The Purejoy Parenting Blog
Inspiration For Your Parenting Journey
The greatest gift I’ve received this lifetime is the honor of becoming a mother.
I was living a wild crazy bohemian lifestyle and I almost forgot to be a mom.
As strange as that sounds, I was having such a good time letting life lead me when all of a sudden I woke up to this niggling urge, this niggling calling, this insistent voice calling me to be a mother.
It was a gift that I even became a mother because my journey was one of adoption and I was single and 44 years old.
Fortunately, I was approved to adopt from China.
I’ll never forget the moment one of the nannies placed my precious bundle in my arms.. Time stopped and I was filled with a feeling I can only express as overwhelming love.
After waiting and preparing a lifetime she finally came into my arms. My heart blew open, taking in this exquisite being that was to be with me for the rest of my life.
What I didn’t know was the level of intensity or the beauty of the gift that my daughter was bringing because I thought I was the gift to her.
The greatest gift I ever received was the honor of becoming a mother. I waited until I was 44 years old. I was a wild, crazy bohemian most of my life, and I kind of forgot to be a mother.
She generously gave me the gift of self-love, through the gift of self-reflection. Anything I judged in her was a part of myself that I also judged. It was often painful to look and yet I committed to the work.
It was imperative that I choose which path I was taking. I could either try and control and fix her behavior, so I could see the reflection that I wanted, or I could open to receive the gift of her reflecting back how I had shut down on my vulnerability and was self-aggressing on parts of myself.
I chose to love all of myself which led to loving all of her.
When your child reflects a part of yourself that you don’t like….take a moment to turn inward and offer this part of you love. Every part of your being deserves love.
In my last post we talked about parenting ‘in the moment’. Maybe you’ve had time to practice? How did that go?
If you had resistance to this concept that is really natural.
I noticed my resistance came from my mind. All these stories came up every time I had this new idea of dropping my concepts and ideas. I realized that all I knew about parenting came from my conditioning, from the template I had learned in my family and from all the books I had read. I had quite a file cabinet of information on how to parent.
I had resistance to trusting my inner wisdom, to dropping into my heart and meeting my child where she was at that moment. Judgement would come up: I’m letting her get away with stuff, I’m wimpy, I’m permissive.
Instead of staying with my heart and embracing the vulnerability of not knowing exactly how to be, I kept going to my head and getting more and more rigid. And in my rigidity it appeared as if my daughter was causing my pain. She was causing me to be rigid and I needed to get her in line.
So I would pull out my file cabinet of traditional parenting techniques and try them, and they always went ‘south’. She didn’t get the memo that she was supposed to follow all the guidance right from my mind.
Dropping into your heart is not so much for your child at first, but for yourself. Meeting yourself where you are with incredible kindness opens a different door. This is hard for the mind because the mind so wants to be right.
When I began the work of dropping into my heart for myself, through my SafeSeat practice, I began to open my heart to my daughter. And then I was able to meet the resistance that was protecting my vulnerability and offer it loving kindness.
Such a wonderful concept and when it came right down to it almost impossible. My mind was always in the past or the future.
I would see my daughter and focus on a memory, such as her being so demanding. Or I would fantasize about the future, about who and how and what she was going to be.
I noticed I didn’t want to be in the present moment with myself either. I’d been trained, as most of us are, to always try to be and get more – more money, more things, more success- always reaching out into the future.
And if I wasn’t where I thought I should be, then I was reaching back into the past telling myself I was lazy, not good enough, or rejectable.
I was having a hard time offering kindness to myself in the the present moment. And it was almost impossible to sit down in the present moment in my relationship with my daughter without coming to some conclusion about what that moment meant or where we should be in the future.
I’d like to tell you a story.
I don’t know about you, but I hate to be late. When my daughter was younger, we’d wake up in the morning to get ready for school and I would be throwing her a rope and pulling her the whole way: Get up! You’ve got to hurry! We’ve got to get to school! I was already in the future, already at school because I didn’t want to be late.
Then she would go backwards! The more I pulled the more she would pull back. It was like a crazy zone in our house.
One day, when she was still in bed,rolling around and not getting up, I thought: What if I meet her where she is? Which meant, first of all,I had to be willing to be late – really hard for me! But I thought: Ok, we’re late. It’s not a disaster.
I got into bed and started surrounding her with love and snuggles.. We were laughing, hanging out in bed and then a bizarre thing happened – the next thing I knew we were at school!
I had entered the present moment and it was like falling into some kind of wormhole!
