WARNING: Rambly and inspiring post.
We all have different priorities when it comes to parenting, when it come to life.
I think a lot about what I want my children to learn, to know when they are adults. It’s often met with curiosity and concern when I tell people. Most just don’t get it and that’s ok. It seems that my goals are quite different than what most people think about. If you’re still reading, hooray! I’ll tell you more about me…
I want my children to be able to take care of themselves physically, mentally and spiritually regardless of circumstance.
What does it mean to me to be able to take care of ourselves physically?
To me this means that as humans we can produce, source and prepare our own food locally. This sounds like an incredibly daunting task but it doesn’t have to be especially if you can connect with other people interested in this. (I will be blogging a lot about how to do this in the very soon future.) My children have followed my lead to real food and take great interest and pleasure in growing and harvesting food, going out to farms, hunting, butchering our own meat and being in the kitchen with me. I see a great value in being able to provide nourishing and convenient foods for yourself. If your food is hurting you, all other areas in your life will be harmed. It’s amazing what people that are well nourished can accomplish. It improves morale, motivation and energy for life. Many, many people do not know how to feed themselves anymore. One of the saddest things I experience is when I go to the grocery store and see elderly people or busy parents with grocery carts full of processed convenient foods. I don’t feel judgmental (anymore) but rather I see what they are missing out on; Flavour and harmony within their bodies. It feels amazing to be nourished by a steaming bowl of homemade soup or stew. It’s something that I wish for everyone. If you’re in need, come over to my house for a bowl and a cuppa. With eating well, we are more aware of our bodies and our needs and it leads us to be able to access alternative forms of health care with great success. It also means that we trust when we need medical advice/help from a doctor.
What does it look like to take care of ourselves mentally? To me this means that a person owns and takes responsibility for their life. They don’t blame and they don’t go looking for external things to make them anything; happy or sad. That’s right, people do that, I do that! I go LOOKING for situations to make me upset so I can limit the good in my life because I’ve hated myself so much. No more. I’ve been saying no to that now and it’s working.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually to me means having purposes that remain a touchstone in our lives to bring us back from our own despair. I often need to re-commit to the process of growth, of love, of good food, sustainable living, peaceful parenting and all the other new age hippy cliches. It’s wonderful to remind myself and rediscover the beauty and the magnificence of my purposes after a spell of momentary mommy insanity. It’s sweetness in action.
Are my actions coinciding with these goals? I ask myself that all the time and often it’s “no”. But I move on, growing and getting closer and seeing the beautiful results. More importantly, I’m enjoying this one life. What else is there to do but enjoy and take it all in?
What are some of the things you think about for your children?
Five children and thirteen years later, I feel like I’m just starting to get it. There’s been school, spankings, homeschooling, AP, general hippyness, Unschooling and then there is radical Unschooling. What does it all mean and which one am I? We’ve experimented a lot with which labels best define us and I really feel done with that. The uncertainty has been fading or it’s being met with an acceptance of the uncertainty. I know the flow of ups and downs, happy and sad, ok and not ok. It’s all encompassing in this life and one bad moment does not negate a life of beauty. That bad moment is transformed by my state of mind into the beauty itself. I find myself able to enjoy being a parent while tantrums, poop messes and unbelievably extreme unhappiness are occurring. When you’re a parent without expectations and stories, it opens you up to just enjoy being guardian to these tiny beings. It allows you to be an amazing support to your child and to think reasonably about solutions that are loving and patient. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience myself yelling and frustrated. I noticed the other day as out slips things like “what the fucking fuck?!?!?”. But I forgive myself immediately and move on. Does that make me a bad parent? I use to think (unconsciously) that guilt made me good. I thought it meant that I wanted to be better and I should feel bad for being such an ass of a human being to such innocent beings. What a waste that was. Moving on makes me better and ready for what’s next. I’m addressing the stories I’ve told myself. Turns out that I don’t need to worry about raising illiterate criminals who abuse the welfare system and I also don’t need to worry about what other people think. How many times have you told yourself not to, and then went and did it anyways? Times are changing and worry be a fadin’. Now I look and see what is next…what is mine to do?
