Tuesday, May 29, 2007
So after getting really clear, over the past few months, about what I don't choose in my life, I was concerned that it might take me an equal amount of time to get clear on what I do choose. But no. As soon as I was able to voice clearly to my husband what it is that's not working in my life, it was very clear about what I need. It's years and years of programming that I'm eliminating in my life. Stories and beliefs that I adopted from my own parents' marriage and their views about what jobs were or weren't important. That being said, I truly have no idea what they really thought as all of my stories come from my own experience of it, what I perceived to be happening, what I imagined they thought and felt... And so, recognizing that, I see so clearly that in NOT CHOOSING their experience, it opens up a whole new realm of choosing my own. What freedom! And when I'm clear and feeling connected with Brent, it seems quite easy. When I'm not, it seems impossible. This is a journey, nonetheless, and will take the rest of my life to complete... But here's the changes in my itinerary that I'm undertaking right now:
1. I am no longer leaving it up to chance whether or not I'm connected with my husband. I very consciously connect with each of my children every morning when they wake up, each time they come back from an extended play, and every time we're separated for any length of time. Neufeld calls this "collecting" and I've learned that it is essential for emotional safety to my children. I am extending this same idea to my husband. I will not wait and hope that it just happens any longer. I am bumping the importance of this up to #1 as I am very clear that when I am disconnected with him I cannot mother the way I want to, I'm jittery, distracted and snappy. When I feel solidly connected with him, I feel like I can handle anything. So, I'm going to be planning regular time to connect: picnics, dates, walks, early-to-bed nights, writing in our co-journal, emails, phonecalls, etc.
2. I am no longer waiting for people to offer to give me time to myself. I've always known that I need time to myself, but I resist it somehow. I know how fleeting these years are with my children so young and precious and I honestly don't want to miss out on a second of them. Yet I also know that they need more of me now than they ever will in their lives -- they need ALL of me every moment of the day and that is very draining. And so it's clear that I NEED TO RECHARGE. And I'm clear that I can be with them always, never get time away, and the years will pass just as quickly in angst and resentment as they would if I get a few minutes to myself each day and they pass with joy and gratitude... SO! I will be making sure that I get regular time out, whether it be 10 minutes of yoga stretching, or an hours' walk by myself in the evening, or asking friends to play with my children for a bit while I catch my breath. The key here is regular. I can't wait until I'm empty or it's a vicious cycle. I have taken our empty teapot and held it over a cup to show Annika why I need to get away by myself so that I have something to offer her... Change of direction: I'm no longer going to wait for the pot to be empty before getting away to put something in it. I have also let my husband know that I have found that I am able to be the sole-parent well for about 8 hours. After that, I start to slide into a state that is satisfying to nobody. It was SO difficult for me to voice that need because in our culture so much of our worth is tied to how busy you are, how much you work and how much you make... All of those things are cut back when you only work 8 hours a day! But I do see clearly that this is something that is very important to me. It's interesting to me that when I decided to stay home, and Brent decided to work, that I stopped asserting my choices while he continued to do so. I take responsibility for that. When he found he was getting more and more responsibility at this job, I didn't say "Uh oh, what are we going to do? Sounds like they're asking you to work 10 or 12 hours a day, hey? What are we going to do? I can only do 8 on my own..." You know? This is my life, I have as much choice in my life as he does. What is it about our culture that gives a stay-at-home mum the message that she doesn't have choices? She just gets what's ever left-over? Because that's crap! THIS is the most important job, we ALL know that. HOW the breadwinner makes enough to live comfortably on (a whole other topic, yeesh!) has very little to do with how happy the family is. As long as the breadwinner is satisfied and content in his/her work, it doesn't affect the children what the job actually is, right? But the time spent away absolutely affects the entire family. How drained the breadwinner is upon arriving home absolutely affects the family. Yet we give very little thought to all that, and much more thought to how prestigious the job is, how much money is made, etc. Trivial, truly, when it comes to the well-being of our families and how well our society functions. We're so ethno-centric about all this, thinking that we've really figured it out -- we make heaps of money, buy heaps of stuff to fill ourselves up with, and look how very very happy we are. Heck, all those people in developing worlds want to be just like us, right? Cause they're sure not happy living in their little shacks and existence lifestyles... Until you actually go visit them, and see that they are genuinely happy with very little... and come back home and see that we are truly NOT very satisfied or happy and that all this stuff we buy to fill ourselves up with is completely destroying the planet -- for us AND for them. Ack!
