I took some time reading some of my archive recently (no no please don't, come back here one minute!) and, yeah. Eight years is a long time, huh? I recently heard something that totally applies: "If you don't believe something now which ten years ago you would have considered heresy, you're not growing." I rather agree. (Exceptions made for those of you who were perfect to start with, obviously. ;) ) One thing in particular made me feel a little sad. It really brought back to me how stressful I found life with Jenna when she was around three or four years old - how much conflict there was and how much pressure I felt to Get it All Right All the Time. How much I wanted to parent perfectly (and demonstrate it by perfecting this daughter of mine).
How long it took me to really truly accept that children are PEOPLE, not products.
I'm not going to share any "before pictures" but they're all still there, publicly accessible and transparent. The tag "discipline" yields a mess of thorns, and the odd rose. But here is the year I started to feel confident, and make choices that honoured my children as fully human. It makes almost a progression - rules to principles. Even as I wrote this post explaining how to "do" gentle discipline, I was starting to leave behind thoughts about how to get kids to do what I wanted in favour of thoughts about how to simply live together. Later, I actually started to let go as I recognised coercion for what it was doing to our relationships.
And now? Well, I expend more energy in trying to find ways to cooperate and connect. I work more on me and less on other people. I change the circumstances where I can rather than the person, and see my children actually more easily accepting when the world simply will not accomodate their wishes anyway. I hold my own ideas more loosely, and recognise that my children are not me (nor are they mine to shape and control - only to advise, support, help, and protect).
I reckon I still have unpicking and unlearning to do. I still struggle with feeling like I'm not enough (or like it would be so much easier to not take into account the feelings and needs of all these other people I live with). Oh there are days that are just too hard - but lots of days when it flows easily, too. Leaving behind control in favour of love feels good. I've had two more four year olds since then, and few of the same power struggles.
Here's to the next six years of learning and growing, then!