The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Parenting can often feel overwhelming, especially when there are so many tasks and responsibilities demanding your attention. As a parent, you may find yourself constantly trying to keep up with the never-ending needs of your children, the household chores, and the countless other obligations that come with the role. It’s no wonder that relaxation can seem like an elusive concept.
In the midst of this chaos, taking a moment to truly relax and be present with yourself and your children can feel like a luxury you can’t afford. The nagging feeling of always being behind, of constantly pushing and pulling to meet all the demands, can prevent you from fully embracing the present moment.
But what if you slowed down? What if you allowed yourself to experience what is driving this constant push? For many of us, it is an internal voice or a conditioned belief that tells us we need to have a perfectly clean house, keep up with endless tasks, and provide our children with the best of everything. We strive to meet these expectations, often at the expense of our own well-being and the true essence of parenting.
As you begin to recognize these external voices and expectations, you can start to question their validity. Are they truly yours? Do they align with your values and desires as a parent? By letting go of these imposed ideals and embracing your authentic self, you can find your own rhythm, wisdom, and capacity to be fully present in each moment.
Relaxation in parenting is not about neglecting your responsibilities or ignoring the needs of your children. It is about finding a balance between meeting those needs and nurturing the moment in front of you. It is about letting go of the constant pressure to keep up and instead, show up with kindness, love, and acceptance for yourself and your children.
So, how can you start to relax into the moment in front of you? It begins with awareness. Notice the internal voices that drive you to constantly strive for more. Whose voices are they? Where do they come from? Are they truly serving you and your family?
Challenge yourself to prioritize moments of relaxation and connection. Take a walk with your child instead of doing the laundry. Sit down with them and truly engage in play. Allow yourself to be fully present, free from the constant pressure to do more.
By embracing the present moment, you can create a deeper and more meaningful experience of motherhood or fatherhood. You can let go of the need to impress or meet external expectations, and instead, focus on being the parent you truly want to be. It is in these moments of presence and authenticity that the magic of parenting unfolds.
So, this week, give yourself permission to relax and meet the moment in front of you with an open heart. Slow down, tune in, and trust that everything will take care of itself. You deserve it, and so do your children.
Note: The content of this blog post is inspired by the “Parenting Paused” podcast episode on relaxation.
Imagine a world where you don’t take things so personally, where your interactions with your children are filled with understanding and respect rather than control. Today, I want to invite you on a journey through an unseen doorway that leads you to a deeper level of consciousness in parenting.
Picture this – there was once a time when everything about parenthood felt overwhelming. Every action or word from your child seemed like a personal attack or reflection of your own worthiness as a parent. You found yourself trapped within the confines of societal expectations and learned templates imprinted upon you since childhood.
But here’s the thing – those limiting beliefs have no power over what lies beyond that invisible doorway into Purejoy parenting. It takes courage and curiosity to step through it, but oh boy is it worth it!
Once inside this realm of expanded awareness, something magical happens; you begin exploring new possibilities for connecting with your little ones on levels previously unimagined. No longer do you rely solely on controlling techniques; instead, you discover internal strengths deep within yourself as a parent.
Gone are the days when discipline means asserting dominance over your children’s behavior without taking your emotions into account fully. Instead, taking responsibility for your unprocessed emotions first becomes paramount.
In my own experience (and trust me—I’ve been there), shifting towards Purejoy parenting has brought profound transformations both for myself and my relationship with my child(ren). Once I realized how much weight I had given external ideas around motherhood/fatherhood—ideas passed down from generation after generation—the paradigm shifted dramatically.
From being caught up in notions about fitting perfectly into predetermined roles—I made space for authenticity rooted in acceptance.
I started communicating not just verbally but also emotionally—a dance between hearts intertwines itself beautifully during shared moments.
My connection grew stronger as I understand that my child was not a mere extensions of my heart but an individual on her unique journey.
As Purejoy parents, we become responsible for co-creating an atmosphere where growth and love flourish. We accept accountability for our reactions to challenges while fostering a safe space where vulnerability is met with empathy and understanding.
