This thought has been in my mind for a while. And the longer it sits the more I know it is true:
My choices about how to parent my kids are more about me than they will ever be about them.
This may sound wrong. It may come off as selfish. But it is the truth.
How many times have we heard how "resilient" kids are? How they can adapt to so many different situations, environments, and people? How about people that like to say, "well I was parented in x, y, or z manner, and *I* turned out 'fine'!"
How important is it that we really think about this parenting stuff? I mean why stress about it too much if they are probably going to more or less turn out ok - regardless of my specific parenting philosophy?
There is some merit in this line of thinking - it is good to keep perspective. When I was a teacher and things were getting heavy, I had to remind myself not to take myself too seriously. I wasn't responsible for saving the world or single-handedly turning my students' lives around. There are so many factors that contribute to life.
So the bottom line is that we do our best. That's it. This is how I came to the conclusion that my parenting is really all about me. What kind of person *I* am in this moment. What kind of person I aspire to be in my best moments.
Now, when I say "do our best" this is no small thing. Doing our best means dedicating ourselves to always improving ourselves. To being the best example we can be. To finding ways to be present and loving every day. To improving our communication skills with our loved ones. To apologizing when we fall short. Because we will fall short. But that is to be expected, because doing our best will never mean that we are perfect. So the question is, what are you going to do when faced with the inevitable? What kind of human being are you going to *choose* to be?
Our focus has to shift. Instead of defining our parenting by what our children are doing, we need to define it by what *we* are doing. When we raise the standards for ourselves, our children will naturally rise with us.
This is how we will change the world together. This is how a new way will be defined. This is how peace will begin to spread from one mama and papa at a time to their children, and then outwards through the world.
This morning I read an article, "Jealousy, Judgment, and Motherhood," and I got all worked up about it, and even got permission from an old friend to write about her, and now here it is 11 pm and I'm having a hard time getting the flow going. I even started once and lost what I had written, which may be a blessing because I didn't really like it. So as I lay in bed helping kid #2 fall asleep, I thought about what I wanted to say, and how I could get my point across in the kindest and most interesting way. And I realized that I really just needed to tell my experience and what I've learned. I don't need to get preachy or philosophical because I believe the message will shine through the story.
My story begins in the 6th grade. Actually it may begin even earlier than that, but I have a really crappy memory, so we'll begin there. I have one very vivid memory from that year. I was in the girl's bathroom washing my hands and one of my teachers was beside me also washing her hands. And she said to me, "Susan, I just know that you are going to be something really wonderful someday, like a Doctor or a Lawyer." That's it. That's all I remember. I don't remember what I said back, but I'm sure I nodded or smiled because I've always been pretty agreeable and polite.
But even then something about it struck me wrong. And I remembered it for many years.
Fade out. Fade in to middle school study hall with my best friend since kindergarten. We're giggling and passing notes. The main topic of said notes are, "I want a boyfriend SO. BAD!"
Cut to my Senior year of college. I'm crying on my bed and my boyfriend (Mike!) is trying to comfort me. I'm so confused and anxious because even though I'm am closing in on graduating I still don't know what I want to "do". I cry to him, "I just want to get married and have kids!" He reassures me that it will be ok and things will work out, but I know he thinks I'm a little bit crazy. (haha)
In college I started out as a math major but quickly switched to Brain and Cognitive Science when I couldn't get all "A's" in my math courses. I was an intern for a researcher at the hospital one semester, and also in a couple of labs on campus. I considered research and going on the medical school. But none of that felt right.
I was so incredibly lucky my senior year to have an amazing Professor who encouraged me. I told him how "everyone" thought that since I was "smart" I should be a "doctor" or something like that. This wonderful man advised me to follow my heart and told me that we need "smart people in all professions". So after school I pursued my teaching degree. (I have to also give major props to my mom here. She has always supported me in whatever I decided to do. And deep down she really just wanted me to get married and have kids too. ha.)
Teaching was an incredible learning experience for me. But I'm forever indebted to my daughter for coming along and giving me a reason to leave - almost entirely guilt-free. I was good at teaching and my students and I had great relationships, but it was not "my (final) calling".
After Marisol was born, I just looked at her and thought, "All I have to do for a long time is take care of you!" I felt an incredible sense of freedom. I couldn't believe how lucky I was.
And so began the most life-changing, life-affirming journey of my life. It's still going, and I imagine it will until my time here is up.
