Part 6 in my Series on Giving and Forgiving
You can also read Part 1: Deck the Halls with PsychoAnal Gifts, Part 2: The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving, Part 3: Balancing the Four Rooms, Part 4: The Candy Cane Crux, and Part 5: Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus.
I have been incredibly moved by the response to this series. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to connect. While I was writing one of the posts in this series, I realized I was aching to hear from the voices of parents I admire. One of these is the guest writer today. What she shares here has far exceeded my expectations. I gets to the heart of the many facets of giving and forgiving yourself and those you love. Today, I am honored to present a ghost post from Vickie of Demand Euphoria.
You’re a parent of a young child. You are struggling with exhaustion and complicated life issues. You are pretty sure you want to be a gentle parent, but you are finding it more and more difficult to do so as your child gets older. Today was a particularly difficult day, in which your child had more than a few meltdowns, and subsequently so did you…
It’s the middle of the night. You wake up from a sound sleep when you hear a noise. You are used to waking up to comfort your child who still doesn’t sleep through the night, but tonight is different. Your child is still blissfully asleep. You wake up into a dream-like state, to hear a strange voice with an even stranger message: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits…
You are pretty sure it’s part of a dream, so you roll over and continue your sleep. Another voice wakes you up shortly after. There is a person next to your bed. You are scared but the person looks friendly, and explains she is the ghost of parenting past.
The ghost whisks you away to your childhood home. You are looking in the window at a scene from your childhood. You see yourself at the same age as your child is now. You have your head hanging in shame as your mother is yelling at you. You remember the day well.
You didn’t want to bother your mother while she was sleeping, so you tried to pour yourself a glass of milk. The jug was heavy and you spilled milk all over the kitchen counter and floor. In trying to clean it up by yourself, you only made the mess even bigger.
Your mother walked in. She didn’t ask questions. She only yelled. She yelled about how naughty you were. She commanded you to come over so she could hit you. Then she sent you to your room. You were still thirsty.
Watching this scene again as an adult is particularly painful. You want to go give your younger self a hug and a big glass of milk. You want to go tell your mom that if she had only asked for an explanation, she would not have reacted that way.
Now you start to see flashes of other scenes from your childhood. All different times when you were called naughty, punished, and sent away. All different times when you were misunderstood. When you needed something and no one asked you what it was.
Suddenly you are back in your bed at home. You go to check on your child and are relieved to find her still asleep. Another voice echos from the other room. It’s the ghost of parenting present.
This ghost shows you times when your child is happiest, when you are gentle, supportive, in tune with her needs. When you have time for her. When you put down whatever you are busy with and play with her. When you get involved in things she is most interested in, even if that means watching the same movie for the third time in one day. You even get to watch a scene of your daughter telling her friends what a nice mommy she has.
This ghost also shows the struggles. You watch as your child gets overwhelmed with life, collapses into your arms and feels safe. You watch the times when you are better at handling the difficulties, when your own needs are met. You watch the times when you are drained and your child’s meltdown leads to one of your own. You know it’s because you are tired, you are frustrated, you feel helpless.
Back in your bed, another voice: the ghost of parenting future.
You are looking at yourself in twenty years. You are awaiting the arrival of a someone special. Your child walks up the path to your house, baby in arms. You open the door and greet each other with big smiles and warm hugs. She is as excited to see you as you are to see her.
The future scenes are exciting. You are friends with your grown child. You do fun things together. You talk about everything that matters. She trusts you. She wants you in her life. You have succeeded in the most important way, by upholding your half of this beautiful relationship with your child.
What would your visits look like?
What scenes would the ghost show you from your past? Times when your parents misunderstood you and your relationship suffered? Times when you were punished and made to feel ashamed and guilty?
What would it be like to watch yourself as a child in these situations again? Did you deserve to be treated that way? What did these experiences do for your relationship with your parents?
What about the present? If you could watch yourself be a parent to your child from outside your body, would you be proud of how you are handling yourself? Would you see lots of scenes of relationship-building, of strengthening your bond with your child?
Would you see yourself apologizing when you haven’t been the parent you know you want to be? Are you being the friend to your child now that you hope to be in the future?
And what about the future? Will your child look forward to spending time with you? Will she trust you? Will your relationship be strong and healthy? Will she have other healthy and beautiful relationships?
This was inspired by all of the different versions of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that we have watched on television this holiday season. If only we could all be visited by these three ghosts…
Asking yourself these questions can help you find the true spirit of giving and forgiving. I hope you will feel moved to respond, especially on your own blog or here, as a guest post. I’ll happily share responses that add to this interesting discussion.
Remember, anonymous comments are always welcome. I’d love to hear from you.
Vickie is the mother of two children, ages 5 and 2. She writes about gentle parenting and unschooling at Demand Euphoria.
- Questions from Part 1: Have you ever been charged for receiving a gift? Do you have expectations when you give to someone else?
- Questions from Part 2: Do you feel that giving and receiving freely is important or is a gift a gift? What do you think about the concept that giving objects are a representation of the feelings inside?
- Questions from Part 3: Do you visit the four rooms of your house? Are there any areas you need to offer the key of self-forgiveness before you unlock them?
- Questions from Part 4: How do you handle candy in your family? Is giving candy in a separate category from giving gifts? Why or why not?
- Questions from Part 5: How do you reconcile the idea of Santa Claus with your worldview? Do you treat the magic of childhood as something intertwined with the spirit of giving and forgiving?
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- Why I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus (touchstonez.com)
- The Candy Cane Crux (touchstonez.com)
- Deck the Halls with Psychoanal Gifts (touchstonez.com)
- The Spirit of Giving and Forgiving (touchstonez.com)
- Balancing the Four Rooms (touchstonez.com)
- Guest Post: The Key to Everything (touchstonez.com)
- When the Chitta Hits the Fan (touchstonez.com)
- Giving from the Heart (vibrantwanderings.com)
- Family Traditions: To Santa or Not to Santa (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- What’s Not Ok? (A Self-Forgiveness Post) (itsokblog.com)
- Yama, Niyama and the Red Pajama Mama (naturalparentsnetwork.com)
- Further proof that children are socially cooperative creatures (hobomama.com)
- More on the Culture of More(angelbabyjazzymama.blogspot.com)
- Do your children own anything? (demandeuphoria.blogspot.com)