Moving boundaries

 

Last night I had one of about a million encounters with my preteen daughter regarding bedtime. These started at about the age of 3. Both of us have our heels dug in on this issue and it has been going on for years. The reason it’s been going on for years is that it is the one thing (and I do mean the one thing) upon which I have been insistent: my need for downtime at night. I know many parents, particularly homeschooling/unschooling parents, who do not impose a bedtime on their children. The philosophy behind it is usually supported by the desire for children to be able to set their own boundaries, listen to their own bodies, and define their own needs. I get all of that. I strive to give my children as much freedom and self-sufficiency as I can so long as it doesn’t have a negative impact on the rest of us in this little pod called home. That’s the very issue at hand. I need time by myself. Time to process my own thoughts without interruption. Time to regenerate without having to tend to the needs of others. Time to relax without answering questions or teaching something to somebody. I do this all day, everyday, particularly as an unschooler as I’m following three children and their constant desire to learn. I need time off. I have felt guilty about this for a very long time. I felt like I should be able to spend 24/7 with my children without needing a break. The cost was a frazzled, overwhelmed, and angry (and unaware) mother. That certainly is not the environment I’m seeking for my children – or me and my husband. Furthermore, I’m a thinker. I’m a total idea person and if I don’t give my mind time to process ideas it does it anyway…at 3am. That means that if I don’t have downtime, I’m an insomniac. Sleep deprivation has not proved to create a loving, patient mother in me.

When I woke up this morning still angry about not having my boundaries respected yet again, I was forced to take a closer look. I am reading Augusten Burroughs’ latest book (because I’m reading everything Augusten Burroughs right now) and he talks about anger and rage, which has given me some insight into this very issue. What I realized is that because I’ve not been very kind to myself in allowing anger without self-recrimination, I now feel myself approaching rage on this issue of not getting what I am repeatedly requesting. I can feel it welling up in me, but I keep deflecting the need to change upon my daughter. As I was mentally chastising her for taking 10 years to get this “right”, I thought, “Why has it taken 10 years?” I’m not a victim – how am I showing up? Why has it taken 10 years for me to get what I want? Now I had to stop myself from mentally chastising myself for it taking 10 years to get it “right.” One thing I know is that when my children are doing something repeatedly and not budging in how they’re showing up, there is a reason. Where is the mirror? What is the lesson? For many parents, it may be easy to blame them or the fact that their “children”, but for me, I’m always questioning what’s underneath the behavior. So I asked myself the question: how am I really showing up? The cold, hard ugly truth? I’m being inconsistent. I set a boundary and I’m adamant about it…until it conflicts with someone else’s needs/wants/desires, then I adjust mine to accommodate theirs. I’m fairly consistent with that! This is not good on many levels: I’m not being true to my needs, I’m caretaking others and I’m not setting clear boundaries for my children. The message they get is that they need only give me a not-even-really-great reason that they need something from me that is in contradiction with my established boundary and my very clear boundary becomes a very fuzzy, wishy-washy boundary that dissipates at the first sign of the needs of others. Again and again and again and again. And not only with my children. I realized that I’m also doing it with my husband. The harmful part of all this – or one of the many harmful parts of this – is that it eventually comes out as passive aggressive behavior on my part. A trait I thought I’d long since put behind me. I abhor passive aggressiveness, so no wonder I wear it, right? It is, after all, the very things to which we react strongly that are intricately woven into the fiber of our being.

This is a hard lesson for me. I love giving. I love to see others happy. I hate to see my children disappointed (we’ll discuss this one later). This is what makes it difficult for me to say “No, we’re not going to read another book. It’s officially Mommy Regeneration Time.” They get a sad face, I feel empathy, and I give in. I don’t see how detrimental this is in the moment – until it compiles night after night and I am now desperately in need of time alone since I’ve now suffered several nights of frustrating over-the-top-mind-racing-save-the-world-idea-generation-insomnia.  Now I’m cranky and blowing up at my children for doing what they’ve been doing for several nights without calamity. I can only image the confusion. Besides, they get what they want most of the time with only an occasional emotional outburst from me, so what’s the impetus to respect my boundary? The cost to me, though, is great. I truly believe that they don’t want to hold this space for me, either. They want peace. They want consistency. They want harmony. As do I. The truth is that I don’t want to disappoint them so I choose to disappoint myself and in doing so, teach them something other than the importance of respecting boundaries – not only others’ boundaries, but most importantly their own.

