It is snowing here in Colorado. I just witnessed a big load of snow coming down, creating a beautiful winter wonderland. However, at the same time, a friend of mine shared her plans of going to Mexico, which made me long for the beach. In that moment, I realized how often I catch myself thinking about what is missing or what would be better than the current situation. This pervasive mindset extends to my experience as a parent. I often find myself thinking, “If only my daughter would get off the computer, then I would be happy.”
Have you ever had similar thoughts? The belief that our happiness is dependent on external circumstances is a common one. We convince ourselves that if certain things were different, we would finally find contentment. But the truth is, this mindset is a never-ending cycle. As soon as one desire is fulfilled, another one arises. It’s like chasing a mirage that constantly eludes us.
As a parent, I often fall into this trap of seeking perfection. I strive to create an ideal childhood for my daughter, one that I didn’t experience myself. When I focus on making sure all her needs are met, I fixate on controlling her behavior to fit my expectations. Let me tell you, this only leads to disappointment and disconnection.
What I practice is shifting my perspective and embracing the present moment instead. This requires that I recognize that nothing is missing in this moment. We both have everything we need. As I said, this is a practice and of course, I get a lot of practice time with my busy future thinking mind.
I invite you to try a simple practice. Take a moment to make a list of everything you’d like to change about yourself as a parent and everything you’d like to change in your child. Then, reflect on each item on the list and ask yourself, “How do I think I would feel if this change occurred?” Consider if achieving those changes would truly give you what you believe you’re missing.
You may discover, like I did, that the source of your discontent lies within, not in external circumstances or your child’s behavior. By recognizing this, you can free yourself from the constant striving for something better and find contentment in the present moment.
As I embarked on this journey of self-reflection, I realized that my desire for control and perfection stemmed from my own childhood experiences. Deep down, I believed that I was responsible for my mother’s pain and that I needed to fix myself to prevent further suffering. This belief followed me into motherhood, where I sought validation of me being lovable through my daughter’s behavior. However, I came to understand that my daughter’s actions were not a reflection of my worth as a parent.
The key to breaking free from this cycle is to cultivate self-compassion and embrace all of you, especially the parts you judge as negative or bad. You can acknowledge that we are doing your best while still bringing awareness to what is happening in the moment. By exploring the need for control and surrendering to the present moment, you create space for genuine connection with yourself and your children.
Next time you catch yourself longing for something different, pause and remind yourself that everything you need is already within you. Embrace the uniqueness of each moment and find joy in the journey of parenting. Release the illusion of what’s missing and discover the beauty of what is.
Note: The above blog post is inspired by personal experiences and reflections on parenting. It is a reminder to myself and others to embrace the present moment and let go of the constant pursuit of perfection.