So here’s my gentle invitation: step through this doorway with me. Embrace the adventure of discovering your internal reservoirs of strength as a parent who consciously chooses connection over control. Let us embark together on this journey towards deeper consciousness in parenting!
It isn’t always easy—nothing worthwhile ever is—but I promise you; it will be worth every ounce of effort invested because when you let go of personalizing everything, both beautiful opportunities and profound fulfillment emerge naturally.
Remember: each step forward opens up new possibilities—the ones only accessible once you take responsibility for shaping your reality within the sacred bond between parent and child.
Let’s walk this transformative road hand-in-hand—all those magical connections await!
Have you ever wondered why children behave in a certain way? It’s easy to get caught up in their actions and assume that those behaviors define who they are. But here’s the truth: behavior is just the tip of the iceberg! Let’s go on a journey together to uncover what truly drives your little ones’ actions.
Understanding with Empathy:
As parents, it can be so tempting to focus solely on correcting misbehaviors or using techniques as quick fixes. However, deep down inside each child lies a world of emotions waiting to be understood and acknowledged. Instead of judging your child based purely on their behavior, take a moment and remind yourself that good behavior doesn’t always mean everything is okay within them.
Peeling Back Layers:
Behaviors serve as signals – clues into your child’s emotional landscape. Just like plants need water and sunlight to grow beautifully above ground; similarly, kids require understanding beneath their surface-level actions. By digging deeper into their underlying feelings, that are driving the behavior, rather than simply addressing outward symptoms alone will enable you not only to connect better but also empower you in supporting them effectively.
The Power of Kindness:
When confronted by challenging behaviors from your child, responding with kindness should become second nature for every parent seeking connection over control. How do you do this when emotionally triggered? First, offer kindness to your own feelings that are driving your behavior. Treating yourself and your child compassionately while acknowledging the struggle creates an environment where love flourishes effortlessly between both parties involved – leading towards stronger bonds naturally!
Unlocking Your Strengths:
Embracing conscious parenting opens doors for personal growth beyond any technique or reactive approach could offer At Purejoy, we believe it’s about tapping into internal strengths such as empathy active listening resourcefulness adaptability & authenticity, especially towards yourself. As you embark upon this transformative journey alongside Purejoy , prepare yourself for mind-blowing insights guaranteed to provoke thoughtful reflection curiosity and empower you to become the best version of yourself – an aware loving parent.
Behavior is just a symptom – it’s not who your child truly is. By recognizing this, you’ll embark on an exciting adventure together: one where understanding their emotions takes center stage. You’ll embrace the power of kindness as you unlock your own strengths while nurturing deeper connections with your precious little ones.
Before diving headfirst into validating your child’s experience (which you already excel at), let’s take a moment to focus on something equally important – validating your own experiences. Yes, you need validation too!
Imagine this… You wake up in the morning feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges while juggling work deadlines, household chores, school projects—phew! It feels like you have 36 hours’ worth of tasks squeezed into just 24. Take another deep breath because here comes the magical part:
You are doing amazing!
Yes! Just stop right now and bask in that truth; give yourself some well-deserved applause. As busy parents navigating through emotional storms every day with caring hearts tightly connected to those tiny humans who hold such immense importance in our lives—we often forget how remarkable we truly are.
By acknowledging what makes you unique as an individual—the way you handle situations or find solutions—you start realizing these qualities also transfer over when connecting with your kids. It becomes crystal clear that empowering yourself isn’t about pouring endless knowledge from books onto parenthood—it’s about embracing who YOU genuinely are at heart.
Think back for a moment… remember when time stood still during captivating storytelling sessions? Or maybe playing pretend games where laughter echoed through walls became unforgettable memories etched forever? These moments happened effortlessly because they were birthed from within you—from authentic love and joy rather than any external technique seeking control.
