Category Archives: parenting

Enough

 Photo: Some rights reserved by cursedthing

Have you seen it yet? Have you seen the fabulous photographic call to end the mommy wars? If not you can see it here.

I applaud these women for standing up and saying enough to the crazy war we are waging against each other. This war can have no victors only victims. There will never be a clear winner because there is no clear objective. It only serves to beat ourselves senseless instead of building each other up.

It takes courage to parent. It takes courage to make the best possible choices for you and your family in your specific circumstances. Regardless of what “everyone else” is doing, your family situation is your own, unique and challenging. You need to do what is right for your family, not what is right according to the consensus of others (who are probably not being totally honest anyway).

Recently our family had the privilege of bringing a 6 month old infant into our home for ten days. With baby came the instant reminder of what life looked like when our littles were preschoolers. It was as if instantly our family schedule, order and organization went out the window and the victories I had gained in keeping our house clean and orderly (not spotless or H&G worthy) went out the window. Laundry started piling up. Dishes didn’t make the dishwasher. Dinner was late. We were late. Schoolwork started to fall behind.

I started to wonder if I had somehow started to lose my ability to keep up. Then I remembered. This, this is exactly what life was like 24/7, 365 when our littles were this little. I fully remembered feeling like my housekeeping skills were non-existent, my ability to prepare and serve meals had gone out the window and I had zero energy for anything but survival!

At that very moment I felt compelled to tell all other mommas going through this stage to hold on sister! Hang in there beautiful! It does get better. It gets better not because you figure out how to get it all done, nor because you wake up earlier or your kids get better at letting you accomplish things. It gets better because your kids get older!

That’s it. Simply. Honestly. Truly.

Your kids get older and more independent and you find your way through the tasks that need doing. You find a system that gets the important things done. Your littles get big enough to learn to take responsibility for some of the load (we’re not raising men who can’t find the laundry hamper, right?).

Eventually you’ll have new systems, new challenges and new levels of chaos. But that season where it feels like you just can’t succeed? That season will pass. I promise.

Hang in there momma. It will get better. Every momma who has weathered that season before you knows in her heart what it’s like to be there. Those of us who have been there are not judging you on your ability to keep up. We’re cheering you on… you can make it and you will!

Photo courtesy Creative Commons:  Some rights reserved by cursedthing

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All or Nothing

Concert heads

I ALWAYS eat this and I NEVER eat that. I ALWAYS listen to artist A and I NEVER listen to artist B. I ALWAYS (fill in the blank) and I NEVER (fill in the blank). We divide into camps over seemingly unimportant things daily. I’m wondering if perhaps we’ve gone too far?

Being sold out to a cause is admirable (as long as the cause is admirable). It is important to know what we believe, where we stand and not to be easily persuaded by the mob. Do we need to be completely committed to everything in life? Do we have to belong to a camp about every mundane detail in life?

Last night I had a conversation with my husband about this very thing regarding music. Our daughter really, really likes a particular song by a certain artist. She heard it in a movie and she really likes the beat, the melody and the arrangement. She loves the way it makes her feel and the way she wants to dance when she hears it. After listening carefully to the lyrics (yes, I’m that mom), I downloaded the song for her to keep enjoying.

My husband, in his wonderful protective daddy role (something I adore about him), worried that our daughter would go from enjoying a song to idolizing the artist. I assured him no such thing was happening and as a matter of fact, other than knowing the artist’s name, she knew nothing about this artist nor was she researching them and idolizing them. She simply liked the song.

This conversation got me to thinking about why we seem to gravitate towards extremes.  If one song is good and enjoyable then the artists must be all good and we must collect all of their work. If the movie was good than the lead actor must be worthy of adoration and we must see all of the films they act in, regardless of the quality.  If we enjoyed one album of a particular style of music then we must only listen to that style. The reverse being true, if we didn’t like one song then we don’t like the artist. Must we be cornered? Can’t we be more eclectic?

Do we have to line up with a particular camp on everything in life? Can there be some areas where we can enjoy things on their own merits and not because they are a certain style or created by a certain artist? I like Monet’s paintings. I really like impressionist art as a whole, but I can appreciate and enjoy pieces in various styles. Musically I don’t think you can tie me down. I have classical, 80’s, country, gospel, pop and rock in my playlists. The pieces I listen to are ones I enjoy. I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed every single piece produced by the artists I have in my collection.

There are certainly things that should divide us into camps: values, beliefs and morals. These are non-negotiables for most people. When it comes to everything else maybe we can be a little less divided? Maybe we can try some variety? Except when it comes to ice-cream: it’s ALWAYS pistachio, and if that is not available then it must be vanilla, NEVER chocolate!

Photo by: Jakub Hlavaty, Creative Commons, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakub_hlavaty/

Stop Digging!