For 10 years I’ve been asking myself why the topic of boundaries is so popular in our house. I think I just may have finally figured it out.

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Who Am I to Interfere?

My 12 year old and I were chatting with a friend of ours last night and he told us a story about a successful entrepreneur who showed incredible signs of independence at a really young age. At the age of 6, he would get angry with his mother for waking him up in the morning because he could “do it himself!” He would make his own food, buy whatever he needed with the money his parents had given him – until he was making his own. He went on to earn a degree from MIT and create a very lucrative career. As I was listening to this, I recalled several conversations I’d had with my daughter recently about the subject of money and independence. From a very young age, she has shown her entrepreneurial spirit. She’s always creating product, has several sidewalk stands every summer (popcorn, lemonade, oak saplings, blueberry tea, etc.), and recently asked me how to make money with her money. Although I am supportive of her endeavors, I realized that I was managing how she spends her money. She received a gift certificate for her birthday and wanted to buy an office chair for her desk. I told her that that was something her parents needed to buy her. She wanted to buy a new winter coat and we told her that was something that we needed to buy her. Something felt off as we were saying it, but I wasn’t sure why. I started to realize why when she said she wanted to start modeling so she could buy the family vacations. I felt sick and grateful at the same time. I was once again impressed by her generous spirit, but I was also crushed because I immediately thought about how we were not in a position to provide this for our family at present. We are in a transition at the moment that has our finances rather taught and I am daily struggling with the feeling that I am not providing for my family. This all came in a rush last night as I realized that I was equating “providing” with money. As I meditated on this, I realized that we are providing in many ways, but I was feeling inept because we are not rolling in the dough right now. My husband provides a fabulous example of following your passion. He is a fabulous professional musician and works a full schedule doing what he loves. We are providing our children with the opportunity to homeschool for as long as they choose. We are providing our children with the resources they need and desire for their education and growth, frequent visits with friends, memberships to their favorite activities, continuity of care, etc. I have just stopped working a job that interfered with my ability to be present for my children and am pursuing what I love to do, as well. I am providing a conscious example of how to take care of yourself, follow your dreams, be kind to others, be generous with your time and resources, and be conscious of your actions. I am definitely providing for my family and I work a full time job doing it. Once again, this requires my own internal work to ensure that I am focusing on the right stuff to create the live I truly want.

All this to say that I was jumping into my daughter’s intentions around spending her money because I felt she was buying things that I was “supposed” to be buying as her parent. Who am I to interfere in how she wants to spend her money? She earns money babysitting, manages her allowance, and is mindful about how she spends money. We provide for their needs and if they want to spend their money on something they want without asking us for it – who am I to manage that? What I was doing was unconsciously altering their very real and fabulous knowing in an unlimited source to “my parents are my source.” Ugh. So, back to the drawing board. Time for a conversation with my daughter to relate my realization and return her power to spend her money as she chooses.

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Birthing From Within

Two years ago today I gave birth to my youngest daughter. A bit of a late arrival, but definitely meant to be in this amazing family of mine! She’s a perfect fit.

Friends who went through her early pregnancy with me would laugh at the heading of “Pregnancy in Awareness”, as they joke that I got through the first trimester with ease because I was in complete denial. I was sure I was perimenopausal. The truth. I wasn’t checking in. I was in a bit of denial. My two older children were, well, older. I had just started to really get into my music career and life was as life is with older children: a bit more free. Apparently, though, I was not done having children and if the truth were to be told, I knew in my heart that I wanted to do it one more time, despite what my mouth said. I’d had too many fantasies about having another homebirth and nursing another baby to deny it.  I was, however, freaking out about about the loss of freedom and trying vehemently to push out concerns of health issues. My son came close to death when he was 2 weeks old and that left an imprint, plus I was 44 years old. *Gasp* There’s a lot of opinions jammed down women’s throats about that one, but I digress.

Throughout this pregnancy, I was determined to listen, really listen to what my body and my baby were telling me – and to follow with trust. This was not always easy, mind you. One of the main messages I received repeatedly was to rest. I don’t like lying around and I’m not very good at it, but I listened and I rested a LOT with this pregnancy. The other message I was receiving loud and clear was to stay out of the way and let my body do its thing. This required me ensuring that my caregiver stayed out of the way, too. Now, I had an amazing midwife who I trusted wholeheartedly and she – despite not always agreeing with me – allowed me to follow my instinct without pressure. She did give me opinions and options, but it was up to me to determine what was best for me and my baby. This took courage. There is so much media and medical opinion around birth, and especially homebirth, that it can be a bit intimidating to take your own path based solely on intuition and internal guidance. That, however, is the only way I want to live my life!

