Yesterday, Audrey and I had one of those wonderfully epic days. We got up early, went to our Saturday morning theater class, from there headed out to the new neighborhood playground and proceeded to stay outside for the next several hours, meeting up with friends and enjoying the sunshine. The fun continued well into the afternoon, just before bedtime however, Audrey was spent. Her energy began to unravel and we entered into a full emotional meltdown. Anyone who is a parent knows exactly what I am talking about and how that moment feels. Your incredibly overtired, highly emotional child is just losing it before your very eyes as you sit there, trying to piece together every ounce of your own sanity. Then comes the moment when out of her own anger, frustration and confusion she swings her arm and kicks her feet at you. She gets physical. And all you want to do is match that energy and scream and yell back at her to stop hitting you...
And yet, I did the exact opposite. I am proud to say that I have been strong in my own practices lately, and this entire time I remained mostly silent, calm and centered. I calmly dodged her efforts to hit, simply saying it wasn't ok to hit me and after a while was able to help her get into her pajamas and into her bed. Still incredibly upset, and protesting sleep, I got up, walked across the room and grabbed our two nighttime oils, Calmer and Steady from the Kids Collection. As I approached she yelled out “NO! I don’t want oils!” Now, I am committed to never forcing my tools on her. I want her to have complete autonomy when it comes to how she uses any self-care tool and technique. When it comes to oils especially, I want her to have choice over how she uses them, when she uses them and if she uses them. Even when I know that they could help, if there is any kind of resistance, I refrain from force and guilt.
Even so, I sat on the bed next to her and unrolled the top of Steady. As she was protesting, I took the oil and turned it towards my own heart. I drew the shape of a heart over my chest, just as I normally do to her. I took the Calmer blend and rolled it over my own feet. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and sat quietly. In a moment or so, everything stopped, everything was silent. I opened my eyes and there she was staring at me. I smiled, I lay down next to her and she immediately rolled right into me and buried her head in my chest (perfect as that is where I rolled the oil, thought unintentional on my behalf). Her tears of protest turned into tears of release. There was a vast energetic difference. And then, I swear to you on all that is sacred, she said “I am so sorry that I hit you Mama. I am so sorry I wasn’t listening. I was feeling ‘riled up’, angry and confused”. I have no idea where she learned the phrase “riled up” but I was floored at her ability to tell me that. Next, I asked her “How do you feel now?” to which she responded “Sad, but ok”. I then asked her, “What can you do to help yourself right now my love?” and she said “I need to go to sleep”. My 4.5 year old, the very same one who was protesting for her life the idea of ending our wonderfully epic day, then rolled over, closed her eyes and calmly went to sleep. She was able to clearly communicate to me, and most importantly to herself, how she was feeling in a moment of emotional intensity, take ownership over it and pinpoint what it was that was going to support her in moving through her own sadness and emotional upset. And then she took action.
I have an incredible child, I know that. But she is not some magical unicorn that does something more or different than any other. I show her a lot on social media in her best moments, but I promise you, there is more to the story. She is human, she screams, she yells, she gets shy and she goes through phases of hitting me when she is angry and upset. We work incredibly hard at emotional intelligence...but here’s the thing, we don’t do the work on her, we do it on ourselves. In that moment that I visibly took care of my own impulse and energy, I gave her permission to do that same. She sees Justin and I on the regular, take moments throughout the day to take care of ourselves. She doesn’t just see it in our joy, but she sees it in our pain and discomfort too. If we argue, we do it (respectfully) in front of her, not behind closed doors as long as the content is appropriate. She watches us take deep breaths, use oils, meditate, take breaks and then come back together to make up with love, kindness and respect. We try hard for her to know that conflict is not a negative thing, something to run from, but something to learn from, mostly about ourselves. She sees if we are sad, or overtired ourselves and we clearly talk about what it is we are feeling.
But here is why I want to share this most of all...I talk a lot about Self-Care and Self-Love. In my work, I teach these practices daily, to my coaching clients, my challenge groups and my yoga students. I genuinely want anyone who works with me to find the benefits of this work and have it work for themselves. However, that is not my why. My reason for teaching this is so that we have the ability to pass this important work down to our children and the generations that come after us. This is legacy work. It is how we will teach our children because they do not do what we say, they do what they see. We are all handed things from our ancestors, from our parents, not just in the form of things, but also in the form of emotional patterns and habits. How we handle our emotional states and self IS our legacy.
In that very moment that I simultaneously listened to my daughter’s protests, didn’t force her to bend to my will and directed my efforts on my own needs, I gave us both permission to soften, to be present and to take ownership over self. I too am not some magical unicorn who has always known how to go about this. In fact, there was a long time in my life when I was completely unable to take ownership and would have flown off the handle at a moment’s notice. Motherhood itself has been the strongest test to those patterns and habits and in an earlier time in my life, I would have railed right back at my child. Anger seemed to give me some sense of sanity in the moment. But the hangover that I got from it and the wake that it left were too great of a consequence for me to continue in that way. And while it wasn’t completely my fault, it was what was unconsciously passed down to me, my choice in whether or not I continue it is 100% mine to own.
We are living in an incredibly stressful time. This past week has been especially heavy. And we can be certain that if we are feeling it as adults, so are our children, little empaths that they are. And in all honesty, this is a profound opportunity to change the pattern and habits of how we deal with this kind of collective stress, by being more intentional with our personal stress. Our children are looking to us to show them how to respond. We can either continue down the path of the work that was created in a different time and space, when there were completely different circumstances at play, or we can create new pathways. One that makes more sense for the present moment and serves us, our children and each other better. How you care for yourself, is how you teach others to care for you, how you teach them to care for themselves and it is your legacy.
Tomorrow, I am launching some new, regular ways to get into and remain in your own work. I absolutely want to inspire you to think about you when considering signing up, but I also want you to think about what doing this kind of work will mean, for generations to come.
In the meantime, here are two links to purchase the Kids Collection Oils and the Emotional Aromatherapy Oils. If you want my help in a more personalized purchase, send me an email.
Love Yourself Today,
is a Mama, Wife, Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Coach, Writer and Activist. You can read more about her here.