Learning to be Secure

My son was having a difficult time with self-control this evening. Even with knowing the consequences of his behavior, he choose to act out; losing his coveted tablet time for the rest of the day. So there I was, having my feathers ruffled by a 7-year-old throwing a 7-year-old temper tantrum, because I did not feel heard.

Earlier in the day I had done a guided meditation which asked me what my most burning desire. My answer “to fully express myself;” as in a no-holds-barred, completely authentic way. This has been something I have never felt safe doing. In feeling insecure in honoring my own voice, I had not been able to honor my son’s voice, either. Hours later, there we were, pitted against one another; neither of us feeling heard nor respected.

Silently, I said a prayer, asking for guidance as I was myself beginning to feel ready to verbally explode. Insights then began to flood in as I sat and watched my son’s behavior. Miraculously, my mind calmed down and, from my heart, I began to tell my son what I was seeing; a boy who was angry and who needed love. Perhaps I could have also said confused (that’s my judgmental voice right there!). I then heard my wise inner voice tell me that my son needed to know that above all that he was safe.

Yet, my calm disturbed him further. He upped his efforts to upset me, kicking a ball at me. I calmly told him he needed to go up to his room and I walked upstairs with him on my way to my own room. At the top of the stairs he shared that he didn’t want to go alone into his room, so I changed tack and, still calm, I sat down with him.

The inner wisdom kicked in again, showing me that he needed me to be connected and open (vulnerable) with him. So I sat with him and held the space while he calmed himself down. I also felt further soothed. What do any of us really want when we are upset and hurt? Someone who loves us who can be there with us in “our ugly,” judgment-free. Or maybe it’s just me?

Later, in looking back, I also saw how he was seeking connection with me even within his inner chaos. He was looking to me to be the adult, to remain calm and connected while he sorted through his feelings. Instead of closing my heart and feeding his and my own anger, I chose to stay open and calm. At first, this was a break from my norm after such an escalated point; this made him feel uneasy and he chose further destructive behaviors. Then, after he saw I was choosing to remain calm, he felt able to tell me he didn’t want to be alone. After sitting with him through his storm, we both felt more at peace. Later, he was even able to joke about his tantrums during a game of Uno.

It is my hope that next time I’ll be able to be as, or more, calm and open-hearted as I was tonight when he has one of his fits. While I am sure there will still be times when my anger gets the best of me, I will do my best to remember how much better things felt with opening and connecting instead of closing down.

Later, I also saw a new solution to an old problem.  He has a tendency to procrastinate on his nightly homework. Then, suddenly it’s bedtime and I’ve had little time with my daughter. While she is older and more independent, she still needs time with her mother. So I discussed with them both what would change this week with the evening routine and why.

This miracle allowed me to be able to see life from a bigger picture, to see solutions in-the-moment and to connect calmly with my son through his storm. It helped foster a stronger connection and  strengthened my compassion for him and for myself. In surrendering my knee-jerk reactions, I was able to chose differently and more wisely.

May we each be more present and calm during the seeming chaos of life and parenting; as we relate to others, our children as well as to the child within each of us. 

Namaste

The 8-Minute Miracle Shift Every Parent and Child Needs

After an emotionally stressful day at work taking care of post-divorce fall-out, and wrestling with some personal demons, I drove directly to my children’s school to pick them up. They were in their after-school programs and being away from them all day, it had been my habit to make a bee-line to each of their classroom doors. Sometimes when I get to my son’s classroom, he refuses to look at me and drags his feet to leave. I believe now that he must be able to see or sense the stress I’m feeling.

Tuesday, my emotions were too mixed up for the bee-line and I knew it. I waited until I could park in the furthest spot to give myself some privacy. It was then that I set an 8-minute meditation timer with the background sound of a “winter fire” (insight Timer App is AMAZING and free!). Once I closed my eyes, I allowed my emotions the oxygen, light and space they needed to “burn out” on their own. In 8 lovely minutes, I went from feeling like pulling some of my hair out to “I’m ready to be a calm, nurturing mom.” Allowing the emotions and thoughts is the key: to force peace, or any other emotion, just pushes them away!