Here’s the mind-blowing revelation: your secret weapon isn’t an instruction manual on perfect parenting; it’s embracing those unique aspects of yourself that open doors to stronger bonds and meaningful connections.
Imagine diving into this incredible journey where, together, we explore conscious parenting from a fresh perspective. A world where traditional techniques take a backseat as you uncover hidden treasures within yourself—nurturing compassion, patience, and understanding like never before.
It’s time to let go of self-doubt and embrace your own innocence!
Turn inward to offer yourself all the kindness and love you offer your sweet kiddos!
As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We want them to succeed, be happy, and grow up to be well-adjusted adults. However, our desire to help our children can sometimes be clouded by our own discomfort or anxiety. This is where discrimination in parenting comes in.
At Purejoy, we believe in the power of discrimination. Discrimination requires the practice of recognizing when you are present and fully engaged in the current moment, or projecting into the future or past. When you practice discrimination, the first step is to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgment to see if they are relevant to the moment. Then you can make conscious decisions about how you respond to your children where they actually are in the present.
One key aspect of discrimination in parenting is understanding where your desire to help your children is coming from. Are you offering help because you genuinely want to support them, or because you are uncomfortable with how they are doing something? By practicing discrimination, you become more aware of your own emotions and motivations, and make better decisions about how to support your children instead of helping them out of feeling helpless.
Another important aspect of discrimination in parenting is recognizing if you are fully present with your children, or if you are trying to parent for the future. In today’s busy world, it can be easy to get caught up in your own thoughts and distractions about how you should be as a parent for your child to be successful in the future. However, when you are fully present with your children, you can connect with them on a deeper level and build stronger relationships.
At Purejoy, we believe that discrimination in parenting can have a profound impact on both parents and children. By practicing discrimination, you can become more aware of your emotions and motivations, and make conscious decisions about how to support your children. This can lead to happier, healthier families and stronger relationships.
So, if you are a parent who wants to support your child in reaching their full potential, consider incorporating discrimination into your parenting practice. By being present, aware, and non-judgmental, you can create a safe and supportive environment for you and your child to grow and thrive.
Do you ever feel like being a parent is equivalent to juggling 36 different things at once? I hear you! Between taking care of your little ones, managing household chores and errands, and keeping up with work or other commitments – life can get pretty hectic. But fear not! I’m here to introduce you to a game-changing superpower that will transform your parenting journey.
Introducing… drumroll relationality – yes, that’s right! Relationality is more than just some fancy buzzword; it’s an essential competency every parent needs in their arsenal. Now don’t worry if this term seems new to you because by the end of this blog post, we’ll unpack its incredible power together.
So what exactly is relationality? Well mamas, it goes beyond simply being “nice” or having good communication skills (although those are important too!). At its core, relationality means developing attunement skills so that when your child hits those moments of emotional dysregulation (cue flashbacks), instead of getting caught up in chaos yourself – bam! -you’re able to meet them where they are with love and understanding.
Imagine creating an atmosphere filled with safety and connection for both yourself and your precious munchkin(s). With strong attunement skills under your belt as part of mastering relationality, handling challenging situations becomes less daunting while building trust between yourselves skyrockets!
Now let me break down how embracing relationality unlocks hidden treasures within:
- Awake Presence:
Picture yourself radiating warmth even during difficult times—those tiny eyes look upon you knowing deep inside “I am safe.” By allowing space for their emotions while holding steady ground yourself (SafeSeat), you nurture emotional well-being and forge stronger bonds.
- Empathic Relating:
Relationality primes you to become the ultimate empathic mama , sensing what your little ones experience even before they can verbalize it. By acknowledging their feelings and validating them, you’ll be amazed at how deeply connected your family becomes.
- Mirror Magic:
Witnessing that adorable toothless grin when your child mimics exactly what you do? That’s mirror magic right there! Through relationality, attuning yourself empowers you to role model healthy behavior patterns; paving the way for harmonious interactions within homes filled with joy and laughter.
