Happy Place Parenting
I am so honored to share a guest post today from the lovely Becky of Positive-Parents.org. Read more about Becky at the end of this post!
I’ve spent the last five years trying to figure out this parenting business. At first it was relatively simple. One smiley, oh-so-cute baby to love and cuddle. I breezed through that first year and half with few bumps, aside from being a bit sleep-deprived. I was thoroughly enjoying every second with my new love, watching him grow from baby to toddler, learning to walk and talk. I was definitely in my happy place. We all were!
When he was 17 months, we found out baby number 2 was coming. It was a medically uncomplicated pregnancy, but a very complicated pregnancy mentally. Though he was planned and very much wanted, I began to experience terrible anxiety and panic attacks. I am still not sure why. Hormonal changes? Perhaps at an unconscious level, I was unsure of my ability to care for two children? Whatever the reason, the attacks continued. I was nauseous most days with worry of when the next attack might come. I was afraid for myself, for my toddler, and for what the worry was doing to my baby growing inside.
Once he arrived, I immersed myself in figuring out how to juggle the needs of a toddler and a newborn. Realizing I could not be 100% to both at the same time all the time caused me a lot of unnecessary guilt, and I berated myself for failing. The panic attacks waxed and waned, but continued still. I was even more sleep deprived, having now two children who did not yet sleep through the night. Though I adored my new son, I was exhausted, worried, guilty, and scared. My happy place was lost.
My firstborn was having a difficult time adjusting to big brotherhood. He went from “Oh, it’s a real baby!” to “Take him back!” to blatantly ignoring him for months. He also began “acting out” like he’d never done before. Cue “how on Earth do I discipline this child?” That was my question. Well, one of my questions. Along with “how do I make sure they love each other” and “who is this man bringing home the paychecks again?”
I began to research. A lot. My focus on discipline became sort of a distraction from my panic and anxiety. The more I obsessed over parenting, the less I obsessed over my health. I began a journey that took me from control to relationship, from unconscious parenting to conscious parenting. This led me to look more at the actions of the one in the mirror than the actions of my children, which were a direct reflection of myself anyway. You can read about my road to nonpunitive parenting on Positive Parenting, but what is more important than my choice for discipline is my choice to search for my happy place once again.
I sought counseling for what was deemed a panic disorder, and I started to get to know that man bringing home the paychecks again. I realized an old truth, “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” My mood affects us all. I set the atmosphere in my home. What kind of atmosphere could I possibly set if I’m riddled with anxiety and guilt and fear all day long? The pain of my constant, persistent worry echoed through the rooms of this house. It affected my marriage, my children, all of my relationships on every level.
I realized a profound truth, something I wish I’d known all along; parenting is not so much about “how do I raise great kids” as it’s about “how do I make myself great for them?” Children are born perfect and great with only the need of having that greatness nurtured. Like beautiful little flowers, we only need to place them in the right environment, water, and watch.
I’m still a work in progress, striving to find my own greatness. Nothing brings out greatness like happiness. When I’m happy, I’m positive, and I’m at peace. I am working daily toward my happy place. Sometimes I’m there, and sometimes it’s hard to find. My goal is to get there and get comfortable for the long haul, because what I’ve noticed is that when I’m in my happy place, my whole family joins me there.
Becky Eanes is the creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond on Facebook and Positive-Parents.org. She is passionate about gentle parenting and chocolate, and she is a struggling cook, an avid scrapper, a wannabe photographer, and the doting mother of two little boys.
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"Happy Place Parenting"
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