For the most part, motherhood has come really naturally to me and it's a role I have felt supremely comfortable in from day one. Then came the age of 3 and lately I find myself anywhere but in the zone of comfort. Let me first say, that this is not a bashing of my incredible child, who is so insanely smart and wonderful and the greatest joy and honor of my life is being her mother. It is also not me putting a warning out there to other parents to tell you of the perils of the "terrible threes". I don't wish to put any labels on this time and experience, only to express my own experience openly and honestly. While I imagine many find challenge in the age of 3, there are also those who do not. But in all brutal honesty...3 is kicking my ass.
Yes there have been tantrums and crazy emotional swings. There has been stubbornness and epic amounts of not listening. There has even been some hitting (from her not me). All the seemingly "normal" behavior that comes with many three year olds is present. However, what is really throwing me is my natural inclination to respond is with frustration and anger and a rise in my own energy which very clearly only makes things worse. I repeat myself for the third, fourth or fifth time in a row and I feel myself boiling over and yells coming out of me at a volume that is earth shattering. And more than that, it's the intense feeling of anger that unsettles me the most, that I feel the most regretful about afterwards.
A little over a year ago, I took a mentorship course with my teacher and friend Elena Brower. In one of our sessions she said something along the lines of "We have to parent ourselves, this is our job" She wasn't speaking specifically about parenting, although being one herself she often includes her journey as a mother in much of what she is speaking to. This idea speaks so perfectly to what I am in the present realization of. What is so hard about Audrey being 3 and exhibiting the behaviors at times that she does, is that it triggers reactive behaviors in me that I know have to parent within myself, or they get out of control. They are learned behaviors that I have carried with me for a long time and something about my child's actions, and truthfully her "defiance" of me, brings them up.
But here is the good thing. I am self-aware to the degree that I know I am doing it and that I want to change it and that I CAN change it. There is another way and it requires diligent parenting, not on my child, but on myself. And the reason that this is the most important thing is because this is how I will also have the biggest impact on her. It's just a fact that much of our behaviors towards different circumstances in life come from our childhood, our parents and the people of influence during that time and what we witnessed in what they were doing and how they were being. As Audrey's mom, the greatest impact I will ever have on her is not in what I say, albeit important at times, but mostly in what I do, how I choose to be and in how I choose to grow and learn. If I can show her how to be frustrated but still maintain patience and calm, she will be much more likely to implement that in herself than if I just keep repeating myself over and over and over again words like "Listen to me" or "settle down" until ultimately she doesn't listen because its the exact opposite of what I am showing her.
But in order to be able to show her, I must do the work of parenting myself. And in all of my emotional healing and inner work that I have done up to this point with yoga, meditation and oils, I am reminded again that this kind of work is never done. Unless we choose to stop learning about ourselves, which is something I vow to never do, the work continues. It's also why such practices such as yoga, meditation and oils are lifelong pursuits.
What I do know for sure, is that our greatest growth comes from the times when we are the most outside of our comfort zone and things seem difficult. So, I am in the process of growing right now as a mom and as a human, right alongside my precious three year old child. I could not ask for a better mirror to reflect back at me all of the ways I can parent myself better so that I may hold space for her to learn and eventually parent herself.
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.