The Crazy, Messy, Amazing & Unpredictable Journey of Parenting
I was busy attending to work on my laptop when Sonia came up to me and said “Momma, I am feeling angry, can you please help me calm down?”. Wow. Just wow. Immediately, I turned to her, already in awe.
Sonia is a sweet seven year old with a big heart, a lot of passion and curiosity, and along with that comes moments and periods of anger and frustration. Really there is nothing out of the ordinary here, but we have been working on taking the time and attention to be aware of our emotions so that we can know how we feel before we get drawn into our reactions and actions. It’s no easy task at age seven or forty, it turns out.
I took Sonia to the sofa, and first took time to tell her that even realizing that she was angry and knowing she needed help in calming down was quite exceptional. Already I was so proud of her. The story could have ended right here for me and even finished with a blow up, and I would have been content. But it didn’t. She went on to tell me what had happened between her and her sister, Sophia, and that Sophia’s words had hurt her feelings. And hurt feelings turned quickly into anger. Simply by sitting and listening to Sonia recount her experience, it allowed her to begin moving through her anger with words and awareness, rather than reactivity.
I told her that I understood and suggested that we pause and breath together. Some days neither of my kids are open to my suggestions, but today Sonia was receptive. We sat and breathed for a few moments, and then I reminded her that though she could feel angry in moments, it did not mean she had to remain angry going forward. Anger was a momentary experience, not one that defined her. Every time we become aware of our anger and breath through it, our breathing has the power to soften our anger. I asked her how she was feeling some moments later. She said a little better. I told her we could do this over and over again whenever the anger came up.
I’ll tell you right now that moments like these do not always go as smoothly as I have described above. Many times it’s volatile, loud and unsettling. As much as I try to remain patient, my patience also can run low. But I’ll take all those volatile moments and offering methods only to be rejected, for the occasional and exceptional moments like this morning.
I cannot express how thrilled I was to see the methods and wisdoms that I study and try hard to imperfectly practice myself work for my girls. My parenting style generally takes on a more long term approach and vision, so many moments along the way are messy and tiring. Today Sonia and Sophia showed me that perhaps something is working, slowly but surely. And I look forward to the crazy, messy, amazing and unpredictable road ahead with both of them.
I have found the book Whole Brain Child by Dan Siegel to be an indispensable resource in parenting. If you are interested in these methods and perspectives, check out the link below.