But this is not the end of my story. Since Marisol was born a little over 6 1/2 years ago I have learned a lot. There has only been one stretch of time, from the time Gerry was born until he was about 9 months old, where I was not "working" in some form even though I would classify myself as a full-time stay-at-home-mom. When Marisol was just 6 weeks old I started babysitting a little girl. Why? Because Mike had big plans to go to business school, and I wanted to build up my reputation as a good caregiver so I could nanny while he was in school. I think I knew before Marisol was born that I was not going back to the classroom, but once she was here I was sure. I wanted to be with her for as long as possible.
And it worked! When we moved to Washington DC I found an amazing family whose little boy was almost exactly the same age as Marisol. And they lived about one mile from where we lived. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect work situation.
They quickly became like family to me as I adjusted to living in a new city and being away from my own family for the first time. The mom, Ida (pronounced: "Ee-da"), and I were (and are!) about as different as you can imagine. Ida is a Doctor and went back to work soon after the births of both her boys. What was amazing to me that year, as I helped take care of her son, was how well she handled working and being a mother. She never showed insecurity or jealousy about my relationship with Nils. She never agonized over whether she should be working or not. And when she came home she was joyful to see him and jumped right in to playing with him. I still remember them laughing together.
Ida and I talked a little bit about this modern "motherhood/work" phenomenon, and how so many women struggled with it. It seemed that we were in the minority of women who really embraced our choices. Even though Ida and I were very different in our parenting and lifestyle choices, we had a great relationship. I have always admired how she embraced her life and her choices instead of constantly second-guessing herself or letting feelings of doubt or guilt into her life.
And my own journey was still barely beginning. I continued to care for two other children through Mike's second year of school and while I was pregnant. After Gerry was born I was happy to "just" be home with the kids for a while.
In the spring of 2010 I tried tutoring for a company called "Tutored-by-a- Teacher" but never really got too into it. Then that summer I decided to look into becoming a childbirth educator and that is when Hypnobabies came into the picture. Since becoming certified and starting to teach I really feel like I've hit my stride. Not just as a "mom" or as a "teacher" but really as a human being.
That's my story, my history... So what do *I* think is the main take-away from all of this?
1) There is no such thing as "just" a "teacher," or "mother," or "housewife," or any other job, vocation, or calling.
2) Sometimes we know what we really want (as I clearly did from the time I was a young girl) but our inner voices are completely drowned out by the messages that we are receiving outside of us.
3) Women (and men!) need to get clear on what they want. And not just what they want, but how they want to feel.
Talking about wanting to "have it all" is just a catch phrase that we've adopted since having more choices available to us. But the truth is NO ONE can have it ALL. Luckily for us it isn't necessary to have it all to live happy, fulfilled lives.
We are fortunate to live in a time when many women have more choices than their grandmothers could even dream about. But more choice is also confusing and even paralyzing sometimes - heck, I can't even pick out what toothpaste I want at the grocery store these days. It's not surprising that figuring out what you want your life to look like, when the possibilities are even longer than aisle 15, and the choices much harder than baking soda or fluoride, has more than one woman awake at night worrying over whether they're making the right choices.
It's a wonderful time, but it's also a little chaotic and messy - like we are reorganizing our whole house in one day.
I am so grateful that I was able to process and clear my confusion up at relatively young ages. I hope more women are able to work through their own so they can stop feeling judged, judgmental, and jealous. Then they will be free to feel supported and supportive, loved and loving. In this way, maybe our daughters and granddaughters will have even more freedom and less confusion than we have today.
I do know that it has to begin with loving yourself. It sounds so cheesy, but I cannot begin to tell you how transformative this truth has been for me this year. Love yourself and be kind to yourself whatever it is you choose. When you do this you will be able to offer more to everyone else in your life. Stop telling yourself that your life is so hard. And if it feels that way, start taking steps to make it feel less so. Stop letting others decide for you what's important to do. Decide how you want to feel, identify things that make you feel that way, then start doing them.
Make your life awesome. You only get this one and you're the only one who can do it.
That's a lotta "Ps"! I love it! (I know, I'm a dork - but I've learned to embrace my dorkiness, I can't help it if I love alliteration!)
I've been thinking about perfection and the pressure to be perfect (more "Ps"!) a lot the past few years. It's one reason I love Mayim Bialik's book so much (the one I'm giving away this week!) - she does not paint a picture of perfection (haha, I'm not even doing it on Purpose anymore!) in her life or family, in fact she admits that they are anything BUT perfect.
