I’m a crunchy, touchy feelie, hippie parent. As such its often hard to come up with just the right words to tell your kid that biting her mom and laughing about it makes you wildly, furiously, and deeply unhappy. As a hippie, touchy feelie, AP, parent you are not, for example supposed to say “Do that again and you’re out of the family.” Nor is it encouraged to shout “Are you insane?” It’s just not the thing. Conversely the suggested mantras “Biting is not okay” and “We don’t bite sweetie,” just don’t really satisfy the deep, furious, wild feelings that are floating around the house at such moments.
As a result we of the Bradford family have adopted this concept of the “Best Self.” It’s this sort of Platonic ideal person that we have the potential to be. For whatever reason it’s a little more satisfying to say “Sweetheart, are you being your best self? No? What do you think you could do to be your best self?” It’s a little bit closer to what I’m thinking which is “You can not possibly be my child, if I didn’t scoop you up all wet and white from your mother’s womb, I would seriously wonder if you were switched at birth”
So what happens when you turn this wonderful parental device around on yourself? I mean as a touchy feelie, etc… I really shouldn’t hold my kids to a standard that I don’t hold myself to right? Right! I started thinking about this on the way home from Aikido tonight.
Twice a week I have a better than average chance of being my best self for an hour or so. Generally, if I rise to the occasion (read: if I’m not too broken when I arrive to get into the spirit) the blending and harmonizing lessons that my body learns during training become spiritual and emotional lessons that I carry with me into the next day. If I concentrate really hard I can go from Tuesday all the way to Friday blending my way through trafic, social tension, work problems, and ego problems. It’s these weeks when I feel empowered, confident, competent and just. It is these weeks when I am my best self.
This has not been one of those weeks. Aikido also teaches me forgiveness. I forgive me. I’ll do better tomorrow. The trick now is to find a way to be my best self all the time. Until then, I guess I’ll just have to go easy on the kids when they bite, hit, kick, and then laugh, remembering all the while that we are all on a journey to become our best selves.
What does your best self look like? When do you feel most like that person? What kinds of things make you forget your best self and be that other person?
Parenting: What I’ve Learned So Far