S1 E01 - The BeginningMar 15, 2021
Hi! I’m a Canadian homeschooling mom of 4 and Parent Coach. Parenting is a tough gig, from diapers, sleepless nights to teen hormones and backtalking, I have been through it too and know first hand there isn’t a instruction manual you get when you become a mom. I wasn’t prepared for motherhood and I’m guessing you weren’t either.
Come listen to my story as we dig into my struggles as a mom of a neurodivergent kiddo and the growth we’ve gone through together. I love positive parenting and the more I learnt about connection-based parenting, the more I felt like I was failing my kids every day. But not anymore! In this season I am going to share my story, what I did that completely changed my life and my family forever.
This episode of The Freedom Moms Podcast digs into:
- Getting to know me and who I am
- What parenting was like for me amidst my difficulties
- The peak of my parenting struggles and moving across the country
- How when you “know better” you don’t always “do better”
I would be honored to be your coach and help you get the changes you want to see in your life. I have come so far, completely turned around my life and my relationships with my children, I know what it takes and how to make it happen. You can use the links below to get more of my content and learn about my monthly program By Design, where I provide monthly training and live coaching to help you build radical connection in your life.
Link to membership: By Design
Find me on the ‘gram: The.Parenting.Coach
My website: coachcrystal.ca
Crystal The Parenting Coach: Hey, I'm Crystal, a certified life coach and mom of four. In this podcast, we combine radical connection and positive parenting theories with the How-To Life Coaching Tools and Mindset Work to completely transform our relationship with our children.
Join me on my journey, unleash your inner parenting expert, and become the mother you've always wanted to be. Make sure you subscribe wherever you listen to your podcast and rate this podcast on Apple, and check out my transformative monthly membership for moms in the show notes.
Get to know me: Who am I?
Hi, I'm Crystal. I'm a certified life coach and a homeschooling mom of four. I'm super excited to share my podcast with you. I'm going to share with you, my journey. I'm going to talk about what I went through in my transformation with my children. And I'm going to be talking about actionable tools that can help you as well. So, for the first few episodes, I'm going to share my story; where I came from, and a little bit about me.
Five things you should know about me
So, before we dig into my journey, I want to tell you five quirky things about me, or maybe cool, maybe quirky - I don’t know.
1. I started homeschooling accidentally
I kind of just wanted to try it out for a year to spend more time with my kids and then put them back in school, and I accidentally fell in love with homeschooling and I’ve been doing it now for over eight years. I had no family or friends that did homeschooling. I wasn't homeschooled. And, at that time, I literally knew nobody that was doing it. So, we kind of just happened into it, and now we've been doing it for years.
2. Also, I love traveling so much
My goal is to go traveling full-time again. We have gone traveling for several months at a time, and I would like to do it for a solid year.
3. Another thing is I'm a wannabe legit hiker
I really love the mountains and I really love hiking; and I love the idea of hiking until I'm actually hiking. In which case, I have a very hard time hiking, but one day, my goal is to get really good at hiking.
4. Another thing is 80% of the time, I eat really healthy
My kids have a lot of food sensitivities and things that bother them. So, we eat regularly in a way that's more of a Whole Foods program, I guess, but 20% of the time, when they're asleep, I just chow down on Oreos and a Club Soda with cream and syrup because I think it's delicious.
5. I love the feel, look, and smell of real books
So, even though I love podcasts and I love audiobooks, I just can't not read a legit book. And so, if I have an opportunity, I always choose the actual book, especially if they're like old and from like a cute little vintage shop, then it's like even cooler.
All right. I would love to get to know you. So, reach out to me on Instagram.
What’s my background?
This is my story… All right, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my background. When I first had my child-- My oldest child now is about 14. So, at the time when I first had him, I kind of thought parenting would be easy. I didn't really know much about parenting, I babysat a lot. None of my friends had had kids before me. And so, it was kind of a slap in the face.
It was really difficult, and it was really hard; and he was colicky, and he was just a hard baby. And he was a hard, hard toddler. And I'm sure that I had a lot to do with that because I didn't really know what I was doing.
So, around the time he was two or three, my parents actually introduced me to Gordon Neufeld and his book Hold on to Your Kids, which I highly suggest. I started reading about this attachment developmental philosophy in theory, and I was like, 'Wow, this is awesome. I love this.'
So, I got more into it. I started reading more books on connection and positive parenting, and it was kind of gaining a little bit more popularity – so, more and more books were coming out. I even went to some Gordon Neufeld conferences, which I loved and I thought were so great. I thought that this would be what transforms my parenting.
What parenting was like for me amidst my difficulties
I thought that I would be able to just shift from this kind of impatient and frustrated and angry person that I kind of was naturally as a mom - I was kind of just cranky and grumpy - I mean, not all the time, but a lot of the time.
And I thought that I would be able to just transform into this beautiful, lovely, peaceful, you know, mom that I envisioned. But what happened was, over the years, my expectations of myself got higher – the way that I behaved got lower because I was feeling so bad that I knew how to do it, and now I wasn't doing it.
