I adore my kids and I know you love yours too but that doesn't mean every day is roses. Sometimes it's boring. Sometimes the kids are whiny (which means we are whiny because the littles reflect us, but that's another story). Sometimes we are tired. And sometimes, sometimes, it's just a short-order-cook day with "Mama! Mama! Mama!" and hurry up and DING! here's another request like a short-order cook and all.the.demands.
So if your ability to appreciate your life on a day like that (or a week like that, or heck, a year like that) is waning, you aren't alone.
How are you supposed to appreciate a day that doesn't look like it's going to let up all week?
Sometimes you can't.
But you can appreciate a moment.
Here is a true life story. I know, it's mine.
I'm getting chewed on once more. I'm sitting in the pen with the puppy and the three year old and the puppy is chewing on me and it's not his fault because the three year old is tossing toys at his face and waving his precious blanket around like a bullfighter in the ring.
I am not enjoying this.
Those little teeth hurt.
Those Petco products hurt.
I cannot find a smile at that moment and think I love this time and all the times today I get to do this again and again to care for these two little ones because I don't. I don't love it. What I really want to do is curl up in a pair of sweats and read the book of the short stories on my Kindle that my friend wrote without being touched. I can't remember the last time I read a book at leisure or sat down without being jumped on....
But then there was a moment of calm.
One beat. Maybe three, of peace.
That's when I found appreciation again.
Ooh! I love this moment.
Here. This moment here. The puppy is warm on my lap and my beloved boy is giving him a gentle hug. This is beautiful.
Ack! Too tight! Puppy bite! Redirect, teach, redirect, teach!
Wait. Here is a moment. The puppy is sitting down and my amazing child is petting him so lovingly. This is beautiful. I love this moment.
Ack! Puppy attack!
And on it went.
When I found a spot of lovely–and there were a surprising number of them once I paid attention to them–I held it in my mind for a moment and gave it the doe-eyes.
You are so awesome. You. This moment right here.
That I could do. I couldn't see into the entire rest of my day and feel the love but I could appreciate a moment I genuinely liked so I kept it up. Not all day. Not every moment. But I found true moments to appreciate enough that...
Little by little, everything got better.
You've heard it before and it really is true: life is just a string of moments all put together. If you can't appreciate the string, find a pearl to admire. They are there, even in the midst of the most trying days they are there.
In 2013 I took a class called The Power of Decision.
It changed my life.
It was based on a book The Power of Decision by Dr. Raymond Charles Barker. A Science of Mind leader, Dr. Barker was from New York City and he pulled no punches.
"I will show you that indecision is actually a decision. It is a decision to fail."
What?! Hold on a minute, the book has barely begun and you hit me with this? Can we ease into it a little bit?
And so it went. Powerful, short sentence after powerful short sentence drilling into you the knowledge, and the power, and even the dreadful failures, of your own decision-making.
No whining allowed. No excuses, either.
Dr. Barker gives examples of those who decide and of those who do not and he writes, without shyness or apology, about how he avoids people who just don't take their lives into their own hands.
"I cannot help anyone unless he has made up his mind..."
But, but, but... you're a Reverend, aren't you supposed to be there for everyone? Not when he has decided his time is valuable and he will not waste it. Ouch.
I loved it.
But while the entire book was fabulous what really struck me was his message about children.
"Children are afraid of making mistakes because of their strong emotional need to please their parents."
(And Indecisive adults are still worried about displeasing someone.)
It had never occurred to me before: children are not always taught to be good decision makers.
But how do you do this? How do you teach them to be good at making decisions?
His answer is simple: tell them they are good at making decisions.
So if a child asks: "Where should I put my wet towel?" You could say: "If you were alone in the house, and no one was here to help you, where would you put it?"
And they may say: "On the side of the tub."
