Healing Childhood Wounds Through Parenthood favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - March 6th 2020

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Family, Motherhood, Healing, Growth

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

How can you know yourself deeply if you’ve never touched the depths of your anger or reached the height of your joy? We have to feel our emotions to process them in a healthy way – and our ability to do that is often impacted by how our parents led us through sensitive moments as children.

But what if our parents left us with empty spaces in our hearts? A beautiful opportunity for healing presents itself when we cross the threshold into parenthood. What if by parenting our children, we can parent ourselves?

In today’s episode, Rachel is home after a trip to Costa Rica and trying to get her daughter back on her normal schedule. The result is an epic tantrum that lasts hours and emotionally drains Rachel and her husband.

When it is all over, Rachel is left staring at the wall and wondering what it all means. Why do toddlers have meltdowns? Is there a purpose to it all? How can we be there for our children in the most challenging moments?

If you’re a parent, then you know there is no easy way out when your child is having a major emotional tantrum. All you can do is love them, be there for them, and put your patience to the test. As you do that – you may just find you are holding your own inner child as well.

By supporting them you are giving yourself the support you didn’t get when you were growing up. Loving them means you are healing old wounds and filling empty spaces in your own heart.

Tune in to today’s episode to find healing in the hard moments and safety in your own unconditional love.

Key Takeaways

  • Tantrums are exhausting but may be a method that children use to connect to their emotional bodies, find their power and get to know themselves on a deeper level
  • There is no easy solution or checklist to follow when your child is going through an emotional meltdown. All we can do is be there and love on them as much as we can.
  • What did you lack when you were growing up? Give an abundance of it to your kids! By parenting our children we get the chance to re-parent ourselves, too.
  • Through loving our little ones, we can learn to love ourselves. As we carry our children through the hard moments, we are carrying our younger selves and healing the empty spaces in our own hearts

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Transcript

[0:58] Welcome to a brand new episode of the Yoga Girl podcast, I’m your host, Rachel Brathen. I had this dream, so, I —this is like a super weird dream — I had a dream where I started introducing myself at the beginning of the podcast episodes, which I never do. I dunno if that’s…am I supposed to do that? Say my name every time? I had a dream that this podcast was more like me as a…like a talkshow host, kind of, interviewing people. And then in this dream all the time I kept repeating “and I’m your host, Rachel Brathen! I’m your host, Rachel Brathen!” And then the guests I had on the show, none of them knew how to pronounce my last name. It like a…it was a long, kind of weird dream, but that’s what stuck with me when I woke up, like “man, actually so many people don’t know how to pronounce my last name.” So many times I have been a guest on someone else’s podcast and they mess my name up as they introduce me on the show, or they have to re-record and do it again.

[1:53] I don’t know why I’m sharing this right now, but I just had that little spur of the moment “I’m your host, Rachel Brathen.” Yeah, welcome to the Yoga Girl podcast! I’m not your host, I I am your friend, your sister, your…I dunno. I don’t really know what I am. I am just sharing here while you hold space for me to talk, so thank you for being here, and thanks for listening.

[2:14] Okay, now that that weird intro’s over, I am officially back home. I’m so happy about that, you know, we just spent a couple of weeks in Costa Rica, Costa Rica is like my second home, I love going there, love visiting there. And somehow, you know, nothing beats coming back home. I dunno if everybody feels that way. I had this moment where I walked in through the door yesterday, we had kind of a long journey back, and I opened the door to my house and I just took a breath and like man, it’s a really good feeling to have a home that you actually don’t need vacation from. Like when coming home is just that amazing feeling where you really feel like you’ve made a home for yourself. Who else feels that way? I definitely felt that way, or feel that way constantly, and just being home, I feel like…it’s like my bones are settling [laughs]. Every time I sit down in any chair in this house I’m like “ah,” taking a breath, “I’m just so happy to be here.”

[3:12] I really only have one topic in mind for today’s episode of this podcast: sometimes I try to not do like entire podcast episodes centred around parenthood, or around motherhood. Sometimes that happens because it’s organic and relates to something big, but I very rarely have dedicated episodes to the idea of raising a child because there’s a lot of people listen to this show who aren’t parents, and who don’t relate to that. But honestly, I have nothing else to talk about right now than the fact that my child, who is like…you know, you guys have seen her on social media, she’s like an angel. She’s so, so beautiful, so sweet, so loving, super smart, like a joy to be around. She has transformed into a demon [laughs]. Like I don’t even feel bad saying that. Its not constant of like she’s just transformed, she has this new personality, but something has happened over the past like week, week and a half, I hope this is not like the beginning of a long phase or something, but she has these moments where she just…it’s like she’s possessed by something. We’ve had tantrums, meltdowns, like complete [laughs] societal collapse happening in this house at the drop of a hat, like for no big, apparent reason whatsoever. And it’s literally like, it’s taking up every inch of my life right now.

