In the Flow with Healing Waters
Recently, I have been noticing patterns in myself and how they have manifested in my children. This is part fascinating, part upsetting. When my children were small, it was very important to me to teach them manners, kindness, and being good citizens. I wanted them to have a tribal mentality of working and doing the best for all.
When my kids were small and we would get out treats, they would yell “Me first!!” and run to the front of the line. Usually, some shoving and battling would ensue. In an effort to discourage what I believed to be selfishness, whoever did that automatically went last (before me of course because I was always the very last).
“Others before self” was my motto in everything. Did you cut in front of me in line? That’s ok, you first. Am I hungry? That’s ok, I will go after everyone else has eaten and sometimes had seconds.
As my children grew, I am so proud of the great humans they are. I have also worried about the lessons I have instilled. A few weeks ago, I was at a grocery store with my daughter. We went through a self-checkout and paid for our groceries. As we attempted to leave, there was another family’s cart blocking our way as they scanned their groceries. “Excuse me, could we please scoot by you?” I asked politely. “Sure” and they moved. I said thanks and we pushed our cart through. My daughter says in a hushed voice, ”Mom, I can’t believe you did that! I could never do that. I would have just waited for them to move.” At first, I was shocked. This is my fierce daughter who pushes around a 1500 lb horse and her brothers, yet she would not ask a stranger to move their cart in the store.
When we talked more, I started to realize some of the lessons I had modeled and tried to teach my kids did not translate as well into the real world as I had hoped. I thought I had modeled how to be a good human, but neglected to teach them to also put themselves as a priority. How could I teach them when it is a lesson I am still learning? So, at that moment, I decided we were going to learn together.
We have started small and they are doing well at speaking up for their needs. It is a bit more complicated and ingrained for me. Slow progress is better than no progress. How do we make ourselves a priority? My first suggestion is to get to know yourself again. Ask yourself questions, What do I like for dinner? What is fun for me? What don’t I like? Oftentimes, we are so caught up in the needs of family and others that we lose touch with what we actually enjoy and need. Now that you have begun to identify those things, start putting yourself first sometimes. Small as it sounds, when I made dinner, I made food I liked and didn’t factor the rest of the household’s tastes into it. I started saying yes to more experiences with friends outside the house. We talk a lot about “how you are” and why that matters. I felt I was okay and doing these things with love. However, with the new awareness of how my behavior was molding my children in a direction I did not care for, I wasn’t fine. I believe this is another area of balance in life. Now in my house, it’s “me first” and serving others when we are able instead of others before self.
“When you say ‘yes’ to others make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.”- Paulo Coelho
Always learning in the flow,