Mothering Me SO That I May Mother My Children

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Over the course of our 11 year homeschooling journey, I have shown up as different moms.

I’ve been the mom I’m proud to be. The one who is fun, adventurous, creative and patient. I’ve been the one who does really cool things with her kids to foster learning. We’ve taped flashcards all over the house and yard to learn how to read, we’ve done school outside on the play centre, we’ve done project days with friends, and have gone on adventures. We’ve laid under a tree on a beautiful autumn day and watched the leaves fall.

Those are the things we see written on FB, right? Reading those fabulous posts gives us great ideas AND they give us fodder for comparison. Something to conjure up in our minds in those overwhelming, chaotic moments. It’s not always a conscious comparison – it’s just a feeling of not measuring up. Of “I’m failing at this” or “this just isn’t for us”.

I’ve also been the mom of which I’m not proud. The controlling, commanding, angry, exasperated, frustrated, and flat out tantruming mom. Slamming doors and crying all resulting in pain, pain, pain. Everyone retreating to their corners – me lying on my bed panting and recovering from totally losing my cool. I’ve been her. To some degree, we have all lost our cool and felt regret about how we’ve communicated with our children. You’re not alone!

And I know I’m not alone because I’ve read your posts. I’ve been with you at the playground and homeschool field trips and heard you ask, “How do I deal with a difficult learner?” “How do I deal with a child who lies, disrespects, or outright defies me?!” Or how do I deal with the child who simply isn’t interested and unmotivated? And I have the answer. You just might not like it – partly because it isn’t a quick fix.

YOU have to be different.

I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. The question actually isn’t “how do I deal with my child” but “how do I deal with ME”.  I’m not saying this to make you feel badly about yourself. It’s why I started out with telling you that I’ve been there – last week in fact! Julie Bogart in this video says it well: “Ordinary parenting uses shame and blame to coerce kids to cooperate with a parental agenda.” And the results we get when we shame and blame are lying and defiance from our children. ”Coercion is the toxin of family life.”

Go back to beginning and get in touch with those beautiful innocent children when they were born and when they were so little.  They need help just like we need help.  We have support groups.  They need one, too, and we can be a part of it for them.

Putting ourselves down or holding onto guilt doesn’t help. Forgiving ourselves and getting intimate with that part of us where we feel the need to have control leads to compassion and change. I can look inside and discover what happens when I believe that my child should do what I say no matter what. How do I treat my children when I operate from that space? And then, transversely, getting still so that I can reflect on how I might interact with them if I didn’t hold onto the edict of, “my children should always obey”. Could I let all of that go – those ordinary parenting lessons we’ve heard –in this moment with my child? Can I hear what my child is saying without the veil of “he is being disrespectful”? I notice when I drop all of that, I am curious rather than convicting. I’m able to be open rather than closed. And the more I’m able to do that, the more they demonstrate that they feel safe to talk to me and share what’s going on inside. All of that takes listening. Being quiet and listening…to YOU.

No math, reading, history, or household chore lesson is AS IMPORTANT AS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD. I’m not saying that the other is not important – not at all. Just that your connection with your children must be primary over those things. So that looks like instead of doing our usual commanding thing that we pause and find another way to communicate what we need. And to be willing, within reason, to negotiate. To foster an environment where our children feel a part of the team.

Marriage and parenting brings up a lot of things for us to grow through, and when you homeschool it’s ten fold. Maybe even a hundred fold. The invitation, as I see it, is to take the opportunity to get close to you. Mother you through these confronting times. When you have that loving and nurturing presence for yourself, even when you’re feeling stressed, you’re more able to give that to your children.

Ultimately, my children will mother THEMselves.  Just as I am mothering me.  This is all we are all ever doing.

Love to you all.

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Address the Violence Within Us

No matter your stance on current world events the first two sentences in this video apply: “Address the violence within us. Address the violence within us.”

Yes.
I’m choosing to stop the war in my home. The war with my family, friends, & community. And, ultimately, the war within me.

