Today I’m thinking about equanimity in relation to parenting.
Honestly, I had a reality check on what that word even means, ha! So let’s start there.
e·qua·nim·i·ty mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation: she accepted both the good and the bad with equanimity.
As a parent, I’m certain you’ll resonate with the “…in a difficult situation” part! …lack of sleep, a tantruming or hitting toddler, your older child having a hard time adjusting to a new sibling, medical decisions, etc etc etc.
What about the “mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper” part? ?
If equanimity, to use the fancy word, isn’t exactly your (current) strong suit, you’re not a less-than parent! I promise you 1,000% you’re not alone. Mental un-calmness, chaos, ruffled feathers, and discomposure is a reality, even for aware, conscious, gentle-type mamas.
Finding centeredness in the middle of a heated moment
First I want to reframe. By mental calmness or equanimity, I don’t mean emotional shut down or repressing feelings and natural responses.
I mean the capacity to zoom yourself out when in the middle of a kiddo “situation,” to look at things with a bit of perspective and distance—in a good way.
When your toddler is ‘misbehaving’ or not listening, it can obviously be easily triggering. Rather than judge your response, give yourself options. Feeling triggered is useful—it points to healing opportunities within ourselves or boundaries being crossed.
Here’s one option: can you find a way to zoom out and look at the big picture? It will help you find clarity. There’s always a reason behind children’s behavior. In the moment—in the ‘little picture’—it may seem annoying, maddening, or exhausting. That’s one level of true.
Another truth is that there’s legitimately something going on for your child. Maybe an unmet need; or lack of information; or pent-up feelings. Or an undiagnosed tongue tie preventing optimal amount of oxygen getting to the brain, making him/her irritable; or gut issues causing toxins to enter his bloodstream (we often embody through our expression whatever’s going inside us physiologically). Or an unnoticed food sensitivity. Or…
I find that zooming out helps us find the compassionate side of ourselves.
You may then be able to identify the culprit—maybe you’ve been away at work all day and kiddo needs some connection, or you’ve been suspicious about a certain food. Or you may not discover the golden ticket—yet.
Either way, when you’re able to remove yourself, in a manner of speaking—meaning, zoom out yet remain present with your child (or physically take a mama break in another room!)—you may see there’s more to the picture and find some ah-ha’s.
It will give your brain permission and space to mix and match all the puzzle pieces ‘on the back burner’ while you continue from this point with the mundane.
When you feel triggered, notice it. Find a safe way—at some point—to feel what you feel, share with your partner or a therapist, and get the support you need. And see things from a higher point of view—you may find a gem you never realized was waiting for you!