I always saw myself as a good parent with good values and good sensitivities. I knew how to express my feelings well. I had tons of experience working with children of all ages through my work as a social worker. I knew how to control my anger – well I knew the rules anyway: remove myself from the situation, count backwards from ten, take long deep breaths, etc., etc…or so I thought.
It was my son’s second birthday (our second child was about 8 months old at the time). I was a stay-at-home mom and I was busy! I was also excited about getting presents for my little boy and I thought the presents I had gotten him were great. I laid out the presents on the dining room table, all wrapped up and beautiful. I let my son open them one by one.
He played with the things I had bought him for a little while, and then remarked that he didn’t like them. I was so hurt. How could he? I had spent so much time looking for the ‘right’ toys, thinking of what he would like the whole time, and there he was being so ungrateful.
I lost it. I got so angry. I didn’t yell (because I knew better – ha!), and instead I threatened him. “Well if you don’t like these toys, I’ll just throw them in the garbage.” “Fine,” he replied. And so I did.
After all, I had to keep my word. I had to show him who was boss. I was so angry (did I mention that already?) I could not wait for my husband to get home. I needed a break.
That night I had a long talk with my husband and I had a major “aha” moment. I realized that I was taking what my son did (a two year old!) so personally. What in the world was I thinking? I began to cry. I told my husband that I had to do something. I had to help myself, teach myself how to be the parent that I truly wanted to be. I didn’t like the mother I was being. I didn’t want to be a mom that lost it so easily. I always wanted to be the mom that has a great relationship with my kids. I just didn’t know what else to do. I knew that I required some new tools. I knew that I needed solutions.
After my talk with my husband, I went down to the trash can and took out the toy that I threw away. I took it upstairs, washed it off, and placed it neatly in his room.
Within a few months, I joined a nine-week STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting) parenting class. The class was a true gift. I learned tools on how to get my kids to listen to me without yelling, nagging, or bribing. Learning the new tools was not easy. I was learning new concepts that did not come naturally to me – like aquiring a new taste to something I never thought I would like. But once I got used to it and tried out the new tools at home with my kids and saw how amazingly they worked, I couldn’t imagine having ever lived without STEP. (To find out more about STEP, click on the highlighted text above.)
I was excited to finally have a solution. I was excited that these new tools were helping me become the parent that I always wanted to be. I was calmer, happier, and more in-control of myself and my emotions.
But that was only the beginning. It was the first step, the one that somehow led me to the path of becoming a coach; the process of which has helped me grow in ways I never thought that I could.
So I thank God and my beautiful son for that lesson. I will never forget the moment when I took the toy out of the garbage. I was at a very low point then. The only way left to go was up.