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

Diving for pearls of wisdom…

My husband is regularly wise, but rarely when I go looking for it.

Interestingly this doesn’t stop me, partly because I think too much and partly because it is the job of each spouse to drive the other to the cusp of madness now and again. I assume that we do this by accident, but can’t be sure.

Anyway, my relentless pursuits of these pearls of wisdom usually coincide with me being either exhausted or awash with hormones. In short, the times when logic and light heartedness are not my best traits. In these moments the greater the absence of profound statements of truth the more desperately I grab at them. Which of course alarms the poor man and he gets the look of a cornered animal then usually winds up making a fart joke.

Last night’s episode began with me half asleep with writers block and went a little like this…

“I’m feeling melancholy.” I sighed into his chest.

“What’s that??” he asked.

“You’re kidding?” I said (then mumbled something about him needing to read more books).

“So tell me what it means?”

“Thoughtful and sad.” 

“So just say that then. Oh! Or ‘sadful!’”

Now at this point a smarter woman than I would have either laughed or walked away… but no, I was too busy being sadful. So I painted my melancholy on all the conversations that followed, waiting for a pearl of wisdom and missing all the light heartedness I could have enjoyed had I not been looking for something else.

It was right before I went to bed, after we had effectively driven each other a little batty and wound up arguing over ideal cup quantities in the modern kitchen that he said just what I needed to hear. I got my wise pearl – even if I was the grain of sand to irritate the crap out of him to get it.

Last night he reminded me not to force things. Not writing and not the search for wisdom either. If it’s not working, whatever it is, let go, take a step back and just be happy.

We convince ourselves that we know how things should go – be they situations in our lives, creative endeavours, friendships, romance or our future. Even conversations with people we care about. But the thing is, life is meant to flow – things are meant to feel good for us and to go well in journey as well as destination. If it’s not working then let it go and see if the flow takes it in a different direction.

You can still hold on to what you want, just maybe don’t try to hold so tight.

Because it’s the times when you stop pushing and start allowing that the good stuff really starts happening…and even when it doesn’t, you’re too busy being happy to care.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012