Man, the universe is always finding ways to slip subtle big lessons in on me. Disguised as little nothings. This is the latest:
I am listening to the audio version of a book by David Goggins called “Can’t Hurt Me”. It is an interesting approach to conquering obstacles and achieving your potential and life goals by getting out of your own way. Interesting, because some of his strategies involve being real to yourself and not getting so caught up in all of your feelings and what they may possibly mean. He uses the phrase “The mind has the tactical advantage over you and it will take the path of least resistance.” Personally, I find this to be very true.
At any rate. With David Goggin’s mantras echoing in my brain I am having an ongoing conversation with Baby Reinvention about not ruining your day because you have to do something you don’t want to. Said things may be toothbrushing, schoolwork, making your bed, getting a haircut. Basic life stuff. First world inconveniences or pleasures, depending upon one’s attitude. I am trying to explain so that she grasps that life is full of stuff we may not really enjoy or want to do but kind of have to do. Grocery shop, bills, cleaning. Again basic life stuff. I want her to feel and know that attitude is the make or break of the responsibility part of life. Basically trying to let her know that her feelings/ opinions have zero bearing on certain tasks requiring doing.
Rule following is another one we often discuss. I am not referring to being a sheep. More like if you want to participate in something you have to follow certain tenets. And the fact that everyone in her life has her best interest in mind so if they are suggesting something it is for her benefit and though you are very intelligent you still have a lot to learn- as we all do……..sigh- it’s exhausting.
And here’s the greater irony in all of this life lesson stuff. I originated this draft sometime in late October of 2019 and just checked in to see what is was all about. Well shocker here but guess what kind of conversations we are still having at the Reinvention household. Only now the consequences and stress levels are escalating because, frankly, I am pretty burned out.
I am exhausted by the task of parenting a child who is highly intelligent and willful. Who has the negotiating tactics of a trained FBI hostage rescue team member and who has no real life understanding of real life problems. Yes, she has been through a tremendous amount of loss and grief of very integral family members. But as far as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs….All covered. So today, this mama went bananas and implemented the tactic of giving her exactly what she is chronically arguing about. The ability to entirely self-manage. I informed her that I was done with all the nonsense arguing, stress, negativity, lack of appreciation and entitlement so she could now take care of her own needs as she saw fit. I broke it down for her that she would be choosing and preparing her own meals if she did not want to eat what I prepared for the family, scheduling herself daily and managing her school and extra-curricular tasks, household chores and self care. I would no longer be asking her to do anything. She will be responsible for if she wanted to brush her teeth and whether she wants to keep her room clean or eat Oreos for breakfast. I told her that I would teach her as she requested but the minute any attitude got popping she would be on her own. Basically, I told her she would be parenting herself. Now, before you all go nuts thinking that I am neglecting Baby Reinvention, let me be clear. I am still entirely physically and emotionally present and will assist her if/ when she asks. But I am no longer going to battle over the minutiae of daily life tasks. This is where natural consequences will hopefully reach her and accomplish what the countless chats, positive reinforcement, carrot dangling, losing my shit and fill in the never-ending blanks with various mechanisms of parenting here. I said bluntly to Baby Reinvention “I love you. I would do anything for you. But your chronic poor behavior, choices and attitude and treatment of me and your Dad are killing our family vibes. I will help you however I can but I am not doing this arguing anymore.”
Well, it’s been about 8 hours and Miss Thang is not liking being in charge of her own self not one little bit. We shall see how this all transpires.
Parenting is a really tricky tightrope walk. At least for me it has been. As a parent you aim to give your kids a better childhood. I am not referring to stuff, although financial security is valuable. I am talking about whatever you lacked. But because you have accomplished that goal of doing better your kid may be clueless of real hardship. They may be drowning in excess and activity. I find myself so often saying aloud lessons that I myself need to practice or reiterate. I find myself trying desperately to steer my daughter in a direction totally different from my own jagged and often painful course. I find myself prickling in fear because she is a miniature version of me and that is freaking terrifying! Why? What’s so wrong with a mini-me? Nothing except that I wanted an easier rosier path for her. Hello, control freak. Pot meet kettle.
Take it from me doll- Contrary to stubborn mindset not everything has to be a hard and painful lesson. Only took me 30 years to figure that out……
So anyway, I’ll be here watching, waiting and learning myself. Channeling every mommy whisperer, parenting guide, self help podcast and deep breathing strategy I have ever encountered in my life. Monitoring how Baby Reinvention self-parents. Monitoring how I can let go and allow natural consequences to unfold. Maybe opening and accepting of the fact that she will be whoever she is and take whatever path she chooses and all I can do is guide and love and hope.
Deep sighed exhale out…..Parenting is hard.
With strong conviction I can say that this post took a sharp turn from its original direction. Flexibility? Racing, multi-tasking mama brain? Most likely a combination of both. At any rate David Goggin’s book “Can’t Hurt Me” has really unfurled unique perspectives and avenues for harnessing our own inner power. A callused mind (no that is not a typo) that will unlock our true potential. These are principles I can and am putting into play (or trying to) in all arenas of life. I so value what I have gleaned from this book that I am trying to share it with my daughter at a level palatable for her. We all are capable of so much more.
Parents out there……any thoughts? Fans of David Goggins…..any thoughts?
Finally, I’m just going to leave this right here.