In Hypnobabies our students learn to create and use a "Bubble of Peace" (BOP), to let only positive words, ideas, thoughts, and feelings in about birth - and to keep the negative away.
One (of many) things that I adore about teaching Hypnobabies is that most of what I teach applies to everyday life - not just pregnancy and birth. After last week's madness in Boston, we could all use our Bubbles of Peace reinforced.
My bubble is pretty big and beautiful. Unschooling creates another large, strong bubble around me and my family. Peaceful parenting adds another iridescent layer. Sometimes our bubbles get little pinholes (or large gashes) in them though and they start to deflate and let more rubbish in. Last night I read some really disturbing things that animals do to each other. Then right before bed I read some stories of humans doing unimaginable, hurtful things to one another (who am I kidding - we are animals too, we just like to put ourselves in a different category.) I thought about linking these stories here, but I don't want to spread those ugly vibes this morning when so many people are still reeling.
Somehow I went to sleep last night - I attribute it to "Peace breathing" (yep, more Hypnobabies' awesomeness), deep breaths with some mantras to still my mind, and, oh yeah, it was really late by the time my kiddos fell asleep so I was tired! But this morning Marisol sat up in bed and said she had a bad dream, and the first thing I thought of were those sad stories. And I wondered if I had given off bad energy that affected her. I literally woke up feeling sick to my stomach. So I worked (again) on shifting my thoughts to the positive.
I know some people think that living in a "bubble" is unrealistic or even wrong. I disagree. Because choosing to focus on the good in the world doesn't mean that we are denying the bad. We already know that bad things happen. But focusing on sad, horrible, awful events does not make us or the world better. And more importantly the good IS REAL too! I've written before about whether Hypnobabies is realistic - and I think that this same message applies to life in general. We will not make the world a more beautiful, loving, peaceful place by dwelling on things that are not. It's up to us to choose differently. Because you know what? The majority of the "bad things" that happen are created BY US. Yes, there are the inexplicable accidents and illnesses, but most of our suffering is self-made. So please, reinforce your bubbles today! See the good so you can be the good.
The mug I had my coffee in this morning - an active reminder, "Life is Good!" Also reminds me of the amazing friend who gave it to me. And the band-aid reminds me of my sweet daughter. I woke up NEEDING to write this morning. Now the only things I plan on doing are cleaning and connecting with my family. Sounds like a good Saturday and way to mend my bubble.
I'll end with one of my favorite quotes that is making the rounds lately - spread by hopeful people all over the world:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let the pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
Sending you all so much love and peace today.
My recommendation is that if you have a child you're sure is fantastically superior to other beings, keep quiet about it. She might grow up to be literally or figuratively 5'2", if you're lucky enough that she grows up. Don't be so ecstatic now that you can't help but be disappointed in your children for being the people they are.
I love this passage. And although I love and believe every word of it in regards to our children, I especially like it because it also reminds me to be gentle with myself. That *I* am going to be brilliant sometimes and exhausted others. That *I* am going to be the wisest person I've ever known one day, and the next possibly the most immature. That *I* am going to learn and relearn lessons that I thought I had mastered long ago, and have "aha" moments about the most basic, mundane possible things.
I have a tendency to the "up and down". To be higher than high and then slide down into a valley of... low. Today was a low. I miss my sister who was here for a couple of days. I miss my family. I want my tribe. But focusing on things that aren't here and now do not lend themselves to a happy, present person. So that was my lesson today. Again. And that just because I have some bad moments, that doesn't mean the whole day is lost. There are still plenty more moments to be had (Thanks again to Sandra et. al. for that one!)
And again I am reminded that this path I'm on isn't really "just" about parenting. It's really about me and becoming the person I want to be. As I do that I am also becoming the best possible parent to my children. And I am slowly learning that when I love myself in my lowest of lows, then I am quicker to forgive myself, recover, and move on the next moment.
Life is Lumpy and that's ok.