- Side by side Support:
When life feels tough (think temper tantrums or sibling squabbles 😅), relational parents like yourselves have a secret weapon: co-regulation skills! You’re able to guide your children through challenging moments by staying grounded yourself – supporting everyone in finding calm amidst chaos.
So dear busy but incredible parents out there remember this: developing strong attunement skills as part of mastering relationality is not just some soft skill —it’s an essential competency every parent needs in their toolkit.
Ready to embark on this mind-blowing journey towards unlocking more love-filled connections with those precious hearts under your care? Stay curious, embrace new insights along the way—and watch as purejoy wonders unfold before you!
Welcome to a blog that’s all about celebrating the joyous journey we call parenting. Purejoy! Today, let’s dive deep into an empowering concept that might just revolutionize your relationship with your little ones. So sit back, relax (if you can), and get ready for some mind-blowing insights on turning inward as parents.
Life as a busy parent is like strapping yourself into one of those roller coasters where emotions run wild and caring never stops – it truly takes superhuman strength! But sometimes, amidst the chaos and demands of everyday life, you tend to forget something crucial – your own well-being and how critical this is to your child’s well-being.
Picture this: you’ve had another long day juggling work deadlines while trying not to burn dinner when suddenly… BAM! Your child throws yet another tantrum over bedtime routine or refuses veggies with Olympic-level determination. It’s too easy for frustration or doubt to creep in; after all, aren’t we supposed to have control over these situations?
But here’s where things get juicy… what if instead of focusing solely on controlling their behavior from the outside-in (cough mission impossible cough) – cue drumroll please – you started looking within? Mind blown!
Embracing self-kindness doesn’t mean throwing discipline out the window or becoming permissive jellyfish parents—far from it! Rather than relying solely on techniques and external fixes though (because let’s face it—they rarely last long), why not tap into your internal resources to strengthen connections with your precious vulnerable self?
Seriously folks—it changes everything!
It starts by acknowledging that every emotion experienced by yourself AND your children deserves compassion—even during epic meltdowns at grocery stores—or even worse—in front row seats at Grandma Betty’s tea party.
When was the last time you gave yourself permission NOT TO BE PERFECT? Let’s face it, none of us are. You are a perfectly, imperfect human being with emotions and your little sidekicks follow suit. Instead of chastising yourself for not having all the answers or feeling overwhelmed at times (it happens to all 36 hours a day parents), how about extending the same love you shower upon your children toward yourself.
By learning the Purejoy SafeSeat process you’ll learn to direct some much-needed self-kindness inwardly, which amazingly support miracles unfolding externally: relationships transform, bonds strengthen like never before, and walls built on control crumble down into heaps of joyful giggles.
So how do you get started on this amazing journey towards mindful parenting nirvana?
First things first—download the free SafeSeat video series and then muster up your courage to embrace imperfection. It’s time to wave goodbye to guilt trips about missed soccer practices or forgotten lunch boxes; instead use those moments as opportunities for growth—for both you AND your child!
Next up—weave in a simple act of kindness towards yourself that bring joy back into the equation!
If you Need Help Ask for It
Example: Our culture as a whole, values independence and self-reliance over community and compassion. If you’ve learned to take pride in being self-reliant and capable. It can feel awful to be needy! (isn’t that what you are judging in your kids?)
If you learned as a child feeling needy was dangerous, it’s gonna be challenging to ask for help without feeling shame. You may have repressed your neediness to survive in your family but it didn’t go anywhere. I’ve learned that asking for help is an act of kindness to the younger part of me that had to take on way too much too early.
Start slow and be ready for feelings to arise each time you ask for help.
- Ask for help at least once a day
- If you hear NO quickly move to your SafeSeat
- Do the practice and offer kindness to the needy one in you.
Above everything else though remember—the greatest gift lies within YOU. Embrace yourself wholeheartedly—you’ve got what it takes! Reach out because Purejoy is here right alongside – cheering you on every single day!