As the birth got closer, the opportunity to cave to intervention grew. Doctors, and even midwives I’ve found, have a tendency to want to see what’s going on – and to help. I can respect that. There must be a lot of pressure – professionally and legally – to ensure that you ‘know what’s going on’ with your patients and I think it takes a pioneer to truly listen and trust your patients to know what’s best for them and to honor their desire to trust themselves, while still knowing when it truly is time to step in. I’m lucky to have had such a pioneer on my side. I pushed the envelope a bit, too, because I went over the expected due date, which makes people very, very nervous; and, I am tall and my fundal height is never on target, which throws off their charts. I declined an ultrasound. I declined a exam to determine if and how much I’d progressed (whether I was dilated or not) to avoid my membranes being inadvertently stripped. I felt very strong that this baby needed to be left alone. She was taking her time, though. Not only were we “overdue”, but I was in prodromal labor for 3 weeks. I was sure I was going into labor every day, then it was fizzle out. I was walking around 3 miles each day, but increased it towards the end trying to encourage labor. I would walk through each contraction, but soon gave that up when my internal guidance told to to stop trying to hurry things up. So, I rested. I took it easy and I allowed my body to do this its own way – truly without intervention. And I wondered. I wondered how many unnecessary surgeries are due solely to impatience. Patience, however, turned out to be greatly rewarded in this birth. Patience is not usually one of my virtues, but I must be learning!

On Halloween Eve, my family wanted to go to a Halloween Party, but I knew I wasn’t going to attend. I went into labor around 10:00pm, which was nothing new. I had been doing that for 3 weeks! I labored through the night and things seemed to be heating up instead of fizzling out. I took a shower around 5:00 a.m. and did a quick self exam and was shocked to realize I could feel her head! I thought, “Am I going to drop her on the shower floor?!” I got out and texted my friend who I wanted at my birth and told her to come on down. She lived about 45 minutes away. I woke up my husband and told him to fill the birth tub. My friend arrived around 6:30am and I was still walking around and joking through contractions. My son woke up around 7:00, walked in with his little sleepy boy face, stopped and looked confused for a second as to why we were all awake, then noticed the birth tub and said, “Cool!” My husband kept asking me if I should call the midwife, but I said, “No, not yet.” Finally around 9:00, I agreed to call her. I think he was getting concerned because I’d had one too many discussions about the possibility of doing an unassisted birth. I felt I could do it, but really wanted my midwife to be there, especially for taking care of my baby right after birth (checking vitals, etc.). Jonathan called her and she asked to talk to me. When she heard my voice, she said, “Yeah, I’m going to have a cup of tea and call you in a bit. Does that sound OK?" I agreed. I felt fine and didn’t feel like it was a rush. By the time she called me about 20 minutes later, things had shifted. When she asked me how I felt, I said, “I don’t know.” She said, “I’m on my way.” She arrived around 10:00 am (this is where the times get a bit fuzzy, can’t imagine why) and I was definitely close. At that time I allowed her to check how far I’d progressed and I was at 6cm (I think). I got in the birth tub and the contractions got really strong. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to do this again. I don’t know if I can do this again.” So I silently asked, how many more contractions? The answer was loud and clear: 3. I said (to my higher self), “3?, really 3?” “Yes, 3.” I thought, “OK, I can do that.” Breathed through the 1st. Breathed through the 2nd. Breathed and pushed through the 3rd and out came her head. 3! Another example of asking and trusting. I reached up and felt her head and it felt so strange. Like a bubble. Then I realized that she was in the caul. One more push and out came her body. I reached down and flicked my finger on the bubble and she slid out of the sack into the water. I pulled her up and was once again amazed at how beautiful she was. Another perfect baby. How was I to be so lucky? Somewhere in my youthful childhood, I must have done something good.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

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Meet a Need

I love breast feeding and I am a huge advocate of extended nursing and child-led weaning. Anyone who is close to me knows the dogged determination with which I have pursued nursing relationships with all of my children. None were without difficulty, but we hung in there until we got over the hump and they each enjoyed the benefits breast milk and nursing into their toddler years. Is it always easy? No. Right now, I’m experiencing one of the less than blissful moments in nursing a toddler. This is the 3rd night of no sleep and I’m so sleep deprived it’s ridiculous. In a rash knee jerk response, I cried, “That’s it! We’re done. No more nursing at night!” Any nursing mamas out there care to comment on how successful that was? Now it hasn’t been without a foundation. I have been saying for 6 months or more that “we sleep at night, we nurse in the day.” To that I get a “Mmm.” I know that response. She gets it from me. It means, “Yeah. I hear you, I just don’t agree with you.” 

