I have a little mantra in my head and I thought I’d share it with you in case it’s useful to you too. I’m also sharing it because I have forgotten it for a while and it’s very true that we teach best what we need to learn. This reminder is definitely for me. My hope is that it will resonate with some of you too. If not, then it’s just an insight into some of my human frailties!
My mantra is this: BE KIND
It comes with a question that I ask myself in my head: ARE YOU BEING KIND?
On a school morning, we have the routine well tuned and the morning itself goes well. Getting up, having breakfast, getting washed and dressed all happen like clockwork. My two big girls are great at organising themselves the night before and are now pretty much always ready to leave for school at least five minutes early. The only regular issues that arise are around my three year old being a three year old and I’m generally cool with that because this is just the way that her mind, neurology and thinking are wired right now. I can live with it. This is not forever, not her personality, just her current stage and way to be.
However, the last three minutes before we are going to leave the house can be a time when my patience, kindness and niceness flee the building and leave in its wake children who probably wish that they could flee the building too.
I want to leave on time. I want to get to school on time. I am a rule follower and a people pleaser and I want to do what I’m supposed to be doing and to be seen doing it. I don’t want people to see me racing in late. I want people to think good things about me. “There goes Tara and the kids. Aren’t they good, walking to school?”
I forget that no one really gives a crap.
They are busy thinking of themselves, their morning, their day, their children, their next place to be.
I know this, but being good and following the rules are old patterns of mine, forged into my brain during childhood, branded onto my thought and behaviour patterns through decades of repetition.
And I let these patterns get in the way of me being kind.
I will have a grown up tantrum and a shout in my frustration at the messy, loose ends of the morning that are stopping us leaving when I want to. The children go silent, the little one cries, I’m all steamed up and full of bad thoughts and outrage.
I want to actively challenge and step aside from these old patterns of mine.
These old patterns mean that I forget to prioritise the most important thing, the only thing in this situation that will last for the whole of my life- my relationship with the children. Being cross because they haven’t done what’s expected of them is one thing, and an OK thing. Being cross with children who have done exactly what was expected of them (yes, even the three year old and whatever weird things have upset or angered her today are predictable and expected) is not fair though. My two big girls are ready to go and ready to help me.
The pressure of my role and my outrage at some time infringement are sometimes being prioritised and coming in ahead of my relationship with the girls. If we are late for school (and the silliest thing about my response here is that we almost never are) will I remember that and live with the effects of it forever? No. Tomorrow I’m only interested in what’s happening tomorrow.
But if my children get used to a Mum who vents, who shouts, who explodes and who is NOT AS KIND AS I COULD BE, then that will have long lasting effects. Little behavioural adjustments and memories will be made that shape our future interactions and thoughts about each other.
I’m allowed to be cross, I’m allowed to correct and challenge, I’m allowed to teach and tell and ask and show and guide.
If am cross whilst still being kind, then it will be a whole different experience for all of us. If I’m outraged but still kind, then I won’t let my mouth run away with me and criticise and chastise harshly and meanly.
If I ask myself “Am I being kind?” and then adjust my communication if I find that I’m not, then I can catch myself, correct myself and then be kinder. Wiser people than me have written about the power and need for kindness.
“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” – Dalai Lama
“Never be so busy as not to think of others.” – Mother Teresa
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss
As Brené Brown, one of my favourite writers and speakers on the planet said, in order for people to have connection with others, they have to be seen by them. Being seen by someone, being noticed by them, puts people in a vulnerable place. When we want to connect with someone, are seen and noticed by them and then are treated in a way that leads to disconnection, people often feel shame. Brené Brown says that shame is a fear of disconnection, that it is a fear that we are not worthy to belong and feel connected.
If I assume that my children know that I love them think the world of them, but in my interactions with them I am volatile, distracted, have my eyes on a goal beyond them and let myself verbally vent and emotionally push them away, then I am building a disconnected relationship with them in the future.
More than anything I want my children to be able to come to me and to talk to me. How often do I ask them to wait, don’t interrupt, tell me after this or get irritated because I can’t listen or am bored by what they are sharing and want to move on? How often do I give them my full attention, listen intently, focus on what they’ve said and show it by asking questions to know/ understand more or by making empathic responses? Is the balance between these right?
More than anything I want my children to see how I see them which is with warm, rose-tinted spectacles and a list in my mind of all the ways I love them and all of the things I admire about them. So how often do I pick up on the negative, interrupt to criticise, point out the flaws and things they still need to learn? Is the balance between these right?
I want to enjoy the moment and seize the day with my children. I want to slow down and bathe in the experience of raising them their childhoods and appreciating the version of them that I live with now. So how often do I step off the treadmill of chores, to-do list, and routine and spend time in slow time with them? And how often do I carry on at steam train speeds? At steam train speed, the desire to have slow time with the children is an item on the to-do list rather than an actual, genuine act of connecting with them today.
Life is a balance.
I am imperfect just as I should be.
You are imperfect just as you should be.
If we are guided by kindness though and we keep the question “Am I being kind?” as our compass to point us in the direction of love, connection and kindness, then we will be doing the best that we can and our children will be getting the best that we can give.
If I can be kind in my interactions, then I will be proud of the mum and the person that I am.
Do you feel overwhelmed and unhappy in your parenting life at times? Parenting Coaching makes a big difference and in only 3-6 sessions can have a big impact, making you happier and family life run smoother. Call me on 07973 404113 to have a chat (no obligation to book sessions of course) about how I could help.