Friday confession: I'm too tired
So in T minus less than two hours it won't be Friday anymore. I started a post earlier today and then our wonderfully old and beat-up laptop shut down and my post got lost. I'm not going to lie, I hate it when that happens. Hate is a strong word. And it's not nice. And it doesn't go together with all this peace and love and creating what you want in your life with positive thoughts stuff that I'm trying to put out there.
BUT - I really do hate. it. when. that. happens.
Also (ok, here is a TMI alert... if you don't want to know intimate details of my life, which includes my body, stop reading now. This would probably include males that don't want to hear about "feminine stuff" and anyone else that is grossed out by details of female anatomy and functions)
Ok, well you've all been warned. I'm going to talk about... well you know, "Aunt Flo", "The Curse" or whatever other names have been given to a woman's time of the month. So if you're still with me, read on! (Why are they called "Periods" anyway? If you know, please leave a comment ;-) So, 2 years and 7 months after Gerry was born "Aunt Flo" finally came back into my life. While we were in Florida. The day we went to Busch Gardens. Luckily, I was prepared. I had a feeling it was coming (I've gotten pretty in tune with my body through the use of Natural Family Planning - don't knock it till you try it - it really works!) And now I'm in the midst of my second cycle. This is only my 4th period since getting pregnant with Marisol - yep, that's right. 6 1/2 years, 4 periods. Breastfeeding and co-sleeping have their perks, baby!
Needless to say I didn't exactly miss Aunt Flo and I'm not exactly jumping up and down about her return. So today I feel tired and a bit out of sorts and I'm just not used to it. Tonight I'm wondering if I will really have the inspiration and fire to keep writing here. But for tonight, I'm keep it going. I'm keeping it real. I'm sharing (probably more than some of you wanted to know!)
Thoughts I have for some posts coming up include ideas about Shining, Inspiration, Passion and Peace, Resistance, and maybe some more of this down-to-earth stuff ;-)
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
So it's Sunday night. Which means tomorrow is Monday. And since I just declared *one* week ago that I was going to try and post on Mondays and Fridays I'd better get something together for tomorrow. I mean I have to make it longer than one week! I mentioned to Mike as he was going to bed that I can't disappoint my huge readership... I believe he snorted. In fact because of that little snort, I'm dedicating this post to my amazing husband. Lucky for him, I laughed too. We have to keep our sense of humor after all, and not taking oneself too seriously is an important part of the equation. Yes, definitely. Well, in my opinion anyways, and that's what this blog is for - my opinion, so there!
I have a lot of different thoughts, both as drafts here and in my journal. But I'm tired tonight. So I'm going to go ahead and finished a post I started a while ago about Unschooling. And actually now that I've decided to do that, I can't think of a more appropriate topic for my second "Monday Awakenings - Life is Good." (Coincidentally, did you know that one of the unschooling conferences is called Life is Good? I can't wait to go to one of those!) Finding Unschooling has definitely been the biggest awakening in my life. I can honestly say that without any hesitation. One of my thoughts when I first started reading about it was, "huh... how come *I* didn't think of this on my own??" It's so simple at it's core that it seems obvious. And I'm a *smart* person, goshdarnit! I should have been able to think of this myself - I was the Valedictorian of my high-school class for goodness sake! (Which I find more and more ironic the as I embrace a new direction that may never include school. I actually almost get an ashamed feeling inside now thinking of it - something to explore and expand more on later. Also, now that I think of it, this may highlight how school doesn't exactly engender critical or creative thinking... but I digress)
For a year or more after I discovered Unscooling I was ON FIRE for it. It was like I was blind and now I could see and I really, REALLY wanted to shout it from the mountaintops (ok rooftops - but that condo we lived in was pretty tall!) I would be up well into the night reading about it. Mike would get irritated for a long time when he saw me reading, and tell me to, "Stop reading that crap!" (Hence my dedication to him today - love you honey!) Luckily, I am not that easily dissuaded. We've both come a long ways - he is super supportive of the kids and me, and I've gotten better at presenting things to him. Also I didn't start broadcasting far and wide that Unschooling was the best thing ever since sliced bread, which I am thankful for because I probably would not have been prepared for the conversations that followed. I did feel a bit guilty keeping it a secret though. I mean it's so amazing, wouldn't everyone want to know about it??