It seems like whenever I write about sleep or taking care of oneself or how parenting isn't really *that* difficult my kids like to help me put my money where my mouth is. They're cool like that. This past weekend Gerry woke up Saturday and Sunday in the wee hours of the morning (think 2-3 am) and stayed up for several hours. The second time I had stayed up to write and had barely gotten to sleep when he woke up. He didn't go back to sleep until 6:30 am so that night I basically pulled an all-nighter with a couple doses of dozing in there. Believe it or not the past few days weren't that bad though. I've learned a lot about dealing with sleep deprivation the past 6 years!
This post is mostly aimed at parents of babies and young children. A lot of the suggestions are more for stay-at-home moms (or dads), but some may be adaptable or applicable to working parents too.
Without further ado, here are 15 Things To Do When You're Sleep Deprived:
1) Maintain your coffee/caffeine intake at the same level as usual (I try to stick to my normal 1 cup in the morning) This way you will be able to rest when the moments arrive and you will feel better too (I don't like that jittery feeling I get with too much caffeine).
2) Shower and get dressed early. It will make you feel more awake and able to tackle your day. Or stay in your jammies and enjoy the fact that you can. Either way works.
3) Try to get out of the house early - go to a friend's house, the playground, or take a walk. Nothing too ambitious, just something to get you moving. If it's nice outside fresh air is especially helpful. Getting together with friends is an automatic spirit-lifter too.
4) If you don't have enough energy to get out, don't beat yourself up about it. Remind yourself that you need and deserve rest. Call your mom or a friend if you can't see someone in person.
5) If you have small children and are trying to get rest, lie down on the couch with them while they watch a show (or two!) If you cuddle with them they may not even notice your eyes are closed.
6) Listen to a meditation track on earphones while you "rest your eyes" (I have a few on my iPhone). A 15-20 minute meditation often leaves you feeling refreshed, sometimes even better than a long nap!
7) Play Music (I have nothing to add to this one.)
8) Have a nice, hot, cup of tea in the afternoon. My favorite right now is peppermint which is good for your digestion but it also can make you feel more alert.
9) Use of essential oils - I like to breathe in some peppermint for alertness too! If you have a headache some lavender is nice on your temples.
10) Make sure to play with your kids early and often in the day. If they have your focused attention early on, they will be more likely to accept you need some rest later in the day when you need it more.
11) Instead of focusing on how little sleep you got (recounting exactly how many hours, what time you were up and for how long etc.) give yourself positive affirmations that you will get the rest you need.
12) Make sure you go to bed earlier than usual when it's possible. If your kids are actually asleep at a decent hour go to sleep when they do and DON'T STAY UP TO BLOG... er, I mean stay up doing whatever it is *you* do late at night ;-)
13) Make sure you eat well - healthy, real, and immune boosting foods (I'm thinking garlic here... mmm garlic). Homemade chicken soup is good, and if you're lucky like me your husband or someone else who loves you might make you some. But keep food simple - especially for the kids. Leftovers, fresh fruit and veggies, frozen food, and if you are really desperate anything in a box. Again, do not stress about exactly what you are feeding your kids - some days you're just trying to get through the best you can!
14) Slow down as much as you can and release all expectations. Let go of accomplishing housework, cooking, your latest project etc. If your kids are tired too (which often happens) they probably need your presence more. Just be. Play games or watch shows together. Shower or take a bath together. Cook together. Nap together. I think you get the idea.
15) Remember all the times you've made it through tiredness and became rested again.
As I wrote this I was struck by how many overlapped with my list of things to do to lift your mood when you feel depressed. Also this could be a list of things to do when you're sick and you're home with your kids too! A lot of these things are great things to do every day but when I'm tired they are even more important. And the more habitual these things are, the easier they are to do and remember when you really need them!
Do you have any tips you can add to my list? What helps you get through your tiredest days?
The phrase "Me Time" irritates me.
It seems like such a selfish term: "Me Time". In my opinion this mentality pits you against anyone getting in the way of you getting your "Me Time". Usually the people "competing" with your "Me Time" are your closest loved ones - for moms, most often their children.
I'm not suggesting that we don't take care of ourselves. And goodness knows many women and mothers have reputations for putting others' needs ahead of their own far too often. But if I've learned anything as a mother, it is that the more I can be creative, flexible, and kind, the more likely everyone's needs will get met. In my personal experience, "Me Time" mentality makes me rigid - as in: I have this idea in my head about how I'm going to get some time and space to myself and gosh-darn-it, I want my "Me Time" now, and if I don't get it then NONE of us are going to be happy! (hmmm, I wonder where that phrase, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, came from?! Guess we kinda created that doozy ourselves!)
