One of my favorite parenting books does not give instructions on how to get the kids to hear me, clean up their messes, or how to punish them when they do not do what I say. My favorite parenting book helps me deal with me – my emotions in that moment when they are being kids and I am being, well, a mom.
I have to say, before having children I considered myself a rather sane, healthy person. But, post children I find that the silliest things are what seem so big (and insane when I really think about it). Like constantly picking up socks from the floor. I think every time my children put their shoes on they get a new pair of socks, multiple times per day. I suddenly realize there are socks everywhere I look. Why can’t they just use one pair? Or put the socks in one place when they take them off to make it easier to deal with at the end of the day?
It’s small – socks – but it can set me off when I have had a long day and I find myself once again picking up socks. I come to a crossroad – I could feel the anger to the greatest extent and let everyone know how angry I am so they too can feel it. I could say to the kids, “I’ve told you a million times to put the socks on the stairs and only use one pair a day! Why can’t you do that? Is it so hard?” (On and on and on I could go.)
Or, I could use the practice I learned when reading a book called Mommy Mantras, Affirmations and Insights to Keep You from Losing Your Mind, by Bethany E. Casarjian, Ph.D., & Diane H. Dillon, Ph.D.
This book is divided into five parts, each dealing with a different part of life. For instance, Part One is Mantras to Lighten the Load. This part covers Anger, The Blues, Monotony, Stress, Fear, and Letting Go of Negative Moods. In each section and topic, mantras are given to help with certain situations. Some other topics, without going into too much detail, are dealing with parents, comparing ourselves to others, making mistakes, and flexibility. These are just a few, there are many more there.
The mantras are great, and I actually have used them. It also prompted me to come up with my own mantra, which is “Choose.” When I say this word, I know it is time for me to choose how I want this moment to be. I am reminded that I am in control and it is my choice how I react.
But, I loved this book for more than its principle purpose, to help my life by using mantras. I loved this book because it helped me feel normal. The stories included made me laugh, they made me cry and just made me feel like a better mom.
One story is about a mom who is at a friend’s house for a mom/kid play date. It is time to go and mom is trying to put her three-year-old daughter’s shoes on. The daughter, who does not want to leave, kicks off one shoe every time her mother is putting on the other shoe. A game that is perhaps funny once, but after a couple of times, and in front of friends, is not so funny anymore. The other moms see that their friend is getting angry. One mom steps forward and touches her friend’s shoulder and says, “Breath, now.” And so she does. Mom is able to take a deep breath. And it was good and the stress of the moment was diffused.
The stories are funny and truthful and reading this book was like talking with best a friend about all of the antics and dramas that can come with being a mom. I left it with a new arsenal of better ways to deal with my mommy-emotions, and feeling good being me. I kept this book and promised to read it again very soon.