Monday, July 30, 2018

feeling of failure

I have this awful feeling that I'm failing at things before I even start them. 

It is scary to admit this because this mindset will surely keep me behind. I know all about fixed mindset vs growth-oriented mindset. I try to encourage this growth in my children. It is also scary because this mindset of failure was reinforced my whole childhood and I subconsciously transferred it onto my oldest. Don't try this, it's no use long-term. Don't do this, it's not your strength. You're considering this?! Why would anyone do it? For some reason I have lower expectations of other children, not really lower, but different, so I give myself that second of breathing space and I am less likely to see whatever they are doing as aggravatingly unproductive. In that second, I manage to reframe their occupation as useful, unschooling, life-skills. I put a positive spin on it, and voila! In the new light, they can grow.

I keep screaming at myself "You are enough! You have done enough! This is good enough!" But deep down, every completed task feels like "Ok and now what? You could be doing so much more. You should be doing so much more. Why are you not doing so much more?"

Every time I think I made progress in this area, the same feeling of not really getting anywhere hits, and I find myself right back where I started.

And that terrifies me, especially as it will be reflected in the mindset of my son.

Only by being gentle with him, will I learn to be gentle with me. Or maybe I have it backwards, and only when I feel myself to be worthy of gentleness will I be able to bestow it abundantly on all my children. I wonder about hereditary low self-esteem, and how often it is demonstrated by pushing the offspring to accomplish what the parents were not able to do while berating the children for not reaching higher, going further, caring deeper.
Image result for you are enough

Friday, July 6, 2018

When is the right time?

 There used to be this post going around how at different points in life you want different things, but you don't have them when you want them. It was something like you want sleep when you're a new parent, and energy when you're old and money when you're young. It was true but ironic.

I got to the pool today. I ended up bringing only 8 yo and 5 yo which meant that the youngest who still does not swim and who resembles Heihei from Moana will not repeatedly try to drown. There were friends for both of these kids to swim with. I brought my swim cap and goggles. That meant I was all free to swim, right?

At some point in my life, around high school and college, I would have done anything for an opportunity like this. I loved the water, I loved swimming. I felt comfortable. I had half a year of swim lessons/team. All that was missing was free access to the pool, and ability to swim separate from men.

I got in the pool, swam here, swam there. I did yoga earlier in the day, and that was more intense than expected. I still could not work out my breathing. After two rounds across the pool, not even two laps, I was out of breath.

My mom friends offered to go sit near the lap pool so I could swim laps. I laughed, because I had no ability to do those laps.

Here we go, the opportunity was here, but I had no ability to make the most of it.

And then it thundered.
And the kids, who were not done, begged to be taken to the indoor pool. And I had zero desire get into the much cooler water again.

May our opportunities and our abilities match up.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

parental suffering

Growing up, a common Russian refrain was: wait till you have kids and they will behave towards you like you behave towards me and then you will experience what it is like to be in my shoes. The idea was that parenting required suffering by the parents through the hands of their offspring, but hope was on the horizon, in the guise of those mythical future children who will repay and maybe even make future parental suffering worse.

Image result for parent scolding a child
I thought about this a whole lot. In some ways, there is no way to shield future parents from the basic forms of children's behavior, including tantrums, crying, screaming, disappointment. But that is not the essence of this parental "curse". It is the idea that suffering will be a measure for measure: just as you made me worry about your rudeness, recklessness, disappointment, so may your kids trouble you. Now, does that necessarily have to come true? I do not wish upon my children to experience some of the extreme emotions they have put me through. I hope that they grow up to be balanced enough adults that they will be able to separate their own reaction from the actions of their children. I do not want to take revenge on my children because no matter what amount of heartache they put me through, who gains from this multi-generational suffering? It is not that the behavior of these grandchildren will change, but the parental response. This change has to start with me. I have already been parenting quite differently at year 14 than I was at year 1 or 3. Some of the shenanigans are the same, but my choice how to react to them is different.

May my dear children not experience dread and shame in their parenting. May they grow up to be resourceful, resilient adults who know how to regulate their emotions and teach this to their own offspring. And may I get to see this.

Monday, July 2, 2018

What do I need?

For me, the hardest question is: what is most nourishing right now?

Not most productive, not what you are trying to avoid, not just taking a breather, not settling for a distraction. What will truly nourish my soul, recharge my batteries, be something that I can look back at and say: that made a difference.

Often, what is most nourishing for me is not what is nourishing for the rest of the family, The question looms: whose needs come first: mine or theirs? And if the answer is theirs, then when do I get to do ME? And if the answer is mine, who is there to step in and nourish them?

Every day I have to convince myself that I have needs, that my needs are legitimate, that it is up to me to divide up resources successfully to meet those needs. My upbringing led me to question whether those needs are real. I feel that just making sure on a daily basis that my kids are heard hopefully will produce adults that will not question one day whether their needs matter.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs
If you notice (with some discomfort), most gratitude training has to do with meeting the lowest three levels of needs. I have food and shelter. I feel safe. I have a family. I can write about these all the time and be thankful for them. I am painfully aware that not everybody has those, so this is not a small matter. Yet the needs that I struggle with are believing that I am doing worthwhile things with my life and that I am on a path to bring out the best in me.