For four days, I’ve watched patiently while my children’s bedroom deteriorated into something resembling the tornado-ravaged communities you see on the news. Dishes began collecting on one table, the trash bin went from occupied to overwhelmed, and the backpacks and soccer equipment piled up in the middle of the room making it look like a whole team lives in there. And while the two laundry baskets full of wrinkled-but-at-least-clean clothes tried hard to be the new closet, their dirty clothes piles (next to the baskets) expanded with each passing day.
Mothering has always had a distinct science experiment air about it for me. Now, fourteen years into it, I regularly opt to simply observe the creatures in their natural environment, watching to see what happens when I’m not directing their every move. I may “let things go” for a bit because I want to see what they choose without my intervention. Most importantly, I value the space that this gives them to explore and learn about themselves.
My own life experience has shown me that I am far more driven to take action because it makes me feel good to do so than I am to take action because the rules declare it so. It would be absolutely fabulous (at least in the short term) if I, somehow, created two children who were passionate about doing what I tell them to do, but… well, you know me, and seriously, what are the odds of that actually happening?
If I want them to be empowered to take action, then I need to allow them to learn that if feels better to take action, than it feels to be stuck in the overwhelm. Chasing them around with a bullwhip can’t cultivate the healthy relationships they need to have with themselves in order to be functional adults.
(Yes, I just said that we can’t be functional adults if we don’t have healthy relationships with ourselves. Resist as you might, but would you ever talk to your best friend the way you talk to yourself? Would you treat your partner’s body the way you treat yours? Don’t hate. You know it’s true.)
I know that I can’t force myself to act right because of some outside motivation, the desire has to come from within.