Flow & Resistance

I’ve learned many valuable things about parenting from my own mother. She’s given me tips and tricks for dealing with things like whining/arguments (ie. the ones she used on Shannon and I as children), as well as bigger-picture principles and approaches to motherhood in general. One of the simplest and yet most influential things I’ve learned is the mantra that she says informed all of her parenting:

“Say yes when I can, and no when I have to.”

When she gave me a no, I rarely made a stink about it, because I knew she would have said yes if she felt she could. I fully intend on using this approach with my own kids.

This little mantra has got me thinking about something else, though – not my interactions with my kids, but with my partner, as well as my general approach to life inside our house. While I don’t find myself saying no a lot, I do find myself resisting things, or intervening when it’s not really necessary. This resistance or intervention seems to be my default setting, and it doesn’t feel good.

It might be expressing my unsolicited opinion about the way a chore around the house could be done another way, or it might be jumping to give a cautionary warning at the first sign of an activity or play that might possibly be dangerous. Either way, I know after I’ve spoken that my comments are not necessary, and that they’re probably unappreciated. So I’ve decided to take away my own little version of my mom’s mantra for use in my everyday life:

Flow when I can, and Resist when I have to.

This doesn’t mean living life on the defence, waiting until it is absolutely necessary to intervene or catastrophe will strike. It doesn’t mean being a doormat and letting everyone else’s desires and needs come first all the time. It’s about recognizing and counteracting my default setting of feeling like I’m supposed to be involved in/managing/attending to every action that goes on in my immediate environment. It’s about picking the moments where I want to expend my energy, instead of jumping on every single one, which is, frankly, exhausting.

when i can

Not everything is my responsibility. Sometimes I can just flow along, let other people wholly take care of things the way they think is sufficient, appreciate their decisions, and know that everything will still be just fine, in the grand scheme.

And while right now the main person who will be impacted by (and I think will appreciate!) this approach is my partner, I have a feeling it will be increasingly important in my relationship with my kids as they grow older. Right now they can’t do a whole lot for themselves in the big-picture, but this is rapidly changing, even with my toddler, whose capability I am constantly amazed by.

As my kids grow, they’ll need to know their mom trusts them to evaluate situations, take the lead on projects, and make successes, all on their own. They won’t need me hovering over their shoulder, tweaking or approving every step of their progress before they can move on. They’ll need to be allowed to do things their own way, learn from their mistakes, and most importantly, gain confidence when things go well because they truly did it themselves.

In order to let that beautiful growth take place, I have to be able to flow.

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