As a Hypnobabies instructor I have had to learn how to walk a very fine line. A basic premise of the class and of hypnosis is that our minds are very powerful and will work to create that which we dwell upon. So OF COURSE we want to feed the mind ONLY positive messages about childbirth. Hypnobabies does this really well - through affirmations, hypnosis tracks and scripts, and videos of beautiful, empowered births. Every mom also creates a special safe place for herself and her baby and a Bubble of Peace for times when there is negativity in their environment. This tool helps them to keep positive messages around them while keeping the negative away.
The tricky part is also embracing the fact that birth is inherently unpredictable and that every mother and baby's experience will be unique. Some birthing times (labors) are long and some are short. Some mother's stay very quiet while birthing and others ROAR their babies out. Some mama's can switch "off" (a Hypnobabies self-hypnosis tool) laying down and relaxing very deeply while experiencing pressure waves (contractions), while others prefer to be in "center" so they can stand or sit up and rock during waves. Ok, so you get the idea - each birth is DIFFERENT.
A criticism that often comes up of Hypnobabies is that by encouraging this positive mindset for women's births - that birth can in fact be peaceful, comfortable, and joyful - that we are setting women up for disappointment.
I believe that this statement underestimates women and I know that this mentality undermines both women using and NOT using Hypnobabies for childbirth.
First of all, I know that birth CAN BE all of the things listed above - because I experienced at least 2 of the 3 and I know many women who have experienced it all - some even having what they consider PAIN FREE births. So the question is, how is it helpful for us to prepare a woman by being "realistic" - which usually implies that birth has to be painful or difficult?
I did not have what I consider to be pain-free births either time. Yet they were both empowering, beautiful, enjoyable and life-changing experiences. My birthing time with Marisol lasted almost 48 hours and was very intense at the end, yet because it was such a powerful experience when I was pregnant with Gerry I looked forward to his birth with excitement. That's right - I couldn't wait to give birth again!
Gerry's birth was much faster that Marisol's. The end was very intense. Did I feel like Hypnobabies failed me because of this? No way! It was (again) one of the peak experiences of my life and I know that using the home-study course and listening to the tracks faithfully helped me have the best birth for me and Gerry that I could. (To clarify, Hypnobabies does not ever promise anyone a "pain free" birth. We do help women work towards the most comfortable birth possible for each individual and baby. Also, I only used Hypnobabies for my second birth.)
It is realistic to expect that birth can be safe and enjoyable. Most of the time birth will happen the way it is meant to for mom and baby if they are left alone. What isn't realistic is the current culture of fear that surrounds birth.
There is a line in our Hypnobabies scripts that reads, "You are comfortable with any path your birthing takes, knowing it is the best one for you and your baby". All suggestions are repeated many times so that these messages can really be absorbed by expecting mama's on a conscious and subconscious level. I love this one because it highlights that each birth is a journey for mom and baby and that in the end we have to let go and enjoy the ride.
I am proud to be a Hypnobabies instructor. I'm learning to teach my students to the best of my ability and then let go of all outcomes. I'm learning to trust that my students are getting what they need to from Hypnobabies. We cannot control birth just like we can't control life. But we can prepare ourselves and our minds, and I believe Hypnobabies is a powerful way for pregnant women to do just that.
This week I read two posts from well known and respected writers on their kid's first day of kindergarten: That First Day and Kindergarten, Kindergarten, Why So Soon?
I want to preface my thoughts with the fact that I am in no way questioning any of the following: their love for their children, whether school is the best choice for their kids/families, or whether these parents are "good" parents. For one, I do not know either of these people in real life although I've read (and enjoyed) both of their blogs several times. And for another I do NOT think that I know the one right answer or way in this awesome thing we call life.
Ok, here we go. A couple of phrases really jumped out at me as I was reading these heart-felt posts. From the first, "I know this is part of it. I knew I'd have to leave" and from the second, "I don’t know if I’m ready for my kid to be a bus-riding, recess-playing, homework-doing big kid just yet. I guess I don’t have a choice." (Emphasis mine in both cases)
These two little words "have to" are like a trigger that sets off a bell in my head now, "ding ding ding!" When we think "Have to" we are giving our power away because we believe that we *don't* have a choice. The majority of the time the "have to" thought is NOT true, and when we lie to ourselves about what we "have to" do we are not living our lives to their fullest potential.
The truth is many kids DON'T "have to" go to kindergarten even though the majority do in our culture. School is so very entrenched in our lives and way of thinking that it feels like it is inevitable to most people.
The comments in both of these blog posts were all very emotional. What is amazing for me is that I did not get emotional at all. Well, I guess it's not so amazing - I haven't had to experience the first day of kindergarten since we've opted to homeschool; and, because of our choice I am reading their words from a completely different perspective. What I feel most sad about is the fact that people are failing to see that as a culture at large we are CHOOSING school. It is not obligatory. (I'm not talking about cases of families where home schooling is truly not an option due to financial or other reasons).
