Mindy Day has been one of my dearest friends for years. She is one of those people who changes your life by just living and breathing. When we started SIS I knew it would be selfish of me not to share Mindy with you all. She has taught me so much about a million things-one of which she is discussing today, parenting. Enjoy. xoxo, Ashley
It was a typical Monday morning and I was rushing around trying to put socks and shoes on a toddler that loves to take them off and run away while reminding my four-year-old, Henry, to brush his teeth for what seemed like the 15th time! With those tasks done I moved onto the feat of bundling everyone up for the Wisconsin cold.
“Henry, please get your hat on.”
“I’m not Henry, I’m Buzz Lightyear.”
“Buzz Lightyear, please get your hat on!”
After several minutes of Henry saving his little brother from bad guys and a few more character changes (Iron Man, a T-Rex, and a doggy) we were FINALLY out the door but would be late to our scheduled activity. I hadn’t been on time to pretty much anything since having kids but I was still visibly frustrated at our failed attempt to be even remotely close to being punctual. My tone became more short and I hurried the kids impatiently into the car. As we were driving, Henry was noticeably quiet which is completely unlike his usual, constant chattering. Finally he said, “Mama, I’m so sorry. Please don’t be mad at me”. Talk about a humbling, heartbreaking moment! I instantly realized that while I was so concerned about something as insignificant as “being on time” my sweet four-year-old was concerned about our relationship and how I was feeling!
Everything shifted for me in a way after this experience. I better understood that my relationship with my boys and how they are feeling should be of the upmost importance to me. I should care more about the kind of interactions I am having with them than any event or appointment. Since this happened a few months ago, I have really tried to create stronger relationships with my sons through more verbal affirmations, one on one time, and even more hugs (until they squirm away of course). And when my son asks me to play with him I make an effort to say “yes” instead of “after I do the dishes, send this email”, etc. We, of course, still have rules my boys have to follow such as not sitting on our brother’s head but I have tried to maintain a kind tone, give more choices, and offer lots of encouragement. I have noticed that as I invest more time and effort into Henry feeling loved and appreciated, his behavior and cooperation have improved significantly. I am striving for my sons to not just be “good listeners” but to be good people that know they are loved and accepted completely in our family. They will soon enter a world filled with harsh critics and unkind words and actions, shouldn’t my main job be to build them up and fortify them to face these elements when I am not there to protect them? A reminder I try to revisit often is from author and researcher, Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto when she says, “Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions-the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.”
Some days are better than others but ultimately, in my presence, I want my boys to feel that they can achieve anything and maybe they can because with love nothing is impossible.