This "Me Time" idea is so common now that everyone knows what it means. To me it is a "band-aid" solution to a deeper problem in our culture. For example when we get "Me Time" we often end up just wanting more. I have two theories about why this happens: 1) We didn't really respect others' needs while trying to get our "Me Time" and so when we are back to "Not-Me-Time" everyone is out of sorts. This leads us to feel like we need to get away... AGAIN. AND NOW! And/Or 2) Because we've put our own needs off for so long waiting for special "Me-Time" when we get it, it isn't nearly enough!
So I propose a new paradigm (I like new paradigms). We need to start cultivating a true, deep, and constant Self-Love for ourselves. When we do this we will start to have better Self-Care. Self-care means taking care of your needs all the time, or at least as soon as you can. It means taking loving care of your body by taking the time to spruce up, feeding yourself nourishing foods, and moving (If this sounds like a fancier version of New Year's resolutions, I promise you it's not. When true Self-Love is nourished, you will start doing these things automatically). Self-care is getting enough rest and slowing down -when you are feeling tired, before you get sick. Self-care is connecting with your loved ones every day in ways that are meaningful to each individual, and thriving on the energy this creates. It means if you need time and space to yourself, you work to create it in ways that respects others' needs for you to be around - because they love you and depend on you for comfort and security.
This may sound the same as what you think of as "Me Time" - but in my experience they are not. They are vastly different philosophies. I know some people are impressed with my ability to go without "Me Time" (are you annoyed with that phrase yet?!) - but it's really not that remarkable and I know others, like me, who spend almost all their time with their kids. I've learned to adapt and meet my needs in ways that don't usually require separation.
And, as my kids get older I am getting more time to myself. It's actually one of my things on my list of 12 - a date with myself (got that from the book The Artist's Way). So please, do take care of yourself. But do it in a way that not only nourishes you, but those around you - it's way more fulfilling and instead of your energy getting quickly zapped to nothing again, you will be revitalized to the point of having your energy overflow. LOVE YOURSELF, it's good for you and everyone around you.
ps If you like or use the phrase "Me Time" I still like you. I just don't like the phrase. :-)
pps I'm not REALLY irritated... because that wouldn't be very ZEN of me, would it? It's more like the phrase causes slight ripples on the smooth as glass water surface of my mind (is anyone else laughing yet?!), and then I look at the ripples with interest and curiosity.
Do you have a story about when you tried to get some "Me Time" and it didn't work out the way you were envisioning? Or how about a time when you were creative about meeting your needs and felt great about how you handled things?
Parenting is hard. It's the most difficult job you'll ever do. Parenting is challenging but rewarding.
The message is everywhere and it is beat into our heads almost constantly. PARENTING IS HARD. Not only that, we reinforce it to one another often.
But what if parenting *isn't* intrinsically difficult, we are just making it so? How many times have you seen a mama cat complain about motherhood - all those kittens suckling! And later she has to teach them to hunt - and they never even say thank you! Or a bird - does she ever complain that the babies are hungry *again*? Why do we as humans seem to believe that we have such a hard gig? Is it because we're smarter or more aware?
I was mulling over this question a few months ago after reading some comments on one of my favorite blogs. Everyone was chiming in with their own stories and feelings about how difficult motherhood is. Some women admitted that they didn't even like babies; others said they couldn't wait until their kids were out of the house.
And it just got my wheels turning. One thing that I've learned from teaching Hypnobabies is how powerful our minds are and that we create what we dwell upon. If the constant refrain in our lives is how difficult things are then we are likely to get a lot more choruses of... hard, Hard, HARD!
I'm not saying that I can't relate to the stories all these mamas share. I can. I know sleepless nights and crying for almost no reason other then exhaustion. I know losing my patience and feeling guilty for it later. I know feeling extreme anxiety as my child gets more upset about something seemingly insignificant. I know feeling uncomfortable as I worry about what others think. I get all that.