Your children have become ill, maybe an incredibly sticky wet mess has been made or possibly the incessant screaming over seemingly nothing will surely cause your head to explode. Now is your time to shine. Now is the time in which life is built. Maybe your so absolutely exhausted that you can barely work your muscles enough to pick up your new baby or your children are acting violently towards one another and no amount of talking, separating them or punishing ever pulls them out of it. This is your moment to shine. It’s your opportunity to embrace your loved ones when they need it most and express what matters most.
We’ve been told that we need to react and control the situation. It’s not true. Or at least, it doesn’t have to be true. You can wrap yourself in their little arms and kiss their wet cheeks even when they’ve “misbehaved”. It’s ok to indulge in their love and it’s bottomless. And I think you’ll Find that your own capacity to love is endless too. They really just want to be with us and be loved and accepted. But don’t we all?
Being a mom of five has offered me many of these challenging opportunities. Sometimes many of them all at once while on a car trip far from home, looking for a gas station after our bumper was destroyed by a fender bender. And those words came to me:
This is my moment to shine.
Deep breaths. Warm eye contact and gentle, meaningful embraces gets us through. I’m done with the frustration and the desperation. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m choosing understanding, kindness and love. Living this way was harder to find and at times I could not fathom it. I’m so grateful for these opportunities and life is so much better. It’s heaven to sink deep into my exhaustion not trying to will it away with coffee, worry or regret. I allow my body to feel heavy and the children to be on top of it with my heavy eyes and an open heart. For I know this moment comes but only once. And I want to enjoy it all.
What is your moment to shine?
We read the parenting books, consult with friends and idolize parents who match our chosen philosophy. Well, that’s where I am at least. I’ve found that peaceful and gentle parenting are for me. I want to live them over punishments, rewards and separation from the children. I follow these philosophies on facebook, in books, with friends, on youtube and I advocate for them on a daily basis.
But how much am I able to actually live it?
I think it is important to know that just because it resonates with me and I talk about it so much, it does not mean that it is always my reality. I struggle. I become frustrated, confused, angry. The philosophy means a lot to me and it makes sense but it’s not always what wants to come through me. The negative beliefs feel so deeply seeded at times that I wonder if I will ever break free of the urges to silence and control. I let that belief go…
Tonight I just watched it. I observed the tightness all over my body, especially my chest. One of my children was in one of those states where they are exhausted and unreasonable and nothing would please them, they just needed to be unconscious. I monitored my intense desire to yell out as loud as I could. I watched my thoughts that swirled around demanding to silence, spank and restrain into sleep. I began to wonder what could have caused such violence in me and I noticed the sadness creep in. I forgave myself immediately for being impatient and unloving and I lay in the dark letting the sadness flood over me while I stroked her back. After she finally settled, I cried and cried without much thought. Only unidentified pain that had been suppressed for who knows how long. Who knows why these things happen? Why would it feel so good to act against all I have learned?
When will my real beliefs become real? Maybe my false beliefs are still favouring negativity towards children, towards people, but I’m becoming more aware. Surely awareness can take me back to that state of just being? The state where love and acceptance of all situations is my usual state.
Lately, I’ve been feeling the pressure of meals and messes that come with raising a family. I breathe in the stress of a home in a constant state of chaos; papers, pens, toys and everything else everywhere. I gather energy and go full force with two garbage bags in hand. But it always goes back to the same state in which I can not operate and do
what I love. It is mounts and is too much. I am pretty sure that I am not alone in this and that is why I have chosen to write about this today.
When I become stressed, the first thing I need to do is simplify.
That could mean, getting rid if all the garbage. Or picking up one thing, like a 100 piece puzzle scattered about. I focus on one thing at a time.
