Parenthood can stretch a person to the limits at times. As a woman that test is compounded by societal expectations and internal guilt inducing voices that can chide for giving too many sweet treats or for shouting after they have ignored you through ten calm requests to stop doing something.
As parents both me and my partner have been rather ineffectual at dishing out punishments. There is the thinking step, which gets occasional use but my son will just kick the door and scream until we give up and let him back into the living room. There is a red traffic light which gets dished out but already both kids have realised nothing much actually happens when they do get a red traffic light.
Withholding treats is perhaps the most effective thing but this week I have banished biscuits, TV and my sons much loved scooter in the hope it would make him skip happily off to school. I still ended up carrying him into school yesterday as he shouted ‘I don’t want to go in!’
This morning when he had ignored me for forty minutes of gentle reminders to get dressed and washed and was still lying on the bed scowling and screaming every time I went into the room to remind him to get ready I realised I would need to move on from ineffectual pleas of ‘please darling, get dressed’.
So I mindfully shouted at him! I warned my daughter I was going to shout to save her from getting worried and told her it was nothing to do with her, then I went in and bawled. He burst into tears, howled and said I had hurt his feelings. I explained it hurt my feelings when he ignores me for forty minutes on a school day. He dried his eyes, said sorry and started getting dressed.
I was reminded of the story about the Zen teacher who said use your umbrella but use it mindfully, to a woman who had to fend off a man in the market. Compassion takes many forms and sometimes it might take the form of doing something you’d really rather not do in order to be kind to yourself. Total practice time today: 25 minutes