3. Focus. Yes, not just a problem in this post, but a problem in my daily life. I wake up with a gazillion things I desperately want to accomplish -- everything from catching up in my garden to really being present with my children... and I haven't been taking the time to focus on what my greatest need is for that day and then choosing to focus on one or two things... I think this alone will drastically alter my itinerary. I hear myself complaining that I need time to focus. I want to do SOMEthing without being distracted. Focus-time. Yet why don't I choose one or two things to actually FOCUS on each day? Seriously up the chances of feeling a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. Of course this means letting everything that I'm not choosing to focus on, GO.
4. Choosing each and every day to CREATE my life. Not letting things happen to me. Not falling back into my comfortable old familiarity of being disappointed or powerless. Stopping the vicious cycles of being a martyr-mother, a misunderstood-underappreciated-wife, and CREATING my best life every moment. And when I don't? Letting it go and being kind to myself, knowing that I'm making progress and growing... Remembering that my life is a journey, and enjoying the adventure of it all...
Friday, May 25, 2007
But I think it was that simple choice that has influenced so much of my life now, in ways I didn't know it would. What I was saying to myself, my husband and even to my child, was that my husband needed more sleep to do his daytime job than I needed to do mine. Which sort of said that his job was more important, needed more concentration, more focus. It sort of told my husband that this whole parenting thing was more my job than his. It sort of gave him permission to be free-er right from the start than I was. It let him off the hook in so many ways.
It's not like it was ALL I knew. My wise sister-in-law had her first baby 2 weeks earlier and she wasn't making the same choice. This was THEIR baby and THEY were going to care for him. I sort of thought her a bit selfish, a bit silly. Why should they BOTH be up in the night? Why not let the one who could sleep sleep?
Well, 5 years, 5 months and 21 days later, the dynamics in that house are very different than the ones in this house. My husband works outside the home A LOT. It's not unusual for him to be gone 10 or 11, sometimes 12 hours a day. And it's not by my choice. He doesn't include me when planning his weekly schedule. He's the breadwinner. This is just what happens, isn't it? Didn't I have 2 choices? To be alone at home with my children OR to work outside the home and leave my children with someone else most of the day?
He pops home unexpectedly in the day and when my excitement plummets upon realization that he's not actually staying, he says things like "well, would it be better if I didn't come home at all then?"
This isn't the life I thought I was choosing that night. I chose to be the primary parent for attachment, but I didn't realize I was choosing years and years of not mattering when it came to actually CHOOSING how I spend my week. Oh, I wouldn't choose to work outside the home. I wouldn't choose to be away from my children. But I WOULD choose for my husband to share the responsibility of household chores, to be home more, to be more in a co-parenting role. I think I thought that choice would expire in, what about 6 months when she started sleeping through the night (LOL!!!) or a year at the most...
We moved out to the Okanagan in pursuit of a simpler life. My husband's job in the big city was demanding too much of him, pulling him away from us on weekends and he didn't feel like he was able to CHOOSE his life. We wanted to be together more. He wanted to be a more involved dad. We were giving up money and prestige in favour of a simpler life.
But did anything really change? He has an 'important' job. It demands long hours and lots of his energy and focus. He chooses to continue in his job. I, by default, am alone a lot with our children. I, because I'm home alone with our children, do all of the laundry, all of the cooking, all of the cleaning (not that there's a whole lot of that that's getting done these days!), all of the food buying and growing, all of the planting, all of the preparation for celebrations, all of the gift-buying/making, and on and on the list goes. Do I CHOOSE this? Well, I guess I do. It all needs to be done and I'm here so I do it. Mostly with joy. Sometimes with resentment. I definitely choose to homeschool our kids. I definitely choose to garden (my life's passion). I definitely choose much of what I do with my time and how I spend my life. But the one thing that seems beyond my control, out of my reach for choosing, is with whom I do all of this. I wouldn't choose to do it alone, as I am now. I would choose to have a co-parent. I would choose to have my own thing on the side, something I can do from home, something I'm passionate about, something that's all mine. I would choose for my husband to work from home as well, at something he's passionate about too. But nobody's asking. Hell, I'm not waiting to be ASKED, I'm sharing my desires/needs/wants but nobody's listening.