When I walked into my son’s classroom, he played a game of peek-a-boo, to hide the wide smile on his face. He could tell my mood before I crossed the threshold. From kid pick up to bedtime, we had an amazing night! I even took the kids for a quick trip to the grocery store (something I usually avoid as much as possible). Though I did have to give the kids a few behavioral reminders, I didn’t lose my patience once (that’s a feat!).

In reflecting on this shift, I recognized that when I picked up the kids, it had been my habit to want to rush home so I could “relax.” As if rushing leads to relaxing?! Plus, when did the relaxation ever really come before the kids were in bed?! I’m seeing where this just made the kids, particularly my son, edgy (well, and me, too). So now, I’m committing to NOT rushing to relax, NOR putting it off until later. Why not now? Really!

So today I relaxed first and took a lot of pressure off of all of us. Now why didn’t I think of this before?! I really don’t know. It now seems so simple. BUT, I realized it and now I know how to do it differently!

Namaste

P.S. It is also important to add that I did some visualizations today, seeing my son being happy and grateful to see me when I picked him up. I do believe this was part of how I saw the need to do the meditation that shifted me into relaxation mode pre-pickup.

P.S.S. I believe this type of mini mental break can help improve any caregiver-dependent frustration. Use it at will! Really.

The Nihilism of Parental Perfectionism

As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother. 

I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.

As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.

Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.

I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.  

So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.

Namaste 

Gratitude Changes Everything

It was Monday morning and my household had a severe case of the Mundays (See the movie Office Space for the full reference, caution: it will make you laugh). For most of the morning there was much bickering and it reached a peak on the way to the bus stop. It began to shift when I clearly remember thinking that what we were doing was not working. Then we turned a corner, both literally and figuratively.

The rays from the rising sun streamed through the fence boards as I was filled with the inspiration to share with my children the things about them for which I was grateful. Following my lead, we each began to heartfully thank one another instead of bickering. I wish I could remember the words we each spoke that morning (it feels so long ago). Truthfully, the words did not really matter; it was the feeling of the words that mattered most: gratitude.

That night and the next morning, I continued to share my gratitude with my children for their behaviors; things shifted even more. My 9 year old daughter noticed that the dishwasher was filled with clean dishes and she began to put the clean dishes away. She also packed her lunch without my imploring her to. I was astounded and a warm smile spread across my face and heart. Of course I shared with her that I was grateful for her help. I may have even held back a few tears.

In feeling appreciated, my daughter went above and beyond what I expected of her and she did the things that I usually have to nag her to do in the morning, without my need to do so. It’s amazing how much such a small token of appreciation can do! Her brother may need a little more time to catch on, however, we get what we pay attention to. So now I will turn on more gratitude for when he does well and helps us get out the door on time.

I will add that this gratitude shift did start a bit ago when, instead of asking my children about their days, I began to ask them what they were grateful for that day. There have also been other times where, when they were bickering, I interrupted the arguments by asking each of them to state things they were grateful for about the other sibling. When they each heard that they were appreciated for being themselves, they opened their hearts to love instead of closing them in lack, fear and anger.

Gratitude opens the heart. The more open the heart is to love, the more we can find things for which we are grateful.

Namaste

The most amazing part of this was that last night when picking up my children my daughter shared that she purposefully left their tablet at their father’s house that morning because she enjoyed being tablet-free the last time they were over. They will not have the tablet again for another 5 days, when they return to their father’s home. For me, that was a parenting win! There is SO much strife over the tablet. To hear both of my kids say that they enjoyed last week without the tablet made my heart grow 3 sizes. I shared with them that my heart was smiling and very grateful!

gratitude-appreciate-the-rainbow-the-storm

gratitude-piglet

Being Balanced

This seems an ongoing, burgeoning quest at times. This past year has brought many changes and I’m still digesting many of them. Now my path is leading me on another uphill ascent. 