A lightbulb went off and I realized: Anytime I am charging ahead my daughter will pull behind, or if I am behind in the past, my daughter will pull ahead. I got clarity about polarities, that I could sit more in the balance of the two being right where I was, with my daughter being right where she was.
This week, when you notice you are worrying or have some anxiety, put your hand on your heart. Instead of judging what is happening from the past or trying to reach some future place, just say, I am going to offer kindness to where I am in this moment, and see what happens.
Let’s talk about the true meaning of kindness.
For years, I thought kindness meant “being nice” and yet I discovered it went much deeper than this.
I only wanted to “be nice” to certain behaviors that I perceived were appropriate.
Once I saw it wasn’t about behavior it was about opening the heart to what drives the behavior my perception radically changed.
As I saw the intelligence behind all behaviors the door to my heart blew open.
I opened the door to unconditional kindness and said YES to life.
Kindness is the main ingredient that awakens in my SafeSeat and throughout the day with myself and my daughter.
The Dalai Lama was once asked in an interview, what his religion was. He announced with a huge grin, to the assembled world press, “my religion is kindness.”
They said no questions followed, because nothing else was needed. I LOVE this.
I’ve been highly aggressive toward myself over the course of my life, towards my looks, my personality, and what I’ve done and not done.
When I recognized there was very little kindness that was coming toward me from myself I made a shift.
In my SafeSeat I surround myself with incredible kindness to the parts of me that I had to repress, or the parts that I learned not to love.
The kinder I am to myself, the kinder I am to my daughter, my dog, my world, others.
As one of my beloved teachers Bruce Tift said: “the more we practice the art of kindness, eventually we become kindness.”
I’m inviting you to offer kindness to yourself, especially when you act out or you mess up.
When you yell or do something that doesn’t feel good, that’s when you need kindness the most.
When your child acts out, that’s when she/he needs kindness the most.
They need to be seen for who they really are and to recognize that they are doing the best they can to communicate their internal distress.
It’s the same for you! When you’re activated, there’s part of your brain that really believes you are in danger.
IInstead of beating yourself up, you can say, oh, sweetheart, what is going on?
Just pause for a moment and see if you can offer yourself deeper and deeper levels of kindness.
As you do this, you will be able to offer more and more kindness to the world.
Listen to podcast Ep. 44 “The Art of Kindness”
For a good part of my life, I believed I didn’t have the support I needed in order to walk through the difficulties of life.
Life should be easier, because it all felt like too much. Things were coming at me faster than I could handle. It had to STOP.
In childhood I perceived there wasn’t enough support available in my home. Challenges felt unbearable. I looked to my caregivers for support and yet they were limited and could only give what they had to give.
I came to the “young” conclusion that I was all alone and no one believed in me or supported my needs.
My strategy, to cope with this conclusion, was to tighten my grip on my external circumstances to make sure that nothing ever went wrong. I lived as if the rug could get pulled out from under me at any moment.
Without the felt experience of a solid foundation externally, I questioned my capacity to support myself internally creating resilience to go through difficult times.
Maybe some of you experienced this growing up?
When something difficult arises demanding support, you experience feelings of terror, thoughts convincing you are alone, and the belief that everything is too much to bear?
Of course, this happens and it is easy to believe the stories arising.
In my experience, everything changed when I welcomed those feelings, thoughts and sensations offering them the support that was available from my adult stance.
As I turned toward the present moment reality, I realized there was support everywhere. The ground supported me, the chair I was sitting in supported me, my breath supported me. And yet I had a choice whether I relaxed and accepted it or not.
Staying open and relaxed, suddenly the support that is actually there comes rushing in to envelop you in its love.
The SafeSeat is the physical representation of this beautiful support. In the SafeSeat, I give myself the supportive environment that has always been available internally.
I transform my relationship with life, and open to my capacity to face difficulty.
Sometimes I still tighten, but whatever comes, there’s a place I know is available to go.
In my SafeSeat, I listen to the “younger’ part, relax, and soften. I imagine I am sitting in the arms of the divine mother who is always surrounding me.
As I sit in stillness, I feel the deep, amazing support ever present.
As a parent, it is tempting to work hard to keep everything together. This leads to feeling drained and exhausted from the monumental effort.
For a moment, I invite you to relax your tight grip of control. Thank it for doing such a great job of trying to protect you, when you perceived no one was there to catch your fall.
And today, commit to a new movement. You claim the beautiful love and support that is here for the taking.
Place your hand on your heart, offering the support to YOU.
As you do, imagine all the parents around the world doing the very same thing.