I stumbled across a post this week about how photographs posted online can give others the impression that a person is leading an idyllic or "perfect" life. If we were being rational we would know that of course NO ONE'S life is perfect and everyone struggles sometimes. Just because beautiful pictures are posted publicly, that doesn't mean that there aren't less-than-perfect moments in the person's life.
This is the reason that I posted my "Ultimate Confession" right at the top of my website - I don't want anyone ever thinking that *my* life is perfect or that we never mess up here. I don't want to contribute to competitiveness, guilt, jealousy or other destructive feelings in the world. I was thinking about this last night and then the irony struck me hard - I chose to use beautiful, professional photos at the top of my "confession" page! Ha! What a juxtaposition - my confession of how we are human with real flaws, coupled with the happy, "picture-perfect" moments captured of my family (next to a cornfield at that!) ... wow. Kind of a huge visual/literary oxymoron. But my point in choosing those pictures is that even though our lives don't always look like a professional photo, I do *choose* to focus on the good times and happy moments.
Of course we share the happy, sunny, smiling, moments on Facebook. We put pictures on our blogs of cute kids holding hands or hugging each other tightly. We instagram kids throwing leaves into the air and running freely with wild abandon. I hope that pictures of shiny, wide-eyed children and beautiful walks next to sunset streaked oceans are inspiring to others - I know they are for me.
I have a few pictures of Marisol crying miserably when she was a baby. I don't think I have one of Gerry. Does that mean he cried less? (well... maybe! haha) More likely, it reflects a change in myself as a parent. I don't even think of grabbing the camera when he is in a state like that anymore. My first thought is to comfort, offer my arms and presence - not to pick up the camera!
Remember, what you see online are snapshots. It doesn't mean anyone is "lying" or trying to deceive their audience - it simply means that they are choosing what they present to the world. No one, no family, no life is "perfect". But it is true that some people are happier then others. Why? Because they know that true Peace and Happiness comes from within and is of their own making and choosing - no matter what imperfect circumstances arise in their life.
Synchronicity - after having drafted this blogpost a few days ago I read this post from Glennon over at Momastery. I guess these things are on people's minds.
Also, when I started this post and as I posted my latest give-away I had no idea that Mayim Bialik had filed for divorce. Mike brought it to my attention last night and it I definitely have a lot of feelings and thoughts about that. Mostly compassion for her and her husband and kids as they go through a tough time. Mayim has really put herself and her beliefs about attachment parenting "out there" and now she is under even greater scrutiny - of course people are questioning if their style of parenting contributed to their split.
I will just say that the book is awesome, regardless of her marital status, I promise! Head over to this post and leave me a comment if you want to enter the drawing!
I began the week with a heavy weight sitting in my chest. Like a dense, flat stone wrapped in achy despair, I could physically feel Depression getting comfortable inside of me, making breathing difficult, much less any other activity. You know the feeling - when you have zero motivation or desire to DO anything, and the voice in your head (the critic, censor, gremlin - whatever you call it) gets louder and harsher every minute - especially because you didn't *do* anything all day (more accurately, you feel like you didn't do anything even if you did a lot). "You are a terrible mother", "Every choice you've ever made is questionable..." and let's not forget, "What's your problem - your life is amazing and you have nothing to complain about!" and on and on and on...
What triggered this emotional despair? Why did I have this unwelcome guest living inside of me?
The house felt small, confining... and very messy. Of course I had my period (again?? really? didn't I just have it last month?!) - so maybe it was hormones? My parents visited the prior week - a very, very fun day, but also too, too short - was it the normal sadness I almost always feel after seeing them? Of course the house was a disaster. The weather was cool and gray, so maybe it was a seasonal thing. Or was it the less than supportive exchange between me and my husband the other night? The sadness I felt soon amplified by my own thoughts, even after he apologized. And - did I mention my house was (I mean is! it's kind of it's normal state) a MESS?!
But I decided it mattered little why I was feeling this way. And being no stranger to the feeling, I took matters in to my own hands the best I could. Monday night I was slouched low on the couch surrounded by chaos, toys littering the floor, and no dinner to be found when Mike got home from work (this is often the case when he gets home, it was only my *internal* environment that had changed). I could not think of one thing that I wanted to do even though I knew there were plenty of things I "should" do. I looked up at him and said, "I'm going on a jog." He didn't argue, only asked, "Can we come too?" And so we all went on a family jog/bike ride, bike trailer and sneakers ready to go in a few minutes.