[4:40] Any parent listening to this, and that’s what’s so amazing, listening to parenting podcasts, or talking to friends who have kids, or especially talking to friends who have older kids who have been through this age, like that’s the only thing that’s really helped me. But we have entered some sort of phase where every single thing, she doesn’t want to do, which mind you, in a day for an almost three-year-old, like that’s a lot of stuff. Like you know, brushing your teeth, putting on your pyjamas, going to the bathroom, washing your hands, cleaning up your space…anything she doesn’t want to do, like it’s…it’s not just a “no, I’m not going to do that,” it’s a “hell motherfucking never ever, ain’t gonna happen, fuck you, no.” [laughs] Okay, she doesn’t use those words, but seriously, the fierceness coming out of this tiny little…tiny little body right now I dunno how to deal with it…I…it’s…mmm.

[5:37] So, we had this kind of long trip yesterday; whenever we travel from Costa Rica, the only flight Costa Rica to Aruba, it’s always via Panama and we have to take the 5am flight from San José so that we can get to Panama in time for the one morning flight that leaves Panama to Aruba. So that means any time we leave Costa Rica, we have to go the day before, we drive up to San José, we have a lot of friends there so it’s always good to see them, and we spend the day and sometimes do a little bit of shopping or something, stay at a hotel and then super middle of the night, like 3 am wake up call, we go to the airport. So it’s always a little bit of a pain, no one wants to wake up a sleeping child at 3 am to go somewhere, but you know, that’s what it is.

[6:16] And we had a nice day in San José, everything’s fine, like she hasn’t been obviously sleeping on a regular schedule because we’re on this vacation rhythm, so normally she’s in bed 7 and wakes up at 7 and she takes a long big nap in the middle of the day, like that’s just routine, every day. Now it’s been literally vacation mode, so she’s been up til 8 and 9 and 10, and like we’re really been kind of super lenient and chill around bedtime, and sometimes she’s even like gone to bed at 8 but she stays up until 10 o’clock at night, like it’s just been kind of all, like all bets off, like just vacation mode. And then coming home yesterday [laughs], so we get up super early, she actually slept an entire flight, which was amazing, like everything went super smooth, and then I try to put her down for a nap when we came home in the middle of day because I felt like “okay, she’s going to need some sort of…like a short nap just to get it through this day so we can go to bed like at 6:30, like a little earlier than normal so we can get on a regular rhythm.” Costa Rica’s only two hours off, so it’s not that big of a deal, but you know. And she didn’t want to nap, it was just “no, absolutely not,” and then I convinced her like “hey, if you don’t want to nap, you can chill in your crib, you can rest there, talk to your stuffed animals, you just rest, that’s fine.” Like that’s a thing I try to do, “it can be resting time, if you don’t fall asleep, that’s okay.”

[7:34] She didn’t sleep, wasn’t going to happen, so I was like “okay, let’s just put her to bed at 6 or 6:30, as early as we can.” We started this process like at 6:15. At 8 o’clock, she was still screaming. And when I say screaming, I don’t mean like “woohoo,” like scream and then it’s over, no. I’m talking like full-fledged mega meltdown that didn’t fucking end. Like it didn’t end, it just went on and on and on and on and on and on. Everything was a no, she didn’t want to wear her pjs, didn’t want to go to the bathroom, and then I was like “I don’t care, let’s go to bed naked, like whatever, like we just, we just have to sleep.” She’s so over-tired and then it just became “absolutely not, I don’t wanna close my eyes, I don’t wanna lie down.” And she screamed and cried, and was like throwing things, and trying to punch us and just going all out, full blown, mega tantrum madness until eventually [laughs] and I can laugh at this now, last night I was not laughing at this — eventually she finally stopped crying and I think for the last 30 minutes of the tantrum, we just held her. Like we didn’t do anything else, we didn’t try to change anything, we didn’t try to talk her down, nothing, we just tried to be there with her because it was like she was having a full-blown meltdown.

[8:54] So the last 30 minutes, we’re just on the couch in her room, holding her. At first she didn’t want to be held and she’s fighting it, we’re just holding her and holding her and holding her, and finally she stopped crying. And then she has those like after-shivers, like it’s super sad where you’re like [sobbing] you know, that kind of [sobbing] it’s super sad. And she had that going for awhile, butt naked, dripping sweat, like she’s just been fighting for two hours. And then, suddenly, like she just passed out, like draped across me and Dennis on the couch. And Dennis fell asleep, he was so emotionally exhausted he just passed out. And I’m sitting on the couch with like a sweaty, naked toddler and then an exhausted husband and I’m like “how…how, how did we get here, like what is happening right now?” And then we ended up putting on her pjs, you know, kind of like in a similar fashion how you would imagine dismantling a bomb, like you know if you do one thing wrong, the bomb’s going to go off, it was that kind of feeling. We gently like, you know, put her pj pants on like one toe at a time [laughs] it took so long, and then then managed to put her pyjama on, managed to do the whole thing, and then putting her in bed was like the final thing. We’re like “man, she could just wake up and we could just start the whole cycle again and we’ll be here until midnight.”