Last night was a clear example of a power struggle. I lost. I hung in as long as I could, but my heart gave way and I caved. Here’s the skinny. We nurse to sleep. We talk about  how we’re going to sleep tonight. She agrees. I go to bed right after she does. 45 minutes into my delightful dream state, she wakes up screaming. “Need Mama, need Mama!”. I try to snuggle and assure here that Mama is right here. I try to rub her and tell here that we’ll nurse in the morning, now is time to sleep. No luck. I ask if she’s hungry, if she wants rice milk, if she hurts. No luck. The screaming intensifies to a crazy level. I get angry. I’m so, so tired. We get up, I refuse. More screaming. After about 10 minutes of a full on meltdown, I’m concerned she’s going to blow out her vocal chords. It’s a deep guttural scream that is not relenting. I spend the next hour trying to distract her with no success whatsoever. She’s determined. My heart is breaking. I’m wavering. And then it comes to me: meet a need and it will go away.

I knew this with my first daughter. She, like all my children, is a spirited child. My first daughter is a visionary. She sees clear images in her head and that is the way it must be. This is similar to what Temple Grandin describes in her movie. When my eldest was a toddler, this would come out in something so simple as the shape of her sandwiches. If I cut them the wrong way, it was a huge meltdown. I had this deep sense that if I allowed it, it would go away. Meet a need, it will go away. For what ever reason, she needed this level of control at this stage. I gave it to her. I chose my battles carefully. I was told I was coddling, I was spoiling her, I was being manipulated. I heard them, but followed my inner guidance. Today, she is this amazing, well-adjusted and flexible soul. I met the need. It went away.

Back to the present…in that moment, I realized that this was a need. She’s not intentionally abusing me. She’s not manipulating me. She needs this and she was telling me that. We both had our heels dug in and I chose to be the adult and let go. There was a reason my heart was breaking. It felt wrong. I then had to ask myself why I had such a strong reaction. I wasn’t getting my needs met. I needed sleep. Where else could I get it? I needed to be napping. Every new mama knows this: sleep when the baby sleeps. I have never been good at that. I take that opportunity to “get things done!” Well, time to reassess priorities. The truth: if I was napping, I wouldn’t be so exhausted and I could meet her needs at night without freaking out.

My sense is that she’s going through a growth spurt. She’s seemingly growing before my very eyes. When she’s had nursing marathons in the past it has been followed by a new tooth, an illness (which is usually innocuous after an increase in breast milk"), a large development. There is always a true need. I choose to meet the need instead of trying to break her spirit and get what I want.

That feels right.

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Finding Myself in the Madness

I agreed to take my 3 small children, one not yet out of diapers, into the wild (well, not exactly – it was a homeschoolers group campout at a State Park) for 3 days of camping – no Dad. 2 days into it, we discover that there are severe thunderstorms storms on the rise. 90% of our group packed up and bailed. My kids begged to stay and I acquiesced. Was I off my rocker? Possibly, but actually I was following my intuition which told me we were in no danger. Someone called me a warrior, but I questioned whether I was that, or just mad. It was not an easy weekend, but it was not overwhelming. It just was. We had a great time and the physical challenge was not over the top. What I did realize, however, was how often I made choices strictly to avoid disappointing my children – often to my detriment. We agreed as a family that I would take them without Dad if they agreed to help when I asked. I can’t count how many times I would need their help and they would ask if they could run off, go hiking, go bike riding or whatever and I would say, “Sure.” I would then make dinner while watching a wandering toddler and having to pee so bad I could barely stand it – all so my children wouldn’t be disappointed. As the weekend unfolded, I began to realize how often this pervaded my decision making. They grand finale was when we were beginning to break camp. I was tanked. I was so tired and ready to get home, but when someone offered to take them hiking, I allowed it. I assumed they would be gone 30 or so minutes, but did I lock that in? Nope. I didn’t specify, I just let them go, knowing they would have a great time. So, my little toddler and I began to break camp. As time clicked away and it reached the 2 hour mark with no kids, I began to get angry. I was angry at them for not coming back. On the tail of that, I realized that I had no place getting angry at them. It was my choice. I chose not to ask them to stay. I chose to try to avoid their disappointed faces. I chose to refrain from putting a time limit on their fun. I chose to suffer. I then realized how often I do this in order to avoid their disappointment.

