It pains me to admit I’ve felt tremendous tension with my older daughter recently. We’ve had a bumpy season, not quite striking our balance between lazy time at home and structured time away. We’ve grown bored and quite sick of one another. And, I’ve been holding onto a vice grip of managing her behavior so I can survive the days without swinging into anger.
Last night I started a new book. I was lying in bed next to my younger daughter, who has been sick with the flu and running 104 degree fevers at night. As I quietly put my head down at 7:30pm, trying to ease her into sleep, I simultaneously picked up this book with every intention to read for a few hours. I made it about 4 minutes before falling asleep. But, in those 4 minutes, I got everything I could ever need out of the book.
It reminded me that positive parenting is about holding your children in your mind first.
How we hold them in our minds sets the tone for all of our interactions together. We will always love them with our hearts, and we will likely do all the necessary tasks to care for them with our bodies. But, what is the story we are telling ourselves about their essential goodness? How accepting are we being of their full range of self? Are we holding space for them to be messy in their growth and learning?
I was not.
With a heavy heart and heavy eyelids, I went to bed holding my daughter in her highest light. I saw her beauty, the joy I felt at finding out she would be mine, the amazement I could so easily lean into when she first learned to crawl, speak, walk, write her name. I brought it all to the surface, and I reminded myself of my duty to be her biggest fan.
Today, I reflected more on the work I have to do to hold my children on high, and I realized it’s not just my children who need my work. My partner deserves the same from me. My friends deserve my full acceptance, full presence, full support. My parents should know that I see them in all the ways they wish to be seen.
I may still have conflict. I may need to enforce boundaries with my children or express my needs to my partner or my disappointment to my friends. But, all of these interactions need to exist from the platform of how I see them in my mind, and that platform should be golden.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Whoops, I’ve given into negative mental chatter about my (kids)(partner)(friends)(family members),” try a new technique tonight. As you put your head on your pillow, call them each to mind, and simply hold them there with affection and warmth for a few breaths.