When I first came across the word "Unschooling" my curiosity was immediately piqued. I had never heard of such a thing and had no idea what it meant. Thank goodness for Google! I did a search, and much to my husband's chagrin, a new world opened to me. It was one of those things that once I knew about, I couldn't go back. My life was changed.
What is Unschooling? I'm going to try and put in words what it is to me and then follow up with some links that explain in other people's words. Basically, Unschooling is a kind of homeschooling. But instead of creating a miniature school in your home, you continue your lives together with your children in the best way for your family, without considering how things are done in school at all. I suppose that is where the "un" comes from, in that, schoolish ways of thinking and doing things do not impact your own way of life (as much as that is possible).
Unschooling to me means living with my family in a way that supports each person and their interests and growth. It is NOT "child-led" or "parent-led", instead it is about partnership. Other things that unschooling does NOT mean:
It is not leaving the kids on their own to learn.
It doesn't mean that my kids will never learn things kids in school learn. (Can you follow that one? Double-negative much! Well, you get the idea - in a more straightforward manner - My kids *will* learn many of the same things that school kids learn, they will also probably differ in a lot of areas, but really all people do, school or no school - ok ending longest run-on ever..... NOW)
Here are some good links to explore if this is still to vague:
Definitions of Unschooling
The Unschooling Philosophy
Demand Euphoria's perspective
Unschooling Me - How to Unschool
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much information out there that it really would be redundant for me to try and "define" what Unschooling is. And besides, even though I've been reading about it for 4 years now, I am really still a newbie. Technically this is our first year "unschooling" since Marisol is 5 years old. The best part of reading about experienced Unschoolers has been to define what principles are most important in guiding our family's life. Unschooling philosophy, for me, is much more than just homeschooling my kids. It is a complete way of life. I'm glad that I discovered it so early in my children's lives because although the concept behind the philosophy is simple (people, children included, are learning all the time), embracing what that can mean for your family and life takes longer. I have found that I grasped with my mind very quickly what Unschooling means. It all makes sense to me. However, the "doing" can be more difficult as you learn to let go. I like the analogy of holding onto balloons you can find in the sidebar here. An example in our life of a concept I grasped very quickly mentally, but had difficulty embracing fully in my heart, was not limiting TV. This is a "balloon" that I have repeatedly "let go" of only to grab the string as it floats away from me, bring it back towards me to hold onto, and then let go again. Lucky for my children, I have been able to keep many of my struggles (mostly) internal. I'm hopeful that this will lead to them having more clarity and less baggage (or balloons!) as they grow to adulthood.
Reading about Unschooling and people who are living this kind of lifestyle has impacted our life in so many ways. Most of the concerns that people have when they first hear about Unschooling are the same and they have also been addressed repeatedly in many different forums (yahoo lists, blogs, books etc.) So instead of defining Unschooling and addressing common concerns, I plan to write about how unschooling looks in our family's life. Learning is not just about school "subjects" (and in fact many Unschoolers try not to break things down in this way, because all learning is related). Learning, and therefore Unschooling, occurs in all aspects of our lives including sleep, eating, use of media, and relationships.
Watching our kids learn is one of the most amazing things in the world. This is true for all parents. What continues to astound me in our first "official" year of homeschooling, is how and what Marisol learns every day WITHOUT ME CONTROLLING IT, in any way. I feel very lucky that I started learning about Unschooling when Marisol was still a toddler because we've been able to see how she continues to learn and grow - yes with our love and support - but with absolutely no formal "teaching". I'm trying to put snippets of what the kids are up to over at Everyday Adventures which will be a great place for me to "record keep" as the kids get older.
If anyone (especially friends and family) is really concerned now that I've TOTALLY lost it, please don't worry about us. One thing I'm learning more and more as a parent that nothing is ever set in stone or guaranteed. We are always willing to reevaluate, and of course, listen to our kids. We would never stop them from going to school if that is what they want. I actually loved school myself and know that for some people it is a wonderful place. For now though, we have a different vision and direction for our family. I would love to hear others' thoughts. Is anything awakened in you? Also, experienced Unschoolers, please chime in and if I am way off about anything, please correct away!
Have a great week everyone! I know you will learn something new every day ;-)
So there was a big tantrum in our house today (or meltdown as we call them usually, MD for short). It was complete with yelling, hurtful (untrue) words, stomping of feet and general bad behavior.
