WTF: Conscious Parenting is Hard
Today was "one of those days."
The early morning started off well. My young daughter awoke in good spirits. Things didn't fall apart until around 9:00am. We were playing an iPad game. She was frustrated that I died. (Admittedly, it really was a short-lived experience.) She inquired why I missed something that would have likely extended my life.
I am certainly open to guidance about how to improve my game performance - she is by far the expert, of course. However, I felt myself cringe by the tone of her voice. Her inquiry was not said with curiosity - it was outright condescending.
I played the game three more times, after which I was met with similar remarks. Each time, I gave thought to her triggers. (Hey now, I was conscious in the moment!) Lack of sleep maybe? She went to bed a little later than normal last night and awoke a bit earlier than is typical. (I swear, she does that EVERY...SINGLE...TIME! When she stays up late, she either wakes up on time, or worse yet, wakes even earlier than normal!) Maybe she was hungry. She had a small bit to eat, but not much.
As I finished my last game, my patience was worn thin.
Excuse me? Who was she talking to?
The "old me" would have just let loose, allowing whatever thoughts were in my head to just flow out of my mouth without filter: Who are you talking to like that? Have you lost your mind? I am your mother! You'd better start showing some respect! It's highly possible that some four-letter words would have been sprinkled in there - again, no filter.
What did the "new" me do? I stayed conscious - it helped me empathize and consider what triggered her agitation. (Thankfully, the attitude is not common practice.) I wanted to respond and not just react. Being conscious allowed me the mental head space to consider the most appropriate response. With that said, it wasn't easy. My temper grew with each passing remark.
I hoped it was a fleeting moment of bad judgment. The condescending tone isn't new, but it is highly unusual for her to keep it up for longer than just a brief moment. So when the moment was followed by another moment, and then another, I knew I had to respond thoughtfully and in a manner that made her give thought to her actions.
At the conclusion of my last game, and in response to another condescending statement, I put the iPad down. I remained calm. I made her look at me, and spoke to her the way she had spoken to me. Her eyes widened and she looked at me with an angry face. (I think it's instinctual for kids to want to blame someone else. It's safer to try and deflect - to be angry at the other person rather than own up to one's own bad behavior. Hell, I know plenty of adults who still deflect!)
Right about now, the "old me" would have given her a snarly look and commented on wiping the angry off her face. I didn't though. I returned to my normal tone and explained why I spoke to her the way I did. She made a couple of seven-year-old attempts to blame me, but she knew it didn't work. She apologized pretty quickly. After all, she didn't like how it felt to be on the receiving end!
Although there were some additional incidents in the evening, they were very short lived. Once she had dinner, she was fine again. She also feel asleep very quickly and early. (Lack of sleep may have been the culprit all along.)
In short, I'm proud of myself for staying in the moment. I'm proud of myself for not yelling. I gave thought to the best way to handle it and implemented it calmly, but firmly. I have no idea if it was the right thing to do, but it certainly felt like it, both in the moment and now upon reflection. That's all I can ask of myself as I continue to try and live consciously.
Be open to what comes.