Our deepest condolences to the family of Paul Lee, the victim of the shooting this past Thursday at Seattle Pacific University. If anyone has any connection to the family or their friends, please share so that we can help however we can.
Watching your child going through something painful is extremely difficult for any parent. We often wish we could take the pain away. We wish we could feel it for them instead.
Watching our children go through their first heartbreaks can be torturous.
Seeing them experience life’s disappointments is not easy.
The good news is that we can help! We can teach them how to be proactive.
We can teach our children how to handle disappointments, challenges, and heartbreaks in ways that prevents them from feeling defeated. In fact, we can teach them how to turn a bad thing into something good for them.
How do we do that?
We model it for them.
When we have difficult and heartbreaking moments in our lives, because we certainly will have them, we have a golden opportunity to show our children how it is done. This is difficult because in those moments we feel weak.
Go through the feelings, feel them, and be most compassionate toward yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for the bad thing that happened, no matter what it is. Assess it correctly. Be very careful not to see it as a catastrophe. It is not, no matter what you might want to feel. Make sure to learn from your mistakes to avoid them in the future.
It is most important to learn to forgive yourself for whatever happened.
Don’t simply waste a bad situation through getting over it, though. Use this opportunity to improve yourself! Get better!
When you handle your mistake, bad situation, heartbreak, or challenge like the true hero that you are, you will teach your child/children to do the same.
What better motivation do you have to be the best that you can?
It is not going to be easy, but it is worth the effort! And… can you do it? Of course you can, I guarantee it!
Once you are on the other side, you will see everything so clearly, and before you know it you’ll be back on the track of your life!
To quote one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss, “Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!”
Liz Murray, the author of Breaking Night, talks about how she taught herself to make positive choices when she was tempted to make destructive ones.
She talks about the times when she would wake up amongst many other homeless kids who were sleeping on the floor, and having to walk over their bodies toward the door. She explains how she experienced the desire to stay home and sleep as all the other homeless kids were doing, but did not do so.
She recalls thinking about her past, all the bad things that had happen to her, being homeless, and her deep and deserved sense of self pity. All of this made her want to stay home, go back to sleep, and wallow. However, she found that to make the choice that would take her to her goal of finishing school and going to college, making something good out of her life, she would ask herself the question, “what’s next?”
She sensed that the empowered choice was about the future, and that the action that she needed to take to get to the positive future was heading out the door to school; this was the positive change that she wanted. It started with a simple question.
I have been struggling with a speech writing project for the past month or so. I have written many drafts of it, and have been happy with none of them. I had never really written a real speech before, and certainly not one with the weight that this speech has on it.
While feeling discouraged and sorry for myself for not being an instantly prolific speech writer, I followed Liz Murray’s advice and asked myself, “What’s next?” I put my two hands on my keyboard and began typing.
I broke it down in the format of the five paragraph essay structure that I had taught my students to do in the past, and began filling in the ideas.
Every time I felt self-doubt, I asked, “what’s next?” Then, I wrote the next point, the next point, and the point after that.
I am proud to say that I wrote my first draft of a speech that finally looks and sounds like the speech I want it to be.
I am sincerely grateful to Liz Murray for the question that she thought of as an amazing teenager, “What’s next?”
As moms, we can easily feel like failures. All from what we do with/to our children and our lives. We can self punish all we want, but it might not always pay off in terms of helping ourselves do better.
I have been on that road for a bit. I have been feeling as if I was not being my best. Today, I began a new chapter. I broke through part of a writing project, though I was dealing with mild depression, and as I got further and further into my work, I felt stronger and stronger. But there were still moments of fragility.
I wrote a poem that my son does not want me to post here, but called my writing mentor and spoke with her about what I have been going through, and she suggested an idea. She said that I should stop putting myself down with words, and that this would be the beginning of succeeding at my current project. Her thoughts: positive self-talk attracts the successful achievement of one’s goals
So I want to say to myself, and to all the moms here that feel as if they are failing their kids at times, tomorrow is another day.
Lets all have a great one tomorrow, and know that we are good moms!
I am going to run a mom’s workshop. It will be called, “a happy mom is a good mom.”