If you haven't guessed yet, I was the one melting down (this is my first "Friday Confession"!) Even as the words were coming out of my mouth and I stomped around I knew that I would be sorry. And sorry I was. The thought actually crossed my mind that I might be subconsciously trying to create material for my blog-post. I already had a different one started, but this is much better. (When I was younger I used to have a running narrative in my head that was like a book or a movie. Now my thoughts continually seem to be creating blog-posts! If only I could remember all these amazing ideas when I actually get time to sit down at the keyboard.) After I calmed down the kicker was my daughter said sorry to me. Ouch. So after practicing being quiet and not saying anything I told her a few things (when her show was over - gotta be respectful!). I told her that what I said wasn't true, that I was frustrated and didn't want to behave that way when I'm frustrated. I asked if she forgave me, which she did immediately. Then I asked her for advice and she told me to take deep breaths and calm down (so the message is getting through even though she says she doesn't want to do that herself! ha!)
It was kind of a kick in the pants after my last post was all about how awesomely I handled a tired day. I'm not exactly sure why this day was different. But I am sure there were probably a lot of different variables that included my choices, my state of mind, and my childrens' too. When I was a teacher I noticed a similar but opposite trend - whenever I would have a particularly bad day, almost always I would have an absolutely amazing day following the bad. With parenting I feel like whenever you start feeling a little too smug about how you're finally handling things so well, something happens to keep you humble. And I guess that's how life is, it ebbs and flows.
I know a lot of people would try to make me feel better about my behavior. After all I was tired, she was being impatient, and we have a cold working it's way through our family. But all I could imagine was her saying the things I said or acting the way I acted sometime when she got frustrated. And I know I want to do better. Normally I do.
However, this post is also NOT about beating oneself up or trying to be a "perfect" parent or changing the past. In fact today after I apologized to Marisol (without saying the words "I'm sorry"), I practiced filling myself up with love by imagining myself wrapped up in my own love and saying affirmations in my head. It was way healthier than obsessing over my regression to toddler-hood. Also, although I'm striving for peace in my life and in my relationships, I know that I am human and will make mistakes. If I cannot forgive myself then how can I forgive others? I also don't believe in regret (or at least when i'm feeling good about myself! :-P) Instead I tried to focus on what I could learn from the situation. I focused on my breath a lot. I tried NOT to think too much, because I was tired. And tired thinking is not normally the best kind. I remembered how many tired days I've gotten through successfully before, and how brighter times are usually just around the corner. I remembered that just because I had a bad moment, that didn't mean the whole day had to be bad and it was up to me to help make better ones.
And by the afternoon things were better. We got outside in the beautiful weather, the kids ran around with their friends, while I talked with mine. Plus a new book I ordered from Amazon came today and I started it tonight. It's titled, "Beyond the Sling: A Real-life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way" by Mayim Bialik, PhD (Remember Blossom??) Nothing like a good new book to boost my mood. So far I love it (oh, and I want to be her friend!)
I've been thinking more about my "Monday Awakenings" and "Friday Confessions" idea, (which is really just a way to get me to post regularly, if you haven't guess already!) and a few things occurred to me. First of all I like the "Awakenings" for a few reasons. I think of new ideas, or presenting to people different ways of being or thinking, and so maybe something may be Awakened in them. At first I was just thinking of it as "inspiration" but since Friday is supposed to be my balance to Monday, what would that be, depression? And really I hope that all (or most anyway) of the posts are inspirational and lift us up together. I know how blogs can appear to people on the outside - you can look through all the pictures and activities and think, "Wow, look at their life! They really have it all together" or maybe even compare your life. But blogs are really just snapshots. So while Mondays may be more about things I think are new to people, Friday is about how we are all in this together. And one of the best ways to feel that is by loving each other through our challenges and in spite of our imperfect moments.
Love to all! I hope you have a wonderful weekend with loved ones, filled with laughter and togetherness.
It's another Wednesday. Half way through the week. Both kids have colds and major runny noses. Hence the blog title (sorry if that grosses you out... that's how it is when you have little kids. Besides I like alliteration. Does that make me really cheesy or dorky or something? Oh well.)