Now imagine—a world where kindness leads by example…where empathetic connectedness reigns supreme…and hugs become stronger than any superhero cape ever could be…
Are you ready to embark on this extraordinary journey yet?
Here’s my hand—I’m standing beside yours throughout each twist and turn along the way… Are you reaching out?
Asking my daughter to do something, I noticed a strong reaction inside when she said she didn’t feel like doing it. Heat rose in my body, and I heard my inner voice saying, “I knew she wasn’t going to do that…she never does anything I want her to do.” In that moment, I felt my love for my daughter disintegrate, and I desperately wanted to cut out my high regard for her.
It’s challenging to confront our conditioned beliefs, especially when they are deeply rooted in our subconscious. As a parent, it’s natural to want your children to follow your instructions, but what happens when they don’t? Does it trigger feelings of powerlessness and frustration?
For me, it did. I had based my conscious parenting on the belief that saying “no” when you wanted to say “no” was the best course of action. However, I realized, in that moment when I heard no, that I had fallen back into the conditioned belief that others are responsible for my happiness. This realization, even though familiar is always a turning point from moving outward to inward.
As I examined my beliefs and behaviors, I discovered that the key to transforming my relationship with my daughter was to come back home, to take full responsibility for my own emotional responses. Instead of reacting to her behavior, I learned to be with my emotions in a new way in my SafeSeat, the foundational practice of Purejoy. This shift in perspective allowed me to approach the situation from a place of love and understanding, rather than frustration and anger.
This experience taught me that the work we do on ourselves has a ripple effect on those around us. By taking responsibility for our own emotional responses, we become better equipped to handle challenging situations with grace and compassion. We learn to approach others from a place of love and understanding, rather than judgment and frustration.
It’s not always easy to confront your conditioned beliefs, but it’s necessary if you want to live a fulfilling life. By examining your beliefs and behaviors, you are able to transform your relationships with yourself and those around you. You are able to learn to approach life from a place of love and understanding, rather than fear and judgment.
In addition to transforming your relationships with others, taking responsibility for your emotional responses also has a positive impact on your mental and emotional wellbeing. When you are able to approach challenging situations with grace and compassion, you reduce your stress levels and improve your overall sense of happiness and fulfillment.
This is why it’s essential to learn how to work with your emotional triggers. As humans, we all have emotional triggers from our childhood that are hard-wired into our brains. These triggers can cause us to react in ways that are not in our best interest, both personally and professionally.
The good news is that emotional triggers are workable, and you can learn to manage them in a way that supports your wellbeing. Download the free SafeSeat video series to begin your journey.
In Purejoy, the definition of boundaries is “what is okay with me and what is not okay with me about how I treat myself.” Take a moment to consider this. It is not about how others treat you; they are going to do what they do, say what they say, and feel what they feel. A boundary is how you perceive what you hear as being personal to you, and when you do, how do you treat yourself?
For example, let’s say your child tells you how mean you are and that they hate you. If you take this personally and believe it to be true, you will likely try to bind your child and tell them that it is not okay to treat you that way. Sound familiar? This would be binding or limiting their expression.
However, if you are open to hearing this as an expression of their discomfort and you treat yourself with kindness, then you have the option to take it personally or not.
Personal boundaries are essential for healthy relationships, and they are particularly important when it comes to setting limits on how you treat yourself. It’s easy to get caught up in the opinions and actions of others, but by focusing on what is and isn’t okay with how you treat yourself, you are able to create a foundation for healthy relationships.
By recognizing that your boundaries are not about how others treat you, they are about how you treat yourself, you are able to take responsibility for your own well-being. If someone is yelling and you are uncomfortable, as an adult you can choose to leave the room. Remember, the reason this is hard is because as a child you couldn’t just walk out and get new parents. You HAD to stay there and “take” it or be punished for standing up for yourself. When you perceived something as a child, of course, if felt personal and therefore as an adult it’s important to grow your capacity to take adult steps to take care of yourself.
