I’m supposed to be a “play-oriented, calm, flowy and creative” parent, right? I’m trying, but I fear that battle is causing my kids to experience me as inconsistant and moody. Sometimes I’m capable of redirecting their behavior to something more positive:
“Hey kiddo pants! Instead of squirting all the lotion in the toilet, let’s do an experiment to see what happens to cheese when we leave it in the sun. Hurray! Project! Let’s put on our super duper lab coats and goggles!”
And sometimes I’m not.
Far more commonly it’s “COME ON! NO LOTION IN THE TOILET!” followed by a defeated sigh and a long gaze at my phone.
From their perspective, then, moisturizing the toilet can result in a chipper detour or a terse scolding from a tired old man. I’m unpredictable and that’s probably one of the worst things a parent can be, right? I suppose it’s worse to be a consistent dick, but you get the point.
I’m subscribed to a parenting email called “The Daily Groove,” which, as the name suggests, sends me daily nuggets of wisdom about being “present” and generally “groovy.” But what if that’s not the kind of person I am? How can I (or we, if you’re feeling similarly) merge the most deeply ingrained aspects of our personalities with the attitude we’re all told is best for the well-being of our children?
In other words, How can I be myself and not screw up my kids?
That’s a truth shrouded in hyperbole. I’m a hot blooded avoider — equal parts Latin and Swiss (though not genetically). When shit goes down, I’m either in the middle of it, yelling and fixing, or off in the corner cleaning something and visualizing my safe place.
There’s pressure to be a “better” person after becoming a parent. We’re setting an example from which unformed minds will learn. But we’re expected to become more patient and flexible, while surrounded by uncooperative people we’re hopelessly in love with.
It’s like trying to cure someone’s foot fetish by getting them a job in the women’s shoe department — too many triggers. People go on retreats and meditation blobbidy blah blahs to find their center and relax, yet somehow, I’m expected to do the same thing while a 2 year-old plays the tambourine in my ear?
What’s interesting, however, is that the coolest adults I know have complicated parents, or grew up in less than optimal situations. It might have been difficult, but somehow fostered a uniqueness and strength.
People who had amazingly “groovy” upbringings seem to end up in rehab, or worse, working at a boutique moccasin shop in Taos, New Mexico.
There must be a middle ground between honest/real/true and all super flowy and stuff. The trick is to find it without losing yourself, or your integrity.