And I'm frustrated. Empty too much of the time. Because this most-important job in all the world is truly NOT meant to be done alone. Mothering is meant to be done in a tribe, surrounded by other adults, sharing chores, sharing jobs, sharing passions, having time to oneself as others fill in the gaps, taking up the slack when others need time to themselves... Connection. We are MEANT to be connected. To our mothers, our sisters, our cousins, our children, our HUSBANDS, for &%#@ sake. We are not meant to be disconnected for hours each day. What is the result of disconnection? I think it's monotony. Resentment. Depression. Disconnection takes what should be done in joy and turns it on its head.
It's not the life I choose. Plain and simple. What's to be done about it? In this culture, how do we choose otherwise? Being 'successful' means such a different thing to me than it used to. How do we choose connection in a disconnected culture? How do you do it? Do you feel a true partnership with your husband? How do you manage it? I'd love to hear...
Thursday, May 10, 2007
It's amazing to me that in our culture we somehow think it's okay to put our old people into institutions where their bodies will be cared for, where they're completely separated from the families that they've dedicated their lives to, but somehow we pretend that we feel 'good' about all this because 'they're getting the very best care'. To me, my Grandma is like a small child now, her mind is not clear and she needs constant reassurance and love and attention from people she trusts. She's forgotten that she's lived in that home for 10 years. Nobody is familiar to her. She looks around her room every minute and can't figure out how all her things got there. She forgets even the names of her children, but she doesn't forget that she doesn't belong there. There's nobody that she loves to reassure her and comfort her and make her feel safe. Her spirit dies a little every day that because it's not restored and filled with the love of her own people. And so it takes a lot of filling to heal that.
I'm not against daycare. I know a lot of children thrive in such places, with loving caretakers to stimulate them and teach them... But imagine children put into daycare where their parents only visited them once or twice a week? For an hour or so? Unthinkable! That's what the orphanages in Romania and China are like -- and we all know the results -- permanently stunted and spiritually-deformed, emotionally-haunted children. Why do we expect anything different to happen to our aged?
Monday, May 07, 2007
She's on my mind pretty much constantly and I have to force myself to not phone her every hour. She asked me if I thought it was alright that she just die now, and I said I thought it was. I'm going to her tomorrow and the hours in between can't go by quickly enough... There's the garden, the passion of my life, that's calling to me, there's the very last, much-anticipated swim lesson of the session (to see if Miss A passed), there's the dancing to Mr. P's harmonica music to be done... Life is sweet yet Grandma is foremost on my mind and heart.
Gma and me at her 90th birthday party a couple of weeks ago.
So much of me wonders how things would be different if I could have/ would have taken my Gma in to live with us when we moved here... But I'm accepting that I didn't and that it can't be changed now. I'm accepting that somethings in life can't be understood, and that they just work out the way they're meant to... I'm accepting that my dear old Grandma just might be ready to pass over... And I'm feeling so grateful that I can go and give her more hugs and kisses and reassurances and love before she does...
The strange thing is, this love for my Grandma is new to me. I didn't love her the way I do now before I became a mother. I judged her as being selfish and only saw the things she wasn't. When I became a mother I realized just how hard things must have been for her and my judgments all just fell away. Also, when I lost my parents (7 years ago today), her unconditional love and acceptance became so much more important to me. She truly is the only person alive that I feel completely unconditionally accepted by. That's a gift that can never be replaced.
These are photos of my Grandma and myself at age 20. (I look more like my mum's side of the family.) Isn't it interesting that we both had glamorous photos taken of ourselves at that age, both looking over the same shoulder!?And here's Grandma at 40. I think she got even more beautiful, don't you? This is a reminder for me to have a photo taken of myself in 2 years too. I'm 38 now. Oh! How I hope that if I'm still alive at 90 that I'm still walking and gardening and cooking and living with my family and passionate about my life...
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Moyers: Don't you think modern Americans have rejected the ancient idea of nature as a divinity because it would have kept us from achieving dominence over nature? How can you cut down trees and uproot the land and turn rivers into real estate without killing God?
Cambell: Yes, but that's not simply a characteristic of modern Americans, that is the biblical condemnation of nature which they inherited from their own religion and brought with them, mainly from England. God is separate from nature, and nature is condemmed by God. It's right there is Genesis: we are to be masters of the world. But if you will think of ourselves as coming out of the earth, rather than having been thrown in here form somewhere else, you see that we are the earth, we are the consciousness of the earth.