One night I had a dream that Partner-Guy and I were in some huge underground caves with our 3 daughters. I think maybe we were on vacation. He was carrying two of the girls and I was dragging a huge suitcase and carrying a bag and calling to the other girl to stay with me. Suddenly a wave came into the cave and carried away my daughter. I stood there, holding the suitcase, while I watched the wave carry her further and further away. Eventually the wave receded and I could see her on the floor of the cave, far away. I called to Partner-Guy to go check on her while I proceeded out of the cave with the suitcase.
And then I woke up and had a little cry because I couldn't believe my brain would have me act like!
This is not a dream.
Last summer we were at an amusement park. My three daughters were on a ride with their teenage cousin while I watched from the ground, a short distance away. I noticed that one of my girls was leaning somewhat dangerously on the safety harness of the car that they were in. I felt my heart rate increase and my mouth became dry. I started to run toward the operator of the ride to tell him to stop the ride. As I got closer I saw that it was NOT the daughter that I had originally thought was going to fall out. I relaxed immediately and did not intervene.
And then I went behind a tree and had a little cry because I couldn't believe I had just reacted that way.
My children behave like children.
One of my daughters is extremely prone to screaming. About almost anything. Regularly. Many, many times per day.
One of my daughters talks non-stop. She tells everyone around her to stop talking so that she can talk. She does this throughout the day. But not ALL day. Only whenever someone else is trying to talk.
One of my daughters says 'No' to me about everything. Would you like spaghetti for supper? NO. Would you like me to help you comb your hair? NO. Did you enjoy your bike ride with Daddy? NO.
Sometimes, it's all just too much for me. Sometime I say, "Mommy is feeling a little overwhelmed just now. I need to be away from all of you for a few minutes so that when I come back I don't feel like a mean person anymore."
And sometimes I don't say anything and I just walk away because if I do talk, it won't be very nice. And in that moment one little daughter is the recipient of my tantrum of silence. It doesn't even matter what the trigger was--I've had to walk away from each of them at different times.
You know what? This isn't always easy.
I replay and believe the old recordings of negative self-talk that tell me how I never do anything right.
I give in to the old habits of lecturing and arguing.
I forget to listen and validate and empower.
I forget to take care of myself and practice some self-love so that I can recharge and have more of my best self for my children.
I get tired and hungry and hot.
I'm not making excuses.
I know my weaknesses and my triggers.
What matters is not that I totally blow it sometimes. What matters is how I strive to do better next time.
And I am STRIVING.
I'm doing The Work of Byron Katie.
I'm re-reading my favourite parenting book.
I'm resting and meditating and going to yoga.
I'm starting to keep a hand-written journal.
I'm practising gratitude.
Do you ever feel like you aren't meeting your own standards in parenting? How do you overcome your self-doubt?