And I felt like what every positive parenting book was missing was the How-To; like, how do we actually do this thing? I'd read all these books and be like, 'Okay, expert, now come into my home, and can you parent my children because I can't figure out how to actually do this with them?'
I felt like it was just so hard. I was so naturally impatient. I know not all of you were yellers, but I was a yell naturally. I never thought that I would be, but I definitely was. And so, I felt like the more that I learned, the more that I fell short.
You know that little idiom, the little phrase that people say, like, When you know better, you do better, I don't actually believe that because the more and more and more that I knew, the more that I felt like I was falling short from this like ever far-reaching goal that I had. So anyways, that's kind of where I started out as. So, I knew about it, I wanted to do it, I even had a degree in Psychology.
I felt like I was primed to become this, you know, amazing mom that I wanted to become; and it just was not working. We'll talk a lot about shame in this podcast, but a lot of it had to do with shame.
So, the more that I felt bad about my parenting and the more that I realized I was falling short, then the worse I actually became at my parenting - the worst skills and tools that I used when I was parenting. And so, it was just this constant cycle that I was in.
So, I'm going to fast-forward about not quite a decade – well, maybe it was around a decade. So, at this time I'm living in a town that is close to my family; I have a lot of support, I have a lot of family, I have a lot of friends around.
Parenting my kids in their early years
I had a child-- My first child was fairly difficult as a toddler, but as he aged, he wasn't quite as difficult. But then I had my second, it was a totally different ballgame. He was like the easiest toddler ever. And I thought, 'Man, this child is going to be so easy.'
But as he started to age, I realized that it was easy because he wasn't necessarily meeting all of the developmental milestones. And anyway, so we knew something was just a little bit off. And as he aged, he started having these like huge meltdowns.
I'm not going to call them tantrums, because I think it's like beyond what a tantrum is. The more and more he aged, the more I was like, 'Okay, that's fine, it's just going to take him a little while, you know, to develop these emotions and develop these skills.' But as time went on, I felt like his behavior was just getting worse.
The peak of my parenting struggles
So, I actually went to see a parenting expert, somebody that knew a lot about Neufeld and his theories. And I remember her telling me, one time, like, "Maybe you should just accept the fact that you are a yeller and just talk to your kids about it, and kind of prep them and be like, you know what, sometimes when mom gets mad, she yells. And just kind of prep them so that they're not so upset about it when it does happen, and they're kind of expecting it and it's not such a shock."
And I was like, "No, I am going to stop yelling. Like, I'm going to do this." I didn't. That didn't happen at that time. And I probably should have listened to her advice more, but I never really felt like anything helped that much.
I felt like his behavior just kept getting worse, and my ability to handle it just kept getting worse. And I was like, I have no idea what to do now. Like, things are—'Things are rock-bottom, and I don't know where to go from here.'
Moving across the country away from our support system
At the time, we were planning a move across the country. I'm from Canada – and we were moving from Alberta, Southern Alberta, all the way over to Quebec. We were going to move to Montreal, which we did.
So, looking back on it, I can see why there was probably little triggers that were making life a little bit more difficult for him; and he didn't know how to process it or explain it to us. And so, things were just getting harder and harder and harder. I also think a lot of it had to do with his age and his development.
So, we moved over to the other side of Quebec or the other side of Canada to Quebec; and we loved it there, and it was great. And there were so many wonderful things about it, but I had no family, I had no friends; I had no support system. I had just moved there; I didn't know anybody.
The breaking point
And his behavior got way, way worse. Now, when I say a crazy meltdown, I mean like, you know, knocking bunk beds over, ripping things off of the wall, throwing things, screaming, yelling - and that would go on for hours.
Once this kind of subsided, then he would go into this deep, like, you know, 'I'm a terrible person and I don't know what to do, nobody loves me, blah, blah, blah,' all of these things. And it was really alarming to me. And it was the first time that I really felt like, 'man, I actually need help.'
Like, 'this is literally above what I can handle, and I don't know what to do anymore.' My husband was also really busy at that time, going to school full-time. So anyways, this is kind of the culmination of everything coming together. And I was at this point where I really, really needed help, and I didn't know what to do.
I remember just sitting out his side of his room, one time, and just like sobbing and being like, 'I don't know, like this is so beyond. Like, he might need some serious help. I need some serious help. I don't even know where to go for help. We don't have anybody here with us.'
I just felt so alone, and like I was a failure, and like there was something seriously wrong with him and he might-- You know how our minds catastrophize, like as moms, our minds catastrophize? I'm sure all humans do this, but especially moms.
And so, I was going to like, you know, 'He's never going to graduate from school, he's never going to be able to have a job, he's never going to be able to live his life normally, everything's going to be just terrible for him because he just can't handle his emotions.'
Now within Neufeld’s kind of theory, and a subsequent book called Rest, Play, Grow by Deborah MacNamara, which I highly suggest, they talk about what's called Orchid Children. Orchid Children are sensitive children. They're highly sensitive, a little bit more emotional.