Work demands are increasing. 4 weeks ago I started splitting my time between two clinics. Then next week I will be taking on an intern for the next 8 weeks, at least part-time. During this time I have two work presentations. And because my life isn’t busy enough, I will also be sitting for a certification exam in less than 10 weeks. This is something for which I must study (and it’s a BFD, lifetime achievement type of exam).

In a few weeks summer will be over and my son will begin Kindergarden. My custody nights will be spent doing homework with two kids….

All of this and I’m hoping to keep up with my 2-4 day/week gym routine. It’s been helping to keep my mind at greater ease. Secondary are the benefits I’m seeing and feeling with my body.

As such, I’ve already begun to throttle back on my WP time. It’s not been easy to  to leave so many posts of yours unread. You’ll probably notice that I will continue to taper both the frequency of my posts as well as comments/likes for yours. For this I apologize and yet I’m also confident that you’ll understand. 

Namaste

Autumn leaves falling already? 

Raspberries in Spring

Laughter fills the air

From those with little care

Tickles and frolicking

On this day in Spring

He boyish giggles and grins

Fill a mother’s heart within

Another burst of bubbles blown

Against bare skin

Raspberries in Spring 

Finding the joy within 

Once again

~~~

Namaste

Metta & Ananda

Image: Google

Acquiescence of Suffering: Mother Part II

A Follow Up to “Mother

“Beautiful” played this morning as I drove to work in tears. It seems to be my attempt at balance in this time of deep and painful introspection while I clear. 

After writing this post, I began to feel relief as I recognized that this clearing that I am doing right now is much bigger than me. When I get knocked back this far, I know the energy is not just mine, I am clearing the suffering of generations. 

The energy of the full moon is shining light on the weeds in my garden. Since the full moon is in Libra this week it calls for us to find the balance and the truth of our souls, to find balance in our relationships showing where there are any inequalities. Perhaps this is why my work on and off WP continues to focus on my place as a mother.

  

Present Predicament

“You are the most qualified unique person [to be your children’s mother].” – Becky, a supportive friend on my journey, replies after I asked her rhetorically if motherhood ever gets any easier.

Hot tears like lava quickly race down my cheeks, burning my eyes and my face. I had no ability to stop them. It was time to go, so I climbed back into my Jeep and thanked her while looking down. The tears still flow now as I hear her words echoing in my mind. The opposite of qualified for me at this time is failure. And this past week the feelings of failure rise repeatedly to the surface.

Failure. The word seems fitting and harsh all at once. The places where I feel I am not doing well cast a cloud over where I shine. The places where I have healed and improved my station in life are covered up, drowned by the emotions that pour in as would an epic biblical flood: “epic failure” repeatedly flashes on the screen in my mind. There is no where to hide. 

Yes, I know I’m being harsh on myself. Yes, I see where my idealism gets in my way and blocks my light. Here I see where I stand in my own way. Yet glossing over the feelings, covering it with a veneer by telling myself “you are doing the best you can do” just hides the underlying feelings from my view and keeps the truth of how I feel in this very moment hidden from view. 

A little perspective of where I find myself

These past few weeks have brought several personal challenges with my work, with several things stacking up and are causing me some grief; all things beyond my control. Add to this a minor medical issue this week, and increased demands on me as a mother with their father being out of town. It is no wonder that this area where I have felt weak for a long time is pressing so hard on me. Add to this my inner work to soften further into femininity and to be less controlled by my inner Animus, it’s no wond I’m seeking relief in the “beautiful” world described by India Arie.

The Landslide Brought Me Down

Right now, in this moment if I could, I would fold. I would close out my losses and my meager winnings and leave the craps table. I feel like the House always wins and that I’m losing the game again and again, hence my repeated feelings of being a failure. Tomorrow is a different day. Tomorrow I’ll ante up and roll the dice again because I choose to live. For now, though, I would love to just crawl into a hole and close out the world. Yet, there is not much relief at this time. I’m a solo mom with some help from my parents. I’m a healthcare practitioner who has clients to take care of. 

Widening the Lens

So now I will take a broader view of motherhood in an attempt to gain a better perspective of motherhood and my role as a mother.