We will meet online via webinar. If you are interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am trying to find the best time for us all to meet. I am planning to start on the first week of March, and considering Monday or Tuesday nights. In your e-mail, if you can let me know the best times and nights of the week, I will do it on the most popular night.
Thomas Leonard, an inspiration to me and one of the greatest coaches of all time, said, “Endorse your worst weakness.”
I am, at the moment, putting together a class to teach moms to be their best, and am thus reviewing Thomas Leonard’s coaching technology. (I graduated from his coaching school, CoachU)
Leonard isn’t advising us to wear our weaknesses like badges, but rather to see the best of them instead of wasting energy feeling ashamed. He wants us to recognize the good that has come from our weaknesses, openly face them, and discover strength from them to further our self-growth.
I tried that exercise today, but had some difficulties. I think I have more than one greatest weakness. Perhaps the weakness that cripples me the most, though, is my sensitivity to the opinions of others, especially opinions about me.
My sensitivity also allows me connect better with people and be there for them in times of need. It’s important to see that a weakness is not simply that.
I would love to hear from those of you reading this: what are your greatest weaknesses? How have those weaknesses benefited your life/how do they continue to benefit you?
I have been looking for some sense of myself from my outer world. Everyone that I love was supposed to show me that I am something special.
The pain of abandonment that I experienced as a child and the harsh upbringing by my adoptive parents gave me many gifts, like creativity, and passion for children, and even life, but it also left me with a strong fear of pain.
I realize today that my running away from it, the fear of pain itself, has been the greatest source of pain in my life. It has caused me to, at times, expect people who care about me to show me my worth. When they failed, I was devastated. When others didn't appear to care, I then interpreted that to mean that I was meaningless.
There is nobody to blame for anything that happens in my life but myself. I have arrived at my present moment by my own past actions and the choices that I have made.
As of this moment, I am done running away. I stand firm and ready to face whatever comes my way.
I’ve been working on my query letter for my memoir
I’ve been working to finetune my book even further
I signed up for a public speaking course
All of these things are stepping stones on the path to myself… I am learning how to authentically love myself and honor the gifts that have been given to me and the people I love.
I wanted to share the beginning of my memoir with you…
First train ride
Jungmi's umma was very fat and very tired. On the day she came to pick me up, I did not know why she was so fat and so tired. She was so fat because her bones needed protection from her husband's punches, and she was so tired because she did all the work at the Laundromat that they owned. He walked around their business with his hands clasped behind him, feeling important.
For the obviously upper-class customers, he made sure that his wife gave them the finest in customer service. He would make it obvious that he was in charge by ordering her around like an employee or a house servant.
For the customers who appeared poorer or lower class than he, he hurried her to get the work done and talked down to them similar to the way he talked to his wife.
For his drinking and gambling buddies, he was jovial and talkative, and would soon abandon his wife to run the shop while he and his friends would venture out to drink. She never seemed to see the wrong in his laziness nor the wrong in him knocking her around.
On our train ride she kept looking over at me with her tired eyes. She looked apologetically from across our train car, glancing at the handful of candies in my hands that she had given to me when we first got to our seats. Butter Rum was my favorite. I always ate too many, but not this day. I could not eat any of them. Not a single one.
We were moving fast away from the fields that I knew. Nothing was going to be familiar to me anymore. I understood that somehow. All I felt was an abyss of nothing.
In the country they hang pigs upside down by their hind hoofs before they slit their throats. Once the pigs are upside down, they give up and stop struggling. I know now my heart was like one of those pigs. Nothing was left in me for struggle. The end of everything I knew was upon me.
I’m about to confess something that isn’t easy to confess. I have no trouble writing about personal things. In fact, writing is my way of sorting through my thoughts. But this…this is admitting to a flaw that is intensely painful and shameful to me. This past year I’ve seriously lost touch with the mom I want to be and that my daughter deserves. I certainly didn’t intend it to go this way. I knew from the start that I wanted to practice gentle parenting, that I leaned more towards attachment parenting philosophies, and that I wanted to teach my daughter to respect others by respecting her first.
But something has gone awry. This past year, I have found myself gruff, grumpy, too tough, snappish, and well to be frank…a rather crappy parent. This is not who I want to be and it’s definitely not what Aria deserves.
