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How Consciousness Kept Me From Putting My Kids On Craigslist

Last night started pretty much the same as every other night. The scene in my house around dinnertime usually goes something like this…

I stand on one side of our kitchen island cooking and serving food for my girls and anyone else who happens to have assembled in my kitchen. I love to cook, and welcome guests and because my children go completely nuts when I leave for dinner, I almost always invite friends in rather than go out. The wine is predictably delicious, the food is light and yummy, and the kids are consistently inconsistent.

They seamlessly fluctuate between the kids you see all over Pinterest and Instagram, and the kids you pray will be nowhere near you on planes.

The usual suspects around my kitchen: my mom and a few friends including my best friend who was selfless enough to not have kids (yes, you read that right — more to come on how having kids is narcissistic). My girls engage and giggle in between complaints and whining.

Quite predictably, the kids reject their dinner without trying it and after an extended meltdown over the fact that I’m not serving them Mac and Cheese, they finally eat enough to start demanding dessert (which we don’t have and hardly do). Drama comes and goes. My mom-friend loses her temper, collects her kids in a furry, and goes home (all of them in tears, including mom).

On their own, my sweet girls reemerge and do an adorable performance for everyone and for a delicious 5 minutes I remember why I had kids in the first place. Soon thereafter fighting starts, artwork gets destroyed (theirs, not mine), and they are back to hysterics. I’m quite unphased, I know they are exhausted as we’ve been traveling non-stop and they are probably coming on with a cold. My poor mom who adores her grandchildren tries so hard to help and feels terribly for me that she can’t calm them down. She wavers between empathy for my oldest, whom she completely identifies with, and the need to protect me. She looks so worried, genuinely disheartened and bewildered as if this doesn’t happen regularly.

“Mom, it’s fine, they are fine, this is all they know right now. I will teach them, they will learn.”

Meanwhile, my yogi childless friend looks at me doe-eyed and pretends like it’s not a shitshow of epic proportion. We talk casually above the screams that travel out of my daughters room every time she opens the door:

“If I don’t get a show I’m not going to sleep” SLAM

“Ever!” SLAM

“and I’m going to open the windows and wake up the whole town”, SLAM,

“and I’m not going to school again” SLAM

“EVER” SLAM.

As you picture this, it’s worth noting that this is a tiny child, 35 lbs soaking wet, with thin blonde hair. What she lacks in size she makes up in determination and strength, so while I know that her behavior could use some work, I silently delight in her power.

As I warmly reply to her “Ok, love, we can talk about it when you calm down”, I listen to my friend who generously proceeds with her story about work. As she tries to normalize the situation for me, I personally love these moments for her because I know it kills any anxiety she has about not having kids. Sometimes when I sense she’s falling into the what-ifs, (usually around Halloween, dance recitals and the first day of school), I ask her to help me put the girls to sleep. It’s my secret remedy and I know that she goes from feeling melancholy to practically skipping home every time.

But last night, on my 10th time coming back upstairs (after taking my oldest to her room to “relax”), something unusual happens.

The adults are quiet. They clearly have been talking about me.

My mom-friend who is still there sans kids says, “I admire your patience more and more every day. I lose it constantly and then feel terrible”. Others chime in, “I just don’t know how you do it”, “you are so calm”, “so controlled. I would scream every time”.

My own mother says “I would have put them on Craigslist ages ago”, and then “I never thought you had it in you, but it’s beyond my understanding how you stay so grounded.” Yes, kind of a backhanded compliment but she’s right- I am not the person you would typically describe as calm or grounded — I’m more of the “best when I’m in motion” type.

I am actually not patient or controlled at all. I’m just conscious. And short of putting them on Craigslist, that is the only choice I have.

Let me explain. I have worked my ass off to be this way. This is not a natural quality for me. At all.

But a long time ago, I decided that I would not be a victim to my circumstances and that I would never blame or resent my children (or anyone) for how I feel. That is the only thing I can control and I was determined to train myself so that I could embody this seemingly overplayed cliche. Because I do everything to extremes, I became a Master Coach with Tony Robbins and Chloe Madanes. This training was monumental in my growth. I learned how to be emotionally fit and what to do daily to stay that way.

But nothing could prepare me for having kids. Especially mine. This took me further along the continuum and led me on the journey of conscious parenting. After hundreds of hours of study, I graduated from Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s coaching institute for conscious parenting.

The bottom line- there is no control. There is no fixing, changing, manipulating the other, there is only consciousness.

So how do I do it? How do I manage to detach but not disconnect? Short version (and happy to write more about this if helpful):

I see what is happening, with heightened awareness. I choose moment to moment how to engage. The most important part of this is to leave any moment that is not the current one behind, or it will fuel the fire. You will be the one who escalates, and all of a sudden you’ll find yourself in the throws of ego, a raging inner child burning the house down. And with kids, you will lose, if not in the moment, in the long run for sure.

It’s not that I am impervious to the chaos, it’s not that I don’t find myself getting VERY upset at times, but I’ve trained myself to go back to a centered state. And later I’m diligent about deconstructing what happened so that I can be prepared for the next time, which will come.

By now I pretty much know exactly how I’ll be triggered, and am ready for my ego to jump in and protect me. It’s like standing on a subway platform and watching the trains go by deciding which one to jump on. Rest assured, the train is coming, all of them. It is going to happen, you are human.

Here comes the victim train, yep, right on time. Here’s the train of rejection, anger, rage. Thanks for stopping by, keep moving.

When you stay conscious, you stay on the platform.

Below are some personal examples of where I would/ could easily go if not conscious… and why I don’t bother.

After everything I do for you, this is how you treat me? This is what I get? Useless, they’re children. They don’t ask you to sacrifice for them. You were the one who had them and has this vision of how it should be. They would be happiest if I just left them in front of the TV eating goldfish and ice cream.

You are trying to ruin my entire evening! You are trying to embarrass me! They are not trying to do anything. Adults scheme and calculate. Four-year-olds do not have agendas.

How dare you roll your eyes at me! My parents would have smacked me. THEIR eyes in THEIR heads. It’s not like they are trying to roll your eyes. And it’s probably the more polite alternative to what they’d say instead.

What I remember every time one of these voices comes up is that I am not a child being treated unfairly, I am a grownup witnessing a child trying to express themselves in inappropriate ways. And it’s my job to help them find healthier ways to have their needs met. That’s it.

The world is not coming to an end, their future and yours are not in jeopardy. You just have to wipe the slate clean each and every time, or quite frankly, you’re screwed.

I believe in the power of education, technology, personal growth and lifelong learning.


But I know from experience that these are not enough. Information without understanding is confuses and misleads. Education and talent without application debilitates growth. Awareness without transformation only stifles action.

- SO LET'S TAKE SOME ACTION -
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