They take a little bit longer to develop through these phases emotionally. And so, I'd already kind of recognized that, okay, well, he's an orchid child, but then as years went on, I was like, 'okay, but now he should be able to handle this, but now things should be getting better.'
I honestly thought it was all a him problem. I didn't even recognize that there was anything that I was doing to perpetuate this. I thought it was just him and his behavior, and there was nothing we could do about it; and we just needed to get some serious help.
Reaching out for help
So, this is kind of where I'm at; all alone, not knowing what to do. So, I do a quick Google search and I look, you know, 'Neufeld Institute certified psychologist', couple people came up in Montreal. I felt like it's a big city. I'm sure I'm going to be able to find somebody.
I did find somebody right away - a psychotherapist - and she does home visits. And so, she'd emailed me and said, "Tell me a little bit about you and your son." And I just wrote her this like giant essay email with all the different things we were going through.
I really accentuated like how difficult his behavior was, and how much he was struggling, and how much he needed help. I was like, 'I don't need help, he needs help.' And she's like, 'Well, we work with the parents.' I'm like, 'No, no, no, you need to see him in a meltdown. Like, you're not understanding how crazy this is. Like he needs help. Can you help him?'
And she was like, 'Well, we really kind of just work with the parents first. So, you know, if that's needed down the road, then we can look into it.' So anyway, she agreed to come meet me at my home. I remember feeling so stressed and so overwhelmed.
She opened the door and I just started crying, like just sobbing the minute that I saw her. And I gave her this giant hug, this lady that I've never met before, she's probably like, 'Who are you, crazy person?'
And I would just, I just lost it. I was like, 'I can't handle this and he can't handle this; we are both struggling so much, and I don't know what to do.' And she was like, 'Okay, let's go chat.'
And we chatted for probably an hour and a half. I honestly can't remember very much about what she told me, probably because I was so stressed out and so overwhelmed. But she said, "Read this book," and gave me Rest, Play, Grow by Deborah MacNamara, which I love and I tell people about all the time.
And she said, "Here, you can read about orchid children in this and sensitive children. And there's a great one you could read about anger and rage. There's a great chapter in that you could read through those." And before I even started reading it, she said, "Really what we need to do here--"
I don't remember what her wording was. She didn't say, shift our expectations, but she said something along those lines. Like, what if this is just what he's going to be like? And I was like, "Well, no, he can't be like this. Like, we can't survive if he's just like this." And she was like, 'Why do you feel like at his age, he should be any different than he is?'
And I was like, 'Well, because developmentally, you know, this stage happens here, and then they move on to this stage and he's already passed that. And I gave him a couple more years, and I feel like I'm trying to connect with him and I'm doing the things.
And so, I felt like he should be farther along than he was.' And she was like, 'But he's not and he might never be. What if he's 17 and he still is acting this way?' And at the time, I was very resistant to that. I was like, 'Nope, that's not okay. I cannot have a 17-year-old that's acting this way.'
How when you “know better” you don’t always "do better"
And, as we discussed more and more and more, I realized that what she was really trying to tell me was that it was my expectations that were really harming this relationship. I felt like at this stage, and at this age, he should be at this developmental level and that he should be able to handle things.
And because of that, I treated him a little bit differently; I showed up really differently. And so, all she told me in that whole time was really like, "What if this hap is going to happen for a long time? What if this is never going to change, then what are you going to do? How are you going to handle it?" Anyway, so we had a conversation, she left.
Me Problem vs Him Problem
I was kind of mind-blown because I was kind of like, “No, it's him that needs to change. You need to change him." I kind of molded this over in my mind for a while. So, over the course of the next week or so, I chatted with my husband a lot. I, you know, thought about it a lot. I journaled about it a lot.
And I realized that I really was harming the relationship in that moment because this is how the meltdowns would happen: he would start having his meltdown, and I would immediately get mad. I'd be like, no, because in my mind, my story was; he shouldn't be this way - you know, he should be farther along than he is, he's too old for this - this behavior isn't acceptable.
And because of that, I would show up immediately angry and immediately defensive. So, in that moment, I'm not connecting with him. I'm surely not loving him. I'm definitely not liking him, in that moment. And so, then I would yell back. I would be frustrated back, right?
There's all these things that, looking back now, I would do, and it would just be kind of like upping the ante over and over again. Right? He'd yell, I'd yell, he'd yell, I'd yell and tell – this giant explosion that neither of us could handle. And I had not ever considered the fact that I was becoming a problem in that relationship.
Like I just thought it was him; and there was something wrong with him, and his brain, and his emotions. And I was like, 'No, this is a him problem, we need to get him fixed.' It never occurred to me that there was a me problem in that relationship at all.
And so, all she really did was shift that expectation and started getting me to think about things in a slightly different way, and it really did shift everything. So, make sure you tune in to next week's episode, where I'm going to talk all about the shift that happened.
I hope you enjoyed today's episode. Make sure that you give it Five Stars on Apple, and check out my monthly membership for moms in the show notes.