5 Transformative Lessons I Learned From Parenting!
July 1, 2015
I am the mother of a sensitive, creative and highly energetic 3.5 year old and the last 3-4 years have been transformative in many ways.
I happened to spend tons of time and effort into learning and steering my life into a different direction from where it was going all the while before that!
But inspite of the fact that I hugely invested in myself, did online trainings, attended ground breaking workshops and worked with some really amazing mentors, there are some things I did exclusively related to parenting my toddler that allowed me the privilege of transformation in a way that I never thought was possible.
Here's my humble list:
1. My presence is my biggest gift
"Put away that phone!" "Don't say hmm hmm when I am talking to you"
My toddler hates it when we give her our half baked selves. It dawned on me that this is somewhat a reflection of me because I feel this constant feeling of needing to keep talking because I feel like I am not being heard.
And so often I realize that if there's any gift I could really give to this vibrant being full of light and magic, it was my presence. But even as I speak with my family and feel very tempted to offer advice, get carried away by their stories and sometimes feel the very urgent need to change how they are - I realize one thing - a lot of us say things constantly, talk about things over and over again, get into too many details, compain, feel negative and feel like victims, because we don't feel fully heard. We are insecure because nobody offered full presence to us!
2. Listening with my heart vs. listening with my mind
'Let's play this game, you talk about me and I'll talk about you", "You know when you draw designs on the paper, they're very beautiful, I really like them mama"
There are two instances when she said something like this to me. One way when I was fully engrossed in her being. Listening to her with full attention, not judging, not feeling the need to hear good things about me, just purely enjoying my time being with her. This was when I was listening with my heart.
In the second instance, I was slightly preoccupied. She said something about her liking my smile. I looked at her, somewhat there but not fully there. It sounded like a reasaonable compliment which I could return with a reasonable smile and say thanks. This was when I was listening with only my head.
Listening with your heart can make a small little moment totally magical. Even if there are a few of these, they're totally worthwhile to create in the few years that they will still be magical little beings.
3. Suggest, not direct people
"C'mon now let's play a game, who gets to the bathroom first?" I want her to come over and brush her teeth, but as I turn around and look, she isn't really following me!
We tried every possible trick to make her become interested in her morning routine. A really sleek toothbrush with sparkles inside, a really fun sing and shower time. But nothing really worked until her Waldorf teacher mentioned how she uses songs instead of intsructions! So now, we just get her to place where she's calm and then gently suggest the next step in the morning rhythm through a song - and it works wonders!
I realize this is a lesson I have been implementing more of, in my coaching practice and so more and more I allow people to take the lead. If there's anything I would like them to consider, it's always a suggestion. The reason I like this is because I believe it allows the person a chance to surface their intuition and power.
4. Celebration can happen anytime and in any which way
A silly sounding word. An out of tune song. A little misstep. A funny dance step. Anything and everything can trigger off a little child's world of humourous celebrations.
This is such a huge lesson to apply in my every day life. Whether it means to get up and do a jig in the middle of an intense time. Or it is to order for my favourtie snack and enjoy it even as my little one lies down with high temperature. I realize that life is too fragile to not be celebrated. Every day and moment we spend without celebration makes us forget how important it is to not take life too seriously.
5. Trust your instinct - no matter what!
"I don't want to go to school mama!"
When she said this the first time around, we thought it was just a way of escaping something unpleasant that she will have to get used to. Until I realized that she was actually feeling what she was feeling but didn't have the right words to communicate it with me. I also knew that we would have to convince her to go to school no matter what.
But instrictively I knew that she'd feel better if she just got a chance to voice out what was troubling her. So I started this exercise of giving her 5 options of why she's not feeling too good.
"Your friend isn't talking to you" "You get too hungry" "Yash hugged you and you don't like it" "Aunty doesn't listen to you" etc etc.
It turns out that getting her to talk it out works wonders! She felt better, I conveyed her concern to the teacher and she felt safe and heard as she got ready for school the next day!