or, Peaceful Parenting IRL
I parent very intentionally – affirmations in the morning to set my intention for a peaceful and loving day with our children, meditation to clear my mind, magical chocolate and enchanting elixirs to insure my mood is as kind, patient and loving as it can be…all with the desire to be in Peaceful Mama mode as much as I can be throughout our crazy, full days.
When I do slip into some version of Crazy Mama, I try to learn from it. I reflect on what happened, and hold up to the mirror to see if I can find the lesson I need to learn, or maybe I need to see a hypocrisy in myself that I need to address.
Here is a recent IRL scenario that taught me some lessons:
We are just coming back from a trip with our children that involved several other families from their dance school. We went to Disneyland to participate in their Performing Arts Days: the teachers put together a 30-minute program, and the kiddos get to perform it on a stage at either Disneyland or California Adventure Park.
I cannot even begin to tell you how ludicrous the seat jockeying is. Normally sane people turn into strange creatures devoid of reason. The last four years we have attended, by the time I try to find a seat for our family, the very limited seats are all gone. I have no idea how people move that fast…maybe that is my irritation – that I am not part of the “in” group that knows how to do this (Reflection/Lesson #1)!!
Knowing full well that this kind of behavior brings out the worst in me (my JUDGE has lots of things to say about people who are not fair), I have circumvented the whole seating thing by adjusting my expectations. Instead of looking for a seat, I just want to find a place to photograph and film our children.
After sitting on the ground last year, my solution this year was to bring a tarp that we could lay on the ground so we weren’t sitting on cold cement. I parked our stroller next to the front row, set the tarp in front of it for anyone in our group who wanted to sit down, and then I stood behind the whole set-up well in advance of the show starting so that anyone off to the side and/or behind us could infer that I was not going to move. There is plenty of room off to the side of the benches, so I really hoped they could find their own clear shot to the stage if they wanted pictures/film (Reflection/Lesson #2 maybe I am also being a “hog” even though not of a “seat”, I was definitely unyielding).
What do you think happened? One of the people who saved a whole row for themselves and their family came and sat in front of Charger, who was sitting patiently ON THE GROUND for the show to start so he could watch his siblings.
I was ready to lose it. I felt my ears steam, my voice splutter, my body started to sweat. WTF?!?!?!?! The way I saw it, I had three choices in that moment. I could say nothing. I could lose it. I could try to control myself and point out how inconsiderate they were being and ask them to kindly move over.
In the few seconds I had to reason out how this interaction was going to go, these things ran through my mind: I blog about peaceful parenting – losing it isn’t peaceful. I can’t lose my temper in front of a bunch of people who I will see one way or the other for the next several months (until recital time in June) or for the long-haul if their families continue to take classes like ours does. I have written about body-positivity and self-love – I wouldn’t be showing any of those if I resorted to childish name-calling. And, above all, I profess to be a Christian…and we are usually judged by our worst behavior…so I would be doing a great disservice to my faith if I lashed out with ugly actions and words.
I already knew that I wasn’t going to stay quiet – after all, IMO, I wasn’t the one being “not fair”. So I opted for trying to control myself and “say something”. I certainly wasn’t as kind as I wanted to be, nor was I as ugly as I could have been. After I said something, she did at least scoot over, so at least part of the problem was solved. Yet I felt sad that I had to say anything at all, and irritated at myself that I didn’t do better in a human-to-human interaction: I hadn’t spoken with love.
In situations like this, when the best version of myself fails to show up, I generally kick myself afterwards and wonder how I could have used humor. What would have been a funny way to approach this situation so that we all could have laughed and she still would have moved?
So my biggest takeaway from all this is to actively start working more humor into our day (Reflection/Lesson #3). I am going to find, or sit down and write, a good affirmation so that I can print it and add it to my affirmation wall. Since humor is not intrinsically on the tip of my tongue, I could also probably do with some time looking up some opening one-liners that I can tuck into my brain and access the next time I feel the steam rising. For as sure as the sun rises and sets, there will be another next time when my patience is tested.
And hopefully, little by little, humor will become part or my parenting/dealing with other humans toolbox so that Crazy Mama only comes out when she’s really needed. Since I can’t imagine any Fight or Flight scenarios I would intentionally place our family in, maybe that will allow for Peaceful Mama to keep hanging around more consistently everywhere, not just when we are within the safety and security of the walls we call home.
UPDATE: As it turns out, I don’t want to be more funny after all…what I decided is that I need to be better at diffusing tension. After doing the research I wanted to do, I did come up with an affirmation that I think will work.