Tuesday, February 21, 2006

less frazzled...

Yes, indeed, life has become a lot less frazzled lately. Mostly due to the fact that we are under voluntary house arrest from Annika's sad throat. "Why is my throat so sad, mummy?" she asked me last night. Your throat is sad? "Yes! it's so sad it's crying and i'm having a hard time swallowing its tears!" And she took a big gulp of the flem sliding down the back of her throat. She was up every 40 minutes or so all night long, herself crying from her very sore, sad throat. I'd give her a sip of rooibos tea or lemon water and she'd slide back into a restless, feverish sleep. I don't often find it necessary to force my children's fevers down with ibuprophen or the like, and hers broke on its own around 5 this morning. It's nearly 11 and she's still sleeping, as I would like to be!!! Pedar slept in his own bed for the first time in months -- and I found myself wondering if his angels were rocking him, holding him, comforting him in order that I could attend to his sister. I said a prayer of thanks, knowing that something extraordinary was going on...
I went to a talk by Alfie Kohn, author of "Unconditional Parenting" last week and his powerful words and passionate stories have revolutionized my life. Of course I wish I had learned all this long before I ever started parenting, but perhaps I wasn't ready for the concepts then. I'm not even going to try to summarize his wisdom here, but I feel very powerfully that every parent should be forced (!) to read his book or watch the DVD under the same name.
Just one quote that sings in my head: "There is something inherently STUPID about trying to make children into better people by making them feel bad." okay, one more "The more you use power to try to control your children, the less influence you will have on their lives. "
And so! It's been an adventure, this week, reparenting myself by choosing in each moment to respect and honour my children, choosing to be their compassionate ally instead of their dictator... Choosing to put my vision of who I want them to be as adults (kind, generous, loving, self-actualized, joyful, self-confident, passionate, aware, ethical, responsible, empathic, healthy, creative, free...) ahead of how I want them to behave as children. Not that this hasn't been the goal all along! But something in his message finally rang the bell deep enough within me to really initiate deep and lasting (!) change...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

the witching hour

Every day between 4 and 5 my day seems to fall apart. my wee boy usually poops (again) around that time and it's usually a big stinky messy one that stinks up the house and while at noon Pedar peeing AND pooping in his high chair seemed amusing if not a big make-work project, nothing seems funny during this witching hour. the floor is always a big mess by this time of day, with my barefeet sucking up all the crumbs and mis-fired staples and sticky spots of baby-boy drool. despite my constant picking-up throughout the day as well as the inter-mingled "clean-up time" calls being happily cooperated with, my children have too many small toys and they are spread alllll over our too-big house. by this time, the day's laundry is washed and dried and a big hamper full is waiting to be folded. the kids and i are all weary from the day and hungry and while a small healthy snack makes a little difference, it's an early supper they're wanting. but daddy's arrival home is still at least an hour or two away.
my perspective on my life starts to get cranky and the easy smile and lightness to my step has evaporated into dread about what to make for supper. it feels, at this time of day, that i've done well to make it this far with all the adventures of growing, curious, emotional, demanding children and it seems beyond my emotional reach to now be responsible for the nutritional needs of my family as well.
the waiting game begins for my relief to come and the closer it gets to 6, the more it seems impossible for me to be the cheerful, encouraging, welcoming, loving wife i've easily managed to be all day.
What I need (?) / want (?) is a hot bath, a delicious dinner cooked by someone else and a lovely sensual massage. But my reality is cooking dinner for 3 people with different desires/tastes, dishes, bath-time, bed-time, clean-up, and flopping into bed desperate for enough uninterrupted sleep to wake up ready for another amazing day of motherhood at its finest...
aaah, the witching hour. is it just the stay-at-home mother that experiences this? or is it the same no matter your occupation?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mother is a VERB, not a noun.

I just read that in the newest O magazine. How profound is that?! How freeing! Think of other verbs, take skiing, now that the olympics have started. If you're a skiier, then you ski. But would you ever judge yourself based on one run? one race? one sprint? even one day? You wouldn't decide that you were a failure because you didn't have a good day skiing. And nobody else would either. Yet with this mothering thing, we go to bed and berate ourselves for having a less-than-stellar day. But if we take the noun out of this job and make it only a verb, then we can be gentler and kinder to ourselves. It frees us up to be all that we are instead of how we perform on just one task. This all made so much more sense in my head than it is now that it's typed...
But just think! While there's no medals for mothering, that I'm aware of, that just means that it's not a competition! So, no big awards night because this is NOT A COMPETITION. Thank goddess...

Friday, February 03, 2006


According to the people who love me (I sent an email asking them to describe me in one word and one word ONLY), I am a strong, wise, loving, spiritual, beautiful, soothing, generous, deep, magical, earthy, intuitive, extraordinary mother. I received 12 adjectives and 1 noun. INTERESTING! And very inspiring. Thank you!!!

BE.... Do..... have

"Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first BE who you really are, then DO what you need to do, in order to HAVE what you really want." - Margaret Young

Doing a lot of soul-work so far this year and definitely starting to feel the powerful effects of tending my inner garden. Sarah Ban Breathnach says happiness is just one of the many living emotions that grows in the garden of our soul, one that needs to be tended like any living thing. We have to pull out the weeds of external expectations in order to nurture our own internal happiness. How profound is that?!
She talks about deciphering between what we NEED and what we WANT. And another book I'm reading sheds light on what needs truly are. Here's a list, are you ready?
1. Autonomy: choosing our own dreams/goals/values as well as the plans for fulfilling them
2. Celebration: celebrate the creation of life & dreams fulfilled as well as celebrating the losses of loved ones, dreams, etc. (mourning)
3. Integrity: authenticity, creativity, meaning, self-worth
4. Physical Nurturance: air, food, movement, health, rest, sex, shelter, touch, water
5. Play: fun, laughter
6. Spiritual Communion: beauty, harmony, inspiration, peace, order
7. Interdependence: acceptance, appreciation, closeness, community, consideration, contribution, emotional safety, empathy, honesty, love, reassurance, respect, support, trust, understanding.
Those are NEEDS. not wants. those are what we NEEEEEEED in order to be healthy on every level. And here is a list of feelings you'll feel when those needs ARE fulfilled: amazed, confident, energetic, glad, inspired, joyous, optimistic, eager, relieved, surprised, touched, comfortable, fulfilled, hopeful, intrigued, moved, proud, stimulated, thankful, trustful
And here's what you feel when your needs are NOT fulfilled: angry, confused, disappointed, distressed, frustrated, hopeless, irritated, nervous, puzzled, sad, annoyed, concerned, discouraged, embarrassed, helpless, impatient, lonely, overwhelmed, reluctant, uncomfortable.

So here we go through life thinking that our feelings just HAPPEN to us when it is simply not so. It's like any garden -- your plants never flop over just because. There's always a reason, some need not being met for that plant. So! when you're feeling any of the above emotions, you can get quiet (read last few lines of this), read through your list of needs, tend your garden thereby fulfilling your need, and watch the little flower of happiness SPRING BACK TO LIFE! WAHOO!