Monday, March 31, 2014

How Our Words Become Theirs

Am example of how the words we say to our kids will become the words they use to communicate. 

We were laying in bed last night and I was exhausted. I was laying on my stomach with my face turned away from Bug (3y). He was chattering away and asking me all sorts of questions like, "Does Thomas sleep in Tidmoth Sheds?" to which I'd reply, "uh huh".

After a few minutes of this Bug seemed to be getting frustrated with me. He said, " Mom, will you please use words and talk to me? " 

I was so proud that he was able to express himself so clearly and respectfully.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Our First Education Freedom Report

We were listening to this, which features a piece written by yours truly, and Josh (9y) WIGGED OUT that my name was mentioned.

"What if it gets on the radio? What if tv people want to come to our house?! What if we become famous?!?! WE COULD GET FREE ICE CREAM!" 

His excitement was so endearing. 

I hope you'll check out Parents For Liberty and subscribe to the Education Freedom Report. It's an amazing organization run by an amazing family.

Education Freedom Report 03/25/2014 - School Suicides, Parents Opt-out of Star Testing

Heather's Comment on Our Meme

So yesterday I posted a picture of Papa and Bug and a little meme and I got this comment on it- 

"Awwww, it's Brad! I love love love this family. So kind and inspiring! His wife saved my life after my son was born. Would be completely lost without her."

I spent 2 hours with her. 2 hours. Supporting her choices in how to feed her baby. Listening to her. Encouraging her. Reminding her that she could do this, that she had support. I showed her how to wear the baby in a ring sling. I made her a meal and left while she napped. All that almost a year ago. Haven't seen her since that day.

For that interaction to still inspire her to write that comment just shows how much impact our experiences during and after birth have on us for the rest of our lives (and on the life of the child as a consequence). It is one of the most vulnerable times in a woman's life. We must be sure to treat each other with respect and love, always, but especially then.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

An Amazing Partnership

I don't think it will ever stop amazing me to realize what a partnership the patent-child relationship is. 

We spend a lot of energy nurturing them, helping them learn to navigate the world, thinking they're the ones doing all the growing, but then they can reach up a tiny hand or speak a phrase in their sweet, small voices and teach us things we didn't even know we needed to learn. 

My children nurture me and help me grow as a human being just as much as, maybe even more than, I do them.

Josh Helps When I'm Grumpy

Last night I was reading in bed while the boys finished playing and settled down. Bug (3yo) brought a hard boiled egg yolk into his bed and smashed it on the sheet. (He has hard boiled eggs on a low shelf in the fridge and free access to them anytime he wants.)

I got really grumpy. I was ready to just lay there and read my book until I turned it the light. Changing sheets is one of my least favorite activities. So I'm grumbling and saying things that don't really need saying and so forth.

Josh (9yo) came over and have me a hug saying "I'm sorry you're grumpy mom, but you don't have to be. Everybody feels grumpy sometimes, but they can choose not to be."

I said, "You're right," took a deep breath, and got over myself. It felt wonderful.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Obsessing Over a Project

For most of the day I've been obsessed with finishing this little knit you for my nephew. I've gone longer than usual between meals, neglected today's normal chores, and spent most of my mental energy getting it done. 

Feeling this way about my project makes it easier for me to understand my kids' obsessions with certain activities on certain days. For example, today Josh has been obsessing overMinecraft. He's watched videos and played longer than usual.

And that's okay. Because sometimes being hyper focused on a task gets it done. There is the desire, the drive, and the follow through. Mine finished a knit toy. Josh's built a powered railway station. Neither is better than the other. His isn't less important because it was on a screen or built in a game.

I'm thankful we both had the opportunity to focus as long as we needed, and to reach our goals. It is a wonderfully rewarding feeling when we can eliminate distractions, overcome obstacles, and our work produces the desired result. Why should we rob our children of that reward?

Taking Time to Focus on Myself

Good morning! It's been awhile, huh? 

I've taken the liberty to spend most of my time and energy on myself and our home lately. It's been really healing and wonderful. 

Society places such a stigma on loving ourselves and putting energy into the care of ourselves. There is a sort of glorification of self-sacrifice. An idea that being behind on sleep, overworked, and neglectful of our own needs somehow makes us better people. It does not. It makes us less than our best.

Like so many other things I've learned on this journey, what I'd been told for so long is a lie.

How can I give my best to my children if I am not at my best? How can I effectively support others in my community if I am distracted by things for myself or my home left unattended? I don't think I can. And if I try to, I think I'm doing all of us a disservice.

I've been spending the last few months developing systems that meet my and my family's needs most efficiently so I will have more time and energy to commit to our community. I've learned that I need a certain amount of time to myself to feel most sane each day, and that waking up before everyone else gives me that. Getting rid of all but a set of 4 dishes means the kitchen is never out of control. Working everyone's wardrobes down to a set number of outfits means laundry no longer feels overwhelming. Developing a weekly menu for meals makes grocery shopping and cooking a breeze. Finishing all my half-finished projects (photo albums organized, garage cleaned out, etc) has taken a weight off my shoulders I didn't even realize was there.

Knowing all these things are now quite manageable and taken care of, more of my mind is available to focus on the really important things. My self. My kids. My husband. My friends. My community. And that is how I will change the world.

So, what will you do for yourself today?

“Everybody thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing themselves.”
― Leo Tolstoy

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Message Josh is Recieving

I haven't shared anything for a while, as I've been focusing on getting things around the house organized, starting the spring garden, etc. but I wanted to share this little snippet before I go to bed. 

We were driving home from dinner earlier and I was telling Papa about how I had a really stressful night with the boys and the dogs last night, but thanks to support from a wonderful friend who was over (and a bit of wine I slammed), I was able to feel better... "Like life is grand and parenting is wonderful."

Josh (9y) chimed in and said, "That's not the mom I know."

I said, "Well thanks for your honesty..." And kind of felt crappy.

Then he said, "The mom I know would say life's grander than grand, and parenting is more wonderful than wonderful."

Even with all the hard times when parenting is really challenging for me, even with all the struggles he and I have been through transitioning from authoritative parenting to peacefully parenting, the general message Josh gets from me is that I really enjoy being his mom. That made me feel more amazing than amazing.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Helping Bug Communicate Emotions

Bug (3y) has been having a lot of difficulties in communicating his feelings lately, sometimes called meltdowns. My usual mode of helping him through these times is to sit across from him, my arms open in case he wants a hug, and say things like "I see you're upset," "I am listening," "I want to help you," "I can help you more easily if you talk to me," with looooong pauses in between. I basically just hold a calm space for him, and after a few minutes of screaming, crying, and foot stomping while he works through whatever he's got going on he'll finally take a deep breath and say something like "I want a straw in my water."

Papa has been home more often the last few weeks so he's witnessed more of these meltdowns than he usually does. He asked me last night if I thought Bug's behavior was normal. Not going to lie, I laughed out loud. Yes, very normal. I'd even say he has less frequent and less intense meltdowns than I'd consider normal.

We talked more about it. Normal or not, he's struggling with a situation and its our responsibility to help him through it and help him learn to deal with his emotions in a healthy way. From that perspective I think we're handling things well. We are showing him we accept his feelings. We are actively listening to him. We are staying present so he learns he does not need to try to hide or suppress his feelings, or be ashamed of them. We're teaching him that we are a safe place to come when he's feeling overwhelmed, that he doesn't have to deal with these things alone.

Other approaches wouldn't teach these things. Punishing him for his outward behavior would neglect to address the underlying feelings, and create more hurt on top of them.

I'm confident Bug will move past this stage in his own time, and our relationships with him will be stronger from it.