"If parenthood came with a GPS, it would mostly say: RECALCULATING!" – Simon C. Holland
Christmas was a season of expectations, when I was a child. We were expected to be joyful, connect and have closeness as a family, but ended up with the opposite. My mother would scold my brother and me for not expressing our gratitude in the right way for presents we received. She always became angry and disappointed with us. And I don’t even remember our dad being there.
My childhood was emotionally unhealthy. My father was an alcoholic and my mother tried in EVERY way to cover up to make a perfect impression. Like assuming that with Christmas approaching, all family problems and disagreements would suddenly disappear. But my father did not drink less at Christmas and my mother did not get less furious with his behavior.
As a child, I anticipated each Christmas to be a time of happiness and family fellowship and each year I was disappointed, sad and frustrated. Holidays were as unpredictable as ordinary days.
My parents’ way of relating to life and engage in it was what I copied. They were my mirror and I didn’t know better than to let myself be defined by what I experienced. I learned then that I was only loved when pleasing my parents and that it was my "duty" to smile to make others happy so there wouldn’t be a conflict.
I created beliefs around Christmas that "it was hard work," "it was an obligation that I wasn’t able to fulfill on" and "if you’re not grateful you’re a disappointment."
When I became a mother, I carried with me the same beliefs and expectations that my mother had. I copied her, but with my mind set on doing much better than she did. I went into December with expectations I could not meet despite a to-do list that would make me the mother who created a perfect Christmas: the smell of homemade cookies, a home filled with joy and happiness and children who knew their worth, which was reflected in the size and price of their gifts and the time we spent together.
To be honest, it’s hard work to try to become the perfect parent – and it’s impossible. When my children opened their gifts, I didn’t feel the love and recognition that I was looking for and the happiness was just a brief moment.
Six years ago, I attended my first class with Joey Klein and I can truly say that saved my life. At that point I couldn’t see the meaning of my life and I was constantly in a state of survival. I was living on the surface, always smiling but on the inside, was a lot of suffering, rage and the sense of being a failure in life. Implementing the tools of Conscious Transformation in my everyday life and Joey’s unwavering support have shown me that I can define the emotional experience of my life. My feelings are not defined by my kids’ happiness or gratitude. I can offer joy, connection and love to them because I have trained and allowed those emotions to be expressed in my life.
Letting go of the perfect Christmas, and the role of a perfect parent, gave me a more authentic and peaceful presence with my children and with others. Being a parent is a lifelong learning experience. There are moments where I am grateful for the inspiration I have been to my children and moments where I think "oops" and time for recalculating!
Joey Klein has shown me that as a parent, I am responsible for creating structure for my children but I am not responsible for their emotions. When they are disappointed, angry or sad, the best support I can be for them is compassion, acceptance and love. With my support, they can choose to express a different emotion.
Today I see that Christmas for me is not about the size of the gifts, the cookies and the to-do. Rather, it’s all about how I relate to the Holiday and show up emotionally with my family that makes the difference.
I have learned to accept life as it is, with a constant focus on being me. This frees my children to be who they are. I have learned that past experiences do not define my life or my future. I am the architect of my life and define the feelings and values I want. I have a choice!
It is such a gift to pass these profound teachings to other parents. Over the years I have seen the transformation inside of families changing again and again. In one of my recent meditation groups, a woman shared with tears in her eyes and the biggest smile about how implementing this work over the last year and a half has changed her whole family. They used to live with constant disasters, sickness, anger and desperation and now they connect with each other. Joy is showing up and openness and authenticity are there. All this was able to change because this woman allowed herself to be herself. She was that mirror for her kids and her husband, so they could choose that for themselves.
Conscious Transformation is an excellent tool to create the life you want, including your role as a parent. There is ongoing support and tools for you throughout the life you choose to create inside of this methodology.
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Heidi Udengaard is the first European Conscious Transformation Trainer and runs her own clinic in Denmark. She strives to create a space for her clients that allows them to be seen for who they truly are. She loves dancing and being in nature, especially near the ocean.