“Although we might not become entirely free of ego, to parent consciously requires us to become increasingly aware of the influence of our ego. Awareness is transformative and is the essence of becoming a conscious parent.” – Shefali Tsabary
I’d just closed the book earlier in the afternoon. I’d finished reading “The Conscious Parent” by Shefali Tsabary.
Later that afternoon, here was the perfect scenario to test out and apply the books’ theories: shoe shopping with my 5-year-old and 2-year-old.
I consider myself to have pretty well-behaved children, but put them in an aisle lined with pairs of shoes, and tell me that Mother Theresa’s level of patience wouldn’t be tried.
I aim high by bringing my daughter into the store in the stroller, but once she spots the shoes, any hopes of keeping her contained is a lost cause. Unlike her mama who is still rocking Rainbows in October, she is a Shoe. Girl. She must try them all on immediately.
She jets off to my left, and I channel my inner chameleon skills by trying to keep one eye on her and one eye on the shoes. Never mind the fact that my son has disappeared on my right and I am one eyeball short of keeping a handle on the situation.
I tell them both they have to stay by me.
My daughter starts piling shoes into the stroller, and my son shoves a different pair of shoes in my face every 10 seconds with the same question, “What about these?”
I can feel my patience waning as I try to focus on the task at hand.
I manage to wrangle my daughter on to my lap to try a couple of pairs of shoes on her, but midway through the process my son announces loudly enough for the entire shoe department to hear that he must immediately go poop.
I sigh, clear out the stroller so I can put my whining daughter back into it, and make the trek to the bathroom.
Inside the bathroom, my son tries to break into the handicapped restroom before he finally hears my words that someone is in there. I let him go into a regular stall by himself.
The automatic toilet flushes midway through his going to the bathroom, and he proceeds to freak out at this injustice. He stands up, pulls his pants up, and I say a silent prayer that he doesn’t have poop all over his underwear.
Luckily, prayer works.
He decides that he no longer needs to go potty.
Cool. Glad we took this trip.
Back to the shoe section we go, where I am given a mere 30 seconds to shop before I realize that my daughter now has a poop diaper.
Seriously?! Okay, I’m noticing it. I’m noticing the fact that I’m starting to get stressed out and triggered.
The noticing still doesn’t stop me from saying out loud, “You guys are making this so hard on me!”
But then, it happens. I think back to the book and realize that I’m fighting against the present moment. Losing my patience is a sign that I’m refusing to accept life in it’s as is form. The words I’ve just said out loud reverberate in my head, and I realize that the words I chose paint me as a victim, as if my kids are out to get me in this moment.
They aren’t out to get me. They are just being kids, and they can’t control when they need to go to the bathroom. In the small window of time that I think these thoughts, I feel peaceful and calm.
Then, my ego takes back over, and I am once again annoyed at taking a trip back to the bathroom.
What is conscious parenting?
According to Tsabary, it entails letting go of the idea that the parent/child relationship is hierarchical, and embracing the relationship as a spiritual partnership. Tsabary emphasizes that this in no way means that we give up boundaries and discipline. It’s more about recognizing the fact that our children can teach us as much as we teach them (as I touched on in last week’s post).
Tsabary argues that children push parents’ buttons unlike any other relationship does (I wouldn’t argue with that point) and that each time they trigger a reaction in us, it gives us an opportunity to step away from our ego and step towards awareness and consciousness.
Conscious parenting isn’t about suppressing anger (or any emotion, for that matter) since life will present valid reasons to feel frustration. It’s about not fighting against the present moment, even if it is one of frustration. It’s about surrendering to the present moment, and it also requires digging deep in any moment of reaction to assess if your reaction is coming from your ego (your false self), or coming from consciousness (your true self).
When I took a step back in the example above, it was clear to me that I was coming from ego. According to Tsabary, “When our life doesn’t go according to plan and we respond with resistance and emotional velocity, it’s because we feel threatened. As our fantasy of how life ‘should’ be falls apart, our egoic need to control things shows itself” (Tsabary, 2010, p. 45). It’s the ego that feels the need to control any unwanted situation.
Frankly, I’m picking up what Tsabary is putting down. I only had a short moment of awareness in the scenario above, but I feel as though this is something I can apply in my everyday life.
I’m going to try to bring more of an, “It is what it is” attitude to my daily life, and dig a little deeper when I am triggered in any situation.
It’s all about baby steps, towards awareness, and away from the shoe department.