It's been a week of little sleep. Marisol's symptoms showed up Sunday night, and we spent about 3 hours wake in the wee hours of the morning that day. And Gerry's been napping later and later. Last night he stayed up till almost 1 am and when he fell asleep it was clear that he now had the cold. So I slept between two snoring babies. ;-) All this to say: today had the makings to be a long, difficult day.
But it wasn't! I'm not sure why or how it happened. But I think that some of my "new" habits are paying off (either that or the planets aligned and sent their good fortune my way). While I was still on my coffee high and my kids were still waking up slowly with "Bubble Guppies" I got some much needed cleaning done around the house. We had a good breakfast (their appetites don't seem to be affected by this cold) and then decided to go outside to hang laundry up on our line. So, here's the really big news - we actually got dressed, brushed our teeth and hair to do this (by "we" I mean all of us too - oh well Gerry didn't brush his hair, but hey, we can't be perfect!). To some of you this may not seem like a big deal. But it is in our house! And we managed to do it on a day when we aren't even feeling well!
After hanging laundry we headed over to our friends' house who are out of town to feed their cat. This is the perfect activity for lethargic kids. It's like a play date without the other kids - playing with toys that aren't yours without competition! Score!
Gerry napped early so I'm feeling confident that bedtime will be before midnight (how's that for optimism?) While he napped I actually finished some updates on my other blog, then cuddled with Marisol on the couch and listened to some meditation tracks while she watched a show. Win-win! And then we (well Marisol) decided we were up for a play date *with* actual kids, and I actually had a ton of energy so I cleaned up and vacuumed (this is also unusual around here, don't believe me, ask my husband ;-) And *now* my daughter is outside playing with her friends while Gerry watches Team Umi Zoomi, so I am actually composing a blog post and it's light outside! Can this day really get any better?
I had so many thoughts running through my head all day today but now I'm too exhausted to remember them. There were some good ones too. But anyways. Meditation. It's awesome. I will let you know how and why it's helping me so much some time soon. Hope everyone's having a great week! Keep in touch! (And by that, I mean, please for goodness sakes give me some feedback already in the form of a comment! haha, love to all!)
Monday Awakenings: Life is good!
I've seen some blogs do things like "Wordless Wednesdays" and other such things. I'm going to aim to post on Mondays and Fridays. Today is my first "Monday Awakenings: Life is good!" I'm hoping to have inspirational posts to kick of the week and motivate on a day that can be difficult for many.
Striving for balance always, Fridays will be "Friday Confessions: Keepin' it Real". I figure after a week of hardcore livin' it will be an easy topic! If I can post at least 2 times a week the rest will be gravy. I also would like to get some new posts up over at Everyday Adventures. We'll see how it goes!
So, we got back from Florida last Tuesday. I can happily say that the kids and I made the transition to home very smoothly. We were all sad to say "Goodbye" to Grandma and Grandpa, but we were all very happy to be home with Daddy and back in our own environment. The weather helped a lot too - we pretty much brought Florida back with us, as it was in the 80s and sunny the first two days. That meant we got outside a lot, as did the whole neighborhood, so we were able to reconnect with lots of our friends. I was also proud of myself for renewing my intent to cut back on the internet. I found this awesome post called: A Survival Guide for Beating Information Addiction. I thought it was cool how I had already done some of the steps when I set my Lenten Intentions - especially by picking other things to do instead and using positive public pressure (ha - nothing like Facebook to reinforce NOT checking Facebook all the time!). The best thing for me this past week was the idea of the "Pause". Right when I wake up in the morning is a time when I often get on the computer right away. I like to wake up slowly and the computer is one way of doing it. But now instead of signing right onto Facebook, I've been pausing and making a conscious decision (in this case, NOT to get on the computer, since I'm trying to change my habits). I have my journal and Bible down in the dining room (right where the computer is too!) So each morning I read a little bit and wrote a bit and then jumped into things around the house and with the kids. It made a huge difference! So if there are any habits you are wanting to change I highly recommend these steps - not just for "Information Addiction".
As I lay in bed one night with thoughts floating around there were some images that came to my mind that seemed like a poem. I leave you with an attempt at poetry. Hope it inspires you. Or makes you laugh. Or at least go do something else ;-)
Thoughts litter the space that is my mind,
Words like detritus - floating in the air after an explosion,
Gray dust everywhere - starting to settle...
Then STIRRED by the wind of a new idea,
But then, regaining my power
I change the dust to Snow.
