So, I’m into this mothering thing deep. Like really really deep. Focusing on each one of my children and how they each communicate, need to be communicated to, what triggers them, what calms them, soothes them, which consequences work best for which ones of them, how they are going to react to those consequences and how I’m going to hold them to their choices.
Last weekend I made the decision to “unplug”. And I can tell you that after a full week and a day of no technology, including the tv and all other electronic devices, my children are all more loving, responsive, aware, and certainly more connected to each other and themselves. I’ve heard amazingly creative conversations and seen a change in them that warrants an unforeseen end to this abstinence from tech.
But it didn’t start, nor does it end there. On the regular, I was being disrespected (on all levels of my being) by my children. Having to ask a ridiculous amount of times for a chore to be done, telling them the same amount, if not more times, and then sometimes yelling to get it done, or even occasionally flat out crying while muttering on about not being respected and feeling abused.
Truth be told, I was being abused. I was being made fun of for my spiritual practices. Comments were being made about me that mirrored traumatic situations in elementary, middle, and high school. I was not being thanked for any of the work that it takes me to run a house with five children, two cats, a dog, (and as Raven likes to add), two dead fish.
What was happening was the domestic violence cycle. Unfortunately I know this cycle all too well. And, I’m sorry to say they do too. But for the first time in my life my children were the ones who were abusing me. I won’t go into any more detail than to say that just because they weren’t hitting me it didn’t make it any less painful to experience.
Then something amazing happened.
I did not react.
Instead, I acted.
In one moment I changed everything. And since then, everything has been changing for the better. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a full time job, and it’s even more challenging to be completely upfront about it. But it’s so much more enjoyable.
So you may wonder what I did... I took my power back. In a calm and solid manner I walked to the white board that usually has some sort of inspirational message and some reiki symbols written on it, I erased most of it. Then I wrote:
For ALL of October
Homework, Chores, Whatever I Want!
By all the graces of this divine universe it has been working. I did offer them the chance to have Halloween if they wanted to accept being on these terms for the entire month of November as well. They individually decided and each chose to accept the terms of the contract.
So we went to a Kirtan Friday night and they all behaved GREAT!! We had fun we danced, we sang, we smiled, we were truly present and enjoyed each other fully. Such a beautiful gift, because normally they would give me crap the whole way there and complain the whole way home. But they knew that wasn’t an option, so they came along for the epic ride of life I was on.
Then, tonight, when I told them we were going to another Kirtan they didn’t muss about it at all and even said they were really excited to go. But when we got there two of the five were not on point and kept straying from proper protocol. So, I got up and calmly walked away. They all followed to see what was up and I told them to get their shoes on because we were leaving. They started to protest, and unlike before, they stopped themselves, gathered their affects and trailed behind me to the car.
On the way home Oriah was begging for her pacifier. And because she was one of the two who had messed it up for the rest of us I didn’t give it to her. She started to wail and I looked her dead in the eyes and told her that she had been warned and she knew what the consequences were if she didn’t behave appropriately. I explained that because she didn’t do that I wouldn’t be able to give her her pacifier.
She stopped crying when I first turned to her and said in a strong and loud voice “Oh no you don’t!!” -then as I went on about the above she was silent and truly listened to me. When I was done, she, of her own accord, apologized to us all for misbehaving and rode the rest of the way without the comfort of her pacifier.
Now I won’t throw the other child under the bus, but I will say that the car ride home was 40 minutes of conversations in the NVC (non-violent communication) style that opened my heart in just as many ways as staying at the Kirtan would have.
Because I have been able to set some serious boundaries with my children, and have been endlessly explaining to them the proper way to apologize, and the most respectful way of communicating I know, I am seeing them change in such drastic ways.
It is not easy. When setting boundaries and valuing yourself, there is always what’s called an “extinction burst” from those you haven’t set boundaries with, but once you get through to the other side, it’s such rich and fertile soil you can grow anything.
My job here, that I wish I could say I get properly compensated for, (but will be one day if i persist and am successful, be paid in the fruits of my labor), is raising five children in as conscious of a way as possible.
It’s no cake walk. It’s a cake marathon. It’s worth every stride along the path too. Especially when my car is fully detailed, my home is in pristine condition, my children are treating themselves and others with proper respect, and they are all passed out because it happened in one day. One big Groundhog Day where they will be made to do it, whatever it is that day, until they want to... FOREVER hahahahaha 😉
Here here to all the parents in the world doing their jobs as parents and being strong. I know sometimes you think you’re being mean, and too hard on them, but they need it. We need them to grow into beautifully loving and compassionate beings with solid morals and ethics. To learn how to accomplish tasks and be proud of their hard work.
This parenting thing is no bleeping joke. Our lives later on will depend on our children’s care for us. Don’t muck that up. You don’t get a mulligan with a humans life.
Thank you for listening.
-Lauren Elene Cowell