I don't know why I was so inspired (as exercise is still not even a weekly habit yet, much less a daily one), only that I was thinking of the runner's high I've gotten before and how amazing that feels. And I thought afterwards I will be motivated to do other things. And it was just as I expected! After that short jog and some fresh air I returned home re-energized and ready to tackle the dishes in the sink.
Depression wasn't quite ready to give up so quickly though, and Tuesday morning the dull, heavy ache returned, as did the dark thoughts of how my life could be better if only this or that were true. (Oh and did I mention that my dear son stayed up till after 1 am the "night" before?) Again that evening we laced up our sneakers and temporarily I shook the big "D" off my trail. That night I reflected on the last time he wasn't so easily shaken and stayed for several months. I remembered how I finally got him to take a long hike - it was a good conversation with my husband. I made a mental "note-to-self".
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday brought beautiful fall weather, time with good friends, and a new, inspiring book. I'm feeling like I may have evicted Depression from his comfortable bed in my chest so I distilled my experience from this week into a list: 10 Things to Do When Depression Tries to Settle in For a Stay:
Take Care of Your Basic Needs:
1) Move! Exercise is always important, but never so much as when you are feeling down. The natural feel-good hormones released and rush of adrenaline you get are enough to expel bad feelings for at least a little while. Lethargy is "no more", and you often have enough pep afterwards to tackle a few other things you didn't even want to look at before. And even if you don't want to do "other things" you can feel good, because, hey - you exercised!
2) Rest - This is really important if you haven't had enough sleep. Make time to rest. Of course this does NOT mean lie around on the couch watching soaps or in bed under the covers all day. It means if you are drained to take care of yourself and not run yourself further into the ground.
3) Eat well - take the time to prepare healthy foods for yourself even when you don't feel like it. The act of cooking alone helped make me feel more accomplished this week.
Beyond the Basics
4) Don't think - This is especially true if you are tired - and often sleep evades us when we are depressed. Tired thinking is NEVER helpful (and I NEVER use the word NEVER!) Our thoughts often become cyclical and more negative with time when we are down so we spiral farther and farther down into sadness. Best to just recognize we are tired, sad, or whatever else and that now is NOT THE TIME TO BE THINKING!
5) Breathe, Meditate and Mantras - this is especially helpful if you are having a difficult time with numbers 2 or 4. Deep breathing is very relaxing for our whole selves. Meditating is a powerful way to rest your mind, body, and spirit and get to a calmer, lighter place. Another way to evade those negative self-defeating thoughts is to have a few handy mantras to repeat with your inhale and exhale - "Breathe in Peace, Breathe out Love", "Rest my mind, calm my heart", and "Be here, Be now" are a few of my current favorites. And of course don't forget Affirmations! If you're having a hard time stopping the flow of thoughts at least you can redirect your mind with some kind, loving thoughts towards yourself.
6) Vent - Let those closest to you know how you are feeling. Get the feelings OUT of you. Of course you don't want to constantly be talking about your woes either, but it doesn't do you good to bottle them up. Find a couple (or in my case a few more than that!) of trusted loved ones who you know will listen and honor you.
7) Connect - similar to number 6 yet different. If you're a parent with young kids - plan a play date with friends that you all love and feel comfortable with. Call your mom or best friend. We are SOCIAL beings and being alone with dark thoughts and feelings only exacerbates loneliness. Of course when we are feeling depressed it is often the hardest time to reach out - and this is why it is imperative that we do.
8) Get out! Get outside or at least out of your house. If the weather is nice go for a walk. If you have kids get to the playground. Fresh air and a change in scene is so crucial to the health of our spirit.
9) Listen to music - For someone who was pretty heavily involved in music in the past I've really gotten away from it since having children. But this past year I've begun to have music be more a part of my daily life again and it is such a powerful mood-booster. I love me some Pandora!
10) Plan a party! I'm not kidding. Tuesday Marisol started planning a party, and all I could think was, "Really?! I do NOT want to plan a party right now." But by Wednesday I had embraced the idea and we are in full on preparations now. There is literally no time for me to wallow because I have to get ready! If not a party, plan something in the near future that you have to work on.