I have been telling myself for a long time that I just lack the skills to keep an organized home, and I’ve blamed my upbringing and my lack. blame. It hurts when I blame and it is not very effective but I don’t care about that anymore (blame). I’m trying something else. Trying new things is fun.
Sometimes I am able to embrace the absolute complete disaster but most of the time I know “This is not for me.”
Knowing that the stressful thoughts are not real, I ask myself:
What would help me live in the most joy and harmony with my kids?
What can I do to simplify?
I’ve been working hard on letting go and simplifying my mind and thoughts. My surroundings signify past times of too much.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting new results. This
Is the definition of insanity and I’ve been crazy a lot.
I go through periods of great clarity and I become kinder and more generous with myself. But it’s like two steps forward and one step back. Stepping back is what makes me push forward again. The sadness, the disconnection. It’s like an “aha” moment all over again reminding me to be gentle and understanding. Because when we aren’t, the pain is unbearable and it fogs the mind. It splits me wide open again. And it’s good.
The first thing I am going to do is pass off some of our most treasured possessions. Our beautiful books would serve someone else better than the inside of a cardboard box. Besides, the stories and the emotions they incite will always be with me. That’s all I think
I need right now.
Second, I am simplifying meals. Piles of dishes, even to a freak like me who like doing dishes, is too much. And I’m starting to not enjoy it. I have actually experienced resentment over it.
That’s not for me.
My plan (for now) is to keep a huge pot of broth on the stove. It’s easy to make up a soup by scooping out a cup or two of broth and adding egg, miso, hot sauce, veggies, meat, nuts, whatever. I’m calling it “Build your own soup.” and not what I originally wanted to call it which was “Build your own damn soup!”. I’ve grown a bit and I haven’t even started yet.
I am learning that my emotions serve as powerful Indicators as to where I can improve and change myself. Myself. Myself. That’s all I can do. Well, I can yell, demand, rant and dwell in dissatisfaction but…
that’s not for me.
I feel like if we had less and I cooked less, it would free me to other things.
And I will not say free up my time, because I am currently in the process of being the creator of my time. I always have enough time, it’s true. I just need a change, growth. And it’s good. I’m worn, and that’s good too.
I feel I could appreciate things more if I had less.
Here is the pile of stuff I picked out yesterday, to giveaway.
Has anyone else been there? Feeling intense anger towards your child? Rage? Hate?
It feels scary to write about this but freeing at the same time. I know truth heals and maybe my words will help
I hear so many parents say that they love their children equally and that they always love them. That has not been my experience at all. I start to feel that familiar rage and nowadays I can look down on myself observing. Ok, it’s happening that my blood is coursing and I want to break stuff or run away. I don’t know where it came from and maybe it doesn’t matter. maybe it is all just thoughts. Maybe my anger is a product of experience and chemicals in my brain and body and mayb there are alternatives. Phew, a bit of relief.
I need to take a moment out. My youngest has nursed off to sleep and I’m still feeling shaken by the events of todays childhood calamities. It has been chaotic here.
My oldest son is eleven and the most difficult, the most destructive and violent… and the most hurt. He’s getting to an age where he stands tall and strong, firmly in his actions and against me. I find it difficult to be accepting of him when he is aggressive and disruptive. As I am writing this he has opened the door to my room only to yell “lucky charms!” While I am
guiding a child into sleep. I feel sad ad angry. Getting past the anger is the damn hardest thing I have ever had to do. It would feel so good to scream and yell and stomp. But when it passes I see him. Vulnerable and longing for connection. It can be so ironic the way that people who need to be close to others are the ones that most push people away. I feel alone in my struggles with him a lot as there are not many people who care to bond with someone so loud, so offensive and oppositional.
It’s been particularly difficult with him lately. And I’ve been silent through much of it so I can hear him. He tells me I’m a liar. Well, surely that’s been true. Ok. He thinks things are unfair. He’s right. The compliant children are easy for anyone to love. Grandparents scoop them up while he screeches in the background. I know what he needs, the two things we always need: connection and healing(stress relief). Often I feel incapable of it. A lot of the times I just want him to go away, so it can be peaceful again. What a terrible burden for a child it is not to be wanted.