And then you have to stop yourself from correcting them because you might really want it hung up on the hook. But maybe that's harder than you thought because they are much shorter than you. And honestly, it was a darn good decision to put it on the side of the tub because the answer was not "on the couch" or "in my bedroom" or "here, you take it".
So yes. Yes. That was a good decision. That would satisfy the requirements of keeping the house safe from a wet towel. Thank you. You make good decisions.
If you keep this up, if you keep telling them they make good decisions, they will bloom right before your eyes into the adults you hope they will be. Ones who make good decisions.
This is one of the most profound parenting principles there is:
Don't introduce resistance into their vibration.
A dream is a beautiful, powerful thing. The thought of something wanted is the first step towards allowing it into your life. An inspired idea, so beautiful and pure, and so filled with potential, has no resistance.
"I want to meet Santa Claus", the child says, all dewey with bright eyes.
Our parental instinct might be to help them see reality. To help them not to be disappointed. "Well... honey.... Santa Claus is very busy."
What then does the child think? Santa Claus is too busy to care? Too busy to make a dream come true? Or is it just them - Santa is just too busy for them?
What happens if, instead, we stop trying to make sure they are OK (from our fear-based place) and instead we joined them in their dream?
Imagine stepping into the beatiful bubble they have created in their imagination and meeting them there, in joy and wonder.
"Do you think he would come alone or would he bring some elves?"
What a wonderful discussion you could have! Does Santa always wear his red suit, or does he have casual Fridays?
Maybe your young child wants to swim with dolphins.
The parenting reaction might be:
That is the time to pause.
Even if your intentions were good, has your heart closed in fear? Fear of them having a dream they can't realize? Fear of them being disappointed? Fear of you having trouble laid upon your head in the form of whining, begging, cajoling or crying?
Instead, picture that bubble of joy they are in. Join them there, in that dream. Look around. (You are just in your imagination so you can make it up as you go.)
Wow. It is very beautiful in here.
This is magical! See the waves splashing in the pool. Feel the dolphin's body as you hold onto her while she swims. Laugh while she pushes you around with her nose.
What a fun talk you can have!
"What would you do first? Would you hug the dolphin or splash her and see if she splashes back?"
Magical connection happens when we daydream together.
But what if the discussion turns to actual reality? Your child looks up at you and asks, "Will you arrange for me to swim with one? Now?"
Now you proceed with an open-hearted conversation. One where you only promise or do what feels in integrity to you.
Take it a step at a time.
"Honey, I did some research and there is a place you can swim with dolphins. It's 1,000 miles away and I'm not comfortable planning a trip there this year."
That might be the end of the discussion. Your child might say "OK!" and go about their business. But if they press, you can explain again how the Universe works:
"I am only one person. And while I do get a lot of things for you because I am your parent, I am just one part of the big, huge Universe. The Universe is everything. The Universe always say 'yes'. I will keep picturing your dream with you, and if it feels right for me to do something, I will. But you don't need me to make your dreams come true. You only need you and You. (That big part of you that is always holding hands with the Universe.) You already said what you want. Now your job is to keep picturing what you want, and why you want it, if it makes you happy. Or, you can just go about your day and play. The Universe never forgets."
Join your child in their dreams big and small.
"Can I knock and see if the neighbors are home to play?"
"Can I get a pumpkin to carve the size of our house?"
"It's a school night" becomes: "Oooh! Tell me how you will play and get done all you need to get done tonight."
"They don't make pumpkins that big" becomes: "Would you make it a funny pumpkin, or a scary pumpkin? I know! Would you carve it into a house and live in it overnight for a Halloween sleepover?"
Of course there are times for a simple "not tonight" or "they don't make them that size", but when you add the intent to support them in their dreams two things happen:
1. They continue to blossom and live in a world of possibility.
2. And you don't feel like the keeper of NO.
A real dream come true.
Really Good Life... With Kids
Tips for how to live a fantastic life while parenting, raise connected, successful kids, and navigate relationships... happily.
Love, Alora :)
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