Parenting is really hard sometimes. We're exhausted, frustrated, shocked, disappointed, etc. When things are hard, a big part of me wants to run away!
When your little one is sick and needs to be held for hours after you wanted to be in bed, there's no real 'away,' right? But maybe you get hooked by being angry at your spouse for not being more helpful. Or jealous of a friend whose child never gets sick. Or you lose yourself in imagining all the wonderful things you wish you had--a beach vacation, a cleaning service, a donut. Each of these is a kind of running away.
There are many forms the 'hard' can take. As a parent of teens now, those hard days are different than when it was about cleaning up messes, dealing with tantrums, handling fights. Or actually maybe it's the same, just different content!
Right now I'm trying a three step response to hard things.
First, always, feel it. It takes courage, to be vulnerable, tender, and present with the feeling. How am I feeling in my body and emotionally? Feeling means we stay with this a while, not running into mental stories (blaming, telling a story, working, reading), or physical distractions (shopping, a drink, chocolate), or emotional acting out (yelling, criticizing, falling apart). Sit and feel it.
Next, open to it, saying ‘yes’ to the experience. ‘Yes, I can be with this. I am willing to be here right now.’ However crazy it feels to be with it, it's less crazy than running away from what is really happening.
And then attune to love within yourself and consider, ‘What would love do in this moment?’ That will lead you where you need to be. Consider how love would take care of you, knowing that it isn't likely to be the same as your first impulse. Consider how love would respond to your child, knowing that it may not be how your parents would have responded to you.
Let me know how this goes if you try it!
I'm a mom, wife, daughter, friend, and teacher who has long struggled with the desire to be the perfect person I imagine that I should be. Practicing mindfulness has changed my life, helping me to make peace with myself as I truly am and to appreciate my family, life, and the world as they actually are.