[10:20] Luckily she was just so exhausted, she basically cried herself to sleep. And then, you know, exiting her room, and I think Dennis and I…we just, we just sat on the couch just staring into space for probably ten minutes, just next to each other, not talking, just sitting there, like “what…what was that? What? What was that?” It’s…no one told me about this, and now that I’m asking friends, they’re like “oh, yeah.” I dunno if it’s like normal that it’s this bad, this intense, you know, but like now that I’m talking to people, a lot of people are saying “oh, that’s normal, that happens.” “Oh, yeah, it’s like they’re possessed by something,” or “yeah, like suddenly they become a demon, it’s like a different child.” I’m like “hey, back when I was pregnant, I don’t remember anybody talking to me about this. I don’t remember hearing a single friend of mine who had kids share that this was reality, like could there have been some preparation for this?”

[11:21] I dunno, we didn’t really have a terrible twos…I mean she’s still two, she’ll be three in ten days. But two I felt like was a breeze, not at all a thing. Please tell me this is not a thing that is beginning for three. Like I…I will not have it. No. No, no, no. And what was so absurd was normally she’ll have these kinds of meltdowns, not this intense, like not to the point of us not being able to reach her, like that’s not happened before. She’s had massive tantrums before where I can still kind of communicate with her, and she can still look me in the eye and it’s like she’s still present somehow, you know. And then I’ve been able to just be super quiet with her, just be present with her, just sit with her, and then usually it passes. And I honestly have a feeling like “I’m learning something here,” you know, it’s just like practice of being super present, not trying to fix her, not trying to improve anything, not trying to make her stop whatever she’s doing; just being there, that helps. This, because it was so forceful and aggressive, she would have probably hit herself, like she was just going insane, totally berserk, like it was, it was totally impossible to just sit there. I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing because she wouldn’t have it, you know. And then I think like an hour in, I just tried to get her to be in my arms, like I just tried to get her to calm down, try to do anything I could for her to stop screaming, to stop crying, because she was putting herself into a worse and worse and worse frenzy, and it was like “what can we do? Should we go outside, should we like what…what do people do in this situation? Like no one has prepared me for this [laughs] at all. At all.”

[13:03] And then I think I had a good like fifteen minutes trying to kind of hold her; I was like “maybe if I koala bear it, you know, and I like strap, like I wrap my arms around her like I’m a life vest or something, maybe she’ll just like, you know…like she needs to feel totally held and kind of, you know, supported, maybe she’ll chill?” That backfired completely [laughs]. It was just…I was like “I’m just going to sit here and love you and hold you,” and she was just…[laughs] like “get off.” And she had a moment where she was just like “spaaace!” [laughs] “I need space!” And I’m like “okay!”

[13:42] When her nanny picked us up at the airport yesterday, she had a little basket and I was like “hey, what’re you going to put in your basket?” And she was like “toys and space. Because I need some space.” [laughs] And then in the middle of her tantrum, she was like “spaaace! Give me some space!” [laughs] And I’m like “I’m trying to give you space, I’ve tried everything, like I tried giving you space, tried holding you, tried hugging you, tryied talking you down, tried sitting here quietly, I’ve tried everything! Tried to do everything, make everything better.” It’s just…yeah.

[14:13 — Commercial Break]

[15:36] So, after that, obviously, like, I woke up with a headache and it’s in my left front of my brain, I dunno if there’s anyone who knows anything about brain stuff, but I should Google this probably. I don’t want WebMD to tell me I have brain cancer or something, but I’ve had this piercing, like throbbing headache in the left temple, front of forehead kind of area all day. Woke up with it, it hasn’t gone away, it’s just been sitting there all day, all day, all day. And I was just contemplating now, like she’s having a nap now, thank God. And I practiced, I had 45 minutes to practice before recording this podcast, and as I was just sitting silently at the end of my practice, I was like “what does this do?” One: what does this do to your nervous system, seriously, being, you know, this intertwined with someone, having this kind of…this level emotion meltdown, what does this do to my nervous system? What does it do to her? Like is it doing something for her? Is this part of her processing, part of her releasing, part of her, like the evolution of her own consciousness, like what…? I don’t want to believe that this meltdowns or whatever you want to call them for toddlers, that it’s something that’s harming them, or that it’s something that’s bad or terrible, “we should stop it,” you know, “put a lid on, don’t feel feelings.” It’s good to feel your feelings, but there is a limit [laughs]. Is there not a limit? I dunno, should…I feel like there’s a limit when you start to wallow in your emotions, and then then feeling so much to the point of maybe not feeling safe, right? Or feeling so much to the point of like, “I can’t put everything back, like I can’t put myself back together again.” Which obviously is different if you’re an adult and you have to put yourself back together again because you’ve got shit to do and, you know, people to take care of. Maybe when you’re a kid, it’s supposed to be that way because you don’t have to worry about piecing everything back afterwards.