I lovingly join you there, sending you love from my tender heart to yours.
Keep going, sweet Mama! I’m here to support you too!
Listen to podcast Ep. 43 “Getting Support”
I find it challenging to make contact with the vulnerable parts of myself.
There are parts that are so tender, it’s easier to keep them hidden, and to appear judgmental and angry instead of revealing them.
In doing so, I cut off from my true nature, which is love.
Whenever I feel angry or judgmental towards others, I take it as a clue that my vulnerability is right below the surface .
As a child, I couldn’t express my true needs, so I formed a pattern of judging others in order to protect my vulnerability and take the space I needed.
If I didn’t like something, I sat there, smiled, and acted polite, regardless of how I was feeling inside. I pretended like I was OK all the time, to make others more comfortable.
So if you’re feeling anger, ask yourself:
What vulnerable feeling is hiding that I don’t feel safe to express?
If you’re judging your partner, your kids, your friends, the environment, just notice:
What do I need in this moment that is scary to ask for?
Owning your needs and feelings gives you the freedom to release your desire to change or control how others are showing up.
Owning your needs and feelings feels incredibly vulnerable. It is easier to project onto the other, rather than risking the feelings that might come up.
It’s deeply vulnerable to be a human being. Just by walking around on this little round ball in the sky, we are taking a courageous risk.
I invite you to offer gentleness and kindness to that experience, and to the precious vulnerability inside.
As you do, you will offer the same to your children.
You’ll find it easier to access the deep love that has been inside all along.
Listen to podcast Ep. 42 “Opening to Your Vulnerability”
Disappointment is one of the core feelings I experience in life, especially in my parenting.
This morning, getting ready to go out for my usual morning walk I realized that my jacket, which was supposed to be hanging by the front door, was still upstairs.
As I realized this, a wave of disappointment rose up, like a little collapse in my chest, because I knew it meant going back upstairs and I was ready to be outdoors.
It was just a tiny moment, and yet it reminded me how often I feel a little burst of disappointment throughout my day in big or little ways. It’s such a part of the human experience, and yet I find it difficult to stay present when it shows up.
If you experienced disappointment in your childhood from your caregivers, when you didn’t take care of their emotional needs, there is a strong chance you’ll experience disappointment when your child doesn’t take care of yours.
Disappointment awakens when something you want doesn’t happen, or when your child doesn’t do what you want them to do.
I experience disappointment as a heaviness inside, as if something has gone wrong, so move away from it as quickly as I can. How about you?
If you organize your life trying to never feel disappointed, or have others disappointed in, you’ll be challenged to set your healthy personal boundaries. Instead you’ll try to be perfect or focus on getting your children to act perfect. And yet, to avoid disappointment, you have to get more and more controlling, setting everybody up for an unrealistic expectation.
Up for trying a different approach?
Next time your child doesn’t do what you want, take a moment and pause. Notice your disappointment arising without attaching to a story about you or your child. Be with that feeling offering it kindness. Slowly, turn your focus towards noticing the sensations in your body.
Do you feel tightness in your chest? Numb or frozen? What happens with your breath?
As you identify the sensations, Ask yourself, is it dangerous to sense this? It may be uncomfortable and yet is it actually dangerous to sense what is arising? Can you turn towards the sensations with kindness without putting meaning to them or acting them out?
Instead of blaming your children for your disappointment you’ll reclaim it while holding yourself in love welcoming disappointment back home.
Listen to podcast Ep. 42 “Dealing with Disappointment”
One of my favorite parts of spring is buying flowers to spread throughout my yard.
I live in CO where it can get quite hot quite fast and left a flat on my porch planning to plant them the next day.
On my morning walk as I approached the porch I noticed how droopy and fragile they looked even though I’d watered them the night before.
Quickly, I ran in the house and filled up my favorite watering can and stepped outside offering them a little drink. Within moments their little blooms perked up and they were smiling again.
As I stood there smiling back I was struck how this was an exquisite metaphor of my life, and how I forget to give myself a little drink when I’m drooping.
Often I fail to remember to offer myself the simple things that are nourishing, such as talking to myself kindly, giving myself little breaks, or pausing to breathe.
The plants got me thinking about tenderness, and how delicate and exquisite we all are. I need my own tender loving care and tending to bloom into my fullness and so do you.
Expecting myself to constantly give and attend to my child forgetting to include myself neglects my need for a little water just like the plants.
As a mama, I find it difficult to pause and give myself what I need when I have so much on my plate, and feel responsible for taking care of my family.