Wars like:

  • my husband is wrong
  • my children should always be respectful
  • my children should DO AS I SAY
  • people shouldn’t cut me off in traffic
  • my friends should include me
  • I need you to apologize
  • they’re rude
  • people can be so inconsiderate
  • I need to do it right

We commit a hundred wars a day, I reckon.

You don’t think you understand war? What goes on inside of you when you get offended? When you yell at your children? When you argue with your spouse because you’re right, damn it. Those are wars, my friends.

Can you stop yourself in the middle of your convictions – right in the middle of that argument with that person about that thing that always pisses you off? I know I can’t…at least not often.  I’m completely and utterly believing that I’m right.  It feels physically impossible to stop in that moment.  Can you taste that commitment to your story?  For me, it’s a complete block to any other possibility.  I have a big fat ‘NO!’ to any other story other then what I’m believing in the moment.  I feel that ‘no’ manifest itself physically in my body with tension and constriction.  

When I’m really believing I’m right about something, the next thing I do is recruit people who agree with me.  Other fundamentalists who also believe that our kids should never lie.  I talk to other parents and vent about how horrible kids can be and I get nods of understanding and sympathy.  And I’ve nodded along with the best of them. Not that I’m saying it’s so bad to support our friends – quite the opposite.  I just notice that I look for corroborating evidence – other people who agree with me and will testify to it vehemently.  And then I never have to leave my bubble of “they’re wrong and I’m right”.

I’ve also been a fundamentalist believer in the religion of “people should be considerate of others” (me actually – that guy playing his music so loud in the next camp site over, should be considerate of me).  And when they’re not, I commit assassinations in my mind.  Those lowly inconsiderate people are not worthy – they deserve public shaming.

Simply asking me if the story I’m clinging to is true, could be pathway out of war.  Maybe – just maybe – people shouldn’t be considerate of others?  Huh.  Well…real life evidence seems to support that.  And perhaps they should sometimes consider their own needs and I can consider mine.  Or MAYYYYbe, I could try on being considerate of them.  Wouldn’t THAT be a novel idea?!  That guy in the campsite with the loud music?  I could consider that he enjoys his music and doesn’t realize it’s loud.  I could walk over with a considerate frame of mind.  Or who knows? Maybe my consideration leads me to not being bothered by the music at all.  I could be at peace with the music.

Perhaps I can’t do anything directly about the tragic happenings in Paris or elsewhere but I CAN work on stopping the wars in my life. It takes only me to do that.


“Defense is the first act of war.”
– Byron Katie

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my birthday.
My husband and son are away hunting and I sat here wondering if they would remember to contact me and wish me happy birthday. I felt a moment of “testing their love” for me. It’s really very funny. My family loves me so dearly. I mean isn’t it truly hilarious what the mind does?! Here I have a family who’s committed and loves each other completely (or so it seems) and I still need proof?! Like if they don’t tell me happy birthday…that’s it. They don’t love and appreciate me.  Convicted. AND – I’m literally laughing out loud here – I’d be hurt that they didn’t stop all they were doing together (bonding as father and son) to phone ME. lolol. I’m so grateful for realizing that folly – just as I am grateful for the moment of blindness. What a wondrous feeling to wake up from it.
My lovely daughter got me pretty flowers and wrote me the MOST lovely birthday card. I’m so happy for her that she feels love and expresses it in her way. I love that my husband and son need me to help them clean up after hunting when they get home. It’s lovely to feel needed. They express their love for me every day when they tease me, smile at me, and make certain they hug and kiss me goodnight.
I’m grateful to my mom and dad for coming together and deciding to have a child. They were such good parents. They took care of me and loved me. They gave me many experiences and happy memories. Oh…and the birthdays! My heart is so filled with love and a little sadness with missing them as I reflect on the birthdays. My mom made me a hopscotch cake for my 7th birthday and I thought it was the best cake in the whole wide world. On my last birthday with my mom, I brought a cake into the CCU because I knew she’d be sad to miss a celebration with me. We broke the rules and lit a candle. She sang a quiet happy birthday to me and watched me blow out the candle. It was the most lovely sounding happy birthday song in the whole wide world.
I’m feeling the love from everywhere – outside of me and within. I’m grateful for my life and for every soul that’s in it. ❤
Love and blessings to you all. ❤

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Yes…that’s me with the big toothless grin. 😀

Listen With No Agenda

I LOVE the blog posts by Hands Free Mama.  Always so insightful and spot on to reality. Not over the top floofy.  She’s down to earth, heart wrenching, and loving.   Her recent post referring to a conversation with her daughter entitled, “The Conversation I Almost Missed and the Future it Could’ve Cost” is the epitome of that description.