Clean and White.
Descending over my interior landscape.
Focus on breathing: in and out.
The snowy thoughts are heavier
quiet slowly drifts.
Fear of hurting loved ones
It feels good to be "out". To not hide the what, why, and how of my life. (Although, those that know me probably wonder when I ever hid! ;-) But with the exhilaration of letting it all hang out also comes fear and anxiety. I think it's been pretty apparent in a lot of my first posts and my disclaimer. I've been trying to set things up perfectly so I don't hurt anyone. Since my recent post about sleep training being a choice, not a "have to", I've experienced considerable angst. It's amazing how these feelings manifest themselves in our bodies. I can actually feel the tension inside like a spring coiled inside of me and even though I feel tired today, I also feel this coil as a nervous energy. Everything I wrote feels true and right to me. And I'm glad to give support to others that are going through hard times and questioning their choices - especially those who are feeling alone. I know that I felt that way early in my "parenting career" when I was beginning to make choices that weren't typical in our society. I felt uncertain, I didn't know how things would turn out and I felt like there weren't many people who could give me assurance or tell me about their experiences.
And yet. I worry that I am hurting those who I love - those who have been good to me and supported me regardless of *my* choices, in spite of the fact that I may have been choosing something quite different then them. It's a new, strange place I'm in. I spent a lot of time when Marisol was little worrying about my choices and what others thought of me. I tried to find "like minded" people. Friends who held similar values. And I found a lot of friends with babies and little children who had things in common with me. A while after moving to Washington DC I observed some things about my new friendships that led to an important realization. I shared something important with each of my new mama friends - one had a home-birth and was passionate about breastfeeding, one friend had similar sleep woes, breastfed her baby till he was over 2 years old, and held similar ways of dealing with toddler behavior, a third friend wanted to do things in an attachment parenting type way, but her children were much closer in age than mine and she struggled with sleep. The third friend was also very "natural" minded and limited TV. I have another friend who on paper looks very much like me but emotionally we are quite different. All of these observations led to the obvious realization - we each had things in common and areas where we were quite different. And that is ok. We don't need to be or think alike to love each other.
The past couple of days I've been deep breathing through my fear and discomfort. The cool thing is that I am comfortable and confident enough in myself to put myself out there. I've also fully embraced the idea that no one can *make me* feel anything - hurt, sad, even judged. I am in control of my own emotions. It is a truly empowering idea. I have to trust others to find their own way. I have to hope that those I love know my heart and my intention. (Also in the few hours that have passed since I started this post I've thought that probably some of the people I'm worried about hurting don't even really think about "cry-it-out" at all anymore. As our children grow our focus changes.) Perhaps (probably?) I'm blowing things out of proportion. I'm taking myself too seriously. But I do hope that if I hurt someone that I love, they would let me know. It's so hard to put your convictions into words in a way that doesn't sound like you are judging others! If I say I am judging our overall culture and not specific people does that really make a difference? Or maybe it is good if people are uncomfortable by things that I say, it means I touched something inside of them.
I'd rather people close to me think, "Oh Susan, she is crazy! But I love her" than to think I was attacking them. But perhaps change is never that easy or simple. Perhaps in trying to bring about change it is inevitable that people get hurt.
I'm at the rambling point and it is past my bedtime. If I wait to post until this things make sense or I make up my mind, I will never hit the publish button. Goodnight friends - know that I love you and hold us all in compassion in my heart.
Tiredness Tales and Truths
Since posting about sleep it seems like my children are testing my resolve to stick to my word about being sleep deprived. I'm not sure if that makes sense - I'm kinda tired. Anyways. The tiredness I feel today is nowhere near the tiredness I experienced when Gerry was a newborn. It's all relative.
I've noticed a lot of things about being tired though. When you're tired it's hard to keep perspective and it's hard to keep an optimistic attitude. It just feels like everything is hard and nothing is right. Life would be better if you were somewhere else, with different people, living in a different era, if you made better choices, etc. etc. Of course none of this is true. Even if I was in a different place, with different people, making better choices, if I was tired I would still be wishing for something else! I recognized today that this is just another way of not embracing the present. Of not being where I am right now. The biggest challenge to being present and accepting the moment is my own mind. If I can quiet my mind and just be then I can feel peaceful and even enjoy the moment while being tired. Time and again I've also seen how things tend to work out eventually. When you're tired you think that you are never going to feel rested again. Yet somehow it does happen.
