Last weekend, I read a stunning post by a blog-sister named Vanessa on her beautiful blog, Bringing Up Buddhas.
Her post, entitled, “are you good?’ was about a special ritual she does with her kids. At bedtime, they go through a list of “I Am” statements to validate and affirm their positive qualities. She got the idea from a teacher who posited that what you think directly before going to bed is very important, for it is what your brain “marinates in” for the next eight or so hours (for those of us lucky enough to get eight or so hours!).
I LOVE Vanessa’s gentle and compassionate parenting techniques that she’s shared. Thank you so much Vanessa for inspiring me to bring up these beautiful affirmations with my son, Jack.
As many of you have already read, Jack and I frequently have a tough time with each other. He is fiercely strong-willed and occasionally aggressive. At almost six, he still has tantrums about things that I swear are issues left-over from another life, possibly on another planet!
As loving and empathetic as I try to be, sometimes I am so tired of being badgered and abused by him. Sometimes I really want him to shut the eff up and just do what I effing say as opposed to fighting me tooth and nail about it!
Deep breaths, deep breaths, serenity now. . .
Anyhoo, I brought the subject up of the “I Am” affirmations the other night as we were sitting out on our porch watching a storm roll in over the bay.
“Hey, buddy,” I began. “I read something really cool today. Can I tell you about it?”
“Okay. I want to hear about it,” he replied. So I proceeded to tell him that I had read it is really important to tell your brain positive things before going to bed.
My husband and I usually “divide and conquer” at bedtime. I nurse Emily to sleep, and he reads and lies with Jack while he goes to bed. That night, Jack requested “a Mama night,” meaning he wanted me to put him to bed. So, after I got Em down, I went into his room and relieved my husband. I suggested that we do our “I Am” statements.
I gave him a few examples: I am kind. I am loving. I am loved. I am good.
He followed suit. I mean he really got into it. He used my examples and then came up with some more of his own. I am smart. I am helpful. I am strong. I am happy. I am a good big brother. I am a nice friend.
He then went on to fart and say, I am tooting. We both laughed and he added, I am joking.
Gosh darnit, I love this kid. He is my life’s biggest challenge, and some days he makes me want to pull out every single hair on my freaking head, but crap, I love him with my whole heart.
“Oh, Mama,” he said. “I know one that you can say. You can say, ‘I am a great mom.'”
“Really, Jack? You think I’m a great mom?”
Tuesday and Wednesday his dad put him to bed, but when I hugged him good night, I reminded him to do his “I Ams.”
Tonight he reminded me, as he skipped into story time with my husband, “Oh and Mama, don’t forget to do your I ams tonight!
As we hugged, I thought about what a hectic day it had been at work, how drained I was, how I came home wanting to cry for the sheer overwhelming exhaustion of it all. I’d only gotten to spend about ten minutes with him and Emily and I had missed them so much today for some reason. Earlier in the morning I contemplated divorcing my husband as I tripped over his piles of laundry and throughout most of the day I just wanted everyone to Shut Up. It was not a day that I was feeling good, nice, kind, compassionate, lovable, confident, or competent.
But these are exactly the things that I need to tell myself that I am on days like these. And somehow that little stinker, Jack, knew it.
“Hey, I know one that I can say tonight,” I said, stroking his nose for a second. “I am a lucky mom.”