This girl. She is my biggest teacher. Last night after dinner she asked if she could finish the movie she started at Grandma and Grandpa's the day before. She knows the rule. No T.V. on school nights. She also knows I have been known to break that rule when provided with the right amounts of crying baby, messy house, and late dinner. Daddy and Gloria were visiting the grandparents, I had spent the day cleaning a house that had been turned upside down and given a vigorous shake, and we had already eaten. She didn't have a chance. She tried begging and pleading for a minute, realized she was losing the battle, and launched into a full-fledged tantrum. She's a professional: slamming of doors, flinging of body on bed, colorful language of the 'I hate you, I hate my life' variety spoken...rather loudly.
But thanks to Janet Lansbury and the rabbit and Positive Parenting, I felt a level of clarity and calm I rarely feel in moments like this. I went to her on the bed and stroked her hair. I spent the time waiting for her to calm down actively thinking about how she must be feeling--denied the thing that gives her more satisfaction than almost anything else. For a minute she screamed louder, but when she was realized I wasn't going to lecture her or convince her out of her feelings or show any sort of disappointment at all, a switch was flipped. She climbed into my lap and let me hold her for a while. I said maybe one sentence. Something about understanding how disappointed she was feeling. And in return I got a happy, calm, grounded child who proceeded to get ready for bed without further ado.
Five minutes later, Isaiah lost every single one of his marbles when it was time to brush his teeth because he wanted to continue playing a game he had started with his sister. I stayed with him in the bathroom while he got out all of his big, overtired feelings (he did not want to be touched.) I reminded him that it was time to get ready for bed every time he tried to open the door. I spoke his feelings back to him so he would know just how heard he was.
He giggled while we brushed his teeth.
Violet watched. When I came out of the bathroom, she wrapped her arms around me. 'You have to take care of everyone, don't you Mommy? You're the best mom in the whole world.'
I can tell you that I have never felt more seen.
I'm not sharing this story to brag about my mothering skills. This moment sticks out--and sticks out to her--because it is not my default way of parenting. Quite the opposite, unfortunately. But children are infinitely forgiving and always perfectly present. At THAT moment, I was the compassionate mother I should always be.
The Lesson? Aside from ‘If you want your child to be compassionate, you have to be compassionate’:
Life is not perfect, but it is full of perfect moments. I am not perfect, but I am evolving perfection.
So are you.