It's hard not to wish for other things when we aren't feeling our best. But wishing for something else only makes our situation feel worse. I'm still learning how to be tired gracefully. Lucky for me I'm sure I will have lots more practice. :-)
What we all want
I'm really enjoying this 21 day meditation. One of the recent meditations focused on four words: Attention, Affection, Admiration, and Acceptance. I'm also reading this incredible book, "The Old Way: A story of the first people" by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. It is about the last known hunter gatherers in the Kalahari and their way of life. I've marked about a dozen or so pages and am about two thirds of the way through reading it. Of course what I find most interesting is the relationships between the parents and children, although it is all pretty fascinating.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
The Ju/wasi were unfailingly good to their children. An infant would be nursed on demand stay close to its mother, safe in the pouch of her cape, warm in cold weather, shaded in hot weather, complete with a wad of soft grass of a diaper. Ju/wa children very rarely cried, probably because they had very little to cry about. No child was ever yelled at or physically punished, and few were even scolded...
We are sometimes told that children who are treated so kindly become spoiled, but this is because those who hold that opinion have no idea how successful such measures can be. Free from frustration or anxiety, sunny and cooperative, and usually without close siblings as competitors, the Ju/wa children were every parent's dream. No culture can ever have raised better, more intelligent, more likable, more confident children. (p 198-199)
I have mixed emotions as I read and reflect this book. I love examining this evolutionary perspective and definitely feel validated in a lot of my choices as a parent. A lot of what we do as a family we do because it *makes sense* and reading about this way of life reinforces this feeling for me. But I am also sad - sad that these people and their way of life is pretty much gone now.
Another huge part of their social structure was the need to belong. I am reminded of the acceptance part of my meditation. And I think of all of us parents trying to find our way. Many times we just need love and support - a listening ear. We don't need someone telling us that we're doing it wrong or advice on how we can do it better. We really all need the same things, regardless of our different choices.
Love; Short and Sweet
I was watching the video I linked in my post last night of the baby orangutan being cuddled and sang to sleep. The narrator is talking and says that as long as the orangutans *feel* loved they will be secure enough to make it in the wild when they are older.
I thought that her choice of words was interesting. She didn't say as long as they *are* loved, she said *feel* loved. This is a really important distinction. In the same vein, this quote from yesterday sends a similar message, "I guess you could say that science is helping us to understand why it is that the way we love our children matters so much.” Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk
* The way* we love our children matters so much. Not that we love our children, but the *way* we do it. We all love our children. But loving them alone is not enough (Sorry Beatles!). Especially if they are not feeling or experiencing that love. We need to use the love inside of us to guide our actions. We need to let it out, to pour it onto the people in our lives, to spread it wherever we go. And this includes loving ourselves too.
Good night all, this mama needs sleep. :-)
I woke up with fire in my belly this morning. After a beautiful day in Florida with my family, that included the pool, drinks and dinner, golf cart rides, and general contentedness I thought that maybe the spark was gone, and with it my inspiration to write. But I just had to read a bit more and it came back, and since my kids are asleep at a decent hour (Again! AND ironic in light of what I'm writing about) I wanted to get some of my thoughts out.
There were three posts on Facebook yesterday that jumped out at me and seemed so connected. (Just so you aren't worried that I am breaking my Lenten Intentions with God, I will fill you in - yesterday we visited good friends in South Florida. It was a 3 hour drive from my parents. The kids did great on the rides to and from and they had so much fun playing at our friends' house. Plus they went to sleep on the drive home. So even though it is Lent, I was able to peruse Facebook last night and catch up on my newsfeed. That is why I didn't make a "rule" that I should not read Facebook, but made clear intentions of cutting back. So far it is going really well - there's been meditation, exercising, post-card, bible reading, writing and general "being" going on here like you wouldn't BE-lieve!)
Anyways, now you know that I'm staying true to my word. ;-P
Back to Facebook. First I had a sleep-deprived friend post asking for advice on getting her little kids to sleep better. Then I had another friend post this article.
