Healthy Minds, Healthy Souls: Parenting, or, When the Pendulum Swings

You know that blissful feeling of inner peace you feel as a mother when you have spent real time connecting with your children; the type that is free from distraction and utterly fulfilling? When you have kept your emotions in check even though your children have pushed your every button? When you have answered your children well after they have leaned to you for help solving problems they face at school–not solving things for them, but asking just the right questions to help them solve it themselves? In these days, as parents, we go to bed feeling proud, feeling at peace, like we have finally figured out what good parenting looks, and feels like. And then….the pendulum swings.

Frustration sets in with your tired children during homework hours; you find their uneaten lunch in its entirety; you receive an email from a teacher that your child forgot to study for an important test, and didn’t do well; then you overhear their bickering over who gets to do what first. What felt like parental bliss, has suddenly morphed into complete chaos, new worries, heightened stress and your life, suddenly feels like you have come unglued. “How did I lose control so quickly?” you wonder. You begin reacting poorly under duress, and rather than desiring that sweet closeness with your children you felt only the day before, you prefer space from their exhausting choices. “How did we get from yesterday to today?” “What happened to my parental bliss?” You think. “How do I get back to where I was?

I’m fairly sure, that this cycle is a familiar one, to anyone who has raised children. While there is no perfect approach to parenting, I have read many books with the promise of tried and true methods that can avoid these inevitable cyclical patterns in our relationship with our children. But, I am also fairly certain that eventual moments like these land in the lap of every parent, well read, equipped with tools, or not.

What I have experienced, is that parenting is a process, not meant to be defined by a single moment, a single interaction or a single day. It is one of the hardest, yet most fulfilling jobs in the world. Remember today, not to be discouraged by the moments when the pendulum has swung, but be reminded by how easy it is to find our way back. Your children love you and these cycles are only reminders that you love them! If you didn’t love them so much, you wouldn’t care. Choose today to love yourself through these moments, just as you choose to love your children through theirs. Know that the pendulum will swing again and your moments of peaceful bliss will return. Be your best self, and remember the pendulum swings of life serve only to prune us. They are what develop our character and our ability to handle it.

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