[17:38] I…I was just sitting there, I’m like on my mat trying to just process like “what, what what….” [laughs] “What is this?” And then, for awhile I thought “okay, maybe I’ll record a podcast and it’ll be like I get to process and maybe I’ll cry and feel super…” I’m not feeling sad today, I just have this massive, massive, massive headache. And it’s taking me to this place where I’m just wondering when we have a release of emotion, is there such a thing, or a point where you cross the threshold of releasing and you go into egging yourself on, you know what I mean? You make it worse or more intense. And since, you know, most kids, if not all kids, have these kinds of tantrums, I really believe that they do something for us, like there’s something there that perhaps it’s exhibiting like “look at the power that I have in my body.” What about that? Like can you really know yourself deeply if you don’t know the fullness of your own anger? If you’ve never touched your rage, if you haven’t felt the depth of total despair and grief and sadness? You know, perhaps that’s what this is: kids feeling to this extent just so that we can get to know our own emotional body, right? Touching every vast corner of all of our feelings, and knowing what it’s like to go there all the way, fully, and just embody that anger, if that’s what it is, or embody the frustration, or embody the, the sadness or whatever’s there.

[19:14] So perhaps it’s kind of like, part of…I dunno, maybe this is part of her emotional growth and…okay, I’m clearly telling myself this because I want this to be, in the end to be a good thing, [laughs] not a terrible thing, but I had this moment where I was just holding her and she’s kicking and screaming and it’s just like, her face is red, and I remembered when I was little — my brother’s two years younger than me — he would scream to the point of passing out. This is like 100% real, I remember this. Like he would scream, go into these total meltdowns and scream to the point of his face getting all red, and then he would just…like he would just pass out. Like he would run out of breath, pass out, my mom would freak out, she’d have to shake him, and then he would wake back up and cry again. Like that’s kind of what he did. And I think he was around this kind of age because I can remember this: I have a really strong memory…we spoke about this not super long ago, I was six and my brother was four and we were going to India. That’s my only time ever that I’ve been to India, I was that little, and we had to go get vaccinated. So we were at this, like the doctor’s office, and I remember, because it was my turn first because I was the bigger girl, and I remember the doctor was really nice, and I was super scared of the needle, and she said “okay you can choose, you have the needle…it can either go in your butt or in your thigh, like where do you want it?” And I couldn’t decide and I was all frazzled like “no, in the butt, no, wait…the thigh. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.” And yeah, I was like “no…okay…thigh!” [laughs] And then as the doctor approaches my thigh with the needle, I freaked out and kicked my leg and like, hurt her somehow, and she dropped the needle and it was like a…she ended up having to prick me twice because I had a freak out. And then finally that was over, it was my brother’s turn [laughs] I just think this is, like…imagine this poor doctor. It’s my brother’s turn, and he just at the sight of the needle, he freaked out so intensely that he just screamed and immediately passed out, and my mom went “go! Go! Go! Do it now! Do it now!” [laughs] Like “jab him! Jab him!” [laughs] Just imagining this poor, poor woman like, one passed out child and one hysterical child kicking the needle and like, “what in the world.”

[21:40] But I can really remember those kinds of screams coming from my brother. I also have a really strong memory of us having a ski vacation I think around the same time, same age-ish, where my brother would just lose it, and my mom would…or maybe this was my dad actually, now that I think of it. Probably both of them at either point, would throw him out of the house. And I remember him in a huge pile of snow in his pyjamas, like in the snow, outside just screaming because they just couldn’t take him screaming like that inside the house. And also him, just like, leaving the house, like every…”screw everybody!” and just taking off like, “I’m gonna find a new family to live with!” Just total, total epic meltdowns, like I’m remembering this now, like “man, okay, so that…that was what that was. Okay, this is that. Interesting.”