But that doesn't mean that these things become my focal point. And it doesn't mean that I accept that this is just the way things are and there is nothing I can do about it. Not at all. I know now that it's possible to shift almost all of those things into a more positive state.
A very common theme in our culture is that the teenage years are often years of rebellion, less connection between children and parents, emotional, and just generally trying. But I've found a small subset in our culture who says that it doesn't have to be that way. (Just like birth doesn't *have to* be an excruciating experience that a woman just has to get through.) Maybe this is true of many accepted ("difficult") aspects of parenting.
Anyways, back to my churning mind. I wondered if all of this "positive thinking" wasn't just a little too much. I mean parenting can be hard, right?! Even I, Sunshine Susie, admit to having difficult days. I wrote to my Tribe and asked them what they thought. I got some amazing, inspiring responses. Here is a line from one of my favorites, "Forging awesome, respectful, nurturing relationships takes time and effort and intention." Yes! There's a perspective shift that resonates with me. Don't we put effort into our adult relationships? Why shouldn't we expect to with our children?
But still not satisfied, I examined the problem from another angle. One of my favorites - The Evolutionary perspective. Did parents of the Hunting and Gathering era get together and grumble around the campfire (did they even have a campfire??)
I went to the most direct source I have, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Old Way, who was kind enough to let me interview her on the phone last spring.
Here is what I wrote to her:
It's amazing to read the comments and just how HARD parenting/mothering is for so many women. And I'm not disagreeing with them exactly - I mean I've had plenty of challenges and less than proud moments with my kids. But overall I just LOVE my life and them so it kind of makes me sad how many mom's are actually saying, "I don't like babies" or "I can't wait till they are out of the house" or any number of other things. And always the refrain, "it's hard, Hard, HARD!"
And here is what this incredible, generous woman wrote back to me:
I think you’re right by saying that the Ju/wasi just took parenting in stride—they wanted children, enjoyed children, and anyway, they didn’t have a choice about having children. Then too, all the people in an encampment looked after children in general—if an adult or an older kid saw a little kid in some kind of trouble that person would help immediately as a matter of course. Also, the Ju/wa kids could self-amuse. They played all the time, the boys playing hunting games or some rather formal games with rules, and the girls making patterns with their footprints or dancing. I don’t think I ever saw a kid wheedling at an adult about anything. Good social behavior was simply expected of children.
And it was so wonderful to hear from her and her perspective. And it definitely affirmed for me many ideas I have about parenting, our modern culture, children, and whether it necessarily needs to be so HARD. You may recall that Elizabeth also told me that children were not punished in the Ju/wa culture.
Some of you may be thinking but she says the children "self-amused - my kid doesn't do that!" This is another area where I think the tribal culture is very difficult to compare to our isolated, modern culture. Yes, they "self-amused" -- with all the other children in the tribe. And with plenty of adults around too. Not the same as expecting a kid to play alone or with one (or even a few) other sibling(s).
Really it's quite ironic. Back in the day when we had to travel miles and miles to dig up roots, then carry back heavy loads (again miles and miles), and hunt animals down - all just to survive - then we weren't complaining about raising our young. Now, we have refrigerators full of food (and a grocery store just down the road), we have dishwashers and washing machines, we have TVs and computers, we have light with the flick of a switch, we have roofs to keep the rain off of us, and heat to warm the chilly nights... but now parenting is so hard. What if the culture we've created is actually really difficult for our children? If we could shift our perspective then our parenting difficulties might diminish greatly, or even disappear.
I'd love to hear thoughts on this from other parents. What feels better - thinking that parenting is terribly difficult, or thinking that we are made to parent and can rise to the challenges, forming beautiful relationships with our kids as we go? The last thing I want to do is make more people feel guilty. This is not about feeling bad for finding parenting difficult. This is about creating a new paradigm (and from that a new culture!) so more of us can see that it doesn't have to be difficult.
My dad likes to say that I have an answer for everything. (We like to have verbal spars. Well, I think we like it anyways.) It's kinda true - I usually *do* have an answer for most anything. One of the recurrent disagreements in my marriage has been that I always have to be right. Well, duh, I mean I *am* always right. ha.