Usually when we are feeling sad, lonely, or depressed we don't "feel" like doing many or any of these things. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves pick one and just go for it. I know for me it made a huge difference to try all of these things this week.
What things do you do to turn things around when you are feeling blue?
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!
"The unexamined life is not worth living"
A Friend's Facebook Status
One Time Long Ago:
Remind me that the next time I put a diaper on (my baby) before sleeping with him in one bed in a hotel room I MUST remember to make sure his penis is inside the diaper.
I don't really have many pet peeves. There just isn't a lot that annoys me - especially little things that people do. I don't feel like it's worth the effort or time to get upset over things like people talking with food in their mouths or forgetting to introduce me to their spouse. But recently I've discovered a chink in my pet peeve armor. I really can't stand it when people say things or do things without thinking about them. Statements like, "well everyone's doing such and such these days," or "That's just how it's done now" are the epitome of unexamined thoughts and actions. And if these statements are made in regards to children then my tail feathers REALLY get ruffled. *Thinking* is essential when we are making decisions regarding our children. Not reacting or doing what our neighbor does or what our own mother did with us. Examining our intentions, our hopes, our children's needs and connecting with our own internal compass to guide our decisions is one way to mindful choices.
Perfection is not the point. Of course none of us are perfect. The point is being aware and actively try to make choices from a place of love and awareness.
This to me is one of the great aspects of choosing to parent without punishments or rewards. It forces you to be creative, brainstorm, and come up with new ways of doing things. You are more likely to have discussions and problem solve when you are in the mode of being your child's partner.
The same friend who posted the humorous status above has had to be creative recently with her older son and his bathroom/sleep needs. Last summer after he turned 5 he started having accidents in his bed at night. He had been fully potty trained and dry through the nights for quite some time. So now, before going to bed herself, my friend carries her son to the bathroom (he's usually been asleep for a few hours by this time) and has him pee. She then guides him back to bed - he actually walks himself and never fully wakes up! I asked her if she was nervous the first time she tried this and she said yes. I mean, no one wants to wake up their sleeping child! But it works for them, and I love her for creatively and lovingly meeting his need.
My own son Gerry has been fully potty trained during the day since he was 2 1/2 - I remember because the exact day that marked his 2 1/2 year birthday he did his first successful outing without diapers. Nighttime is still a work in progress - he is probably dry 90% or more of the time. But the kid does not want to put a diaper on! No way, no how - he is DONE.
D - U -N
So for the last several months we usually put a diaper - disposable or cloth - on him after he fell asleep (unless we were feeling daring and just decided to risk it!) Usually it was no big deal - especially if I did it right after he fell asleep and he was in a deep sleep. Sometimes it was a pain when he stayed up late and I was exhausted. Pulling his shorts down was always a bit risky as as "wake up" factor. Luckily he easily goes back to sleep by nursing. And it was worth leaving his dignity intact.
Our newest solution is to put a cloth diaper right over his shorts (see photo above). It's working well! Since we started doing that consistently he's been dry every morning! Go figure.
My point in sharing these two stories (both about sleep and potty) is that there are often solutions to situations that are not immediately obvious or the "norm". By being creative and flexible we are modeling not only those attributes, but also showing our children that we are ready to support them the best we can. No, we are not perfect and do not have all the answers but we are their partners. Also we can try things and see if they work - if they don't, try something else! Fear often stops us from even trying. Fear of what others think, fear of being "weird", or just plain fear of waking your sleeping child!
I'd love to hear some times when you've been able to "Think Outside the Diaper" - whether you are a parent or not! Creative problem solving feels GOOD - share some of your brilliant moments! You may inspire someone else...
And I'll leave you with some more Wubbzy Wisdom, my Happy and Deep Mascot ;-)
By The Book
Lyrics: Bob Boyle / Music: b. Mossman
It's good to do things the proper way
But if it goes wrong that's okay
If it's not right, don't be uptight
It doesn't have to be by the book
By the book...By the book
It doesn't have to be by the book
If you're out to have some fun but you find there is no sun
It's okay, enjoy the day
Even if it's not by the book
If you want to play a game but the pieces aren't the same
There's a way for you to play
Even if it's not be by the book
By the book...By the book
It doesn't have to be by the book
If the recipe calls for Doodleberry Jam...Doodleberry Jam!
But all you have is Polka-Dot Ham...Polka-Dot Ham!