[22:31] But what about all the times, because for most of us we grew up in a way where “hey,” we didn’t really have probably anyone with the emotional capacity to hold us in that kind of space. I think it’s pretty rare…I think it’s more common now, at least I hope it’s more common now, but for me, yesterday, to not lose my shit, right, to not scream at her back, to not throw her out of the house, to not lock her in her room, to not, like, pull my own hair out, right? To not lose it, but to just be there, and to be present, and to be calm, and to breathe, like to continue to breathe the whole entire time…like I had that moment where I was like, “okay, I have a choice now. Like I can go into…I can resist this and just freak out and get worried and “what the fuck’s happening”; or I can take a deep breath and just drop into practice right now cuz I just need to be here.” And I did exactly that. And there was one moment, like really halfway through where it was so intense and I just told Dennis like, “hey, why don’t you go take a shower, or take a break, and I’ll hold this for a second,” and he was like “I’m not going to leave her like this,” like he got worried, you know, “she needs to know that she’s supported by both of us. Whatever’s she’s going through that we’re both here, that we’re not leaving her.” And I was like, “yeah. Yeah.” So we then just stayed. But it was really this massive test, I mean above anything else, in “okay, can I be present here? Can I choose to be here and feel all of this and not ignore my own feelings or try to numb my own feelings or escape myself, but be present with myself while holding her here? Like while giving…while holding space for her to act all of this out. To not lose it, right?”

[24:27] How many of us had parents who yelled at us when we lost it as kids, or who yelled at us when we cried? I mean I had that; I had my dad was completely freaked out around anything that was tearful, or sad, or…I can’t really remember him…I can’t remember me being angry or showing like anger tantrum like that around my dad, but I have super strong memories of being sad and my dad saying “stop crying. Stop crying.” And I don’t think that’s anything terrible about that, I don’t feel any resentment to him around that, I think that’s how he grew up, that’s how pretty much everyone grows up: it’s inconvenient to have our kids crying in public. Also it triggers everything that’s unfelt inside of us. So, if we have kids who are super sad and showing that sadness like right on their sleeve, really showing their hearts, really being vulnerable, if we have not had the space to be that vulnerable with ourselves, it’s going to be really hard. We’re not going to have the capacity to sit and hold someone else in their vulnerability when we can’t hold ourselves, right?

[25:19 — Commercial Break]

[26:59] So, I had that, that really strong feeling of “okay, crying is bad, crying means you’ve done something bad or that you are bad. Or crying means that you are guilty of something. Crying is bad, ‘stop crying, stop crying.’” I mean, just saying that sentence, “stop crying,” how many times have we been told in our lives to stop crying by probably more people than our parents? Teachers, or babysitters, or family members, or friends of family, or just adults overall, “just stop crying, stop crying.” Or “go to your room,” right? If you’re feeling something or expressing something, like “go away. You’re banished from here, go to your room. Leave the table, go to your room.” I think that’s really common. So not having had that kind of space when we grew up, how on earth are we going to be able to hold that for our own kids as we grow up and became parents unless we are doing that work in the meanwhile, or have had some kind of support to do our own inner work before we become parents. And I think for a lot of people becoming parents, like that’s the starting moment of this huge spiritual journey for so many, and it makes us realize “man, I am not equipped for this.” [laughs] Because we’re not, really. There’s no handbook, no one…I wish. I wish yesterday [laughs] at like 7pm I could’ve like “hey, let’s take a little break here, time out, let me open the parenting handbook that I was given when I became pregnant, turn to page ‘Unbelievable Tantrum,’ let me find like the bullet point list of…to work my way through what to do here.” There is not, like that book does not exist. And it’s probably like that for a reason, right? We’re meant to go on this huge journey along with our kids.

[28:41] But I’m wondering if we were…if we allowed our kids to have a little more space to just explore what they’re feeling, and it maybe doesn’t have to be as extreme as what I went through yesterday, or went through, it’s like I went through war, it kind of feels that way. But just in all the regular day to day moments too, and I am super struggling with this right now because there is a fine line and a balance there between drawing boundaries for our children and allowing them to be who they are and the way they are. And I think I’ve been very much in the area of just allowing…not just allowing but really allowing my daughter to take up the space that she needs to feel the feelings that she’s feeling, to explore, to adventure, to be herself, and the reason I actually haven’t had to be super firm and strict with her is because she’s been a super easy kid so far. I mean we’ve had our challenges, of course, but up until now at least, it’s been really easy for me to reason with her. So if she wants to do something that’s a no, “I want ice cream,” while I’m making dinner, and I don’t have to say “nope, no ice cream,” because that’s not my way, I don’t like to just say “no” and dismiss, I like to squat down on her level and just validate her, like that’s how I do it every time. “Oh, ice cream, I love ice cream too, yeah, ice cream would be really good right now. But hey look, momma’s making dinner,” and then I pick her up and I show her that I’m making dinner. And “you know how all the time we eat dinner first, and then after we finish our dinner, if we still want ice cream, we can have some.” Or if that’s not the case I’ll say “but hey, this weekend when we’re gonna go to the animal garden, we can get some ice cream then,” like I’ll explain and reason and then, you know, give her the option of something coming later or something like that, so it’s not just a “no, you get no ice cream,” which of course can be super triggering and hard to…I think it’s hard for a child to see the logic in that. “But why.”