Check out this quote:
“In the moment I could have crushed her spirit, I supported her.
In the moment I could have made her doubt herself, I reminded her she was human.
In the moment I could have taught her a harsh lesson, I taught her a loving lesson … a trust lesson … a grace lesson.”

Doesn’t that just tear you apart?!

I’ve learned that one of the hardest – if not THE hardest – job as a parent is to listen to my child speak and be present with them without any agenda whatsoever. No agenda of teaching them right from wrong. No agenda of what other people will think of their actions. No agenda on their appearance. No agenda about their futures.
I’ve taken my “job” as parent so seriously that it’s been difficult to lay those down even once in awhile just so that I can hear what my child thinks/feels/desires.
Oh it’s easy when we’re laying on the grass looking at the clouds. Not so easy when they’re saying hurtful things about a person, or their opinions on love and life, or how something isn’t fair.
Can I listen to them in THIS moment without the agenda to fix or teach them??

I Deserve Compassion

I had an amazing self facilitation session in the Work yesterday. Quite accidentally on purpose.
I was fresh off an argument with my husband, driving our ride-on lawn tractor, mowing some of our acreage. As I usually do while mowing, I was listening to Katie on my iPod. This time it was “The Work on Relationships”. I’d listened to it before and was being opened up yet again to the courage and discoveries of the young woman with whom Katie was working. So many of her “finds” reminding me of the pain I felt around the disagreement with my husband. After some time, I realized I was using the recording to avoid my own inquiry Work. So…I switched it off and while I mowed, I turned inward.
It seemed to me that I could literally hear Katie’s voice in my head gently guiding and asking me the questions. Muffled by the sound of mower I spoke my answers aloud.
The gist of the situation is that I neglected to thank or even mention that I noticed something my husband had worked hard at doing for me.
My thought: I’m hurt because “He is mad at me”.
At the end, I noticed that with the thought I was entrenched in my defence and justification. Without, I felt the desire to go and apologize. While I contemplated doing so, I felt fear rise up inside of me. But why?! If I don’t have the thought, “he’s mad at me”, where is this fear coming from?
By this time I was sitting, staring straight ahead, on the quiet mower parked inside our shed. And as I sat quietly staring, what appeared was the thought, “I deserve punishment when I do wrong”. Whoa! And then I heard Katie’s voice again: “Is that true? You deserve punishment?”
Something broke open in me and I wept and wept at the realization that – yes!! I believe that it’s true. And a flood of images from my childhood and into my adult years rolled through my mind at how I react when I hold that belief. It’s at the root of so much of my distancing or running away when I feel responsible. And on and on. I was overcome and sat there clearing years of hurt and suffering.
Who am I without the thought? Someone who can own up to her mistakes. Be forthright. Not manipulative.
And the sweetest turn around: I deserve compassion when I do wrong.
Love. Simple as that. And I am the one to give me that compassion.
How exciting is that?!
It’s a new day.

Letting Go of My Agenda

I would like to talk about “letting go”.  We all have our own educational philosophies and I’m not preaching or pushing any particular one on any of you.

We homeschool.  My son is 16, is at the end of his grade 10 year and the year didn’t go according to plan.

The plan was to get the 10 level courses done along with some extracurriculars and be right-on-schedule.  That’s what this mama likes.  Her children to be on schedule.  Who’s schedule?  I dunno.  Let’s see…THOSE kids over there.  THEY already have their own companies and are musical geniuses.  They’re awesome at sports and have a tonne of friends.  They’re reading the Iliad for fun, are hard workers and never waste time on computer games.  In fact, the only time they play them is when friends are over and even then, they’d rather be outside building a cabin in their back yard.  But most of all…they are motivated individuals with a clear view of what they want after highschool and they make the effort it takes to get there.