I cannot pinpoint when things started to shift for the worse, but I can point to exactly why things have gone this way. I’m too busy, I have absolutely no time to myself, I’m spread too thin and I get way too little sleep, I don’t eat well, I live off of coffee and energy drinks, we’re not financially secure, we’re spending too much money but aren’t entirely sure where to cut back, I’m stressed out and worried about Aria’s sensory issues and I don’t know how to help her…in a word my life is pretty unpredictable and chaotic and I’m feeling extremely insecure about it.
None of this is Aria’s fault. Instead she is the unfortunate victim of my impatience, insecurity, and even anger. And that is simply not okay. Rather than have a mom who is an amazing support system as she struggles with her sensory problems and general anxiety and to be honest with the trials and tribulations of simply being a little kid, she has a mom who swings from one extreme to the other, from being understanding to impatient to angry to remorseful. I’m on a roller coaster of emotions and I’ve dragged my sweet daughter along for the ride. Is it any wonder then that she feels insecure and anxious and has trouble managing her sensory issues?
About a month ago, after months and months of knowing that this was not okay but not knowing how to get off the damn roller coaster, I asked Aria to help me. It’s not her responsibility, she shouldn’t have to help me…she’s only five for goodness sakes, but I was desperate. We came up with a word. A silly word. It was her code to let me know that she was feeling vulnerable and that I was being too tough on her. Jelly Beans. We figured a silly word would help snap me out of whatever irrational emotion I was let guiding and influencing my behavior towards her.
It has been working for the most part. When she looks up at me with her sweet face and trusting little eyes and whispers, “Jelly Beans, Mommy, Jelly Beans,” my heart sinks and I stop. I smile at her. I contemplate whether my request is reasonable and if it is, whether there is a better and gentler way to request it. And I remember to hug her and let her know I love her.
But I don’t want my daughter to feel that she is responsible for reining in my frustration and anger. It’s a temporary solution to a problem that has been festering for the past year.
Last week, we had a particularly bad morning. I don’t know what it was that set me off and it doesn’t really matter. But I was feeling frustrated and Aria was back talking me as 5 year olds sometimes do, I found myself using threats that I didn’t really mean in an attempt to show her who the bigger boss was in this household. Instead, I showed her who the bigger ass in this household was and I left the house angry. Aria was angry too and very hurt; she didn’t even attempt to use Jelly Beans. Maybe because she forgot or maybe she didn’t think it would work. She refused to say goodbye to me. By the time I got to the bus stop, I was crying and feeling like the world’s crappiest mom.
At my desk, I googled random things, hoping to find a solution to our MY problem. I found a site for gentle parenting. They pointed to a Facebook group called The Yell-Free Year Challenge. I joined, because sometimes what we need is to read about other people’s struggles and triumphs to not only learn to forgive ourselves but to learn what hope really means.
I came home reinvigorated and determined that this time the change I was seeking would come from within rather than be placed upon the strong but wee little shoulders of my five year old daughter. When I entered our apartment, Aria dashed from the kitchen into the bathroom and I felt my heart break just a little. I figured she was still hurt and hiding from me and I didn’t blame her. I steeled myself for the long, hard road of earning her trust back.
My daughter is already far advanced in the art of forgiveness and understanding. She dashed from the bathroom into the living room, stopping in front of me, shouting, “Boo,” and squealing with delight, “Did I startle you, Mommy?!” I assured her that she had and I hugged her. I hugged her a lot and told her how much I loved her.
Four days. It’s been four days. I haven’t raised my voice in these last four days. I can’t say I’ve been the parent I hope to be. I still need to learn how to parent without resorting to threats I don’t want to and mostly don’t intend to keep. I still need to learn to distinguish between what’s the small stuff and what really matters. And most importantly I still need to figure out how to disentangle my ego and how I view myself from the way my daughter behaves. But it’s a step.
I’ve learned to be silent for a moment when I feel the anger, long enough to gather my thoughts and respond more rationally. And I’ve learned to whisper when I feel the need to say something immediately but am afraid I will yell. I have no idea if I will make it for a year, but that’s okay because I’m shooting for a lifetime of one day at a time changes. Aria is worth it. I’m worth it. Because life is entirely too short to feel like the world’s crappiest parent.