[30:37] And up until now she’s been really inquisitive and also really understanding, so when I explain it I can see she’s like “oh, okay. Ice cream’s after dinner. Oh, okay, we get ice cream on the weekend, okay.” And that’s been that. So we haven’t had any, you know, massive tantrums out of every no or “no, you can’t have ice cream,” and then her freaking out, “no,” because she’s been really good at grasping those things. And maybe it’s different with every kid, of course it’s different with every kid, so now we’re at this point where I say “hey, it’s bedtime, we gotta go brush our teeth.” “No.” And I go, “but hey, darling, darling, every night we brush our teeth,” and I have this little story that I tell, in Sweden we call them tander troll which is actually, like I grew up with this, I think it’s a really common word in Swedish, it means “The Tooth Trolls.” [laughs] I’m sharing this now, maybe this is going to come off very, very insane, but this is what we do in Sweden. So in your mouth, you have these tiny little tooth trolls that create cavities, [laughs] and they come out after you’ve had food and sweet things. So you gotta brush your teeth to get rid of the tooth trolls [laughs]. If you’re Swedish, you’re nodding, you’re like “yeah, of course, tander troll, everybody knows about tander troll.” Maybe I am like traumatizing my kid telling her there’s little trolls living in her mouth [laughs]. Okay, anyway, that’s the story that we tell like, “because of the tooth trolls, we brush our teeth every morning, every evening. That’s the thing.”

[32:06] We have a little routine we do where we have two toothbrushes, so she gets to hold one, like that’s her own, and then I have the one that we use, and then first I brush her teeth really well and then she gets to brush her teeth after I’m done. Like that’s the routine that we have. And then we do all the rest of things, like put on our pjs and all that stuff. And now she’s just like “no.” And I’m like, “honey!” Like already there, like the no is so firm, it’s so final, it’s just “no.” Like “we brush our teeth every night, let’s go. Let’s go to the bathroom, I have your toothbrush over here.” “No. I don’t wanna brush my teeth.” And I go “everybody brushes their teeth. Momma does it, poppa does it, we do it twice a day, and we have…remember the tander trolls, we gotta brush our teeth now.” “But I don’t like brushing my teeth.” And I go “yeah, I understand. You know actually, me too. Sometimes I don’t like it, sometimes it’s a little boring to brush your teeth, but I do it still every day, twice a day because it’s really good for my dental health, like it’s really good for my teeth to brush my teeth. It’s something that we all have to do.” And she goes, “I still don’t wanna do it.” [laughs] And like, her logic makes more sense than mine, like as I’m just relating this to you now, because it’s so true. “Yeah, okay, I still don’t want to do it. I don’t want to brush my teeth.” And then it becomes this dance, right? Like this back and forth of negotiating and reasoning and explaining and going into stuff…and it’s this forever thing. And sometimes the thing that we’re, you know, reasoning with or negotiating on, it’s like a non-negotiable thing, like you gotta brush your fucking teeth. There is no way I’m going to let this little shit go to be without brushing her teeth, like that’s not going to happen. “We gotta brush our teeth, like you gotta hold my hand when we’re walking through traffic, like there are a lot of non-negotiable things that just, we gotta do.”

[33:52] And then there are some ones where I feel like “okay, I can let her assert some control,” right, there are other moments that maybe aren’t…like I say, “hey, we aren’t going to do that,” but actually it’s not the end of the world. I try to pick those battles, you know? Like she wants to be barefoot in the garden, maybe I’ll explain like “hey, we have cactus in the garden. If you really want to be barefoot, you can, like you can choose that, but if you step on a little cacti, like that’s on you,” you know, like I do little things like that. And then of course that never happens, like the cactus thing is not really real. But you know, like I try to pick those battles. But brush your teeth, like come on, you gotta do it. And then I have this choice, “okay, I can either go into a twenty minute negotiation about why we have to brush our teeth, everybody brushes their teeth, we gotta go brush our teeth,” I get her stuffed animals, we brush the animals’ teeth, we read the book about brushing our teeth, we…I start brushing my teeth, like how…how long are the lengths that you go through until you realize like, “okay, I’m just being like…we just…we just go gotta do the thing now.” And then the choice becomes picking up a three…almost three year old kid, like she’s getting kind of strong now, and against her will, shoving a toothbrush with toothpaste in her mouth, like that’s…yeah, I dunno about you guys listening, maybe this feels like an option for everybody else; that doesn’t feel like an option for me. Just anything where she has to be completely forced against her will, and it’s so clear that it’s almost like she’s being violated in that moment, I just…I don’t…I don’t feel good doing that. I’m never gonna. When it comes…there are certain areas, yeah, when it comes to safety, like wearing our seatbelt in the car, like I’ll wrangle her against her will because yeah…there’s no way we’re not going to do that. but knowing like, she’ll probably brush her teeth in the morning, like I have days where I don’t brush my teeth, you know, in the evening, like I’m not gonna die. Like when do you get to that point where you just either give up, right, you give in. And then are you then unconsciously — or semi-consciously — telling your kid that “hey, you win in the end.” Right? “Fight me long enough and I’ll get tired and I’ll stop and you win, and we don’t brush our teeth.” What does that lead you to? Right? Maybe then tomorrow she won’t brush her teeth again, and then maybe she’ll be one of those kids with black teeth that are falling out of her mouth. Okay, you get the picture.

