I can remember a time during childhood (well, it lasted a long while) when my mom would say to me after some silly choice, bad decision or rude interaction, “What happened to sweet little Stacy?” I heard this for a long time whenever I kind of got out of line or needed some parenting I suppose. In the beginning this question really upset me and made me feel like I wasn’t a nice person. Over time it haunted me even more and I began to ponder it myself. Had I quit being sweet? Was I a bad person? During adolescence I distinctly remember her asking this question again and I had this fury inside where I screamed, “She NEVER existed, all I have ever heard is ‘where is she?’, she was never here, it’s just me, quit asking.” (I don’t think I had the courage to say it aloud to her, I think I imagined I did, but didn’t…I probably played that scene in my head over and over, I’m really not sure if I ever discussed it with her).
Now I am the mom to an eight-year-old daughter. I sometimes wonder what has happened to her. I wonder where my sweet baby has gone. That is how I became reminded of the question about “sweet little Stacy” above. I am truly grateful I had the experience of thinking about who I was. I am so glad my mother asked this of me and especially now, at this point in life, I am truly grateful my mom continued to direct that question to me. I can go really deep with this question now and I am thrilled with the answer. I almost feel like picking up the phone to call my mother and tell her that I found her after all these years…I have found Sweet Little Stacy. She is there in me and she is in you too! I will explain…
First, let me say, my daughter is amazing. She is so many wonderful things…too many to list here. Because I am her mom, I also see another side to her. The mom gets to see it all. I can see she is growing and changing. Because of all the reading about spiritual things I do, I can see that the ego is trying to take hold and her identity is changing. I can see when it happens and I am also painfully aware that I am the one she is most comfortable lashing out at. She is so kind in her heart…its just me she will melt down with and show another side to, growing up is tough. I have heard myself say to her so many times, “you would never treat anyone else that way, only me.” Sounds a lot like the question my own mother had of me. I am sure I have said even worse to her in tough moments (forgive me sweet girl). This parenting stuff is not easy. When I can lean back and look at things I can see what is happening and not take it personally. Other times, it hurts so bad.
It’s tough to juggle knowing if we’re parenting or judging. I have been thinking about this recently and trying to watch it with her. I don’t want to judge her or make her into me. I want to help her be the best version of herself. I want to honor her growing and help her learn to make good choices. If she feels judged by me, she won’t be able to feel my love, she will turn towards her fear instead. Oh, how I want to be the mother that doesn’t judge. I am so trying to figure out how to parent well without judging.
Recently, she lashed out at me because she was struggling learning something. Often, when something seems hard, her fear brings out the worst. Understandable. Anyway, like I said, I struggle with allowing her to be herself and still guide her towards making good choices. After appealing to her with explanations of kindness, etc., she just kept pushing, I allowed her actions to hit my buttons and I decided she needed a break and told her she would be in timeout. In fact, I gave her a double timeout. This would mean 16 minutes to think about her actions. As she stormed down the stairs in anger, I had a change of heart. I sent her brother to tell her that mom had changed her mind, this gave me a minute to breathe and pause and choose well (that non-reactionary living I am striving for). When she returned to me, I said to her, “You get to choose who you want to be.” That was all I said, she returned to her work.
Within a few minutes, she came to me and gave me a sweet kiss and hug and apologized. She had found her “sweet” and turned towards love. I knew she could do it! We talk to the kids so much about character and our choices. We explain that your choices make who you are. We have so many ways of explaining it to the best of our ability. I also believe that people treat you how you let them treat you and I don’t want to raise kids that are rude and disrespectful to their mother. Not just for me, but I know they won’t feel good about themselves if they choose that. Allowing my sweet daughter the space to find who she wants to be on her own with just the right amount of guidance and a big dash of modeling my own good choices seems to be the recipe. For now.
I am going to continue pondering parenting without judging. I think it’s worth the effort to try. As I embrace the freedom from being right or wrong, I do want to impart some of this concept to the kids. It is tough because they so badly want to be right…all the time. I told them recently that I really don’t want to parent every single little thing and be right and make them wrong…but what I do want to do is parent for peace. I explained that even when they are corrected or get in trouble, they really haven’t done anything wrong, but we must try to work towards creating more peace and harmony. If we’re behaving in a way that creates more peace and harmony, then there won’t be much chance of getting into trouble. As we discussed this more and exactly what harmony means…we were turned to look outside at nature and observe the perfect harmony all around us. I love how the answers are always there in the perfection of nature.
Mom – THANK YOU so much for guiding me towards finding “Sweet Little Stacy” – slowly over time I am finding her in the essence of my true nature. What a gift it is to know she does exist and she is there in the purest form in me just as she is in everyone else.
Wishing you all a quiet moments with the Sweet Little One inside you. Joy!