3 Vital Lessons I learnt from my Toddler
Since creating Blue Zone Thinking, I have consciously been applying my motto to everything I do. When I am working out and I feel like I have reached my limit, I remind myself to push through to the Blue Zone. "Don't get comfortable Mandy - Push a little further". When I have to have a difficult conversation with a client and tell them things that may not want to hear - " Don't sugar coat it and give them a soft landing - Tell them straight Mandy. Be straight forward and honest." When I unconsciously reach for that row of chocolate that my 4 year old couldn't finish - "I know it tastes good Mandy but is it really nourishing your body." I am definitely still working on that last one. As a self-confessed chocolate addict I know that chocolate may not nourish my body but it definitely nourishes my heart. Point being, for the first time I am totally conscious of how active my own comfort zone is and how it could be limiting my personal growth. I am constantly working on stretching myself all the time and have started to experience many opportunities where leaving my comfort zone has paid off. However the other day I experienced the opposite of this.
It was a regular busy morning in my crazy household with two young children, 4 and 2. I was putting a load of laundry on while the kids played in the living room when I heard my 4 year old scream: "Mommy, Quick, Frankie has drawn all over the couch." Not just "the couch" but the brand-new-2-week-old-non-leather-all-fabric-way-more-than-we-wanted-to-pay-for couch!!
I could feel my blood pressure rising and could hear my husband's voice in my head "where were you? How did she even get hold of that marker? I told you we should've got leather" . I dropped the washing powder and ran upstairs expecting to find a small spot that I could either rub out or hide with a cushion. My husband would never notice. But when I got upstairs, I realised it was far worse than that. My 2 year old had harnessed her inner artist and used our couch as her canvas. Blue marker covered two of the five seats.
I immediately reacted and felt a fury I have never felt before. She should know better. Didn't she realise how hard we had worked to pay for this couch? Didn't she realise that I was going to get blamed for this? How could she do this to me? .......I immediately started screaming and ranting and raving at this tiny little person in front of me. I'm ashamed to admit this and it is honestly very difficult for me to even write this down but I could see the fear in her eyes. She had never seen me like this. My 4 year old, also fearful of what I may do to his sister, scampered up the stairs, covering his ears. While his sister continued to cry looking at me for reassurance and love, begging me to just simply give her cuddle. My response: "Don't talk to me - I don't want to see you right now!". It took a long time for me to calm down and when I did eventually calm down, I felt completely ashamed and guilty for everything I had said and done. I had acted completely irrationally and when I managed to clean the couches so there was no trace of the marker (thank you LOVESAC), I felt EVEN WORSE!
As a mom I see my primary role and responsibility as guiding my kids on this journey of life -protecting them along the way and teaching them right from wrong. In the situation above, let's see what I achieved in terms of teaching my kids the ways of the world:
When someone does something that you don't like, it is ok to scream at them until they cry.
Objects (i.e. a couch) are more important in life than anyone else's feelings
Love is conditional - if you do the right thing you will be deserving of my love.
WOW......I really excelled at shaping their view of the world with this one. Pat on the back for teaching them exactly all the values and beliefs that are going to get them far in life. #mommyfail #A+parenting #NOT.
Right now these are the choices I am faced with. I can continue to judge myself for how terribly I acted, make myself feel guilty and brand myself as the worst mother in the world who has scarred her children for life. This more than likely will lead me down a path of negativity where I question my parenting and doubt every decision I make when it comes to disciplining, teaching and loving my kids. Or I can learn from this situation, take responsibility for my actions and do a better job next time I am faced with a similar situation.
I went with option 2 - So what exactly did I learn from this situation. I learnt that:
1. I have to practice what I preach
Becoming a mom was always something I yearned for. While it has been one of the hardest things I have ever done, I am really proud of how I parent. My husband and I constantly talk about what needs to change as we navigate through the different stages and we have a parenting style that I feel very comfortable with. It is formulated on our own personal values and beliefs as well as what we have learned over the years from books and our own personal development. It is what feels right to us and we have definitely established a personal comfort zone when it comes to parenting. But in an instant I was pushed out of this comfort zone and I reverted to the exact opposite of the values and behaviours that I am trying to instil in our family. Easier in theory, harder in practice but the first step is acknowledgment and conscious effort to change.
2. Leaving your comfort zone doesn't always result in a positive breakthrough.
As soon as I left my 'go-to-parenting-style-comfort-zone' I displayed unproductive behaviours which produced unproductive results. Until this moment, I had always viewed leaving the comfort zone as a wonderful opportunity to overcome a barrier and produce excellent results. In this instance, I left my comfort zone only to create a barrier and produce horrible results. It was such an AHA moment for me.
3. Negative breakthroughs are just as powerful as positive breakthroughs.
As long as you are willing to learn from them and as long as you are willing to acknowledge them, a negative breakthrough can be one of your most powerful leaps into personal growth and development.
I can't guarantee you that I won't scream at my 2 year old ever again and I probably can't guarantee that I won't get angry if either of my kids breaks or destroys something that I have worked hard and paid a lot of money for. What I CAN guarantee is:
I will NEVER react and reach the level that I did that day. I never ever want to see the fear in my children' eyes again. It is a look that I can't get out of my mind.
I will NEVER again make any of my children feel like any object is more important to me than they are.
I will always teach my children that mommy is human too, I make mistakes and I learn from them. I will never make the same mistake twice.