In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2004, I became a mom. I was 27 years old, had an okay career as an IT professional and had just ten months prior become a Mrs. Up until that moment, my life had taken a leap at light speed. Paul and I were engaged after dating for nine months and were married six months after that. Two weeks after our wedding, I found out I was pregnant.
Fast forward to that moment I held my daughter in my arms for the very first time. Life stopped. After having gone through so many changes in such a short period of time, this moment and many moments following seemed to be in slow motion. There was a complete sense of stillness and quiet when I would bundle her up and watch her sleep. For many months, she slept all night bundled up lying on my chest. I left my job in IT to stay home with her and those first days and months were calm. I was adjusting to being alone at home all day, being a new mom, nursing and taking care of the household. This was my world and these were now my responsibilities.
I was no longer beholden to a boss or a deadline. My main job was to care for the tiny being who now consumed all of my hours and most of my thoughts. Unfortunately she didn’t come with an instruction manual. Either that or it had gotten list in the mail or cursed to the SPAM filter. If there were things that I needed to know, I could look online and did, at times. Websites sent me weekly and monthly updates on what she should be doing right now – she should be crawling, walking, cooing, babbling, eating this much food, getting this much sleep. But how did they know what my baby should be doing this instant? When I’d look at those things they could either make me feel proud because she was ahead of the curve or make me completely anxious because she was behind and, God forbid, would that mean she’d be ok?!?!
So I eventually stopped reading advice columns after I was lead astray one too many times. My daughter was a sensitive soul who didn’t really like anyone to hold her but my husband, my mom and me. She also didn’t like to be set down for naps. I could never get her to sleep in a crib because every time I’d lower her, sound asleep, she’d startle and wake up screaming. I went online and got some advice about letting her cry it out so she’d learn how to self soothe. Being a good mom and wanting to do everything right, I gently laid her down while she startled and woke up. Then I left the room. By left I mean stood on the other side of the door and cried my eyes out. My daughter didn’t self soothe! She just cried and cried and cried harder and harder and harder! Believe me when I say that this experiment lasted maybe a couple of moments but in my memory it feels like an eternity.
That experiment was a huge turning point for me as a parent. I had known that what was best was to trust my instincts and my baby. I just wasn’t able to trust in that because everything I’d read told me there was a better way. After listening to my daughter in such distress, I knew that I’d been wrong. I swept into the room and snuggled her up in my arms. I apologized to her in that moment and promised that I’d always do what I know is best for her. I’m the mom, right? That means technically I should be the worldwide expert in the study of my daughter.
Study I did. I’ve not only become an expert on the study of each of my children but I’ve become an expert in self-study. I’ve always been curious about how I am in the world, why I act the way that I do in various situations and what contributes to my parenting interactions. One of the ideas I’ve always held dear is that parenting is as much about me as it is about them. For the past 13 years, I’ve been receiving homeopathic care, which I hold up as one of my best parenting supports. It can be easy to walk into my visit and complain about this, that or the other thing that my kids are doing that week. I can talk at length about how they push my buttons and then regale my out of control reaction. At some point after quietly listening, my homeopath then turns it back on me. I’m the one who puts those buttons out there. I’m the one who has the out-of-control reaction. What is it about me in those situations? What do I need to heal? These types of reflections have been a guiding light along my parenting journey.
Over the years I’ve been asked multiple times to teach a parenting class or give advice to someone who is struggling. I’ve time and again shied away from it. I didn’t know how to share what it was that I’m doing. Is it just that I’m lucky that my kids behave and are connected to me? Is it because of their diet, their homeschooling background, the way their grandparents spoil them? For years I had no answers. I could only look at people with a quizzical look. I was just doing what I thought was right. Actually, moment by moment and in every instance, I just did what I thought was right. Again, all three guidebooks got lost in the mail remember?
It wasn’t until my homeopath suggested Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s book on Conscious Parenting that I actually found words for the type of parenting I was practicing. I read her book and felt like I was no longer alone in my parenting style. Conscious Parenting is just what it says. It’s the practice of being present with your child in every interaction. It’s also the act of cleaning up your side of your relationship with your child. This is what I’d been doing all of these years through homeopathic care and personal spiritual growth! These were the words I needed to hear to understand my “method”.
So this is how, as a homeopathic practitioner, I’ve come to offer a parenting workshop. I see the interactions all of the time now that I have the words and understanding. As parents, we are hurting. There are aspects of our own childhoods that we don’t quite understand and haven’t even begun to heal. While we think that these are things of the past, they are actually quite present in our current reality because in each moment, they influence our actions and reactions.
When our children come into the world, they are pure energetic beings. They have their own agendas, their own vibration and their own presence. As parents, we do our best but most of us have baggage from our childhoods that we carry around and then subsequently dump onto our children. Think about it. How often do you create the shoulds or have-tos for your child based on what you did or didn’t have in your own childhood? How many times do you correct their behavior because the way they’re acting would never have been ok in your childhood home? What unrealized dreams are you hoping your child will live out for you? The list goes on and on.
Our children come into our lives because we need to heal. Period. They are experts at rooting out our own insecurities, self doubt and failings. For most of us, we get upset or distance ourselves when we are confronted in this way. We are likely to point the finger at what they’re doing and wonder how best we can control them.
What if, instead, you point the finger at yourself? What if, in instances where your child is acting up, you ask yourself “what do I need to heal in this situation”? What if you were to spend some time truly connecting with your child, looking them in the eye and really “getting” them? What sort of relationship would that be like?
Conscious Parenting is no secret. It’s about looking inward, becoming conscious about the role you play in your parenting relationship and asking the question, “Who is the parent my child needs me to be?” In my upcoming parenting workshops, we will explore these questions and get answers. We’ll talk in depth about Conscious Parenting and do activities to help us understand what’s happening on both sides of the parenting relationship. I offer this to parents as an opening into a new angle, a new way of viewing the parenting relationship and how you can come to heal yourself and become consciously connected to your child.