I’ve had two experiences recently where my three-year old Calvin helped me see the situation differently. Both were times when he was frustrating me beyond belief. Sometimes it’s in our toughest, most challenging moments that we learn our greatest lessons. And sometimes those lessons come from our children.
It was one of those early-summer nights without humidity or bugs and just the right breeze that we managed to have dinner outside. It was lovely. These types of nights are more rare after children so you really enjoy them when they do happen.
After dinner, I wanted to start the bath and bed a little early so we could get the children back on schedule after a really busy weekend. Dan wanted them to stay outside a bit longer and enjoy the lovely night as we finished a glass of wine. I gave in because the children of course wanted to stay out and I realized it was actually earlier than their usual bedtime. But I couldn’t get out of my head that I just wanted an early night for everyone.
If I just would have let go of my expectations and been in the moment, the whole night would have been different.
I didn’t stay outside with my children enjoying a beautiful summer night. I went inside to start the dishes. I was inside feeling upset and annoyed that we hadn’t started the bedtime routine yet—the way I had envisioned it in my head. They swept in happy, sweaty and dirty from playing outside. I didn’t give them time to tell me about their play outside, to wind down from all the excitement. I was caught in my head, not in the moment.
I brought them right into my negative mood by rushing them upstairs to start bath.
Then Cal was fighting me on getting into the bath. He likes to take his time and I was rushing him. I’m sure he he could just feel my negativity and resistance that had compiled up. Instead of slowing down at that moment, I snapped at him. He started crying and said, “mommy change your attitude please then I’ll get in the bath.”
“Change your attitude” is something is something I say to him. He turned it right around and said it to me. Bam, he was right on.
Cal was totally right. My attitude was ruining the beautiful night we had together. I wasn’t in the moment. I wasn’t appreciating and enjoying what was in front of me, I was caught up in an expectation for the night that wasn’t fulfilled. Instead of just accepting and appreciating the way it all happened.
As much as it killed me to give in, to make a shift. I hugged him and smiled and slowed down—I changed my attitude.
He happily got in the tub and the whole night shifted again. We put the bubbles in and I enjoyed their sweet laughter as I scooped up some bubbles and blew them. They laughed and smiled and so did I.
If my attitude toward my children and the situation in front of me is negative, the children feel it too.
As parents we sometimes get caught up in our head, thinking about what could have been instead of what is. We should take the lead from our children on this and just be in the moment. We don’t choose what happens every day, each moment—especially not when we are a parent. But we do choose our attitude and that choice affects everyone around you.