If you find yourself in a hole, you’re going to want to get out. Nobody plans to fall into a hole. Nobody plans to spend their life in a hole. Nobody wants to be trapped, going down instead of up. Nobody!

So, if you should look around and find yourself in a hole don’t panic. Stop. Look around, and then STOP DIGGING!

You will NEVER dig your way out of a hole. You will never go up by going down. You will never fix the problem by continuing the actions that created the problem in the first place. You have to STOP doing what got  you there first before you can do anything to fix the problem and get yourself out.

If you’re in debt you’ll never get out by borrowing more money! Nope, never. The only way to get out of debt is to STOP BORROWING and START REPAYING! I know, it’s old-fashioned, crazy and so not what all the experts are telling you to do. It’s so plain ol’ boring that it works! Besides experts are just drips under pressure!

If your children keep putting up walls and you always find yourself yelling or arguing with them, then continuing to do what you are doing the way you have been doing it will only build bigger walls. STOP doing what you are doing and START relating and finding another approach to get the result you want.

If you and your spouse seem to be arguing more and enjoying each other less then STOP the actions that get you there and START communicating the way you did when you were dating. I know, crazy.

It’s a funny thing but you can’t go up by going down. You can’t get out of the hole by continuing to dig. The sooner you put the shovel down the less hole you will have to climb out of. So take a look around. If you’re in a hole, STOP DIGGING!

 

There’s Always One

– 1

There’s always one. One unhappy customer. One complaint. One negative comment. One who doesn’t agree with you. One bad day. One bad moment. One.

Even when the rest of the crowd is enthusiastic, complimentary, in agreement, there is one who is unsatisfied, disagrees and is disappointed. Human nature, it seems, is to focus on the one. Cling to the one negative in a sea of positives. Gauge our performance by one who does not share our view.

The entire room can tell you that you look amazing, but one will say something less than positive and your entire opinion of your appearance is defined by that one.

The audience congratulates you on your presentation. Many comment on how they were touched by your words. Some even tell you how you made them think and maybe even convinced them to see it from a different perspective. But there is one who disagrees with you and tells you. Your impression of the evening is set by that one.

Vaguely in the back of my mind a statistic floats about that it takes 10 positive comments to counteract one negative, to set us back at zero. Experience tells me that ratio is too low.

I admit I am surprised by my reaction to one. One who doesn’t even have a vested interest in what I do and why I do it. One who does not have a significant part to play in my life. Their comment does not want to leave my mind. Of all the positive feedback I received that one comment is all I can replay. Negative one.

I determine to redouble my effort to pour positive comments into the lives of my kids. Not empty and hollow quips, but meaningful positives. I determine to catch them doing the right thing and making a big deal out of it. I determine to compliment their efforts, attempts and wins. I want to inoculate them to the power of negative one. Not because I want them to have a swelled head or unrealistic views of themselves, but because I realize that negative one is capable of distorting their view in the opposite direction much more effectively.

Negative one. You may seem powerful. You may shake me but you won’t move me. You don’t deserve center stage. You don’t deserve to determine how I view the world or myself. Your control ends here.

Why I’m not raising Well Behaved Children

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Jkha | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

What?! What parent in their right mind would admit to not raising well behaved children? Am I letting them run wild?!

I don’t want to raise well behaved children, I want to raise well prepared adults and I believe there is a profound difference between the two.

Well behaved children (WBC) are raised to be well behaved children. They know who calls the shots, how to avoid getting in trouble (in the teen years this usually means how not to get caught), and how to please the adults who decide all the details of their daily lives. They are rather well behaved. Childhood, however, does not last forever.  Sooner or later those same WBC need to be functioning, well adjusted adults who take responsibility for their own choices and decisions.

WBC may comply outwardly, but outward compliance is no guarantee of inward agreement. Just because a WBC knows how to act to avoid punishment doesn’t mean they understand the why of what they are asked to do and, when they are not supervised, they would probably make a different choice. How many of your peers grew up in strict homes where children were ordered around, rules were made to be obeyed and punishment was swift for every infraction? How many of those same peers, once they left the family home, either were gullible and easily taken advantage of or rebelled against their childhood and went wild in their new-found freedom? Granted not every child, but I bet you can think of several examples of both. How many of them got into financial trouble? How many of them had difficulties on the job? How many of them struggled in relationships? In their marriages? Children grow up. If the only thing parents teach their children is to be well behaved children then they haven’t given them enough.

Before you write me off as a liberal, let-your-children-run-wild, irresponsible parent let me clarify something. I do believe children need structure, discipline, instruction and guidance and I believe the purpose of these is to equip children to be wise, insightful, capable, caring and spiritually grounded adults: to be Well Prepared Adults (WPAs).

WPAs are given tools to make good decisions, to be comfortable in a variety of situations, to be able to relate to and communicate with people from various backgrounds, life stages and economics. They know how to make decisions based on available information, how to take responsibility for their behavior and how to work cooperatively. They have developed their moral character and are better equipped to navigate a world where the rules may not be so clearly defined.