Is this martyrdom? No. This comes from is a profound love of my children and a true desire to have them experience everything they want in the life. That is a genuine motivation. However, I’m getting lost in the madness. That love of my children needs to extent to me, as well. Self love has been my biggest challenge and this is yet another experience from which to learn. And what of disappointment? Is that such a bad thing to experience? It’s part of life. We don’t always get what we want and thank God for that! More times than I can count I have suffered disappointment only to later realize that it was a true and generous gift of the Universe to deny me what I thought I wanted. What is most important is to manage our reaction to the disappointment. Are we flexible? Accepting? Unattached to the outcome? If I can help my children learn that, then that is a greater gift than to try to protect them from ever experiencing disappointment – especially at my own peril. My most important lesson through all of this is to remember that I am part of the experience. I am part of the equation. I am.

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Weathering the Storm

About 30 days ago, I made the decision to release all of my clients in my business and focus on my family and my own creation. I’ve known for some time that my business was not a creation of passion, but rather one of necessity. It served its purpose and was no longer supporting my livelihood in such a way that justified the amount of time I was focusing on my clients and, therefore, not being present for my children. So, I released it. This decision did not come lightly, as we weren’t exactly swimming in financial abundance, but we were making ends meet. We are now leaping without a net. I have a deep sense that all will be well, but my comfort zone is being challenged. I do, however, feel very strongly that I have a purpose on this planet and my business was not related to my purpose whatsoever. Before making this decision, I called a family meeting and asked what my family would be willing to risk for me to be doing what I love and loving what I do. The support and love melted my heart. The kids offered me their savings accounts and allowance, they were suggesting that we could sell the house, they were offering to get a job to contribute, etc. I was overcome.

Now comes the challenge. With my business no longer making money and my new ventures still in their initial stages, we are challenged with how to continue to make ends meet. So far, we’re still ahead, but it’s getting scary. As soon as it started to get scary, I fell into old patterns. I started stressing about money and that tends to flow down the chain until I’m taking it out on the kids. I’m sure I am not alone here. Then I lashed out at my husband, who incidentally is the most workin’ bass player I know, and started an argument spewing all sorts of crap in his direction. In the middle of it, I realized that we were playing into old patterns and it stopped me in my tracks. This is not the life I envisioned when I decided to stop doing what I didn’t like and start doing what I do like. I was making a choice. I was choosing to attach emotions to numbers. That’s all it is, this money business, it’s numbers. I trust in the flow. I trust that I can have the life I want. I trust that good will come to us, especially when we are pursuing a life of passion and are heart-based in our decisions. That all comes with a deep sense of knowing. The rest – the stress, the arguments, the anxiety – those are the work of my busy little mind being a scaredy cat.

I also have worked tirelessly to break a cycle around scarcity and lack and pass on to my children the belief in the unlimited abundance of the Universe. This is not easy to do when I’m still working through it myself, but I’m committed. I had been trying to hide certain things from them around money that might lend to the thought process that there isn’t enough. What I realized today was that the emotions around money, or lack thereof, is what is the most defining. I never wanted them to hear, “I can’t afford it,” so I was very careful with my words – and with my beliefs. The truth may be that I don’t have the money for it today, but that says nothing about tomorrow, or the day after, or next week. I don’t believe there is anything harmful in being truthful, but my emotions around it have a big impact. It I’m emotional about having to say no to one of their desires, I tend to get loud and frustrated and it comes out that I’m angry at them for asking. That’s not the truth, it’s just what comes out because I’m emotional. The truth is, I’m not their Source. I’m a source. Their Source is much bigger, more expansive and totally unlimited. So is mine.

The lesson isn’t really that they never hear, “No.” The lesson is that they learn that sometimes there are difficult situations, sometimes there are hard times, but we have the resources, strength and capability to weather the storm with grace, love, patience and joy. It’s all a choice in how we react to what is in front of us.

