The hardest part of parenting for me is aligning what I want to do with what Pip wants to do. This may seem like a no-brainer, and most days it is easy to accomplish. I want to go to the library? Sure, Pip’ll come along for the walk. I want to vacuum the floor? Pip’s content reading a book or following me around, “helping.”
But there are plenty of times where the reality of a child doesn’t allow for what I want to do. I need something at a store, but Pip simply can’t tolerate another minute in the car seat. I want Pip to sleep, but she’s steadfast in staying awake. I want her to eat her healthy food I’ve worked hard to make, but she’s adamant about not even tasting it, despite being hungry. I’d like to take a shower, make dinner, read a book [insert anything!]… but Pip needs my attention.
I find I get most frustrated when my expectations or desires clash with the reality of having a child.
It’s at these times of frustration where I do my most growing and learning as a parent. I’ve learned the first thing to do to survive these moments is to take a deep breath (or, in the case of putting her to sleep, it’s more like ten deep breaths). Then I assess my situation to get some perspective. Are we in trouble? Is anyone in pain or hurting? (If yes, I address that first, immediately.)
Then I assess the two paths in front of me, deciding which one is more vital: getting to the store today, or going another day? Sometimes it is getting to the store today, so then I look to see if I can nurse Pip or make her more comfortable some other way, like by blasting the baby tunes in the car. Other times, I mentally shift my schedule and plan to go another day. Either way, I’ve learned that an adjustment on my part is what’s necessary for us to have a successful day.
This is hard to do. As a busy mom who works out of the home, I have an eternal list of “things to do” (both fun stuff and work stuff) that my child has no concept of. Yet with some flexibility, and ruthless prioritizing, juggling “life stuff” and a child becomes more manageable.
This flexibility is crucial in child rearing, and when I feel frustrated I have to remind myself of this. I know it’s not always possible to adjust, but I think more often than not it is, if I’m able to pull back and look at the situation with some perspective. I know for sure that being flexible has saved me so much stress, headaches and heartaches… giving me more peaceful moments to enjoy with my daughter.
When I visualize “flexibility,” I think of Tree pose, or Vrksasana, in yoga, when the instructor has us extend our arms overhead and move them in the air. Being in Tree pose is a lot like living with a baby: you suddenly find yourself standing on one leg instead of two. In order to balance, you have to readjust your alignment and mind.
In Vrksasana, we stand strong, our feet growing roots into the earth to keep us grounded, yet we move and sway and bend with the winds. This image reminds me to stay strong in my commitment to raising Pip gently, to honoring her desires and exploration, and to bend with the winds… bending, so I won’t break.