I am a recovering perfectionist. In most areas of my life I used to really, really worry about getting it (whatever the “it” was) right (usually based on someone else’s definition of “right”). Parenting, as anyone who is a parent will tell you, is not a role for a perfectionist (unless that perfectionist wants to drive herself crazy). Thus, for the past 10.5 months, I’ve been getting to practice my personhood instead of perfectionism.
That being said, I do still want to be the best mama I can. For me this means following the commitments I (and Bruce) made to Gracelyn, continuing to learn and grow myself, doing as little to impede the natural “perfection” with which our dear daughter was born, and enjoying the journey wherever it leads us.
My learning guides (so far)
In no specific order, here are various resources I’m using to learn about children’s needs, human development, emotional development, and parenting in an honoring way.
- Attachment Parenting — As the name implies, attachment parenting is a way of being with your child that helps them to feel securely attached to loving, attentive, compassionate caregivers. For me the reverse also applies — practicing this way of being in relationship with Gracelyn has helped me feel connected, strong, and bonded with this child who has more wisdom than I even knew existed in real life.
- Parenting the Lefkoe Way — This is a course (we’re listening to it via MP3 recordings) that helps people parent in a way that enables their children to form positive beliefs about themselves, others, and life. While it’s geared to parents of toddler age or older children (even teens), it’s already helped me rethink some of my choices with its two questions:
1. What is my child likely to conclude from this interchange?
2. Is that (their conclusion) worth it (the outcome of the exchange; often an action the parent wanted the child to take)?.
- Daily Groove — This is a daily email I get that contains short ideas, stories, and encouragement for parents. Rooted in the Law of Attraction, many of the Daily Groove messages are about helping us (parents) reclaim our authentic power and natural sense of ease and joy in relating to our children.
- Everyday Blessings — This book from Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn centers on helping parents parent more mindfully. They write from their own experience and honor parents as students embarking on an 18-year mediation retreat, which has helped my perfectionist-clinging ego lighten up and treat myself with more gentleness as I learn and grow alongside miss G.
- Playful Parenting — Lawrence Cohen’s book teaches parents about the important role that play has in children’s lives, and — most importantly — how to play again with their own children. Again, while geared to parents of older children than Gracelyn now is, Cohen’s ideas and experience have helped me to rekindle my jovial, joy-seeking, jestering self (the laughs heard regularly at our house will attest to the efficacy of Cohen’s work).
Three more books I’m just starting have great promise as well. From the snippets I’ve read so far, each helps parents remember what it feels like to be a child and suggests ways of being with our children that honors their sovereignty and respects the sacredness of their being.