I was thinking about this more tonight as I came off my New Year's high today. I was specifically thinking about how when I'm in an argument with someone (who am I kidding... with my husband) how it's so easy to see my side. I'm not appreciated, or understood, and certainly not heard. I'm sure if I ranted to a close girlfriend she would commiserate and affirm for me that of course I'm RIGHT to be hurt.
But I'm actually I'm pretty good at seeing his side too. Which just makes things more confusing. I can be in the middle of a fight and still think about all he does for me and the kids, and how lucky we are to have him - and that just makes me feel worse. I can even see how he might be feeling or why he is saying or doing the things that are hurting me.
Today I finally realized. We're both right. A while ago a really smart person helped me find a really powerful affirmation. I was stuck on this idea that I had a "need" (core belief) to be right. I thought the "antidote" to cure me of this was the phrase, "I don't have to be right". Instead she told me to try "I am right for me." Whoa. That felt great!
I *am* right for me. Can't argue with that. And I'm sure that *you* are right for *you*. As I struggled the past two days with my feelings I realized that I had very wisely chosen my word for this year. Listen. Each one of us makes choices and does things because they MAKE SENSE to us. They are RIGHT for us. But sometimes what makes sense and feels right to us can hurt someone else - even, or especially, someone we love. So that is why it is so, so, SO important that we become good listeners. And not just to what words another person is saying but what messages they are giving us with their actions, with their body language, with the words they don't say. When we listen with our whole self then we can begin to understand their perspective and see that they are right too.
So it was a great kick-off to 2013. My word is already being tested and lessons being learned. I wouldn't expect any less.
My biggest worries on Friday December 14th were to keep my son awake all day (no naps allowed for little boys who stay up till 11 pm!) - and then to keep him asleep at night. Oh, and also whether I should pack one suitcase or two for Florida.
12/14/2012 - 2 days after "12/12/12" - the world did come to an end for many families.
How do we process a tragedy like this? How do we carry on when something as horrible as this happens? Until 1 pm that afternoon I was contentedly going about my day, trying to pack, feed the kids, and to keep our excitement about our travels and Christmas at an enjoyable rather then a frenetic level.
I talked to my mom for almost an hour and a half earlier that morning. (What did we talk about?? A friend's mother who passed away, unschooling, birth, money, taking risks... what didn't we talk about?) It's another luxury in my life - that I am fortunate enough to have the time and desire to talk with my mom almost every morning - oh yeah, and I'm lucky to have my mom still here with me.
I realized later that night that I was talking to my mom when the shooting occurred.
For me, 12/14/2012 will forever be divided into before knowing and after - between ignorance and awareness. The horror and grief that swept through me as I read the articles. The tears that sprang to my eyes and that I quickly wiped away, before my mature, sensitive 6 year old could see them (mature, but not mature enough for this kind of news). I tried calling my mom back but they weren't home. So I talked for a few minutes to a friend about the senselessness of it.
Then I herded us outside. It was a beautiful day - warm for this time of year, sunny, and blue skies. It was like a huge spiritual oxymoron - the discrepency between my internal and external environment. We ran and played. Gerry cried, he was so tired (and as it turned out, starting to fight off an illness). Marisol played with neighborhood friends. I managed to smile and have fun but the thought of the children and families was always present in the back of my mind.
There is no making sense of what happened. I liked these words that I read today on The Libertarian Homeschooler's Facebook page:
A thought in the midst of the shock.
Some people have such a way with words. And they offer us hope. Because if we don't have hope in times like these, then what do we have? If we allow the despair to overwhelm our souls then what will tomorrow bring?
We all have different ways of processing things and dealing with tragedy and that is ok. Some need a break from Facebook, others want to devour every status update and poignant picture. Some people need time alone while others seek solace in the company of loved ones. Me, I *need* to talk about it. And now write. I like to read different people's thoughts too - people I respect, people who are trying to make the world a better place. And of course tears are cleansing. But considering I'm the same person who was proud if I made it through a week at school without crying in 6th grade, there have been surprisingly few tears. Today, I felt strangely normal, if a little subdued. I could feel guilty about it, but I don't. We cannot "Be the Change" if we are depressed ourselves.
