Today was the first day I’ve yelled at my kids in what feels like weeks. I have resolved that I don’t want to be a yelling parent any longer. I’ve been running and meditating most days for a while now, and I have worked hard to erase the yelling habit, while cultivating more calm in my life and my mind.
Tonight, in the quiet moments as I clean the kitchen, I feel like parenting is the biggest challenge I’ll ever face, ever. And I don’t know whether I’m slowly breaking my kids or slowly building them.
Being a parent is full of challenges, mostly without guidelines and certainly without rule books.
I want my daughter to be a wonderful human. I want her to realise that she can create the life of her dreams and make it come true. I want her to understand that working through the hard stuff is worth it, because when you keep going after most people have already quit, then you get to enjoy the rewards most people never see.
I want her to learn this by my example.
(I want all this equally for my son, too.)
Sometimes, like tonight, when we’ve fought for the first time in ages, and she’s been punished for disrespectful behaviour, and there are tears before bedtime, and my wife is still in the kids’ bedroom having a D&M with her a full 90 minutes after they were supposed to be asleep…
Times like these, I reflect on the challenges that we’ve dealt her this year.
When your parents are online entrepreneurs, and have arguments about work and about life and about lost money and tight budgets. When you’ve had to give up your friends and your pets and your community and the only house you’ve ever known, because your parents have a crazy mission to travel the country in a green bus and try to change people’s behaviour, all for a bunch of kids they will hardly ever know.
When you get frustrated at the lonely, isolated 7 months you’ve spent waiting for your life to start again, because your Mum and Dad keep promising this amazing adventure, just over the next hurdle and beyond the next challenge and after the next argument.
When each day you plug in to the iPad that connects you to your schoolmates, but secretly wish they were sitting at your dinner table with you, so you could share cheeky looks and pass notes while the teacher wasn’t looking.
When your brother wails and whines and fights with you for the thousandth time, because he, too, is struggling with this life in limbo, but has neither the language or self-awareness to understand or articulate himself to the same level as you.
And when, in the face of all this, your Dad takes away your safe haven – books – because you got angry at him for a stupid reason, when underneath you were angry at him for everything he and your Mum have put you through this year so far, and angry because you’re only 9 and dealing with challenges that most adults would struggle with and come up short.
If only my daughter could feel my remorse and my pain at seeing her hurting. If only she could comprehend my total and utter love for her. If only she could see the future we see for our family and for her individually. If only she could understand that our work isn’t just for money, it’s for art, it’s for life, and it’s for humanity.
If only I could understand that she loves me as much as I love her, and her angry words aren’t at me, they’re at the situation she finds herself in.
If only I could understand that we’re all human, struggling through and trying to do our best with what life throws at us.