is to say that none of us should do things the same way. And to be absolutely clear, this does not in any way infer that I want anyone in my children’s lives to change how THEY deal with or manage my girls. They need to do THEM! That is the beauty in all of this. But it is my post and I write this mostly for me, so I will reflect here on who I am as a parent lol. I began to think of who I am when I am at my best. What do I do well, and who am I in those moments? I am not the best teacher. But when I thought of the students I had the best connections with and the way I interacted with them regularly, it just made sense. Yes, I teach at the intermediate level and clearly my own children are small, but how I maintain these relationships, and balance structure and compliance with love and acceptance is the same. It just is. The language I use with a thirteen year old versus a four year old might be different, but the idea is the same. And it is what comes naturally to ME. I seriously can’t think of a time as a teacher where I was concerned about what others thought of me, when it came to disciplining or dealing with my students. But for some reason, literally every single thing I did with my own children came with five different voices in my head telling me what to and what not to do. What is that?!
I won’t sit here and talk about the way I act in the classroom, or new things I am trying at home, because seriously it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am doing it my way, all the time, and my girls are seriously responding. I have laughed harder with Mais this week than I have in I-don’t-remember how long. I have shared more memorable moments and talks with Arya and connected with her at a deeper level than ever before. That does NOT mean this has been a perfect week of no-one getting ‘in trouble’ or sitting in time out (gasp! Yes I use time outs, and guess what? They work for ME, not everyone and I totally respect that, but they do for me!) but those not so perfect moments have been significantly out numbered by joyful ones.
So what is this post supposed to be about exactly? I guess what I am trying say is that the best life/work/home/parenting strategy is the one that you actually don’t have to think about. It’s the one that flows out of you. And know that when you do you, that is when those voices in your head are actually the most proud of you. And I am writing this so that the next time I forget, I can come back to this piece and remind myself who I am as a mother, wife, and person–and I’ll be reminded that these are the best years.