The parent every kid deserves
Find out why connecting with your child begins with you
I have a four-year-old son and it took me almost all of his life to allow myself the freedom to struggle.
I had this high-powered career, and I struggled.
I had a newborn that I laboured to feed while working 12 hours a day and, despite having help, I struggled.
I couldn't do anything right. Work didn't suffer - I somehow pulled it together as I always had. My son seemed okay - I did the best I could. Feeding him late into the night, pumping, 'waking up' (like I ever slept) to be with him for a few hours before going into the office, returning for bedtime and then working more.
When I say I couldn't do anything right, I mean I couldn't do anything right by me. I was failing myself.
It was a struggle. And I was losing momentum. The sicknesses, the teething, the deadlines, the cover shoots, the events, the pressure.
One day, when I lost steam after a particularly guttural crying session, I took the time to ask myself a question. Did it have to be this way? A small voice I had suppressed for so long whispered a barely audible 'No'.
And then I stopped. I stopped the struggle to ask myself those hard questions. Who am I? Why is it this hard to be kind to myself? Why is it so difficult to be a mother?
What I was feeling isn't uncommon. So why was it so impossible to find 'un-sugarcoated' answers to my questions? Every mother I know admitted it wasn't easy, but seemingly bounced back with make-up and humour intact. They all seemed to have 'dealt' with motherhood and recovered. Was I a particularly defective mother or were the others just guilty to admit how demanding parenting really is?
There were lots of Band-Aid remedies bandied about. "Take a break." "Go on a girls' trip." "Let your husband take over." No one, literally no one, told me to do the real work. That is, until I discovered the one person who did: Dr. Shefali Tsabary, a psychologist and author whose wisdom teachings on parenting have, according to Oprah, the power to "shift the world".
The answer to cracking the parenting code is essentially this: Having a child is the first time in our lives we have to give from the deepest reserves of our beings. We can only give what we've received in our childhood. And if we weren't equipped with life armour - being seen, heard and loved by our parents for who we authentically are - we will naturally struggle to give those very things to our children. How can we give what we didn't get?
Alleviating our parenting struggles begins with piecing ourselves together, not changing or controlling our children. Most of us are handed scripts on how to train our children to sleep, eat and behave in a certain acceptable manner. None of this will work in a sustained manner if we don't deal with our inner wounds.
Consciously parenting myself - being aware of my emotions and separating them from my child's moment-by-moment - was the answer I had been waiting for. It was my 'AHA' moment and I finally knew where to begin.
I am still struggling, as every parent is, no matter how old or young our children are. But here's where the magic lies: if we ask ourselves, "What is wrong with me?" as opposed to "What is wrong with my child?", we will begin to become the parents every child deserves.
You are not alone on this journey. Going forward, we will explore how to heal ourselves, slowly. Just by reading this you've already started. Just by showing up, you deserve to be applauded.
(Join Kavita to learn how to navigate the challenges of parenting practically and authentically, while raising both yourself and your children. Follow her on @conscious.parent)