All I ever wanted was to be a mother, and once I became a mother, it wasn’t all I ever wanted. I loved my daughters with all my heart and found the “tasks” of being a mom easy. I breastfed, wore my kids constantly and co-slept trying to be a “good” attachment parent. The emotional aspects of parenting are what eluded me. I didn’t “understand” my kids, their upsets and what they unearthed. Crying, tantrums and general discontent seemed to trigger an SOS in my nervous system, leaving me feeling at a complete loss as to how to respond appropriately. I wanted it to stop and did everything in my power to make that happen. The shushing, rocking, swaddling, bribing, distracting and punishing left me exhausted and feeling awful about myself and my parenting. Had I just known then what I know now, that crying is OK, feelings are part of being an emotional person and listening is the key to helping babies and children feel heard and understood. Beyond learning new tools and studying peaceful, connective, conscious parenting I began to delve into my own childhood more completely. I had gone to years of therapy all centered around my upbringing. I made huge strides to overcome a dysfunctional girlhood in a household of alcoholics and addicts.
The triggers I felt when I became a mom weren't ones that I'd experienced in the world of work or friendship and dating during my 20’s and early 30’s. These triggers were DEEP in my psyche. When they surfaced I was not prepared to deal with the turbulence caused in my family. Learning how to be calm, connected and present is so important, and I work on those aspects of being a mom every day. What I find even more helpful and profound is identifying my triggers and journaling, talking about and analyzing those on a deeper level. When I have an almost visceral reaction to something my child has done I have to check myself. Kids will act in immature ways, say the wrong things and behave inappropriately. That’s what they are supposed to do! They are kids, still learning how to become successful members of a social society. I, on the other hand, am not allowed to act inappropriately. Sure I can make mistakes, but my default cannot be to yell, lecture, shame, bribe, threaten, punish and scold. What do those reactions produce in children? Fear, control, anger, low self-esteem, and shame…not to mention a severed parental relationship. That is exactly where I was before beginning this journey. I can emphatically say now that I react 90% less and the bond I have with the girls is 150% improved.
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