And yet, I also understand why most people think this way.
When Marisol was a baby my mom used to say, "You should homeschool, you'd be great at it!" And I was all, "ok, whatever Mom." (She thinks I'm great at everything! ;-) But seriously, I didn't even ENTERTAIN the thought at first - after all I came from a long line of teachers. And we believe in public education, right? And also, I *liked* school and actually had a pretty fantabulous school experience.
That was before I stumbled across Unschooling. And it really was an awakening. (Makes me think of the kids that once they hear we homeschool start begging their parents to do it!) Once you question something so big it becomes apparent pretty quickly that there are many things that are worth taking a second look at.
Like "have to". The fabulous Tara Wagner made the bold statement that all we *have to* do in this life is die. Really. Think about it for a while.
Here are 10 things that I've discovered we really don't HAVE TO do:
1.) I don't have to wash my hair (or my kids!) with soap every day (or even every week for that matter)
2.) I don't have to get rid of their toys or clothes before they are ready to (space does help with this one! I'm learning to be creative though.)
3.) I don't have to get away from my kids to take care of myself.
4.) I don't have to clean the dishes or do the laundry.
5.) I don't have to have all the right answers.
6.) Kids don't have to sleep when we want them to.
7.) Kids don't have to wear shoes at the park.
8.) Kids don't have to eat a sugar-free, organic diet to be healthy.
9.) Kids don't have to go to school to learn to read, use numbers, and make friends.
10.) Kids don't have to be sent away from their parents to grow into their independence.
Honestly, I kind of had a hard time coming up with this list because I just don't think this way much anymore. Mostly it is like I said before - whenever I see or hear "have to" mentality it is like a trigger is tripped in me and I want to be like, "oh no you don't have to!" But I usually just keep my mouth shut.
Believe me, it is so freeing to let go of "Have-tos" and decide that you are going to make very deliberate choices for yourself and family. Try it - once you begin to "choose to" or "decide not to" you will never want to go back to "have to."
Go crazy and add some things to my list - pick the ones that you *really* *truly* believe you "have to" - then post a comment here - you don't have to! Maybe it's go to work every day or clean your house... once you own it you will be free to choose - do it... or don't!
I tend to wear certain jewelry for a period of time and not mix it up much. I like to travel with very little - one pair of earrings (sometimes two when I'm feeling extravagant), a bracelet, and a necklace. It makes it easier to keep track of.
On our latest trip up to New York I traveled with the above jewelry. Every time I put each of the above pieces on I get to think of very special people in my life and relationships and ideals that are important to me. I began to think of them as my Talismans that gave me strength and protected me.
So I have to admit, I wasn't really sure what the word "Talisman" meant, so I looked it up and this is what Wikipedia says:
a talisman must be charged with magical powers by the person creating it. It is the act of consecration or "charging" that gives the talisman its alleged magical powers. The talisman is always made for a definite reason
Wow, that's pretty cool! I mean I am definitely the one who has infused power into my jewels - well along with the people who gave them to me. And the reason I gave them power? It feels good to have beautiful, physical reminders of the people who love and value me. I am reminded of the love in my life and the values I hold dear and by having these concrete objects present consistently, I am reminded daily of all I have to be grateful for. Pretty awesome!
Here they are one by one:
This beautiful necklace was a Christmas gift from my husband last year. It has our children's first initials and their birthstone. So every time I wear it I feel like I have my whole family with me.
These earrings were a gift from my Mother. I love the colors, and surprisingly (or maybe NOT so surprisingly) they seem to "go" with a lot of my favorite clothes. I have gotten many compliments on them. I didn't wear them a lot right when she gave them to me, but now they are my favorites and I love thinking of her every time I put them on.
My sister gave me this cute little bracelet for my birthday this year. I know she thought of me because of: 1) the peace sign and 2) the color blue. I also love that it says "be happy" on it's little charm. She actually got me another gift (a tee-shirt) to give me the next time she saw me because the bracelet only cost $6. But to me that shows how something doesn't have to be expensive to be valuable. I love that she thought of me, I love that every time I put it on I think of our bond, and, in fact, I just plain love this little bracelet!
When I first started thinking about my talismans, I only thought of these three pieces. Then all of a sudden I though, "Oh my goodness, how could I forget my wedding rings??" But I think that this shows how we OFTEN take for granted the most important and steadfast things in our lives. I almost never take my rings off (good thing too, because I would probably lose them! Just ask Mike ;-) They are part of me just like Mike is part of me and my every day life. They go with me everywhere and are a constant reminder of his love.
Do you have any special Talismans? Who or what do they remind you of and what are their powers? If you don't, can you think of something you might "make" into a Talisman?