The first step for me to deal with this and return to peace is to put it out there. And not in the way that something is wrong with him, that is what people have always thought. We need help. I trust it will come.
Next I need to address my own fears and baggage. I know that all his hurt came from me. If I look close enough at him I’ll see myself. And it’s a hard thing to see, but valuable if I let it help me grow. I understand the parent who chooses drugs and public school to maintain peace. I’ve considered it myself. The pain of a childhood wasted on rivalry with the world is too much to take. I can see the other way though and I am grateful. Love, acceptance… I know they work, but anger can be clouding to ones consciousness.
Do you ever remain still, listening and watching the whirlwind that is your emotions? Can you feel the ups and downs without moving a muscle?
I stop myself, like I did today. We were getting out of the family van. I noticed a sudden feeling, a sharp frustration. I heard the voices in my head “Why is he screaming like that?!? Fuck, that’s annoying.”. I took a breath and committed to being still. I knew my thoughts could be swayed. I thought about my thoughts, pondering if that was once said to me.
These feeling remained as I moved around to unload children from the vehicle. I looked at my daughter’s messy hair and noticed how I could easily be consumed with a brush in hand and force upon her head and she would be proper. She didn’t want her hair brushed and so I let it go. It took strength to ignore the thoughts “What will people think?” and “She looks like a dirty little girl.”. Instead I felt her love and mine for her and the thoughts didn’t matter almost like were not real. Are my thoughts real? I’ve discovered that they don’t have to matter. I can sit back and watch the ride. I can get very withdrawn and quiet when this happens and I wonder if my partner knows that is what I am doing. It wasn’t until now that I’ve been able to verbalize my behavior. I’d like to invite you to silence yourself and observe the next time you feel that bubbling up of anger, frustration and even happiness. Expand what is good and change what is not. What’s good?
I have never asked my children to say please or thank you.
It is after all culturally expected and accepted that we “teach” our children manners; that we force them to say thank you so they can be grateful and polite. After receiving something, it’s common to hear the parent reminding the child to say thank you. But What if the child is not thankful? What if the gift is totally inappropriate for them? Are we teaching them to lie?
I don’t believe that an attitude of gratitude can be so easily forced. It’s something that comes from the heart and sometimes it takes time to process how we feel about what we are grateful for.
. I am not so sure that forced manners equal kinder, nicer and more grateful beings. They can be just words, mindlessly recited out of obligation. Is that gratitude? Is it polite?
Often to me formal language feels so disconnected and demeaning anyways like when a child says “May I have an apple?”. It makes me think they are groveling to get their basic needs met. I don’t speak like, do you?
I’ll also take the heartfelt hugs and in detail descriptions of how much they love a gift, over a thank you.
So, I think I’ll stick to letting their language evolve naturally in it’s own time without my judgements and constant corrections. There’s more to language than the words we use. There are facial expression and tones of voice and ones character and reputation will play into it too.
There’s been many times that I was tempted to, and honestly it was to make the giver, an adult, feel good. It’s not always easy though, I’ve crossed my fingers and thought “please say thank you.” What I have been doing is saying thank you myself. Not for them, but for me because I am thankful when people are kind to my children.
The best thing I can do is express and model my own appreciation and gratitude. And that’s going to mean not blaming or being judgmental. They, the children are going to learn about expressing their appreciation he same way they are learning to walk and talk; by being immersed in it. I love that my children have the freedom to use more than a meaningless thank you. Often they will come back later, after some thought, with a drawing or a card of thanks. When my children say thank you, it means a lot because I know it was unprompted and is a genuine gesture of their gratitude.
If these are the “terrible twos” then I must be super wicked. I LOVE it. My two year old is brilliant and hilarious.
Unfortunately I wasn’t educated enough with my first born to accept and enjoy his toddlerhood. I wanted to get him under control and it really shows in his self image and in our
connection. He is eleven now and we have had to start over. It’s harder for
us to bond and cooperate, and I am know it is because I did not practice attachment parenting with him.