[36:16 — Commercial Break]

[38:02] For me, this is so, so, so, so, so challenging right now because I don’t want to force her to do something she doesn’t want to do, I want her to understand and then do the things she doesn’t want to do anyway. Which doesn’t really happen that often, at least this week. This week it’s been…everything, everything has been a struggle from brushing our teeth, putting on our pjs, going to the bathroom, washing our hands, and even things like…like she’s fighting me on something and I say “but hey darling, let’s not fight about this now, let’s just go here and sit down” and then she looks at me, “but I like to fight. I want to fight.” [laughs] And I go “what? No, no you don’t like…” “Yes, but I like to fight, let’s fight!” [laughs] It’s like everything I say, she just has to…she just has to push my buttons on it. And then of course, after the thing…so in the end, like last night, like we…okay, last night was an anomaly, but, yeah, no brushing of teeth, didn’t go to the bathroom, didn’t read a book, didn’t put on pjs, nothing happened that we normally do every night because she passed out, right, after two hours of just complete and total, utter screaming. Normally at the end of all of these negotiations, like I get my way, like that’s, you know, I don’t…we don’t have a kid running wild here in the garden barefoot, not brushing her teeth, not eating any food, naked all day, like that’s not how we roll at the end of the day. But it takes so long to get there now. And, what I’ve been trying, or Dennis and I, when we finally stopped staring into space, sitting on the couch like completely in shock over…of our own child, when we spoke about it last night, kind of where we got to, or what I think is the best way around it, is not just to focus on “what do I do in that situation,” like “how do I deal with that massive tantrum,” but more preventative. “What can I do to ensure that we don’t get to a place where she has a meltdown of that level,” right?

[40:07] Yesterday, the factors that were not in our favour, obviously she woke up at 3am. She just had a huge life change, like just spent, you know, spent almost a month in another country, in another house, getting on a plane, hotel, travelling, airports, airplanes, and then suddenly we’re back home, it’s this big transition which is super challenging. She’s two hours off in time, which I think for a three year old actually means something; didn’t eat a lot of dinner because, just didn’t want to eat a lot, like probably didn’t have a good day food-wise either…just a lot of variables for her that I think pushed her over the edge, where probably would’ve had a little bit of a fight and instead it became like a total, total meltdown, right?

[40:49] So I think the way around it is, or the thing to focus on probably, at least this was my consensus yesterday, is preventative. Like can I make sure that my kid is sleeping really well, like really that she has full, long night’s sleep. Can I protect her nap, like normally she naps everyday. She’s not…I’m realizing now she’s not at an age where she can go all day without her nap yet, like no way. So today I told Dennis, I said, “I don’t care what we have to do to get this kid to nap today, but she is napping. Like we’ll all nap together, like I…like we’ll bring the dogs, like I don’t care what we have to do, I’ll go to any length to make sure this nap happens because I know she’s not going to make it til 7pm. Otherwise she’s not going to make it to bedtime, she’s going to…yeah, we’re going to have a repeat.”

[41:35] Today I have stuffed her full of super nutritious, filling foods, like [laughs] she has had a huge breakfast, big snack, big lunch, you know. Like I’m trying to cover all the bases, and then my plan is already around 5, an hour earlier than we normally do, we’re going to start winding down. We’re going to completely start to kind of speak a little softer, lower the lights a little more, take a longer bath maybe with some lavender oil, read her more books, just…really take our time to slow down and wind down so that when it gets time to bedtime she’s not so wired or super excited about something else, right? Like that transition can be a little bit smoother. That’s my plan, my game plan. I feel like it’s a good one. Still doesn’t help me at all if we get into one more of these meltdowns because I don’t have a…I would love the bullet point list, maybe I’ll make myself one [laughs], but I would love to have some sort of, like…something solid to sink my teeth into, like maybe I need to read a book, I need to do something more to learn about developmentally why does this happen, and then how can I best help her in that place?

[42:48] What I really love about last night is that both Dennis and I…because we couldn’t communicate, we couldn’t talk to each other, it was just crazy, but both of us just realized in the end “we just need to be here. Like she’s having a super hard time.” It’s like she’s not trying to be bad, she’s not trying to do something mean, she’s not enjoying this, obviously, she’s just having a really hard time now. She’s so little, she’s tiny little kid, how can we just be here for her and hold her and love her and love her and love her.

