Reflecting on 2019…Looking Ahead to 2020

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I just wanted to wish all my readers a happy holiday season and an exciting year as we enter a new decade!

For some of you 2019 may have been a tough year (I know it was for me!). I think it’s important to reflect on both the successes and failures. A review of the successes allows us to see what we did right, how much we have grown and reinforces where our strengths lie. A review of the failures (as painful as this can be) allows us to see where things may have gone wrong and what can be improved.

img_9398I love this simple lesson that I learned from one of my young daughter’s story books entitled “I’m Not Afraid to Fail”. The main character is a little girl who has experienced multiple failures. Her grandfather encourages her by saying, “but failure is fantastic….because each failure takes you one step closer to success!”

Success and failure means different things to different people but if there’s one thing that this year has taught me is that in those moments where I felt I had failed…those moments always taught me something important to hold on to for the future. There is always room for improvement. And the better we become at our craft, be it in medicine, business, education, art, music, parenting, homemaking or other pursuits, the more we provide better service to those we serve. And to me, that’s a success!

Whatever 2019 may have meant for you, whether good or bad, a new year is upon us with plenty of new opportunities! Seize them! Dust yourself off if you fall down…and keep going! Be the best you can be!

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Wishing you a happy and fulfilled 2020…from my family to yours!

Forgiveness Includes Forgiving Yourself

It can be so hard to forgive yourself when you make a mistake that hurts others, particularly those you love. This week was a lesson for me in the art of forgiving myself for not being the perfect mother I envisioned. Of course, I know deep down I cannot be the perfect ‘anything’. But given the weight of responsibility of being a mother, I figured I had better get this right. Two other little humans are depending on me for direction and to be the best example I can be.

Motherhood has been one of the most challenging, heart-wrenching, and tear-inducing experiences I have been through…and yet one of the most wonderful, joyful and rewarding. My children simultaneously bring out the best and the worst in me. Through seeing my own weaknesses daily, I am finding it easier to be more gracious towards others, because I know I sorely need grace myself.

Back to this week’s motherhood challenge. My son went through a difficult ‘terrible twos’ phase two years ago. This was to be expected at this age and with consistent discipline in the form of time-outs, his behavior improved significantly by age 3. I was then very surprised when at the age of 4, he seemed to embark on a ‘terrible fours’ phase (does such a thing exist?)

None of the usual discipline was working. Time-outs were ineffective and seemed to make my son very angry and upset. He seemed like a completely different child and I felt ineffective and helpless. This week we reached the zenith of the difficult behavior. Coupled with the stress of unexpected repairs to our house, I was hardly the in-control mother I hoped to be. I lost my temper, became very angry and said things I shouldn’t have. I felt like a different person.

I talked things over with my husband and we decided we needed to adapt our discipline methods. What had worked before was not very effective now. We decided to implement an approach of positive reinforcement. Specifically the behaviors we focused on were:

  • Obedience
  • No whining
  • No rudeness
  • No melt-downs

For each of these 4 behaviors that my son managed to achieve throughout the course of the day (one warning was allowed), he would get a star on his reward chart and a sticker of his choice at the end of the day. We would review how the day went and ask him how he felt it went. The idea is not to suppress his feelings but to teach him how to control them better.

Today was Day 1 of the new approach and it went fantastically! He would still get angry or upset sometimes (which is normal) but he handled it much better. My son likes stickers and reward charts (it worked really well for potty training) so I think this new approach will go well. I don’t expect every day to be perfect but I think this is a step in the right direction.

Parenting can be so difficult sometimes, but I’m reminding myself that I am helping to shape a human being who can then go out and have a positive impact on this world. All the disciplining, the tears, the heartache… will be worth it for the person who will emerge with character.

Today, I forgive myself for making many mistakes as a mother. Tomorrow is a new day with my beautiful family, with my wonderful children who I adore, a new opportunity to treat them with love and respect…no perfection necessary.

Caleb and mummy 2012

My son (when he was  around 9 months old) and I going for a stroll along the boardwalk in Saint Anne-de-Bellevue, Quebec. Beautiful memories.