I want to share a story with y’all about one of the parents I have been taking through Close the Parent Gap Program.
As those of you that have read my book know, I use the “Mafia” policy: I never spoke to you. I never saw you. Capisce?
We will call her Rebecca…obviously, not her real name.
Rebecca and I began working together about 8 weeks ago.
Rebecca’s basic bio:
mom of 3 (6, 4, 20 months)
works in the medical center caring for sick children and training medical students – extremely bright
married to a slightly introverted and great guy (btw, introverts make phenomenal husbands)
a “fact finder” by nature and well educated on child development as well as conscious parenting techniques (she had read several books and taken other parenting classes prior to working with me)
Based on Rebecca’s bio, you might be scratching your head as to why she needed lil’ old me?
Rebecca contacted me because she knew she wasn’t using the amazing parenting tools she had learned during heated situations with her kids…especially her oldest daughter.
Daily, if not more, her 6-year-old daughter, Anna had crazy making tantrums and behavior.
She was violent with her younger siblings in words and body.
She frequently told Rebecca, “Get away from me. I don’t want to be near you. Don’t touch me. You’re so mean. You hate me. I hate YOU –YOU’RE THE MEANEST MOMMY IN THE WORLD!”
The whole family seemed to walk on eggshells around Anna constantly trying not to set her off…to no avail.
Oddly, Anna was a perfect angel at school and out of the house. She managed to hold it together in public and came home to her safe haven to work out all her gremlins.
Rebecca lives a busy life, and with everything she has on her plate – full time job, mom, wife, daughter, sister, daughter in law, she honestly does a beautiful job managing it all.
However, as Anna’s behavior continued to worsen, understandably, Rebecca found herself yelling and extremely frustrated with her daughter.
And as the situation became more severe, suggesting a major disconnect between mother and daughter based on Anna’s refusal of any affection and harsh words, Rebecca found herself less able to balance the other aspects of her life and show up as her best self.
I remember hearing this phrase years ago, “Your family is only as happy as your unhappiest member.”
Rebecca had a dream for her life and her family.
It did not involve yelling, crying and daily angry words hurled at each other.
As Anna’s angry behavior took over the household, the other children became affected, Rebecca and her husband were having less fun together, there was lots more fighting and tension all around.
And of course this affected Rebecca and her husband’s work life because when there is a constant dark cloud of worry and guilt hanging over you, it’s hard to “reach for the stars”.
Your children and family are your most important priority and when there is tension and disconnection, it lingers in the background of your mind all day. Everyday.
Many people don’t realize this and think they can compartmentalize these hard feelings.
They are mistaken.
It is always there and just because you are managing it, does not mean that you are reaching your full potential… kickin- a and takin’ names!
Rebecca and I began working together almost 2 months ago and about 7 weeks into the program, she proudly gave me this update:
“I haven’t yelled in almost 2 weeks. We had the most delightful weekend as a family doing nothing particularly eventful but just hanging together. Anna invited me to play with her and wanted to spend time with me. We snuggled in bed. I gave her a foot massage and she relished it!! She even told me about an upcoming field trip at school that had her worried about what to expect – normally a prime reason for a colossal meltdown due to her anxiety over a new experience. We calmly talked about it and she had her own answers and merely needed to work it out with me acting as a sounding board.”
As Rebecca suspected, she would be put to the test soon enough and told me after the update,
“I know we will still have challenging moments and days but it feels so good to get to have days and weeks like these.”
And of course that test came when Rebecca’s mother was visiting.
Grandma had just commented that Anna’s behavior was entirely different and she noticed a big shift.
Rebecca’s husband loosely mentioned, “We finally found someone to help us that knows what she’s talking about”…(so sweet of her hubby to compliment me – especially since we have never met).
The next day was Halloween and Anna was having big feelings about it – manifesting as a World War 3 type tantrum…and of course Grandma was witness to the whole kit and caboodle.
Rebecca arrived home from work to the war-zone.
The spotlight seemed to be shining brightly on this conscious mama's motherhood as her own mother sat front row in the dramatic theatre of Rebecca’s life – enjoying her popcorn.
Talk about a triggering situation – the nuanced judgment from our parents about the way we parent can feel paralyzing and hinder our ability to show up consciously during heated moments.
Rebecca remained calm by breathing and focusing on Anna.
She problem solved and tried a few different techniques.
Finally, Anna responded to a foot rub with soothing essential oils and completely calmed down.
The family was able to make precious Halloween memories together.
It sure would have been a shame if Rebecca hadn’t been able to access the parenting tools she had taken the time to learn to manage her daughter’s temper tantrum.
This is what usually happens when you find yourself in the parenting gap – the gap between being able to remember how to be the parent you always intended to be and the parent you currently are during a triggered moment.
Thank God, Rebecca was effectively able to close the parent gap.
Because her kids will never be 6, 4 and 20 months again during Halloween 2016.
Every moment is valuable.
Rebecca now feels she is seizing every day and making all those ordinary moments into memory making ones.
Rebecca is now living an ordinary/ extraordinary life.