It's not a waste
Enjoy the taste
Cuz it doesn't have to be by the book
When you're building something cool but you don't have the right tool
It is fine to re-design
It doesn't have to be by the book
If you have a fancy hat but you find it's rather flat
Don't be blue, try something new
It doesn't have to be by the book
By the book...By the book
It doesn't have to be by the book
It's good to do things the proper way
But if it goes wrong that's okay
If it's not right, don't be uptight
It doesn't have to be by the book
I hurt someone I love with one of my "out-there" ideas. It wasn't my own writing but an article titled, Your Child does NOT Thrive on Routine, that I posted on Facebook. The first time I read this article it resonated strongly with me on a personal level. But when one of my favorite people and best friends shared her sadness in reaction to the piece, it made take another look.
How did I miss that this article had the potential to offend? Recently I read an article titled, "Babies Are Needy—Does That Bug You? Maybe get a dog instead of a baby." This article is also very blunt in its presentation, yet its core message resonated with me. After reading a lot of the comments I saw how many people were hurt by it and decided not to share. (If you're really curious I can send you the link.) Presentation does matter. Mayim Bialik's new book, "Beyond the Sling" advocates similar parenting choices BUT with a totally different tone. Tone matters. Words have power.
Part of the reason I didn't think much of posting this article is that it seems to be about a somewhat benign topic: "Routine." Compared to other controversial parenting topics like breastfeeding, vaccinations, co-sleeping, spanking, and homeschooling, it seemed pretty safe. But "Routines" (aka schedules) are as accepted and entrenched in our culture as anything else, and in this case was code for school (or daycare for the younger child). Also the use of the the words "Your Child" make it very personal, giving it more power. This is why I try to be very careful with the words that I choose. For example I write here about MY TRUTH, and what works for me and my family. I wonder though, would the author's point have been as powerful without the strong language? Which style is more likely to actually make an impact and be heard: powerful but possibly offensive, or a more subtle, hopefully compassionate approach with less "oomph"? I'm finding that as I try to share my truth without hurting/offending/judging, it can be difficult to do since my reality is so different from most people I know.
But let me backtrack for a minute. Let me explain why I liked the article to begin with. I've recently been thinking about my kids and how we've for the most part never really had a "schedule". There have been times when we got into a certain flow that seemed to stick for a while, but routines or schedules have never really worked for us. I used to think that it was Marisol who broke me into this kind of a lifestyle. But lately I've been delving more into *me* and I've realized that *I* am the one who is just not very "routine". I just didn't really know it since I had always had routines and schedules my whole life - until my kids joined me. It was the classical case of mistaking correlation (the arrival of Marisol and my lack of schedule) for causation. Now, I'm not saying that Marisol is prone to an orderly day (or night!) either. I'm just noting that I am as much the cause as she is. I also agree with the author's assessment of children thriving on predictability and familiarity, that these two things lower stress, and that routines, schedules and school are not the best ways to achieve these things.
Let me go on a little "school tangent". I realize now that I've been "hiding" behind some words when I talk to people about homeschooling my kids. I say, "I loved school! It was great for me. I'm not homeschooling because I have something against school, I just see a better way for us." Now, these words are true. I'm not lying when I say them. But they are a buffer of sorts - it puts the people I'm talking to at ease. But another truth is that the more I inspect and reflect on my own experience as student AND teacher, the more I see wrong with school.
I will begin by critiquing myself. Because that's what I like to do (ok, well I'm trying to get away from that, but for now to make this point I will. And it's about my past self, not my present self). One very strong memory I have of school - and this was high-school - was of my teachers (and mom's friends - my mom was my math teacher in the 9th and 12th grade) ooohing and ahhhing over my report cards. Teachers LOVE those 99.99% GPAs. And my reaction? "Well, isn't that the GOAL?" To get 100%, I mean.
I am ashamed to admit that is what I thought. In my defense, it wasn't completely my fault - I mean that is what we are taught - to get the right answers and the high grades. But it ignores so many other factors - like different learning styles, and kids that are really smart (ALL OF THEM!) but don't care about grades (I have so much respect for those types now!), and people that just aren't interested in what x + y equals, or what day the Battle of Gettysburg took place. Not to mention not everyone can memorize hundreds of unrelated facts and regurgitate them on command. As for me, "school-smarts" and "know-it-alled-ness" run in my family - thankfully so to kindness and the ability to think critically (aka change our minds!)