This year has been so amazing so far. I've just felt this incredible amount of growth and although it can be overwhelming and exhausting, it is mostly just invigorating and wonderful.
I'm reading a couple of really good, interesting books this week (I visited one of my favorite bookstores - my mother-in-law's house - Thanks Gigi!) One book that I am really enjoying is called "Rediscover Catholicism: A spiritual guide to living with passion and purpose", by Matthew Kelly. This book is powerful regardless of your religion or spiritual beliefs - actually the sub-title says so much about its message, everyone wants to live with passion and purpose, right?!
Anyways, I'm not ready yet to do a review or analysis yet but I wanted to share one quote that has had a huge impact on me this past week. In the chapter about saints Kelly talks about Mother Teresa and there is a quote about her.
"For the moment you were with her, there was only you and her. She wasn't looking over your shoulder to see what was happening around you. You had her full attention. It was as if nothing else existed to her except you."
Wow. How amazing is that? And what if we all treated each other with that much love and respect?
I know that I write a lot about parenting and my radical ideas of treating our children in exactly this way. But the truth is that I often fall short. I'm often not present - on my phone or computer, on the phone (ha, just realized I said PHONE twice - how appropriate... to clear things up, the first phone refers to my iPhone, and the second our "land" line - which is really digital - but I digress), reading a book... whatever the current distraction might be. But I've felt a new calmness settling in around and inside of me lately.
I've mentioned a few times this year how ON FIRE I've been. And that is an amazing thing! But when I'm on fire I have a tendency to be in motion too and always trying to get something done or moving on to the next thing.
Then, more recently I had a little bit of a depression in my mood and activity. I lost my way a bit. I just got back from a visit to my home-town. The kids and I stayed with my parents, visiting family and friends for 2 weeks. Coming back is always an adjustment too. But I feel like I really got back to myself and what's most important to me.
So, I feel like I am slowly swinging back into a really healthy balance. I'm no longer concerned that my new found love of writing is going to disappear. (It's here to stay! I'm not running out of ideas anytime soon. :) I'm also realizing that I really just need to BE with my kids the majority of the time - especially because we are choosing to home-school. This is not a new revelation or rocket-science - but I also know that sometimes we "know" something in our heads before our hearts embrace it, and because of this our actions lag behind what we know is right. That's why we must at once be patient with ourselves while always striving to improve.
So, my point is (I swear I have one!), that for whatever reason this particular quote about Mother Teresa made something CLICK for me, and it is transforming our lives again in the most beautiful way. I want my kids to feel that way about me - to feel like I am giving them my complete, undivided attention and love. That *they* are the most important part of my day - not my facebook newsfeed, not my latest blog post, and not the gazillions of cute pictures OF THEM that I haven't had time to do anything with. I haven't even needed to print this quote out or put it anywhere, it just keeps popping up in my brain reminding me... slow down, breathe, trust, listen, smile, love... LIVE.
I want to share some of the "building blocks" that I feel are essential to building a healthy, loving, and fun relationship with a child. These are some things that have worked really well for me.
1) Spend time with them. Quantity is just as important as quality. Of course when you are with them, really *be* with them too, but in order to really build a strong relationship you need to put the time in. In the case of small children this time may be spent with other adults that they are comfortable with present (ie their parents). You do NOT need exclusive time alone with them to build a relationship, in fact, the best way may be slowly and with others around. Don't wait for everyone else to leave. Also be open to spending time with the child on their terms, when it is good for them. Children have a lot less life experience than you do and are learning new things every day. They are sometimes tired, overstimulated, hungry, or just out of sorts and if you try to push your time agenda (ie when it's "good" or convenient for you), you may lose out.
2) Follow their lead. Watch the shows they like with them. Discuss afterwards. Color with them. Help them with their projects, but let them tell you how you can help. Listen. If they don't feel ready to do something but want you to do it instead - DO IT, don't pressure them to "do it themselves". Avoid correcting them but answer their questions directly if they ask (no "look it up!" needed). Read a book together. Bake. Play hide and seek or a board game. Watch them: do the monkey bars, swim, do silly tricks or make funny faces. Get excited about their new accomplishments and skills.
3) Don't take things personally. If they say no to an idea or an activity that's ok. If they are feeling shy don't push them to interact with you but keep trying and stay available so when they are ready, you are there. If they're having a hard time and say things that hurt your feelings try to remember that they are the child and you are the adult. Be honest with them but also own your own emotions and reactions. Apologize if necessary and accept their ways of apologizing.
4) Have fun! Kids are so good at playing... well, really they are great at plain old LIVING, and they have so much to share with us. It is so worthwhile to foster relationships with them and is beneficial both for you and the child, now and in the future.
How do you build relationships with children in your life? Did I miss anything you consider crucial that you would like to add? Or do you disagree with some of my "building blocks"?
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.