The energy of the Divine Feminine for Mother is nurturing. Too much nurturing can be suffocating of life. Not enough nurturing can stifle growth. Almost like over or under watering a plant: neither is good for the roots to take hold. Salts build up around roots that lack water, the roots become desiccated and useless. Too much water around the roots does not allow for enough oxygen to get through: death by asphyxiation. There is a balance that is needed even in nurturing.

Primate Mothers

There is a fantastic PBS Documentary called “Born Wild: First Days of Life” that illustrates the different ways that mothers nurture their progeny across the breadth of the Animal Kingdom (for some it is giving birth and moving along, while other mothers keep their progeny under “their wings” for years). There are some aspects of the father in the documentary, yet most of the examples illustrated are the connections between mother and offspring. It is an amazing and diverse look at life and I can find myself in nearly each example of parenting at different times.

One of the animal groups observed in Born Wild was a type of primate that has a strong social hierarchy. I believe the animals were monkeys and observers noticed an interesting trend. Higher ranking mothers were more confident. They allowed their babies to explore the world more and as a result their offspring were more confident. Mothers who were lower in the social order were more insecure and clutched their babies more, disempowering them and keeping them from exploring. These offspring were less confident and also became more clingy. Amazing it is to see how directly different parenting styles affect the monkey’s offspring. I can see where I have clung to my children in some areas, disempowering and suffocating their creativity and curiosity. Yet I can also see where I have empowered them by trusting them in other ways, allowing them to bloom uninhibited.

20/20 Hindsight

Taking this a step further, I can see where I was disempowered and also empowered by my parents. At some point, it is important for me to acquiesce and allow forgiveness for their trespasses. It was not intentional that they disempowered me, I believe. The areas where they were disempowering reflects their own fears. 

I often appeared as a child to be “too much” for them. In those areas I was told to be quiet, to hush, to not express, to “play cool” so that I could fit in. All, I believe, so that I would draw less attention to myself so that I would not get joked or ridiculed. Instead, I find that other children (and adults) find our weaknesses and can exploit them regardless if we try to hide them or not. As a result, I do my best to allow my children to express their interests and allow them to explore them. 

Mother as Queen

As a mother, I can rule over my queendom with an air of a dictator, or I can choose to be more mothering and nurturing. Society plays a role in my choices at times, though this is sad to say. I can be more of a dictator in public than when at home. Perhaps this is due in part to the masculine role exerting external control when in public view. I also feel the pressure of onlookers, however I will also say that with each passing day I am switching my focus more and more to the connection I have with my children versus fearing the judgment of others. This is different than how I was raised, so it is a conscious change for me to make and uphold.

Moving Forward and Upward

The challenge so often I find as a mother is discerning when to be firm and when to be warm. Frequently I feel I have it backwards. Working from a view of opposites can make this more of a challenge for me, creating so much of who I am from the film versus the print of my childhood. 

Right now, I feel like in the flight of life that I am in a flat spin. A nose dive is easier to recover from, or so it is my understanding. Tonight, I will be climbing back in the cockpit with a new perspective of myself as a mother. Through this writing process, I have released more of the dross holding me back. The albatross of guilt has lost some of her feathers today. Perhaps tonight I will roast her over the fire, for she weighs heavily on my heart. This makes it a challenge for me as a mother to fully live my part. 

Onward and upward, I find myself moving again. Thank you for joining me in the journey of going into deeper levels of processing. The softening further into my femininity, softening further into my role; mothering myself and my children. 

Much love & Happy Easter to those who celebrate. A time of rebirth and renewal that comes after bloodletting; letting go of that which no longer serves. Once again I can return to my place of bliss. Grace grows again in my heart now that I’m on the return flight.

Late addition: I’m seeing this very differently this evening having gained a new perspective. Perhaps I will share in the days to come. Suffice to say I’m only leaving this here I case it can help someone else in this journey of deeper understanding. ❤️ my sunshine has returned. ☀️

Namaste

Metta & Ananada

Image: Google (why I avoid FB)

Mother


Crying babies held to breast in love,
Easy to care for physical needs.
Eat, sleep, change, hold and then just repeat.

As they grow, their needs start expanding,
Teaching, learning, much to discerning,
Mom feeling her own wounds more clearly.

Her faith in the unseen comes and goes,
Feeling, being, becoming open.
In healing childhood heart’s size growing.