Finally there was a free viewing here:The Connected Baby: a film conversation — an exclusive streaming event
Here is a quote from the beginning of it:
“Babies arrive already connected to other people. That’s what a range of sciences is now telling us: that they have brains already tuned in to other people’s body rhythms and vocal tones and movements. It makes them much more communicative and sophisticated than we often realise. In fact, it turns out that their very brain pathways are shaped by the kinds of responses that they receive from other people. “So, to build the kind of society that we all want, we need to pay more attention to the way that we relate to our youngest children. I guess you could say that science is helping us to understand why it is that the way we love our children matters so much.” Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk
I have had so many thoughts zinging around my head today I hardly know where to start. I guess I will start with my own reactions. I've been thinking a lot lately about triggers and noticing when I feel triggered. The advice that my friend got on Facebook really brought up a lot of feelings for me and I have been examining why all day.
First I want to be clear on a few things. I am not surprised that the majority of the advice she got to get her children to sleep better was to let her children cry, scream, or general training ideas. And I'm also not saying that people who do that are wrong, bad or in general trying to make anyone feel guilty. Most of my favorite people in the world, including my best friends and closest family, have used some form of sleep training or cry-it-out with their children. So this post is not about *my* way being the right or better way.
Here are some of the things that really get me though. The use of the words, "have to" in reference to what the parents or the children need to do. The mom has to let her kids cry it out a few nights and then they will sleep. The children need to learn to self-soothe.
The truth is that the parents and the children don't HAVE TO do any of those things. There are choices and alternatives. To make a choice that you feel good about you need to be clear in your mind and the language you use is very important in achieving that clarity. There are probably some families whose situations are such that some form of sleep training is what is best for their family. But they should choose it knowing that it is that, a choice.
Another comment that really got under my skin was, "Motherhood is not for wimps," coming from another person advocating for crying it out. Why did this bother me so much? I looked very closely at it. Well, I don't let my kids cry it out, so what does that mean? I'm a wimp? I know I'm not. So since I know I'm not, that statement should not bother me. After realizing that and doing some deep breathing I feel better about that. In fact, I know that whatever choices we make as parents there will be advantages and challenges to every path. We all need strength.
Finally, I want to address the idea that sleep training is not mean and that children need to learn to self-soothe. Let me ask you to think about this. If a friend or sibling or parent were crying in the night and you heard them - would you leave them alone to "self-soothe"? (I remember a time in college when one of my friends - who was actually two years older than me - was going through a very rough time. Her sister had died. She called me in the middle of the night crying. I walked across campus in the dark and cold to be with her. I had forgotten that till thinking about this today)
If someone feels guilty there is probably a reason for it. If something feels mean it probably is. Our babies are at their smallest and most vulnerable and depend on us. Yes, most will "survive" sleep training. Yes many will be "fine" if they cry to sleep sometimes. But is it the best way? Is it the *only* way? No, it is not. I have written about our sleep journey before on my past blog, if you have time and want to search through it. It has not been a smooth, easy ride but I have learned a lot and I am very passionate about it. Personally, I believe that the way our society is now, with families being very isolated and parents without a lot of immediate support, that methods like sleep training feel necessary. For single, working moms, families with many small children, and other situations it may be. But I also know that there are other cultures that look at our sleep methods as cruel (how do I know? I read it sometime, somewhere - sorry I can't find it to reference it now!) I also believe that we can make choices that disconnect or connect us to those we love. Over time these choices compound and become part of patterns that make up our relationships. I want to be careful in my choices and the patterns I am helping create with my children.
Personally, I try to reconcile the world I was born into with the ideals I hold close. I make choices that help me stay as close to my values as I can - even if that means being sleep deprived for a few years. I often yearn for my "tribe" so I could have more help, and when I *do* have support to make our sleep time peaceful, rejuvenating, and copious enough for everyone, I treasure that time.
If anything I have said here hurts you, triggers you, or strikes you as plain crazy I invite you to look very closely at your thoughts and feelings. If what I've said doesn't apply to you then it shouldn't matter. You can walk away and not think about it again.
I called this post, "Our children are people (and animals!) too". I hope that many people have a "well, duh! Of course they're people!" reaction... Unfortunately, the way we view and treat babies and small children sometimes does not line up with the belief that they are people that deserve the same things that adults do. I'll leave you with these two clips from the movie, "Born to Be Wild". You can see these baby animals being loved to sleep by humans. I wish all of our human babies were treated with such tender care.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.