That ^ is what I’m working to let go of.  The ideal.  And, btw, I do know kids who hold many of those qualities and they’re awesome.  They rock!  YAYYY them!  This is not to diminish them.  I’m proud to know them.  I’m addressing the pervasive comparison bug that is actually very unfair to the high achievers of the world.  They shouldn’t dim their light to make someone else shine.  Not EVER.

The thing is I didn’t even know that I held onto that ideal and letting it go has become one of my biggest hurdles as a parent.  Letting go of that ideal and accepting my child as-they-are has taken a surprising turn.  I can only let go of the ideal I have of my children when I let go of the one I have of me.  And therein lies the rub.

Acceptance of who my child is, how they are in the world, what they think and say, and how they learn is anything but a passive process.  It’s a choice in every situation.  A LETTING GO.

This is what it feels like to accept my child in a particular moment:  In order for me not to push my agenda onto them, it’s as if I am allowing them to ruin their ENTIRE lives.  That’s the feeling.
Example: an opportunity comes up for them that I think would be great and they don’t want to go.  I’m thinking, “If they don’t go, they will never learn to push themselves.  Not EVER”.  If they fail a class it translates to, “They are FAILURES!”  If they dare to talk back to me it becomes, “They will be disrespectful people and no one will ever want to hire them.  They will become homeless and die alone!”
How can I just accept them when their very LIVES are at stake!?!

So…I am willing to let them ruin their entire lives in order for me to listen to them right now.

Sound crazy?  It’s the mind game I play with myself in order to ease the constant urge I have to push my agenda onto my children.  I intend to be the kind of parent they need – not make them be the kind of child I need.

A balance would be beautiful. One I strive for. Encouraging while accepting. Giving a nudge in a direction while not outright shoving. Guiding while not dictating. Talking and hearing. That’s the tight rope of parenting. One that seems even thinner, perhaps, for the homeschooling parent especially in the highschool years.

Oooh and like that tight rope analogy, I need a net for the times I fall so I can get back up and try again.

Flip It

I absolutely love looking at things in a radically different way.  I love when after seeing life one way for years, something (a conversation, event, etc) happens that causes me to see it completely differently.  It’s a mind blowing – mind growing – experience.  It’s invigorating.  And, conversely, it can be exhausting as years of poisonous beliefs dissolve. I’m often physically blown back in my chair and can’t help but exclaim…”WHOAAAA”.  

These can be perceived as minor things. Not seeing the dishes all over my kitchen counter as a disastrous mess, for instance, but as lovely evidence of our abundance.  (this was actually no minor thing for me).  They can also be bigger concepts like, “My child needs to earn my trust.” flipped to “My child does NOT need to earn my trust.”  Say whhuuuut?  To even bigger concepts about our world.

Take something – anything – any thought or belief (one that’s stresses or even merely irks you) and just flip it to the opposite.  “My kitchen is a disaster” could become “My kitchen is lovely.”  “These people aren’t being helpful” could become “These people are being helpful”.  Try it on and blow your mind.  It sometimes requires stillness to see what your own judgments are trying to teach you.  You may even find that your mind’s first instinct is to rail against it.  NOOOO!  That’s ridiculous.  And I invite you to flip that ‘no’ and just TRY ‘yes’…for even a moment.

It’s a wondrously exciting trip.  As an amazing woman  just recently said: “It’s like reality has permission to live again.”

Willing to Fail

It’s that deep down, terrifying vulnerability that is at the heart of the stories I believe in life. Stories like, “he/she was rude to me”, “they shouldn’t talk to me like that”, “I need him/her to apologize”, “I want to be liked or approved of” and (one I use often), “they are being so inconsiderate!”.  Mmm. And then there’s: I’m afraid they’ll judge me. I’ve done some work on that last one while getting ready for the play I’m a part of at the moment.

I am amazed at the sweet, bone wrenching vulnerability I found within me when I contemplated who I might be, standing on that stage, while NOT having the ability to think “they will judge me”.  I was expecting exhilaration yet what I noticed was naked, unprotected, vulnerable me.

