Let’s be honest….

I stuffed up today. Not in any remarkable way, just in one of those everyday parenting moments that we have a tendency not to notice until we look back on them later.

I overreacted to something and snapped at Bodhi in the process. He responded with harsh words and upset. In the heat of the moment I started to get annoyed… I started to say something back… then I stopped myself. I took a breath, sat down and opened my arms to him. I did what I try to do whenever I don’t get it quite right -  I owned it. “You know what?” I said, to my red-eyed, angry boy. “I can understand why you’re feeling frustrated right now. I messed up didn’t I? I didn’t handle that well, but I’ll try to do better next time. I’m sorry.” And my boy, like he so often does in these little everyday honesties, wrapped his arms around me and said “No, that wasn’t nice. But I’ll help you do it better next time. I really love you. Mum, do you think you could help me respond nicer too?”

Sometimes I sit down at the end of a day and I reflect back on what we did. I think back on the moments that worked and the ones we didn’t, and I find that every day, every single one, has both. Along with the moments we’re proud of come the ones that we aren’t. I’m facing the fact that they’re likely to stick around. But the thing that makes some days better is when I remember to be honest with my kids – to own my little stumbles, even as I help them with theirs.

Bodhi struggles with emotional maturity at times, but when someone else lays their own struggles before him he steps up in a way that never fails to surprise me. It might be me just “needing a minute” (after intense toddler wrangling or general madness) and little hands bringing me a cold glass of water and a kiss as he slips away to build some lego, or me saying “Sorry I rushed you kids, I should have gotten us ready earlier.” and him replying “That’s ok Mum, remember you can ask me to help next time.”

An old idea lingers that for our children to respect us we need to be in control all the time. The thing is, no one is, not you, not me, and not our beautiful kids.

I want my kids to respect me not because I’m perfect or always in control, but because I’m authentic and kind. I want them to know that they can trust me to own my mistakes as much as I expect them to own theirs and that my advice means something because I’ve earned my lessons along the way.  I want them to know that their advice is just as important.

Bodhi and I talk about a lot of things together. We talk about space, dinosaurs, lego or what’s happening around the world. We skip down the street together sometimes and have ‘evil laugh’ competitions in the kitchen. But we also talk about the bits we could have done better. I want him to know that the obligatory stuff ups don’t take away from all the good that makes us who we are.

I find that when I’m a truth teller my son is more inclined to be too.

Shaming children is slowly becoming a thing of the past, but we forget that if we hold onto guilt or shame they learn to do it to themselves.

Today I have done a lot of things right. So have my kids. And we have all, at one moment or another – been jerks. That’s ok, because we’ll do it better next time. And even when we don’t quite get there, we’ll respect and love each other for trying.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

A Story of Two

This is a story of two. An older one, and a younger one.

The older one was wise, kind and full of knowledge. The younger one loved her very much, and looked up to her.

As the younger one grew she followed the older ones wisdom, was blessed with her gifts of kindness and relied much on her knowledge.

There were times when the younger one doubted her own inner voice, or quietened it against the older ones’, because she trusted so much in that wisdom and knowledge. She would hesitate as the older one did, mirror her fears and pause with her doubts.

The younger one explored the world, laughed much and grew her own wisdom with every passing day. But still she looked up to the older one so very much, always believing the older ones’ wisdom to be more than her own, her inner voice to be more versed in the insights she needed.

The older one frequently shared gifts of things or ideas. They were plentiful and precious, and perhaps this was why the younger one almost missed it.

Then one day, the younger one stumbled across a gift she had been given. Oh it was grand, so grand that it couldn’t be touched or seen. It was wrapped in time.

You see over the years the older one had given the younger one much of herself; she had given her much of her perfection and joy, much of her wisdom and knowledge, much of her advice and her thoughts. But she had also presented her with something else, the gift that the younger one almost hadn’t recognized the value of. She had given her her flaws.

She hadn’t hidden them, for honestly was important to the older one, they had always been there, scattered amoungst the rest, but the younger one had not yet come into her own wisdom, so had missed them, and seen instead her own flaws in their place. She had worried over them, and wished them gone.

But this day, the younger one saw just how precious the older ones flaws were. They were like facets of a diamond that all came together to make the older one sparkle just the right away.

Those flaws were how the older one gifted her things that she couldn’t offer with words or advice.

They contained reassurance; because if she could love the older one so with all her glorious flaws then surely she could be loved with her own. And the younger one relaxed.

They contained a mirror; for it is so much easier to see in others that which we would improve in ourselves. And the younger one became hungrier for her own greatness.

They contained madness; because without it we are never pushed to new ways of thinking, of feeling, of experimenting. And the younger one’s mind expanded.

They contained vulnerability; reminding her the importance of being soft with her strength. And the younger one gave every morsel of this to her own little ones.

And they contained confidence; in her own inner voice, which she had put second because she had thought it unworthy. These perfect flaws had reminded her to embrace her own intuition with every ounce of her being and never second guess it just because she was not perfect.

So it was with this gift that the younger one grew up, just that little more, into someone worthy of being somebody else’s older one, to be wise, kind and full of knowledge. And she hoped so very much that she could give her little ones the same special gift as they grew, and that they too would take such pleasure in unwrapping it when they were ready.