I previously wrote a blog post, When Mama Has a Bad Day, that resonated with many of you. I received so many comments and notes and emails about that post, and I knew I had struck a chord. It’s true. We all have bad days. And sometimes, the bad days seem to outnumber the not-so-bad days by a staggering amount.
But bad days are not what I want to talk about today.
Actually, I want to talk about the opposite. Good days. Something that doesn’t get enough attention in my book.
Sometimes we have good days.
Sometimes we have days that just feel like a walk through the tulips.
It’s true. Let me say it again. Some days we have good days. Let’s own it. Let’s talk about. No, let’s scream it from the mountain tops! Let’s take note of it! Because these good days can give us just as much, if not more, information about how we can become better parents than our bad days can.
Maybe this doesn’t quite make sense at first. In our culture of bad-news-is-the-only-news, put-a-diagnosis-on-it-and-find-a-cure approach to life, the good stuff just doesn’t seem as noteworthy. After all, if we want things to get better, we need to first figure out what is wrong. Right? Many of us have communication styles that highlight the negative. We commiserate with friends about how hard stuff is, and it feels like bragging to say otherwise. We connect through struggle. We tell ourselves that it’s got to hurt if it’s to heal. We vent. We judge. We compare. And it seems that all of this reinforces our belief that it is in our darkest moments that we can learn the most.
But, what if we are missing something? Like the light maybe? Is it possible we could actually learn something from our good days?
This past weekend, I had a great parenting day. I was connected, flowing, gentle, patient, loving. I was all the things I strive to be. Things were going so well, that it kind of caught me off guard. I started to blame the weather, developmental strides, the stars…. And then I had a thought.
A strange thought.
What if, just maybe, this good parenting day was happening because I was doing something right?
And what if, just maybe, I could figure out what I was doing right, so that I could create my very own, personalized-for-my-own-family “self-help-guide-to-good-parenting.” So I did what I talk about doing in the tough moments, but have never even considered doing in the great moments. I reflected on what I was thinking, feeling, doing. I became aware and I collected data. I meditated, without judgment, on what was happening.
And the results? Enlightening. I became acutely aware of things that I already innately knew about myself, my children and my family. Things like, my children do better with slow starts in the morning. Things like, days with fewer transitions work better for us, and everyone in my house needs some downtime to balance out the activity. Things like, centering activities like yoga and meditation create connection among all of us, and sugar works better if we get to play outside right afterward. Things like, setting up a quiet writing activity in a quiet space could help avoid an ominous meltdown, and getting my daily run is crucial to my feeling centered throughout the day…. I could go on and on.
The point is, the weekend didn’t feel like a good parenting weekend because it was a fluke or an astrological miracle. It felt like a good parenting weekend because I was making good parenting decisions.
And when I realized what I was doing well, I could then turn these things into helpful hints for the next day. My own, personalized, family-focused, guide to getting through the rough days.
And even better, I already knew (1) that it worked and (2) that I was quite capable of implementing it. So the next day, when I realized I was having one of the more common “bad days,” I could remind myself that I (not an expert or a friend or a book) already had tried and true interventions.
No matter how much we struggle as parents, we all have good moments. We all have good days. We all have times that we feel like parenting rock stars who should be the one writing the books. And the truth is, we should be writing our own books. We already have so much data to go on. We just have to bring it to the front of our minds.
So the next time you have a good parenting day, stop. Breathe. Look around and pay attention. Tell yourself, “This is me. I am doing this. This is my family. We are doing this together.” And then take it all in. How are you speaking? What are you doing? Did you do anything different? Did you do anything proactive? What decisions did you make? How did you respond to stress or challenges? Why did it work?
Make a list. Write it down. Put at the top something simple like “Things That Work for Our Family.” Having this list accessible may be the best gift you ever give yourself. Some of the things you discover will be things that you decide to make routine, some of the things you discover will help you in crisis mode. But all of what you discover will be proof that you are a good parent, and there is so much that you already know. You just have to remember to see, and learn from, the light. And then maybe, have a few more walk-through-the-tulip kind of days.