When I was a teenager, I considered my mom very bossy.
I didn’t have the word “controlling” at the time, but if I did, that’s what I would have called her.
She always had an opinion, she asked pointed questions, she made suggestions, knew where I was almost all the time, made plans for me, and gave me and my sisters lists of rules about the kitchen, the laundry, chores, expectations, requests.
My story was, it was overwhelming to even be in the kitchen during cooking time, table-setting time, or clean up time.
Not just overwhelming….extremely unpleasant.
I can feel it now, as I remember.
Which is one of the best ways to enter inquiry on long-past experiences, full of feeling that situation.
And lately, I’ve been looking at long-past experiences because of planning for the upcoming parenting telecourse starting Mondays at 10 am PT.
Because I keep noticing, anything unfinished about my mom or dad always would show up in exchanges with my kids over the past 20 years as they’ve been growing up.
I could do The Work on my kids and parenting….then I’d often wind up doing The Work on my mom or dad.
Double the insight, double the pleasure. Ha ha!
Here’s an example of how.
One day I noticed I had a belief that my kids should pick up their stuff and put it in their own rooms, instead of leaving it in the common living room.
Nothing wrong with that belief, except I felt great annoyance while I thought it.
So it was stressful.
I did The Work and questioned my belief, and instead of fuming with irritation, I calmly started picking up their stuff and putting it in their rooms myself, AND letting them know how much I loved it when the living room was clutter-free.
My oldest, I noticed, began not leaving anything in the living room anymore (still doesn’t). My younger kid does sometimes, and I move it….and there’s still some discussion, but I don’t feel furious.
As I did that work, I studied the anger, because it would come and go.
It felt very bossy. Very controlling. Very much coming from exasperation, fury, impatience. Feeling like a victim of these other messy, inconsiderate people in the world.
Kinda like that same thing I saw in my own mother.
When I was inquiring into my kids stuff being in the living room, I suddenly got a picture of the house I grew up in…..
…..irritation coming from my mom (my story) to empty the dishwasher, set the table, get the dish out of the cupboard, clean up the table, be careful.
Four daughters, my dad cooking at the stove staying quiet, dishes clattering, voices and noise, the phone ringing, our dog underfoot, the cat hiding somewhere in the house, some daughter missing, the cow bell rung to get-everyone-in-here-NOW-dammit!
Then sitting at the table formally, dad serving the food from the big chair on the end, asking to be excused, then anxiously on duty to clean up.
Why was that so upsetting?
I was never good enough.
It was never good enough.
Tidiness was never tidy enough, clean was never clean enough, speed was never speedy enough, chores were never done well enough.
These were my same glasses I was looking out of with my kids.
I had to confess to myself, this is exactly the way I saw them.
Close, but not a really stellar job cleaning up. Not caring enough, not responsible enough, not paying enough attention.
Who who I BE without these thoughts about someone else being the ogre, or the victim, and not-enough-ness all around, high and low?
I’d just notice families doing their best.
Kids doing what they do, parents doing what they do, me noticing it all.
I’d open to that experience so long ago not really being as bad as I thought….and my more recent experience with kids….not being as bad as I thought.
In fact, as I do The Work, I notice I think of these same situations involving cleaning up as good.
Fun, laughing, silly.
Just people, with stuff, and things moving from here to there, in and out of cupboards and off tables, and out of hallways and into bedrooms.
No. Big. Deal.
“The apparent world is like an echo. The echo went out from me for forty-three years, and now it’s coming back to me. It’s all like a breath. Like a pebble in the water, all of the ripples going out all those years and now they’re coming back. I undid the turmoil and since my children experience me, they’re losing it also. They’re losing their attachment to everything too. They’re becoming quiet. And that’s what The Work does for everyone….They cannot be turbulent if I am not turbulent.” ~ Byron Katie
My mom cannot be controlling if I am not controlling. My kids cannot be messy if I am not messy.
My house is not chaotic if I am not chaotic.
Oh what fun, oh what fun.
And if you’d like to un-do some of your deep-held beliefs, from long-distance past that show up in your parenting life today….
….come on over and join the Happy Parent Teleclass starting Mondays. We meet for 90 minutes every week, for 8 weeks.
We get some powerful work done on those kids and all we’re usually afraid to admit that we think about them.
I know for me, it saved my sanity, and made my life with kids nothing short of incredible.
“If you want to be a great leader, you must learn to follow the Tao. Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself.” ~ Tao Te Ching #57
If you want to be a great parent, you must learn to follow the Tao. Stop trying to control. Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and your children will govern themselves.