Well it's been 2 weeks in to my Happiness Project and I'm fairly pleased with my results. I've definitely had some trying moments, but they are outweighed by the moments of breakthrough. Let's revisit my first goal.
1 - Breathe - I put this one first for a reason. I thought this was likely the root of all my parenting frustrations and for the most part, I was right. If you want to learn more about yourself than you ever thought possible, become a parent! Unfortunately for me, most of what I've discerned about myself are my negative traits and characteristics, but thankfully I'm willing to learn from my shortcomings and am willing to change (try to change!).
I like to have control. I like being the person with the answers. I like when things go my way. But katy bar the door if things don't go the way I intended. I can literally feel the downward spiral effect taking place almost immediately. I hate that feeling but until I learn to relinquish some control, allow for imperfections, and understand not everyone sees things the way I do, I'm going to continue to feel that negative feelings.
So in addition to learning to breathe, I've learned that I need to stop focusing on the negative so much and turn those thoughts to the positive. One of Gretchen's tricks that proved helpful to her and I've found useful as well is to rewind the negative thoughts that are on repeat in your mind and refocus your thoughts on something positive about that person or situation.
A good example for me is with Colin's negative behavior towards Sawyer. Sometimes he hits him for no apparent reason, takes a toy from him because he can, or can just be flat out rude to him with his words. My normal reaction is to think "He's always so rough or mean to Sawyer" or "I've failed in my parenting techniques - just look how he's acting." With Gretchen's advice, I am beginning to turn those thoughts around and now I think, "He's tired, this behavior is uncharacteristic for him, he loves his brother so much because he shows him how to do things, he hugs him, he plays with him, he shares with him, etc." So far, it has helped. It hasn't cured me, but baby steps are better than no steps at all!
Just this week both kids were clearly very tired. I made the monumental mistake of choosing that night to try to teach Colin to tie his shoes. Looking back now, could I have made a worse decision?! Nonetheless, I began to teach him over, under, bunny ears, etc. It wasn't long before I began seeing my own character flaws before my very eyes. He lost his patience almost immediately because he didn't get it on the first try. The tears welled up, the temper raged, and I knew right then we should call it quits. He didn't want to accept failure (proud of that) and I was willing to patiently work with him as long as he wanted. Minutes later he flung the shoe and I inhaled deeply. My normal reaction would have been to demand that we stop right then, scold him for throwing the shoe, etc. This time was different. I was determined to keep my cool in order to set a better example for him. Not only that, I didn't want this learning experience to be negative. I wanted him to feel comfortable enough that we could pick up where we left off another day. If I lost my cool now, he'd see my frustration and he would be less likely to want to repeat the process. It took quite a bit of restraint on my part, but I was finally able to change the subject and get his mind off of his failed attempt.
The next day, I had a genius plan, I'd ask his 9-year old cousin to teach him! Not to shift my motherly duties, but kids often feel less intimidated by their peers. My niece eagerly accepted her job and was excited to play teacher.
If I had not embarked on this journey and didn't have the "breathe" tactic in mind, I surely would have overreacted, lost my cool, and regretted every bit of it 10 minutes later. Wes praised me for my actions and to quote him exactly, he told me I was doing an "admirable job." At that moment, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. I hadn't lost the control that I so desperately seek and I had turned a rough situation into a learning experience. I was happy with the progress I had made.