Intimacy of Parenting – switching roles

handsImagine for one moment that you could see through the eyes of your child. What is it to know what they know and feel what they feel? When they watch us, who are we to them? It isn’t as simple as we want to pretend. How many of us have said, “They are only children, they don’t understand.” It’s a damaging statement.

Now, strip away all that society has taught us about parenting. Don’t watch how your neighbour does it, and don’t repeat patterns from your own Mother. What are we left with? A clean slate.

I don’t float through the challenges of parenting with coloured glasses on and a bag of goodies to help me navigate through the ups and downs. I’m a conscious woman has always seen her children as little versions of beauty just bursting with life. I’m not perfect, because perfection isn’t designed by me. What makes me a good parent shows in how my children grow in this world.

Imagine for one moment what it would be like to wake up every single day as a parent and appreciate your children for who they are – every single quality that makes them tick. Seems natural to do so, right? But we don’t. We loathe the temper tantrums; we judge the personality traits that make them so unique that they can’t get along with their siblings (which is ridiculous as I have four children with four very different personalities). When they test the rules we create, we change our demeanour to be authoritarian, because we’ve been told that’s how you demand respect. But is it really?

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So many of us have had moments when all we needed was quiet, a glass of wine and a good book in the bubbly bathtub. I had an evening like this last night. After an unexpected snow day changed the course of my business obligations in the office, I did my best to re-adjust and make do with the day I had with the kids. To make a long story short, in the afternoon I shut down my computer and cuddled with he kids and watched a movie. Once it was over, I shut off the television. My most challenging child (Emily – 7 years old) melted down. We have strict technology limits in our home, so it isn’t a surprise I shut the tv off. By the time she was finished with her tantrum about that, she moved to crying about her animal balloon that got popped by her small, but sinister brother. Then it went to screaming about not wanting supper. I walked from one part of the house to the other, slowly trying to negotiate, breathe, and then simply needing a moment alone to think. But she followed me, testing me, crying – and finally I lost it. I turned into that authoritarian parent who I despise. I picked her up and took her upstairs to her room and told her to stop immediately. Of course she didn’t, and I actually resorted to yelling at her and she just yelled louder back. Then I simply went to my room and locked the door like a frustrated teenager.

I wanted to actually cry. My child, who I love so dearly, is obstinent but driven. She’s shy, but confident. She’s quiet, but listens. She struggles to communicate, but let’s out her emotions in such a raw way. I’ve been blessed with a little girl who challenges me and pushes me to the brink, and in that moment of breaking down I closed my eyes and sat up against the door and cried. I couldn’t see any of her amazing qualities. All I could see was her screaming at me and it drove me into the ground.

Then I heard it. I heard her softly cry ‘Momma’ behind the door- she shifted into a place of  understanding that she had broke me. I was vulnerable to her strength. As her Mother, I was incredibly fallible. She knocked on the door and whimpered, “Let me in.”

I rolled over on the floor and opened the door. There stood my tear-streaked daughter. She has never been the one to throw herself in your arms. She doesn’t work that way. But she looked at me and asked, “Can I have a hug?” All I had to do was open my arms and in she flooded. I picked her up and we curled up in my bed and I slowly regained my centre. My head cleared and I floated back to the place I reside most of the time – the conscious mind. I stroked her hair and felt her whole body sink into mine. We softly spoke to each other.

She began her difficult task of communicating to me how she felt – she was tired. That’s it. And had the conscious parent stopped and evaluated properly, I would have seen her need in the beginning. She was just tired. But once she realized I was vulnerable to her actions and words, she pulled herself back to centre. She did this before I could. She was the one controlling her emotions before I could. Laying in the bed together she looked up to me and wiped my tears. In her eyes, I was the one who needed taking care of. She whispered it was okay and she was sorry. This child of mine, who ten minutes earlier was breaking my heart, was now mending it. And that’s what children do.

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Later that evening, I decided I needed to centre my seventh chakra. As an incredibly tantric and energy-centred woman, I can recognize when there is an imbalance in my body. So I put the kids to bed and I poured a glass of red wine and I ran a hot, bubbly bath. I climbed in with a book, which got tossed aside quickly, and I just laid there with my eyes closed, encapsulated in the bubbles, and focussed on my breathing and my energy.

At one point I heard the door open. I didn’t open my eyes. I just felt tiny fingers on my head, softly massaging my scalp. I sensed the presence of my oldest daughter Madelyn. My 8-year old is destined to be divine in more ways that I can imagine. She’s an empath. She’s a spiritual healer. And she sees things that others simply don’t. She’s following in my path, but one day she will create her own and it will be the kind of path that others will deeply desire.

In that moment I let my body sink further into the water. She softly smiled behind me and said, “Mommy, does that feel better?” She didn’t need an answer, but she loves when I praise her. I asked if she would wash my hair, just like I did for her when she was little. She brimmed with excitement and eagerly accepted. In that moment I needed to be a child. I needed to feel what it was like to be loved like a child.

So she shampooed my hair. She massaged it and played with it. Then she washed it out gently and put conditioner in it and repeated the process. When she was done she took a towel and wiped my face and kissed my forehead. I didn’t need to do anything. She nurtured a place in me that needed her gentle love.

As Mothers we need to recognize we can benefit from switching roles with our children. Let them see you vulnerable and let them nurture you. It helps them build character and understand that you aren’t just their Mother. You are a human – a woman – a fallible creature who needs the same kind of love they do.

Madelyn brushed my wet hair as we sat on my bed. She told me to lay down and she would snuggle with me. She said to me, “Tomorrow you will feel better.” And I did. This morning I woke up centred and focussed. I walked in to their bedrooms and kissed all of them good morning. I told them I loved them and our day began – smooth and blissful. I was their conscious parent again, but with new enlightenment about what it is like to be a child to your child. Absolute enlightenment.

 

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