The biggest surge of crying came on unexpectedly as I texted my sister - "I love you". Marisol was not in the room and my guard was down. I know that I am largely holding it together because of and for my kids. And the irony of that strikes me hard and cold - what about the people who have lost their 6 year old - their reason for hope, for carrying on... for keeping it together?
We need to be the light for them for as long as they need it. And I know that I personally cannot be the light if I'm too focused on my desire to know. To know details of what happened and of course any information that may help explain *why*? Because there will never be a satisfactory answer for that question. So we must move on and each do our bit to help heal and better the world.
In our house we get all of our news from the internet - no televised news here. This helps so much - to filter and minimize the amount of sensationalized information, and more importantly, the images that are allowed into our consciouness. Television is powerful and our minds and imaginations are too. But we have a choice in how we use them.
Still, I have not totally been able to resist seeking information. And when I do, my body realizes the full meaning of "heartsick".
Mostly, I've been carrying on by doing what I do every day. Being the best mom I can be. Connecting with my loved ones. Being even more grateful. By appreciating the mundane.
Night time is harder. The kids are asleep and we are left with our thoughts. Last night I could not help but wonder how many people across the country - no, across the world - were thinking about the shooting and the victims and the terror that must have filled them in their last moments. Why does it take something so tragic to unite us?
Yet there are already divisions too. Even I have had thoughts fleet through my mind, like - "Really? They're posting about *that*??" So I remind myself that everyone deals with these things in different ways. Not only that, but I can never presume to know what is going on *inside* of another person.
There are many opinions about why these things keep happening and what we need to do to stop them from happening. Discussions are heated. Some people think it's disrespectful to the grieving to even bring up issues like gun-control or mental health care. I tend to resonate most strongly with people who are focusing on deeper, wider, and more spiritual answers - of spreading Peace right here and now whereever we happen to be.
All of these ideas have the potential to ignite impassioned debate. The most important thing we can all do is to be kind to each other and remember that we all want the same thing - we want these things to stop, we want to be safe, we want to be loved. So we must wrap our passion in love even when our convictions burn bright.
We are in an interesting space in the hours and days following a tragedy of this magnitude. On one hand what truly matters is brought into sharp focus. This
blog, my Christmas craft, the state of my house... none of it really matters.
But at the same time it all *does* matter. Our daily lives, the choices we make
every moment, the words we choose when speaking to others. For me it has only strengthened the truth that there really are No Guarantees and No "Re-dos" - there is only the Present Moment. So I'm using this as an opportunity to recommit myself to make the here and now the best that I can. I hope you will all join me.
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!
Yesterday was one of those days where I was just itching to write. And I did manage to, in fits and bursts. I started a draft here and when I couldn't type I wrote pages in my journal. The thoughts kept coming and coming - each one connected to the last.
Gerry skipped nap so an early bedtime was on the horizon, and I thought, "Great! I'll have time to write!" But sometimes life has other plans. Last night my Great-Uncle Bob passed away. And with that news my desire to write evaporated. I felt the tiredness of another full day and a fullness in my heart. The first time I heard the news Marisol was still awake and it passed through my head quickly, like a bird swooping overhead in the sky, "oh!" I said. I think it was a short-lived stage of shock. But after both kids were asleep I connected with my family through the great connector (the internet) and I felt sad.
Suddenly the words of the day were no longer so important. I remembered one of the nicest men I have ever known. I remembered his huge smile and genuine, strong hugs. I thought of Aunt Helen (his wife, and my grandfather's sister) and his kids and grandkids. There is nothing like death to put everything else in perspective.
So instead of writing I sat close to Mike on the couch while he watched a show. Then slowly the tears started. At first I hid them (a vestigial reaction from my childhood). But before retiring I asked for a hug because, "I'm sad," and the tears flowed freely. I'm letting them flow again freely this morning, as I will have to do my mourning far from my family.
I was not that close with Uncle Bob but he really was one of the nicest, happiest... just most sunniest people I have ever known. From what I can gather his death was relatively quick and unexpected. It seems to make the shock harder and pain sharper. I am thinking of all his closest loved ones today. Death is the elephant in Life's bedroom. It touches us all and unites us and puts everything back into it's proper place.
This is my goodbye to Uncle Bob. He will be remembered fondly by all that knew him and loved always.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.