Ah, two year olds… I am in love with how in the moment they are. Terrific two, Emmett has a squeal which tells me “Hey! I am Here! And there you are! And here’s a rock! Wheee! A STICK HELL YA!”
He is joyful simply over our existence.
I feel like I really understand him. He just wants to be loved, attached and involved. For now he feels healthiest when with mom and dad and that is awesome for us. He’s cautious of strangers, no need for the stranger talk here!
Sometimes he yells for something and so I ask him “Do you need your turn with that?” and immediately his stress is eased and he says “um”, meaning yes. He will then be patient and generous even though we never force him to share. We also have not found the need to attempt to teach taking turns or sharing. It comes in it’s own time when we are generous and sharing with them.
I have found that it is ok to let my terrific two year old stand on the table, use fishing rods with hooks, play with power drills, use knives and go barefoot and naked. I think we may have been given the impression that if we let them do it sometimes that they will want to do it all the time. I have found the opposite to be true. I’ve found that when I allow them to do what they want, then they are more reasonable with me when we can not do something. They also look to me for guidance and ask whether something is safe.
They feel that I have their best interest at heart, I am not out to just stop them from doing stuff constantly and so
they feel no need to attain their power back. With my support they can do almost anything! Most stuff we prevent them from doing is harmless anyways. They are also less likely to bolt out into traffic or
run away from me when I am not hindering them. They want to be free while still close to me and safe. Chasing children makes them frantic, I have noticed children perfectly
capable on a play structure until an adult comes to help them and then it seems to throw them off and they fall or trip. It is almost like they have an invisible bubble around them that when we get too close, it pops and they lose concentration. Has anyone else
experienced this? I find it especially
True for babies and toddlers, my darting hands can disrupt their energy. Or something.
Chasing is great as a game, and children understand the difference between fun and force. Sometimes
They even run away because they want to be chased. I tell them which way or place is safe to run for a game of good
old chase me.
Parenting on principle is not effective to raising happy children. Parenting on principle says that we should forbid or not allow something only on principle and not on what is actually reasonable and respectful. When ya put it that way, it doesn’t really make sense, to
stop someone’s actions simply because of if’s and maybe’s and life lessons we hope to impart on them.
Enjoy your toddler. It’s ok to laugh when they spill something. You can hug them when they break something
or hurt someone. They are just trying
to meet their needs like everyone else.
With kindness and acceptance they will not find it necessary to continue
hurtful ways. They are not bad or needing to be tamed. They are brilliant and completely enlightened to the here and now.
It is even possible to convey my message to children without
words. That’s how powerful love and connection is.
A child stole money from me. He was only just five. He is my child and I was shocked as he has been the easiest so far to raise.
I think that when children and teenagers steal we immediately form opinions about them. Like that they are bad or dishonest. We may not even realize that such beliefs occur but it will show in how we treat them after such an event. Do we punish to prevent it from happening again or do we look for the root cause?
So, when I discovered that this had happened I had to ask myself what I had done, and what situation I had created to make him so desperate. When I asked this I began to uncover times when I had been stingy with him or dishonest. My Partner and I use to save treats for ourselves for when the children were asleep and somehow they knew it. Obviously we were doing this so that they wouldn’t have any. We didn’t want to share and we knew it wasn’t good for them. We have completely stopped doing that. I am thankful for this powerful lesson my son has taught me and that is to give my good freely. I have also stopped buying treats which are not good for me and my overall health has improved for it.
I’ve also started sharing “my” money with the children freely when I can. We talk about budgeting a certain amount for things and how much we have in total. I am not worried about them not wanting to work for money but I do think about teaching generosity by being generous. I also want to create the feelings in them that there is always enough, that we don’t have to steal or hoard. By being open and honest with my children they understand when I have to tell them not now about buying something. We are a family and we all get to share the benefits of it.