~~~

Being a mother is hands down the most difficult role I have taken on. It was relatively easy for me to care for my children as babies. Meeting their physical needs meant less sleep, yet I really did not have to think about it.

As my children have aged and their need for play grows, I find it more and more challenging to keep myself from being triggered. It’s much easier for me to work and complete tasks than it is for me to sit on the floor and play. When the family was together, their father easily took over that role while I took care of other needs.

It’s sad for me to confess that playing is difficult for me. I come by it honestly and my story behind that just keeps me stuck. Let’s just say I learned this from my mother and she from her mother. I am also confident that games and play were used as lures by the men who molested me. So I find myself having difficulty playing. Breathing into that can be difficult, especially when being tickled. (some of you will see irony there…)

Add to this that as I raise my children, I am also reparenting myself. Discovering and doing my best to heal the wounds that I have incurred; mothering myself, as it were. Being a parent means that all of my wounds are resurfacing. Common themes that rise up revolve around fears of: abandonment, lack of worth/value, needs not being met, resentment, expressing negative and positive emotions, not having enough resources: time, money, patience, love; to name but a few. My children easily trigger these fears. It can be a challenge to differentiate the trigger and the one causing it.

It is rare that I get on social media sites anymore. The FB and IG feeds are filled with happy, Rockwellian images of beautiful and happy families – like the Brady Bunch. Part of me sounds the B.S. Alarm and part of me feels jealous. I know the snap shots are one second “screen grabs” of the truth. The images represent on a small slice of the pie in their lives. Yet it triggers me, sad to say. Fear-avoidance healing means I should probably look anyway…

One of the hardest things for me to mitigate right now involves the two ends of the continuum in which I live on a weekly basis: 50% single; 50% single mom. I see the infinity symbol and the path I travel can only rest in the center when I am at work. At home, I live on one side or the other.

Another difficulty for me is in accepting the way that I was raised. As a mother, I do my very best to keep a level head. It’s not always easy and sometimes I feel that I fail at this miserably. Some of the things I swore I wouldn’t do as a parent, I do. It seems the harder I fight against the things I don’t like, the more I become them. Recognizing that the severity is lessened with each generation, I am still paying for the sins of my mother’s and the mothers before. Doing my best to keep this from being pushed forward takes great effort and awareness. It’s a sideways pill to swallow, the cure is bitter, healing so much pain from so many ancestors. Doing my best to minimize the building of more walls (ala Pink Floyd)

My role here is to further soften into my femininity. To allow my fullest expression as a mother, allowing my heart to remain open even when I want to close it down completely & batten the hatches. Here is a glimpse of that allowing from years ago (a small slice of the pie)

69a7c683-ab35-4559-9de7-41a6003dfd63

 http://youtu.be/gObFOPYhVGg

May I Remember This

It is easy for me to remember the first moment I saw your face.

It is emblazoned in my cellular memory. 

They placed you on my chest,

Naked and silent, wrapped in a royal purple towel.

We didn’t know for several minutes if you were a boy or a girl! 

Now, 8 years later you create for me beautiful hearts with fireworks!

May I remember this moment as clearly as the day you were born. 

Somehow, I know, based on my own history that this may not much longer be the case.

To my daughter filled with infinite Life, 

Named so appropriately, 

Know I love you dearly,

Even when things will surely

Begin to change soon…

After reading this poem to her, my daughter replied by saying:

“Here, mom, I made you a bunny.”

  

And then questions regarding my favorite planets, interstellar:

  

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