When you set healthy boundaries, you open up to new possibilities. You are able to listen to feedback without becoming defensive, and you’re able to express your emotions without feeling guilty or ashamed. By treating yourself with kindness and compassion, you create a safe space for growth and maturing.
So take some time to consider your own boundaries. What is okay with you, and what is not okay with you about how you treat yourself? Remember that you have the power to choose how you respond, and that by treating yourself with kindness and respect, you are able to create a foundation for healthy relationships.
“Was that scary for you, sweetie? How are you feeling now?” My daughter is sucking on her finger and not looking at me. I sit down next to her and wait for her answer. A minute ago I sternly told her that I didn’t have time to play and rushed off to take care of something that felt urgent. “I talked to you in a rough way just now, I think it might have been scary for you, or maybe sad. Were you scared when I talked to you angrily and walked away from you?” She nods, “It was scary…,” and accepts my offer to climb into my arms for a hug. I wasn’t always able to take responsibility for my angry actions or ask her about her experience this way. This scene is one of the many beautiful, unintended benefits to learning how to welcome all of our family’s feelings with the support of Purejoy Parenting.
I say unintended because it was my son, not my daughter, who led me to discover Purejoy, with his intensity, his fiery temperament, his hitting and throwing (after the biting and scratching had subsided). He led me to experience and eventually face my own feelings of fear, rage and powerlessness, in a way I had never done as an adult. If I had had only my “easy” child, my daughter, I would likely have never looked beyond a few tips and tricks on parenting blogs, perhaps some “best practices” for introducing solids and napping transitions. My daughter has (so far) not brought up anything near the intensity of emotion that my son used to bring up almost daily. The discomfort that arises in my relationship with my daughter is more subtle and easier to mask, so I would likely have gotten by with my old strategies – numbed my feelings or distracting myself with a funny video, and just tried to avoid any similar triggering situations next time.
And that’s not how it went. Prompted by my struggles and confusion in raising my son, I spent a few years following the trail from parent coach to parent expert to Byron Katie, etc, etc, until I found Purejoy. And this has been my last stop for the past three years, as I gradually gain self-awareness and develop new capacities through my SafeSeat and other practices. I did these practices with my son in mind, and yet I see how they have trickled into my relationship with my daughter. I see how my relationship with her grows deeper and more authentic as I steadily let go of ever more expectations of her and of myself, and simply watch us being our vulnerable selves.
It has become easier for me to witness my daughter’s discomfort without any agenda to change the course of her emotional flow. In an episode similar to the one above, I became triggered once when my daughter was rolling marbles around on a table and having them fall loudly onto the floor. I told her to stop, in an exasperated tone, and she began to cry. I could still feel my old impulse to defend myself, to blame her for my feelings of frustration, and to try to quickly cheer her up again. All of this would be to avoid my own shame and discomfort at seeing her cry – discomfort that goes along with an inner voice telling me “See? You did it again – you scared and upset your own precious daughter. You ruin everything! You make everyone feel bad – what a bad person you are!” I have been practicing getting to understand this voice, and I now have the capacity (at times) to hear it and, at the same time, question the truth of what it’s telling me, and bring in self-compassion and kindness for myself.
This allows me to make space for my daughter’s experience at the moment. I wasn’t in a rush to get this over with, to “fix” anything, or to excuse myself. I was comfortable with being right where we were, with just witnessing her sadness. I gently told her, “I see your sad face, I see your sad tears. It looks like you want to cry some more. You really wanted to roll the marbles off of the table, and I got angry and sternly told you to stop, didn’t I? Of course that didn’t feel good!” After a while I brought a toy bear which had some food stains on it and I said, “This bear is dirty. Hm, can I have a bit of your tears to help wipe him clean?” She said yes, so I wiped a few tears off of her cheeks with my finger and rubbed the teddy bear’s face. I could tell that in the past I might have thought of doing this as a ploy, as a way to ease my own discomfort by lightening the mood before she’s ready.
