There’s nothing that will tap your insecurities, fears, and neuroses quite like parenting will.
If you’re just joining us for this series, be sure to check out last week’s blog where we talked about the one thing you’ll need to let go of in order to have an easier time parenting.
Today, I want to chat about one of the things that will help us the most in our parenting journey:
And while it’s so valuable to listen to our children, that’s not exactly what I’m talking about right now.
Let me start with a story…
When Caleb (my 16 year-old) was born, I was a work-at-home and sometimes outside-of-the-home Mom. I played piano and sang professionally out each week as well as taught lessons at home. I also spoke and led women’s groups and would prepare talks during the week.
I thought it would be great and productive to be at home with an active 8 month-old.
(Insert eye-rolling here)
But it seemed that he reached a point of restlessness… restless in the living room when I was practicing piano and singing.
Restless in the office when I was writing.
Restless in the kitchen when I was cleaning.
He wanted to be on my lap,
In my arms,
And I was pretty sure, if he could:
Back in my womb.
I’d put him up in his crib for nap time and he would stand at the edge of his crib and cry.
He kept doing this, day after day, and I was getting that jangly-exhausted, I-really-need-a-break kind of feeling that made my skin feel like I had electric wires pulsing and sizzling underneath.
I kept thinking, “Good lord, I’m around this child all the time. How could he need more time from me?”
Sometimes, we think we’re asking a rhetorical question when really, we’re praying a prayer.
Because I got an answer:
He needs more time with you, not around you.
I walked upstairs to his bedroom, where he was in tears in his crib, and I rubbed his back in a soothing way to help him calm down, kissed the top of his head and said, “Caleb, I’m here baby… you’re okay… ” and I knelt down on the floor in front of him.
“I want to speak to your big soul that lives in your little body, Caleb, because even if you can’t understand my words in your mind, I believe that your soul really understands.”
He snuffed his nose and stood, staring down at me.
I gazed into his precious, blue, tear-filled peepers and said, “You’ve been restless, because you’ve been anxious. I’ve had you around me and I’ve been shuffling you from room-to-room, but you really needed time with me. I’m sorry. That’s my fault, Cay… it’s not you. Don’t own what is mine. It’s not about you being not-enough; it’s about me trying to wear so many hats and provide for our family while Dad isn’t working a lot right now. This is about me trying to figure out my priorities; this is not about you. You are enough. I’m sorry, baby. I am making a new commitment to you and our time together, so you can go to sleep when it’s time for your nap. You don’t have to stress out to get more of my attention. I love you so much.”
I had said what I needed to say.
And you know what Caleb did?
He smiled the sweetest smile, got down on his hands and knees and crawled over to the center of the crib where he laid down and almost immediately went peacefully to sleep.
It’s one of the hardest things to do in a culture where we’re distracted, overworked, overstressed, and are bombarded with a million ideas of what we’re told life should be.
We have the television, movies and phones in our faces at all times.
Threats of war, political volumes on HIGH, bullying at schools, school shootings, and so much more that are all SO MUCH noise in our culture — and therefore our parenting.
We get pulled into ideas that there is ONE WAY to raise our kids correctly so we struggle with second-guessing and wondering if the neighbor down the street is doing it better than we are and if we should be doing it all differently.
Parenting is a crazy thing.
I remember a neighbor came to my door — he was an older Russian man with a lot of strong opinions. I really dug him (because I dig strongly opinionated people. I do.) He had watched me interact with my kids when we moved into the neighborhood when they were 9 and 7.
About a year into observing me he said, “I know you have good children, Stacey, but listen to me…” He wagged his finger at me “You need to spank them when they misbehave. You need to punish them in their room. I see you talking softly to them and giving them instruction but they are BOYS and you are setting them up for disaster as MEN.” And then, he threw the fear bomb at me, “One day something tragic could happen to them and they could die because you are not being strict enough with them. What will you do then?”
He glared at me with a fierce challenge in his eyes.
I raised my eyebrows and thought, This not my first rodeo with people challenging my parenting style… so, take a number, my friend.
I used to use fear on myself and others too when I was steeped in religion, so I recognized this technique and had clarity and compassion for this man when honestly, I could have been tempted to hit him over the head with a frying pan.
Instead, this humble peace mixed with clarity and strength washed over me, “I speak life over my children. I will not have you speak death over my children in my presence to make a point or to sway me.” Like I said, I was clear and felt a responsibility to not let his words stand over my children, “I may not know all the right ways to parent but I know some ways that didn’t work… I know what it is to be spanked and punished. I know how that can fracture the trust and communication between a parent and child and can create so much fear that you just learn how to hide and perform better. I don’t want that for my children.” I shook my head, “Plus, if you hit my child, I would call the police so, why would I hit my child? It doesn’t make sense to my brain. I was a music teacher in a private school. I had 160 students on the stage to prepare for shows. I used my words for all of them, to get them where they needed to be and do what they needed to do for the performance — so why would I need to use my hands with my children?”
I paused and took a breath, looking out to the wildlife preserve behind him, “We are all here by Grace. In a breath we are here and in a breath we could be gone… any of us. I will not live in fear of that day, and if that day ever came in an order that would not be my ideal script, I would do the same thing that I aim to do today: I would listen. Listen for the Spirit to guide me… listen for Truth… listen for Grace… I trust that Love will speak to me in ways that I would hear then just as I trust that Love speaks to me now.”
He pursed his lips as if I didn’t understand, but I walked away with my peace because I understood.
That I don’t need to understand it all or know it all to be a mom who listens and learns and finds her way.
Parenting has enough angst.
Parenting has enough over-stimulation
At some point, we’re going to face the questions of:
How to feed
We’re going to tackle the topics of:
And so much more
I don’t tell people to parent like I parent, just like I don’t tell my clients with Hashimoto’s to live like I live or do all the things I do…
My biggest goal in all of my work with myself, my children, and my clients is this:
To empower them to listen for that peaceful, joyful, wise, loving voice that lives inside of them…
That voice that is beyond the fear-based messages and ideas that could make you tremble 24/7 and never sleep.
That voice that wants your best and knows how to pull the experiences from your life, the articles you’ve read, the talks you’ve attended and the inner truth that lives inside of you — and to put them together in this collective Wisdom that you can hear when you need to hear it.
Did you notice that when I heard inside of me about Caleb’s restlessness, that there was no condemnation with that information? Nothing put me down or made me out to be a bad human.
It was simply wise, guiding information…
Did you notice when my neighbor was talking to me that there was fear, manipulation, and some put down in his words?
That Spirit of Love doesn’t speak to us that way.
You don’t have to be the perfect parent or parent perfectly.
You don’t have to parent the way anyone or everyone else does.
The thing that is going to serve you as a supportive thread weaving through the tapestry of your parenting experience is to be able to go within and to listen
For that still small voice that assures you, encourages you, guides you, and reminds you.
“I am here. You’re not alone.
Even when you’re scared
And things are going smoothly
And life feels like glass,
Or everything’s just crashed on the rocks
And you don’t know how you will ever repair…
No matter what state of parenting bliss or miss you’re in,
You are not alone.
Love is with you.
Listen for the voice of Love, Wisdom, Peace and Joy my friends.
Listen in for the voice of Love.