I would rather have a child that doesn’t always live up to someone else’s expectations for their behavior than a child who leaves home unprepared to solve disputes, listen to another’s perspective, and is unable to solve problems. Teaching children these skills means that sometimes things will be messy, limits will be strongly tested and mistakes will be made. No, my children are not allowed to run wild, but we spend more time teaching, training and correcting than we do demanding.

Childhood is short. Adulthood lasts a lot longer. I want to raise capable, mature and wise adults. So here’s to not raising well behaved children!

Greater Good

Over the last few days I have been wrestling with the idea of greater good. Our society seems to favour individual rights over being our brothers keepers. Don’t get me wrong I’m not advocating we give up our own rights and freedoms for the greater good of others, but I’m just wondering if maybe we weren’t so hell bent on what was best for me then we could create a safer environment for our children to grow up in

Maybe if we weren’t so dogged about my right to watch what I want, listen to what I want, wear what I want, do what I want, own assault rifle if I want then perhaps our children would never have to know the fear of gunmen entering schools, abductors selling them for the profit that can be made off little bodies, vile and cruel words, looks and actions. Maybe if we were a little bit more willing to consider our choices and actions and how they affect others than just maybe we could finally stop asking why these things happen?

For generations we understood that life didn’t begin and end with me. I was just part of a line of lives who came before me and those who would come after me. I was responsible not only to honour the sacrifices of my ancestors for my present freedom, but I was also responsible to pass on even greater to those who would come after me.

Some cultures still understand this, but even they are losing hold of this truth. Instead we have bought into the lie that it is all about me, my fulfillment, my pleasure, my comfort, my ease. If I leave nothing behind it doesn’t matter, my kids need to make their own way. Just so long as I live a happy and fulfilled life. Just so long as I leave a mark on the world. It doesn’t matter that it destroys the generations coming up behind me or those around me. It’s all about my right to do as I please.

I don’t think we need to go to the other extreme and live miserable existences just so another generation can benefit. What if we thought less about our own satisfaction and a little bit more about how our choices impact others? What if we were willing to give up something that we may enjoy but don’t absolutely need in order to ensure that others aren’t hurt? What if we rediscovered the concept of honour?

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Teaching an Old-er Dog New Tricks

cute-dog-27990076

I’m a recovering perfectionist. Yes I admit it, I have this internal need for things to be just right. Nothing less will do. And yes, you’ve guessed it, the standard I measure things by is my own. I love clean lines, finished edges, precise angles and uncluttered spaces. I love order and function. And if you know me at all you know that my life looks NOTHING like the precision I crave.

What my life actually looks like is functional but utilized. The desk is covered with bits of paper that I mean to address in an hour, but never get around to. The filing that sits beside the files and not in them. The laundry that is folded, but not put away. The dishwasher that is clean, but still full! The floor is covered with little bits of train tracks and miniature horses. There are about a dozen notebooks lying around my work space and throughout my home. Each one started but not completed. Each one intended to be finished from one end to the other before the next one was begun. There are drawings and charts and graphs scattered throughout.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is not a complete mess but rather very lived in if you will. You see there is another side to me that craves creativity and must create solutions, systems and discover new possibilities and that side of me could care less about order, neatness and precision. That side wants to take bunny trails in every direction. That side wants to pursue a possibility and capture its every nuance. That side can’t see what’s around me until it notices a moodiness and anxiety rising with me that prevents it from focusing on the latest train of thought. When I stop and notice those signals I realize that the perfectionist in me is feeling overwhelmed by the chaos the creative side of me has made. And so the dance continues.

I take time away from creating to reorganize my space, my life and my things. I determine I will stay on top of it this time. I promise my perfectionist self that I will not allow paper to pile up, but will file it immediately. I will not let laundry stay folded in the basket, I’ll put it away as I’m doing it. I promise my perfectionist self I will finally finish the profiles on all my social media accounts and I will plan out and prepare my blog. I do my best for a few days to stay on top of those tasks and then I notice a sadness and lack of energy and I realize I’ve been maintaining everything, but creating nothing. And the cycle begins again.

But I’m learning. I’m learning to identify those signals before they become so loud they drown out everything else. I’m learning not to let the perfectionist side of me dictate long to-do lists that prevent me from accomplishing them. I am learning to actually enjoy my children and not just plan their daily tasks (we home school). I’m also learning to not let the creative side of me get so engrossed in every bunny trail that nothing gets accomplished. In other words I’m learning to be a peace keeper between the two sides of me.

This old-er (not old) dog is learning some new tricks and giving both intense sides of who I am come out and play. I’m trying to give both sides equal billing and you know what, its kinda starting to work!

Am I the only one who feels like I’m at war within myself?