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Perfectionism Bites

I’ve been noticing that some of my communications with my children smack of perfectionism. It bites. The first response I had to this realization was to feel anger and frustration with myself because I still have not accomplished the true unconditional loving communication I so strongly desire and intend. Now, that’s not totally true. In fact, in hindsight, I’d say that I run unconditional love – especially for my family -95% of the time. The truth is I’m impatient. I know who I want to be, but that is not what is coming out 100% of the time. I find my daily focus to be on all of the times I’ve fallen down. I revisit all of the times I’ve snapped or lost my temper, all of the times I’ve said things that I swore I would never repeat to my children in their lifetime, but I did. I watch myself do it, I feel it falling out of my mouth and feel hijacked as I fail to stop it. I apologize, but it’s out there. Out there to be taken on by them if they unconsciously choose to take it on. Can you unconsciously choose to do something? Well, who would consciously choose to take on the baggage of their parents that was unintentionally being doled out to them? No one in their right mind, but I do know that we can consciously choose not to take something on, so it must be an unconscious choice. That’s my logic, or lack thereof, if you so choose. I digress.

As I continue to flog myself for my intermittent failure to stop the flow of dung coming out of my mouth at various times of impatience and frustration, I have a sudden realization: I am not perfect. I will fall down. I will trip. I will stumble. I will fall flat on my face. I shall then pull myself upright, dust myself off and give myself another chance to do it the way I truly wish it to be done. Should I trip again, I will repeat the process until my intention overcomes the years, decades, perhaps centuries of habit that has been passed on to, and I have taken on as my way. Most importantly, I will forgive myself every time I communicate in a way that is other than the way I want to be. I will prevail. I must be patient with myself and love myself through the process. If I can’t do that, how can I ever expect to be patient with my children or my spouse? How can I ever expect to love them through their own process of growth and change? It starts here. It starts with me. It starts with my releasing perfectionism and allowing for my own mistakes, thereby allowing every one else their own mistakes. Perfectionism bites, not only me, but every one around me. Somehow that though inspires me to be more gentle with me, so I can be more loving with those I love.

Love yourself. Be patient with yourself. Forgive yourself. Repeat.

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What you give is what you get

I was talking with a friend about parenting and the issue of respect came up. This reminded me of my own journey through “I just need respect!” with my children. There was a period of way too long that I was caught in a sort of battle with my children over respect. Now, don’t get me wrong, my children are respectful – especially of others. I get rave reviews back from others when they are around them, but I felt that for some reason when they were with me, they lacked respect for me, my parenting, or my decisions. I was forever questioning whether they respected me as a parent. I would make a decision and I would get, “Why?” Then an “argument” against whatever I had decided. This began to seem like it happened with every decision. I was caught in a quandary, because I have intentionally set out of raise children who are able to speak their mind, then when they do…I decipher it as disrespect! There are other supporting situations, the most frustrating of which was bedtime. I have made many changes to this bedtime thing, mainly because I want them to listen to their body and sleep when they are tired, not go to bed because I say it’s time to go to bed. However, I noticed that I needed downtime every night so that I could show up the next day in a rested, peaceful and loving space. When they wouldn’t go to bed, I would get upset. And I would yell. So, here I was reciting all of the freedoms I was giving them, all of the ways in which I was honoring their needs and requests, but when I was asking something in return, I felt like I never got it. (Victim and martyr, I know).

Because I always reflect upon what I’m modeling and come at it from the point that I get what I give, I kept scrutinizing all the ways I was giving respect..why wasn’t I getting respect? One day I noticed that when I would begin to tell them something that I didn’t like, or needed changed, or wanted to happen, I would flip into this authoritarian tone. My voice would raise a few notches, my tone would become stiff and bossy. This was consistent. It was as if I would put on my Mother voice and begin to issue orders. If they didn’t listen or seemed distracted, I would start to yell. Not screaming, mind you. But a very loud voice. And the feeling in my body was as if I would going to explode at any moment. That got their attention. But not the attention I wanted to get. Their faces were shock and a little fear. Well, this is the last thing I want to exchange with my children – authority and fear. I had been successful in respecting their bodies and not hitting them, and there was some part of me that kept telling me that yelling was as violent as hitting, but I hadn’t figured out how to get what I wanted without being Big Mama Bear and growling fiercely to get my point across. Yes, I know this is a common M.O. for parenting in this world, but I have always wanted something better. True loving communication. I know others use it, I want that for my children. And, I wasn’t using it. I was slipping into an old paradigm that – in my opinion – needed to retire. I was, after all, raising future adults and teaching them how to communicate. If I was teaching them to communicate with anger to get their needs filled, I had not accomplished what I had set out to do – educate how to be changemakers and communicate with peace.

