Ten minutes of Special Time! That’s what the parenting experts said. All your child needs is 10 minutes of Special Time. Ok… I can do this!
As an Ob/Gyn, my 3-year-old son missed me when I was at work. And I missed him! I desperately wanted to reconnect with him when I came home, but I had just spent over 24 hours in the hospital. What I wanted even more was a hot shower and a nap.
Luckily, I read The Parenting Book (or more like 50 parenting books) and I had found THE perfect solution! I would meet his needs for just ten minutes, and then I could meet mine with a glorious steam-filled shower, and then a nap with my favorite blanket.
I can hear the late night commercial now: “You too can be The Perfect Mom if you call in the next 10 minutes. Dial 1-800-Special-Time to achieve your wildest parenting dreams!” My dreams were about to come true!
That morning, I drove home with such high hopes. I let my son know that we would have “Special Time”. He chose to play LEGOs. No surprise there! I set my timer for 10 minutes. We played, laughed, and reconnected. The timer buzzed and I turned to my son and stated the magic words The Book instructed:
“That was fun! Special Time is over. I’ll play with you again after my nap”.
“Well. Thanks for the sh#t day, Mom!” My son responded with anger flashing in his eyes.
Ok. Yikes! That did NOT go as planned. My sweet little 3-year old just cussed at me!?! I did what I was told! I played for TEN minutes! Why didn’t that work?
Fast forward to today… I’m now a Purejoy Master Coach and have been hanging around Leslie for 3 years. Looking back at this moment I feel such tenderness and kindness! We both did the best we could with the capacities we had at the time. And, I completely missed the mark.
This is why I love the SafeSeat, the foundational practice in Purejoy. It’s a simple practice in theory, but so very deep! It’s like the Wardrobe in the Chronicles of Narnia. You may think the end is just a wall at the back, but the further you go, past the fur coats, the more you discover! There’s an entire new world on the other side.
As for the simple part: The SafeSeat is about moving from the emotional world to the practical world. Seems easy enough! Many conscious parenting techniques teach emotional regulation.
The magic is this: Finding the intimacy of the moment. What is that, you ask?
Let’s take my Special Time example. I actually felt quite emotionally regulated. Yes, I was tired. But, I also felt inspired by this new hope. I wanted to play with my son. He also seemed perfectly regulated. He was enjoying LEGOs with me.
However, this solution was only one fur-coat-deep. To get to Narnia required me SafeSeating the emotions that were behind it all. I needed to get truly intimate with all that was present in the moment. I was already somewhat aware; I knew that we needed/wanted to reconnect. Where I missed was moving straight to a practical solution for an emotional issue.
If I could go back, I would use the SafeSeat in the car driving home. First, I would listen to my relief at having a 24-hour shift under my belt. I would listen to all the emotions that this can bring: the frustrations, lamentations, and celebrations. I would welcome the cringe of what I imagined would be expected of me as a wife and mother as I returned home. I would listen and offer kindness to each and every one of the emotions as they entered my being.
Then, when my son hears my car pull up and runs into my open arms, I would be there fully present for all of his being.
“Oh sweetie! I’m so happy to see you! How are you feeling this morning?”
He may or may not share. If he did, I would listen attentively to each of his feelings, bring them into my heart, and communicate how meaningful his experience is to me.
I would acknowledge and honor all of the emotional energy that lived in the intimacy of that moment. I would welcome all of the unmet needs and wantings with a fearless open heart. And then, only then, I would move to the practical.
“I hear that you want to play with me so much! I wish I could play for hours and hours with you, too! But, I’m really tired. Here is what I’m offering: Ten minutes of play now and then after I take a shower and rest, we can play again.”
Or, if I was really exhausted, I could skip the “Ten Minutes” and offer a LEGO date after my nap.
Either way, if the emotional energy is not met, the practical solution will not work. And the more I practice the SafeSeat, the more intimate I am with the moment. I can uncover all of the conscious and subconscious emotions that are present, fur coat by fur coat. I can open my heart to all that is tucked away by practicing the SafeSeat… That’s the way to Narnia.
Thanks so much for reading my story! I hope this supports you in discovering the intimacy of your moments so that you can find your own way to Narnia! And maybe a glorious shower and a nap, too!
By Erin Waters