Earlier this week I was excited to share with all of you a “working parent” breakthrough I had last weekend. As a working parent, summer is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because it usually means the nights are a little more relaxed without the constant nag of homework and driving to and from activities. A curse because the guilt sets in that you can’t be home and have to find a summer camp to fit your schedule.
The summer camp we typically go to requires you to sign up by the day and is capped at a certain number of attendees. In 6 summers this has never been a problem, but this year they are hitting capacity faster than ever before. When I went to sign up, I found that many of the days I needed were unavailable. I checked a second and third option to no avail. My heart started to race and I got that anxious feeling inside. What was I going to do? The list of gripes began in my head. We have no family here to help us out. How ridiculous is this camp to not be able to accommodate all the children who need to attend? But then I stopped. No, I’m not going to do this. I can’t change the camp rules, but I can change my reaction, my priorities and my schedule. In changing my reaction, I realized I also need to let go of the feelings of anger and frustration. This is how it was. When I shifted my perception of the situation, everything changed in an instant.
Later in the week, I listened to Dr. Shefali talk about her new book The Awakened Family and she quoted the following passage from page 17:
“Our tendency when we feel helpless or anxious is to control these feelings by lashing out at other, in this case at our children. In psychological terms, we refer to this as “projecting” our pain onto another, so that it looks like the other is the cause of our pain.”
I could totally relate! So many times before when my carefully orchestrated “plans” fell through, my emotions would get the best of me and I would inadvertently project them on my kids. But with the camp situation I didn’t do that! It was an ah-ha moment for me and I was so excited to share it with you today…….
But then I saw a post that a friend of a friend was a victim of domestic violence.
In another post an 11-month old lost her daddy, a man she’ll never really know, while her mom is left to raise her on her own without the companionship of the man she thought would be by her side forever.
And in yet another post, my former classmates expressed their fear for the future of their young sons.
In addition to those personal posts were the headlines…….
After all of these excruciatingly painful moments this week, I felt like my personal ah-ha was so small and insignificant. How can I possibly “complain” about the minor inconvenience of not having childcare for a handful of days and celebrate the fact that I handled it without losing my mind? I have a job, a healthy family, a supportive spouse, a house and wonderful neighbors surrounding me. There are so many bigger issues. There are so many other things that are causing others raw, unimaginable pain.
In light of all these other unbelievable, unfathomable events, how is what I am sharing even significant?
Years ago, I would have reacted differently to my lack of childcare. It would have stressed me out in a way that everyone around me would have felt it. I would have vented to anyone who would listen about how poorly run the childcare system is that they couldn’t accurately forecast their demand. With each person I told and retold the story to, I would have just kept adding fuel to the fire. In my mind I would have felt justified for my frustration and that anger would have simmered inside of me. On the days where I was forced to change my work schedule I would have started the day angry and stressed for having to change my plans. My feelings would have reflected off of me and been felt by everyone around me, not only my coworkers, but likely my children as well. My children might then have felt guilty, that it was their fault…….but this week I avoided all of that. I never have to wonder how it really would have made my kids feel.
But again I come back to, how is what I’m sharing significant? I spent a lot of time thinking about this before I sat down to write. After some thought, I realized my contribution is as a parent to other parents. I write this blog every week because parenting is hard. What I didn’t know when I became a parent was how much it would force me to grow. What I’ve discovered along the way is that you can’t “fix” your kids without giving yourself a long hard look in the mirror. Who we are matters. Who we are has a direct influence on who we allow our children to be. What we do matters. How we love matters. How we show love matters. And I can’t think of any better place for that to start but in our homes. I know that my little blog is not going to change the world. But just maybe it will change a little bit about how you parent your child. And who knows, maybe they will be the ones to change the world.
P.S. Can you relate to this post? Let's schedule a time to talk. We'll go through what's throwing you off balance and figure out the best steps for you to regain your footing. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.