Parenting is hard. And I’m not here to sell you any quick fixes – it’s made of a million little and big moments that require all that you have. It is also one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences, perhaps for the same reason. You discover inner resources that you never knew you had. There is a place of calm within each of us – we just have to discover the path to it. That’s the main purpose of this site. I want to share the things I have found to help me along the way. That’s not to say that I don’t lose my cool, yell, or mess up. That’s just part of the “full catastrophe” as Jon Kabat-Zinn calls it. Our mistakes are opportunities to look inward, to discover our own triggers, to reach for that oasis of calm, and to apologize, demonstrating a skill that we all require at one time or another.
I love being a parent. I love thinking about kids and how to help them grow into adults who know themselves, know how to embrace joy and are in touch with their feelings. I love deepening my understanding of life and my own journey. I’m a ‘big picture’ person. Lists of things to do or don’t do usually don’t work that well for me. They stress me out! (Although I should say that that doesn’t mean I’ll never use one on here…they do work for some people.) Thinking about the reasons behind our actions and how to better achieve our goals as parents and people (which are actually usually the same!) these are the things that work for me.
When I became a mom, the basic tenets of Attachment Parenting aligned with my natural instincts. We breastfeed, bed share, respond to crying babies, etc. As my children got older I found that the principles of AP felt a little more ambiguous. After much reading I have found that rather than clinging to a set of parenting ‘rules’ it makes more sense to me to have a sense of the purpose of parenting. Connection is probably the MOST important thing to keep in mind. Children need to feel accepted, loved and connected to their parents. Of course, from the minute they are born they are also striving towards their own independence. Life is filled with paradoxes.
Children (of all ages) need to know that even when they have big and inconvenient feelings, when they make mistakes, when they lash out in anger, or take steps that we don’t agree with, that we will still be here for them when they need us. We need to hold in ourselves the capacity to love them without judgement; to hold out our open arms even when we don’t see eye to eye. We need to hold the space between connection and distance. Our children are their own people. We hold them when they cannot hold themselves. We love them even when they cannot love themselves. But we never own them. We raise them to live their own lives, to make their own choices, to find contentment.
No one is perfect. We all fall short of our goals. We don’t live in the way that we intend to. Learning to love ourselves even when we leave ourselves is a big part of the lesson that we teach our children about how to live. Choosing to love ourselves, even when we aren’t ‘perfect’ is one of the best ways for our kids to learn. Sometimes you have to ‘fake it before you make it.’ Sometimes you have to look yourself in the mirror and say “I’m sorry. I’ll do better next time.” Because you will. Because if it’s important to you, you will make it happen.
If you start with just one parenting goal, start with the ‘gateway’ goal. Whenever you notice your blood pressure rising, the sounds of yelling over stolen toys or frustration at learning something new ringing in your ears; whenever you sit with the disappointments that all children face from time to time, the tears, the anger: CHOOSE LOVE. Love is coming back. Love is Connection. Choose love every time that you can.