Gosh, I LOVE September break!! But we know I always have a story from vacations. Bumpy sailing is what creates a good story after all, and it seems like Boy and I wreck our sailboat every time we go out of town….
After a long weekend at the beach with my girlfriends and their kids, everyone departed on Monday morning except for me and my Boy who is newly a teenager. He and I got to stay down at the beach one more day, and I was so excited, because, quite frankly, I had been enjoying time with my ladies and ignoring him up until then. I mean, I don’t get parenting breaks very often, so don’t judge me, y’all. And I had made great plans for our last day and come up with fun(!!) shit to atone for my absentee parenting. I had a vision to inspire my child and redeem my motherhood! Big plans!!
So imagine my dismay when Boy informed me in his most sour teenage voice around lunchtime on Monday that he wanted to leave the beach and was not interested in doing anything with me. “It’s boring here,” he complained. And then for the next hour, he asked me about 15 times in the most exasperated tone imaginable why we couldn’t leave. And I’ll admit it, it upset me.
Now, we know I have a tendency to overanalyze things, and so it was “I’ve let him down this weekend and now he doesn’t want to spend time with me.” “He’s addicted to the screen because I haven’t been strict enough, and this is the result.” “I am a terrible disciplinarian. I have let him become spoiled.” etc.
My friends were in the process of loading the car when I lamented to both that I just felt out of my depth with this parenting thing. I felt like a terrible mom. And both of them were like, “uh….woman…he’s just being a kid. So…just be the mom. It’s pretty simple.”
You know those DUH moments. Oh yeah. I forgot. I’m the mom.
I’M THE MOM!! ME!
I puffed my chest up and put on my mom cheery attitude and rescued the day. Cape included. Here I come!! SUPER MOM!
With a cheerful and loving attitude, I forced him to do all of the fun things that I had planned, and about 6 minutes into it, he started having fun, and we had a great day that included riding the waves together, going to the Sugar Shak, and eating cheese and crackers on the beach at sunset while we read our books together. We flipped the day, and this time we didn’t even need Cow. (Cow, as you may recall, was Boy’s plastic toy that taught us about present moment joy and silliness on our last vacation when Boy and I had a big fight over being late to catch our flight. [See Cow here.])
Don’t you want to travel with me? Join me for my next vacation, and we can have a big fight, too!
And so, as I sat munching on my Ritz crackers on the beach with Boy, watching the sunset, in one of those moments of bliss, I had some thoughts that I want to share with you.
The difference between me when I played the role of failure mom versus the role of super mom is the lynchpin for happiness in all of our relationships, not just ones with kids. If we would always play the role of super mom/dad, put on that superhero cape, with everyone, all of our relationships would magically transform—with our spouses, with our parents, with our friends, with our bosses, etc.
What’s so great about putting on that cape? How can playing this role unlock quality in other relationships?
Well, the main reason this role changes everything is because super mom/dad doesn’t take shit personally. First, parents are willing to quickly forgive their kids for being tired, or for being bratty, or for being late, or for being stressed, because they are kids. We accept that they don’t know how to behave sometimes and can’t control themselves. We accept that they have their moments, and we readily forgive them.
Secondly, with kids, super mom/dad doesn’t buy what the kid is selling when he or she has a garbage attitude (the attitude that makes failure mom want to punch him.) We don’t believe that we have actually ruined their lives or ruined their day or failed in some way. We are strong in our sense of worth as parents. So super mom/dad just firmly asserts his or her boundaries with love and patiently waits for the kid to come back around. And the kid does come back around and loves us more for our forbearance. It’s a totally different mindset.
So I ask you….why can’t we extend this courtesy to each other as adults? Adults aren’t any better at handling stress than kids a lot of the time, and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more on my plate than your average 12-year-old. I haven’t matured a day since 25. My friends and I still dress up like Darth Vader and play airplane. And the only improvement in behavior on my college girls’ weekends, that I’ve noticed, is that we actually clean the kitchen while we are drunkenly scream-singing at the top of our lungs at 3am instead of leaving pizza boxes and overflowing ashtrays everywhere. That’s the net improvement on our maturity: we clean shit now!!
So maybe we all need to take it a little easier on the other adults in our lives. And wouldn’t it be nice if when I fell into my own states of childishness, it wasn’t held against me or lorded over my head?
Well, adults know better, you say. And you say that because you think that’s the reason you don’t forgive adults like kids, but it’s not really the reason. As usual, the answer to the why of your behavior is not without…it’s within. And it’s all on YOU.
The real reason we can’t forgive adults as readily is that we take what adults say personally….mainly because we buy what they are selling because we don’t love ourselves. When an adult questions our motives, or accuses us of ruining the day, we get mad because we are worried that he or she might be right. How dare you make me think I’m selfish!!! Don’t you know how much I do around here?! I am an incredible wife, mom, daughter, whatever!! F* You!!
I’m telling you, it’s always about how the person makes you feel about yourself. Pay attention to that this week. I’ll make a bet with you. I bet that every single time you are mad at someone it’s because of how they make you feel about YOURSELF. Even in traffic—you get mad because if you are late, it will make you feel irresponsible. That’s the only reason we ever get angry at anyone. And it is the CAUSE of all of the suffering in our relationships.
Case in point–look back at the beginning of this article: all of those reasons that I was upset at Boy had to do with how his reaction made me feel about myself.
So here’s the good news and the bad news: if you would just dig down and remember who YOU really are and let yourself off the fucking hook, so you quit believing what others and circumstances in this mass illusion tell you about yourself, you could forgive without hesitation and never take anything personally ever again. No one could make you feel bad about yourself. And no one could make you mad or sad. So just put the cape on.
YOU are the superhero. Remember? You create matter with your thoughts and beliefs!! All of the myths and stories are about you.
So here’s a lifehack for putting on the cape: My trick in dealing with other adults, especially when they are being hurtful, is to think of everyone as if they were my beloved 3-year-old child. They don’t define me. I don’t need to argue with them. I can detach and just let their spell run its course. Eventually, they may recover their wits. Especially if I steadily apply love and don’t take it personally.
Recall, when we look and act with love, quantum physics shows we can transform the behavior of what we look at. And if they don’t change, I place a loving boundary for the protection of myself. So I don’t let myself get abused. But more often than not, if I focus on me and my reaction, and how I feel about myself, I fix the problem with the other person before it starts.
But I can only do all of this if I put on the cape first…if I love myself FIRST! A daily practice!!
So make every effort, every day to remind yourself of the TRUTH.….the truth that YOU are amazing. There is no one like YOU. YOU are loved beyond measure, and YOU are forgiven without question. YOU ARE ENOUGH.
GET YOUR CAPE.
Get up and put that motherf*cker on … every day.
Until next time, joy and laughter to you. And triple sinks.
P.S. Please chime in below with any examples of when you have gotten angry and thought it was about the other person, only to discover it was really about how you felt about yourself. Help me prove my thesis!