[42:20] Oh, and this…this reminded me, like right before she passed out, we’re just holding her and we’re just repeating, we were just…it was like a mantra, we’re just like “I love you, I love you. We love you, we love you. We’re here, we’re here. We’re not going anywhere, we’re not leaving, we’re going to stay here, we’re going to be here.” Like just repeating that, “I love you, I’m here, I’m here, I love you.” And then she would have…she would calm down, and then she would like have a, like realize that she’s calmed down and she would go back into fighting mode, like “no you don’t love me!” [laughs] I’d say, “yes I do, I love you.” “I don’t love you!” I said “that’s okay, I love you, I love you.” And she was repeating that and then at the end she was like [whispering] “I love you, love you, love you.” Like she was just whispering, like repeating what I was saying.

[44:09] I could cry right now, just remembering this moment. Us on the couch, holding this sweaty, like and her hair was you know, wild, standing up on the top of her head, just loving on our daughter in the hardest moment. I mean, what a life lesson for every…for every moment, right? How many times have we had the experience with an adult where that’s what we need, you know? Either the person that we’re with, someone who’s going through a hard time or having a tough moment, that’s what we need. Or when we’re having a tough time or a really tough moment, we don’t need someone to swoop in and give us advice, we don’t need anyone to tell us how to live our lives, right? We don’t need that kind of…that’s not what we’re looking for, but that’s usually what we get, it’s like “you should do this,” or “I know you’re going through grief, you’re going through a hard time; yeah, you should try this, read this book, try this meditation class, go to yoga….” No. What we need is we need someone to just love us. Right? We need someone to just hold us, to just support us, to just feel safe that no one’s going to leave us, right? That that person who has our back in that moment is there to stay, not going to go anywhere. Like that moment of just being held and “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. No matter what, I love you.”

[45:37] Also in this rage, “I love you.” Also in this despair, “I love you.” In this grief, in this sadness, in this pain, in this depression, in this sickness, in this like utter, utter wounded place, “I love you.” I mean when was the last time you had someone be there for you like that? When was the last time you had someone really be there for you like that? And think of all the moments we needed someone to be there for us like that when we were kids but we didn’t have it, or we didn’t get that? Where we were thrown out of the house, or sent to our rooms, or told to be quiet, or told to stop crying, or we were punished, right? Think about all the moments you were punished for feeling feelings in your life, and then how it’s not so strange that we grew up and became what we are, right? How everything makes sense. And maybe parenthood is here because it’s this unbelievable opportunity for us to relearn what we were taught when we were kids by doing differently to our own kids; by parenting and raising our kids differently than how we were raised, we get tor reparent ourselves.

[46:49] So maybe there, sitting on the couch holding our daughter, it’s like I’m sitting there holding my own inner child. And Dennis is sitting there holding his own inner child, and we’re all holding each other, and we’re all loving on each other, giving ourselves all the things we didn’t get when we were growing up. I think I get it now [laughs]. I think I get it now.

[47:19] My favourite thing about either recording this podcast or about sharing, you know, just having somebody listen when you get to speak for an extended period of time is that we can start with a problem, or an issue, or confusion or something that we just don’t get, you know? And then let yourself speak from the heart long enough, let yourself tell the truth long enough, and you will eventually unwind enough stuff to get to that point of “oh. I get it. I already had it,” right? “I already knew this, it was just buried under a lot of stuff. I get it.” The reason my daughter has epic meltdowns and tantrums is because it’s an opportunity for me to hold space for her and love her unconditionally and in the process of doing that, I’m holding space for myself and I’m loving myself the way I needed to be loved when I was three. Every single challenging moment with her is an opportunity for me to give myself everything I’ve ever needed.

[48:31] So I’m parenting her, hopefully doing the very best I can to be the very best mother I can be for her, hopefully setting a good example for her, right? Hopefully giving her that sense of total stability, security, trust, that no matter what, she’s loved. That no matter what, she’s held, that there’s nothing she could ever do in this life that could ever take that love away, that she can rest that love. And by mothering her in that way, I get to fill in the gaps for myself, right? All those moments, all those little spaces where, where I don’t feel trust, where I didn’t feel trust or I didn’t feel safe, where I needed that love or it wasn’t there, right? I get to…I get to patch that up with the love I feel for her, because it overflows and it’s so big and massive, like it’s never-ending. And it gets to overflow over her and back to me. So in the end, you know, this tantrum, it’s healing something really, really big. And fuck I’m grateful [laughs]. I am so grateful, I am so grateful, I am so grateful.

[49:52] My little demon, I’m going to go wake her from her nap now. [laughs] I’m still strategic, okay? I have that feeling of puzzle pieces falling into place and I’m still going to do what mom’s gotta do, but everything makes sense now. So whether you are a mother or a father, if you’re parenting a little one or parenting yourself, I hope this made sense for you too. And thank you for listening. Yoga Girl podcast will be back next week.

[End of Episode]