Well, as always does when I shift my perception, a wondrous think happened (as usually does with self-evaluation). I began to get what I gave – in a new way. I was truly giving respect and I was getting it.

The more I live, the more I find this to be true. When I see something I don’t like, look inside. I’ve never been disappointed to find the answer there. I focus on what I want. I shift. Things change.

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Creating Memories

I have spent more hours than I care to admit focusing on my fears about what memories I have created for my children and how they will feel about me when they are grown. I know this sounds silly; after all, I spend most of my waking – and sometimes my sleeping – hours contemplating whether my parenting of the day was with love or with judgment and criticism. I pine it daily. My husband tells me that I’m too hard on myself, but I take this job very seriously. It is the most important job I’ve ever had – this I know without a doubt. I am raising tomorrow’s adults and this world needs really great ones. I’m doing whatever I can do make sure they have the tools they need to be great and love who they are. That’s no small task. And I’m not perfect. Far from it. One of the many, many challenges is teaching something as I am learning it and trying not to regurgitate that which I would have disappear from my subconscious indefinitely.

So, in an effort to redirect my thoughts from fear to intention, I’m celebrating my successes instead of focusing on my fears and perceived failures. At the end of the day, I have a habit of mentally flogging myself because I yelled when I should have just shook my head, because I chose frustration over humor, or because I chose to wash dishes instead of dance and spin. My new approach is to remember the successes first. How many times did I tickle when I could have barked? How many times did I choose to blow zerberts when I could have mindlessly changed the diaper? How many times did I listen attentively when I could have nodded absentmindedly?

Last night, my oldest daughter came up to me and gave me a big hug. I chose to melt into it and really savor it. She’s already 11 and quickly coming up on 12. I want to relish in those hugs while I still have the chance. As we were hugging, we started dancing. We slow danced to John Mayer for the rest of the song. It was dreamy. I thought, “Yes. These are the memories I want to create. More of these.”

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Care of the Soul–Part I

In 1998, I was just beginning my journey into awareness, after a lifetime of playing the role of victim and living life as though I was being whipped around by my tail. I was armed with a few books given to me by a counselor that I had only seen on a few occasions, but who was a catalyst in an entirely new life for me. After having read The Miracle of Mind Power by Dan Custer and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, MD, I was ready for me. I came across Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore in a used bookstore and it reached out to me, so I bought it. It went on the bookshelf and was transferred to 4 houses without being opened, but something told me not to let it go. It’s been trying to get my attention for the past two years and finally it succeeded. Four nights ago, I walked into the dark living room and it was literally glowing on the bookshelf. Could it have been the light of the moon? Possibly, but it got my attention. I pulled it down and was immediately enraptured. I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer say one time that you will open a book when the time is right.

I have been seeking some internal guidance on the parenting of my coming of age daughter. I have a definite intention around parenting that comes with love, respect and support, but often that’s not what comes out. I’ve talked about this in previous posts and here it is again. It’s important for us to understand – in the light of self forgiveness – that we carry with us generations of attitudes, demeanors and habits that most certainly come out as we begin and continue on the parenting journey. It takes courage and persistence to break any of these habits that are not in the best interest of ourselves and our children. It takes self-love to forgive ourselves when we fall down along the way. And we will. It’s part of the journey.

Within a few pages, I knew that Care of the Soul was what I’d been seeking. My friend Tina Ferguson and I have been discussing something that she brought into awareness – nothing is broken. I was cleaning my office and came across a quote of hers that is just on this point (I love how that happens – synchronicities!).

Remember, where you are is perfect. There’s nothing to fix and nothing is broken. If something is not moving, it is exactly what is being created. If you long for something, to create a new experience, do not waste time looking to fix what isn’t wrong to begin with: Begin first with what you desire to create, then consider…Have you decided? And, are you committed? Are you ready to fly? Tina Ferguson

We can spend a lifetime trying to “fix” ourselves, but this can only lead to internal turmoil. There is nothing broken about us. We are living, we are experiencing and we are course-correcting. That’s the journey. So, I thought, “Why am I reading this…I know this.” But we only know it when we practice it, otherwise, we’re still learning it.

Until next time…take care of your soul.

Doreen

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