Wow. It just hit me. I wonder if that’s why we have those “naked dreams” when we feel nervous about something. Perhaps it’s not something to fight or feel worried over. Perhaps it’s our subconscious getting us ready to be who we NEED to be – who we really are – in those moments. Our true natures. Open. Vulnerable. Willing to lay it all on the line. And willing to fail again and again. Imagine that…because the hard hearted alternative living from a space of “not willing to fail” may be a life closed off to everything that can bring joy and love.

Willing to fail.

A powerfully vulnerable statement.

Beeeee Sofffft

11130239_10155405007235486_497396199446976705_nBeeee sofffft.

So beautiful.
I’ve found that the mission of all missions is to be soft with ME – and then I can’t help but be loving and soft to others and the world around me.
It’s so easy to be hard on myself. I often don’t even notice I’m doing it. Internal dialogue – however brief – like:
“I shouldn’t have done that!”
“I’m doing it wrong.”
“They don’t like me.”
“I suck. I’m fat.”
“I’m a bad mom.”
“I can’t to do this.”
“Stupid!”
All of these and more are self abusive, violent thinking which lead to my pain and suffering that I, in turn, end up blaming and inflicting on everyone and everything around me.
It can be as subtle as having a bad day or becoming quiet and withdrawn, confusing those around us. And it can be as blatant as lashing out in harsh words to those we love. Or it can look like blaming the economy or environment or whatever for our miseries.
Sure…I wish the environment was healthier. I wish people didn’t lose jobs (my husband included) and that groceries weren’t so expensive.
Or that the government…what? What do I wish the government would do? Take better care of us?  Sure lets go with that.
I wish there wasn’t what seems to be an underlying plot by the “Big 5” to keep us humble folk down.
I wish there wasn’t greed.
I can sink into misery and relinquish all of my happiness and love to the hardness I see around me.
Or I can look within and see that the hardness is actually within me:
I wish I was healthier.
I wish I didn’t lose my job – the job I have of taking care of my thinking when I blame others for my fears.
I wish I would take better care of me.
I wish I didn’t have an underlying plot to keep me and those around me down.
I wish I wasn’t greedy. Greedy for even more of ANYthing than what I already have in this very moment.
I’m not trying to be naive. I can’t control all of those others things! Corporations. Tax hikes. Isis. Police brutality. Violent attacks on the innocent. The big garbage pile growing in the pacific.
I can talk about it. Learn about it. Pass on what knowledge I garner. And then I’m still left with me.
War and anger and pain heals within me first. It’s the same for all of us. THAT’S where we have the ultimate power for change.
Love you. Wishing you a wonderful loving peaceful time with your loved ones this Easter weekend.
❤️❤️❤️❤️

More Important Than Dishes

A quote from the post, Thankful for this mess, from InspriredRD hit home:
“If I have a mess in my house, it means I have everything I’ve ever wanted. And that is something to be thankful for.”

It’s so easy to get annoyed at my family over messes. For me, it’s when I return home to find the kitchen in a disaster (it’s funny how I use the word ‘disaster’ to describe dishes and crumbs on a counter). I’m instantly annoyed when I see evidence of meals made & eaten with seemingly no effort to clean up afterward. My feeling of happiness to see my children or husband slips away unnoticed and I become naggy and bitchy.
Instead of hugs I give glares and sighs.
Instead of loving greetings I give words of reprimand.
And I can justify it. Oh yes. THEY’RE the inconsiderate ones. Is it so difficult to put your dishes in the dishwasher and wipe a counter?! REALLY?!
Sigh. And now I think…
Is it so difficult to walk by the mess and lovingly greet my family? Really?
It’s just a mess. It’s not killing anyone. It’ll get cleaned up – by me or someone. But whether or not it gets cleaned up, I have the choice to have a loving connected relationship with my family or a disconnected, harsh, passive (or not so passive) aggressive one.
I’m feeling a “ya but” coming on for me.
Ya but…I need to TEACH them them about responsibility and respect.
Yes, yes. That may be true.
AND
I need to teach them (learn from them really) about kindness and softness. Forgiveness. Patience. For ourselves, primarily, and then how that sweet softness transcends to those around us.
Much more important than dishes.