I had some great sessions with clients today, who inspired me to write this blog entry. Thank you. You know who you are!
Being a parent is one of life’s greatest joys; and yet one of its greatest challenges. Having a child with a developmental disability is another kettle of fish. There are tender moments we savor, and times we feel we can’t survive another day. I recall having many conversations with my well-meaning Mom, at the depths of my despair. Her words inevitably boiled down to, “This too shall pass.” Oh, how I loathed this sage advice. I’ve since learned to save my woes for girlfriends! Love you Mom, but sometimes that’s just not what I want to hear!
One of the things that I love the most about my work is that it’s about baby steps. Small, doable shifts, which over time, bring about incredible results. Not that it’s all “sunshine and light” along the way (uh-oh, another one of Mom’s phrases!). Hardly. It’s about learning from the tough times and getting back on your feet, being self aware, and knowing where you intend to go. Of course, having someone to guide you in this process has tremendous advantages. (I’m going to use plain talk here. If you haven’t considered a guided, parent-based intervention, or You Grow, Girl! Coaching for Moms, please do. It will definitely help.)
I believe that understanding what triggers us, and developing the means to remain calm in the face of adversity, is half the battle. If we’re on the brink of losing our minds as Moms, we’re susceptible to reacting in a way that is definitely unproductive, and potentially harmful. If we’re not willing or able to tend to our own needs, and unable to give to ourselves, we risk losing the farm. This, I know for sure. I learned this one the hard way. I will now put away my soap box. Here’s something to think about.
When things go “south” at home, you have two fundamental choices. You can choose to react – or to respond. What’s the difference? A reaction is “knee-jerk,” and occurs without mindfulness. It’s an action that originates from the meaning we assign to the situation; we’ve been “hooked” … triggered … successfully. A response is the opposite. It is an action that has been chosen by us; it has the bigger picture at its core. It can be anything from walking away or ignoring, to smiling sweetly and saying,“I know you’ll do it tomorrow, darling.” A response comes from a place of empowerment, rather than victimization.
How does one go about shifting from reacting to responding? It won’t happen overnight. It begins with baby steps, and self awareness. Every small action taken from a place of mindfulness is a step in the right direction – as long as we have a course, and a destination in mind. The most astonishing feats accomplished by humans also began with baby steps! As parents of children with exeptionalities, our lives are as rich with possibility as any. Our goals may be different in some cases, it’s true. However, if we don’t start by taking baby steps in the direction of our dreams, we’ll never get there – it’s a given. I often think back to one of my favourite kid’s movie, Finding Nemo. As Nemo’s father, Marlin, panics about something happening to Nemo, Dory says, “You can’t never let anything happen to him. Then NOTHING would ever happen to him!” If we don’t let go of our fears and take some kind of positive action, well… you know.
Our lives may be more challenging than many, but as individuals, we are never without choice. We can choose to react, or to respond. We can choose our thoughts – and our actions. How can you get the ball in motion? You can begin by acknowledging that you have the power to create change; and by knowing what you want – for yourself and for your family – and by taking one baby step at a time. Or if you’d prefer, just keep swimming.