And I could tell that this time was different – I was aware of a soothing sense of “of course this is a little uncomfortable for both of us…and we’re both OK right now,” which allowed me to continue offering her space and kindness. I was simply giving her an opening without any urgency or tension on my part, and no disappointment if she’s not ready. Slowly her face became serious, attentive, and then she started to smile. I am grateful that with this growing capacity to tolerate my feelings, I can get to see more of what my daughter is actually experiencing, and get to know her as she truly is.
Another recurring situation that plays out differently now is when my daughter pushes me away, verbally or physically. Like if she’s in the middle of a game and I approach her with an idea, she might loudly say, “No! Go away! I don’t want to play like that!” Or if I reach out for a hug or a cuddle, she sometimes pushes or slaps my hands away and says, “Don’t touch me!” These moments are slight and fleeting, compared with similar scenarios with my son, and they are far less triggering for me. Because the trigger is not so intense, I could easily fall back on numbing and pretending I’m feeling OK, while quietly feeling resentful and ashamed. As my capacities grow, I am now more likely to face the feelings of rejection and tell myself, “Oh, sweetie, of course you want your daughter to smile and welcome your cuddles and your games. Of course it’s hard to feel rejected by someone you love so much. And the reality is…this isn’t about you. She wants to play a certain way, she doesn’t want to be touched right now, and that’s all – there is nothing personal about it. She loves you just as much in this moment as when she’s hugging you.” Then I can move back into just being there, and being ready to jump into the game or the cuddles, without any left-over resentment, when she does invite me.
Another area that I’ve noticed developing in relation to my daughter is setting boundaries. One day this spring, when the Ontario snows had not quite melted, my daughter and I walked my son to school. On our walk we noticed some fascinating stretches where melted snow was flowing under a layer of ice, and we stopped to watch air bubbles flowing downstream. After dropping my son off, I took a different route back in order to do some shopping and get breakfast for myself. Suddenly my daughter asked to see the air bubbles again. I hadn’t seen any so far on this new route, and I sensed myself getting ready to defend myself from shame, guilt and anxiety: anxiety about not finding any more air bubbles along our way, guilt for “depriving” my daughter of this cool experience of watching the air bubbles, and shame for prioritizing my needs to shop and get breakfast over her interests. Instead, with awareness of all of this going on inside me, I welcomed my daughter’s feelings. I calmly told her that, yes, we took a different route home, and we have not seen any air bubbles yet.
I was still tempted to rid myself of some discomfort by making an empty promise to find air bubbles later, somewhere else, or to downplay the fun of air bubbles, or to give up and go back to our earlier route. And I kept witnessing my discomfort and my attempts to find an escape route, and kept questioning the stories that arose in my mind and reminding myself that, in reality, there is no danger here – I can confidently lead my child and trust that we will survive whatever emotional discomfort might arise. Eventually we saw a quiet corner, away from cars, with a sheet of ice over a shallow puddle full of air bubbles, and she happily stomped on it for a few minutes.
My inclination has usually been to waver in my decisions and my boundaries, and to adjust my plans constantly based on what seems most likely to upset my kids or others. And I’m learning that my job is not to avoid discomfort in others, or in myself. This attempt to avoid has led to so much stress and rigidity throughout my life, and eventually ends in me blaming others for my own distress at “failing” them. Instead my job is to check in with myself and see what I’m truly willing to do – am I willing to go back to the other walking route and find those air bubbles? If not, if I am clear that I’m going to get some breakfast right now, I keep walking and support my daughter and myself in our uncomfortable feelings, if needed. Essentially, I am the adult in this dynamic and am able to act like one.
I am so grateful for these skills and others, because as my emotional capacity grows, I’m able to see further beyond who I want my daughter to be, and gradually see more and more of who she truly is.
Masha is a Purejoy graduate from the class of 2021. She has mostly moved on from Guess Who to cushion fights with her son and setting up all the dinosaurs in a row along the piano keys with her daughter. She is now slightly favoring improv comedy classes over stand up open mics as a participant, though it’s still a toss up for which is more fun to watch.