What about you?
Maybe you beat yourself up when your house is a mess or you haven’t gotten your to do list done? Maybe you expect others to water you and feel hurt when they don’t? I know I do.
What would it be like to offer some tenderness to the part of you that is working so hard?
What do you need in order for your precious flower to blossom?
If you notice you’re getting tired or irritable, see it as a clue that you just need a little watering. There is nothing wrong with you… take out your little emotional watering can and give yourself a BIG hug.
This is an invitation to turn a beautiful gaze of love back toward yourself.
As you practice, over time, you’ll blossom under your sweet tender loving care.
Listen to podcast Ep. 40 “Tenderness”
I never thought accepting my rage was possible.
As a child, I grew up with a raging mom. I swore I’d never be like her so as an adult, I organized my life to never feel rage.
Little did I know that rage was silently waiting for a chance to reveal itself.
I was determined to be a peaceful, loving parent.
So when my daughter expressed her rage, I retreated and withdrew, and yet rage demanded I meet her by expressing mine.
I was thrown into incredibly dangerous and volatile waters since I perceived rage as the Great Destroyer. Actually, it was the Great Awakener and was to illuminate a part of myself that I had longed to experience.
I’ll never forget the first night that I met my rage fully.
We’d just moved into co-housing and my daughter, who had been glued to my leg most of her life, was feeling comfortable enough to go to the neighbor’s, without me, to watch a movie.
I dropped her off and came home to put on my jammies and read my book upstairs. I turned on the whole house fan and got comfy in the bed. I was in bliss. After 8 years of 24/7 parenting I had a moment to myself. As I relaxed and opened to this new experience I heard a faint tap, tap, tap.
Happily, I floated downstairs and saw my daughter’s angry red face at the door banging furiously. (She had gone out the back door and was at the front door that was locked)
As I quickly opened the door to welcome her home she forcefully backed me up the stairs and into my bedroom. Her rage was burning hot and she was ready to attack and there was nowhere to go.
I was so shocked that I jumped into the middle of my bed to get away from her fury. She grabbed her toothbrush (which at that moment I perceived as a knife) and screamed “brush my teeth”.
At that moment, I WOKE up.
I said to myself. “OK, rage, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not going to time you out. I’m not going to fix or change you. If you take me out, you take me out. But I’m going to meet you, even if it kills me.”
As I looked in the mirror it was my rage I was finally meeting.
The minute I did, my daughter broke into tears wailing “I was so afraid.”
“I was afraid. I was so afraid.”
As she collapsed into my arms I rocked and soothed the one in her that was so young and terrified.
It was one of the most powerful moments of my life. Underneath rage was uncontrollable terror. As I found my courage to meet mine as well as hers we collapsed into love and tenderness.
Anger is a secondary emotion. It’s protecting a deeply vulnerable part of you that you hid away to keep safe. When you aggress on yourself, then you turn your rage out toward your children.
Meeting rage with kindness, will open up places where you are afraid and needing care.
I built the capacity to lovingly stay with my vulnerability, especially my rage.
As I did, my heart opened to the tenderness underneath that was longing to be seen, heard and understood. Just like my daughter’s.
Listen to podcast Ep. 39 ” Rage: The Great Awakener”
Do you know the difference between complaining and venting?
Complaining is asking to be fixed. Venting is wanting to be heard.
How do you react when your child is venting?
It’s hard to make space for your children to express in ways that weren’t welcome in your home growing up.
As a child, if your attempts to vent triggered discomfort in your parents, you learned to repress them.
When your child vents, do you feel pressure to change or fix whatever is bothering them, in order to avoid your feelings of discomfort?
When I vent to one of my friends, I get insight from hearing myself speak. I take more self responsibility once I get it all out in the open.
I come into balance.
However, if my friend tries to fix me or make things better by pointing out the positive, I get really pissed off because that’s not what I need.
I discovered my daughter is the same way.
If I receive whatever she brings, she finds balance.
When young, if your parents valued only “positive” expression, this most likely led to you repressing the negative.
The problem is, this denies half of reality.
There are benefits and downsides to every situation, and focusing on only one side or the other keeps you stuck.
Think about a battery, it needs both the positive and negative in order to get a charge.
As your child is venting, see what it is like to receive both the positive and the negative, supporting your child to come into balance on their own.
Try reflecting back what you hear, or even keeping your mouth shut and listening.
Welcome their expression in the moment without needing to fix or change anything.
What a relief!
Listen to podcast Ep. 38 “Tired of Hearing Your Child Complaining? ?”