So yes, school was good to me. Or I should say, school and I were a good fit. I was lucky. I excelled in many areas and had great friends. But now I see things quite differently. In particular the competition. Even back then, I never liked it. I hated when my classmates celebrated when they "beat me" on an exam. I was embarrassed by teachers who made sarcastic remarks about me in front of the whole class. I ignored my body to come to school when I was really sick so I wouldn't "let my team down" by missing a game (how well could I have played??) I both suffered from and participated in middle school cruelty. These are just a few of the experiences that immediately come to mind.
The truth is, the school environment is tough for many kids and there are negative aspects for everyone. School does NOT foster critical thinking, creativity, individuality, cooperation, flexibility, questioning, pursuing passions, or success for all. (There may be exceptions, but for most I believe this is true. I'm speaking as a teacher now too.) These are things that I value. All of this is part of the benign and what most think of as beneficial "routine" of being part of school. It may seem like I've made quite a leap here, but this is where my mind went yesterday.
Back to my friend. My reaction to my friend's sadness was very emotional. I felt sad too. The feelings manifested in my body - a hard ache in my heart, eyes stinging, a sick pit in my stomach. I wanted to be able to vomit all the words running through my mind into this post in one big purge. I want my friend to see my heart and know my intention.
Besides the emotions my thoughts ran wild. Everything rushed in and around my head and every idea was connected to that moment. Every idea I've ever had seemed to relate. It was close to impossible to untangle it all and make sense of it.
So, am I really ready to share my truth? I thought I was. Also, this is what I wanted right? To make people think and question?
I reminded myself of some things. First, I am really starting to accept deeply that we each own our emotions. No-one makes someone else mad, or angry, or sad. We are in control of ourselves.
Second, I reminded myself of the "Purple spots". I've heard this now from two different sources, Tara Wagner and Louise Hay. If someone came up to you on the street and told you that you had purple spots all over you and you had better get to the emergency room quickly, what would you do or say? How would you respond and react internally? (Assume you just left your house and gave yourself a once-over in the mirror - you *know* there are no purple spots!) Chances are good that you would not get angry or upset. You might even be more than a little concerned for the other person (Helloooo, someone's had some purple kool-aid!)
How does this apply to every day situations? Well, if you notice that you are bothered by something that someone has said to you, then that means on some level you believe what they are saying. I would only freak out about purple spots if I really thought they were there! An example: your husband tells you to get off your lazy butt to get something for one of your kids. You get really pissed off. Why are you mad? If it's not true, there is nothing to get upset about, and if it is true then you can simply make your decision accordingly (although that really wasn't a nice way for your husband to talk to you - you probably need to work on your communication!) Seriously, I've seen how this works for me. When I'm feeling good about myself and life I don't take things personally. When I do get upset, it is time to look internally.
How this applies to me personally is that many of the choices we've made in our family (nursing an almost 3 year old, homeschooling, co-sleeping, our use of media, to name a few) are judged very harshly. I know; I read the comments (even though I know I shouldn't!) But I cannot take them to heart or feel saddened by them because I know what they are saying about me (my choices) is not true. Usually there are very, VERY big misunderstandings at the heart of the hurtful comments.
Let me be clear: I am not saying that we should not be aware of how our words and actions affect others. What I am saying is that if something bothers you that is your cue to look inwards (this seems to be a recurring theme!)
I am not so naive to believe that it is possible for everyone to home-school or stay home with their small children. But I *do* believe that many more people could make different choices if they wanted to. Maybe not the BIG one - like quitting your job today. But smaller ones. And as smaller choices are made, different paths become easier and more attainable. Feeling like you have no choice is an illusion. I also am very aware that it was relatively easy for me to jump onto this unconventional path. The choices we made early in our "parenting path" and even leading up to having children made it easier for us than it is for many. I am so lucky to have an extremely supportive, intuitive partner. Somehow we are evolving together with seemingly little effort (also not typical!) For us finding our way has been a natural progression - for others who want to break away from our cultural routines, it may look more like an abrupt break.
I believe choices are best made with eyes wide open and with knowledge of alternatives. I believe this is where defensiveness often rises up in us. If we acknowledge there are options then we are left with the (often) uncomfortable truth that what we have been choosing may not be the only or best way. In the case of school - sure maybe school (routines) work for some children and families, but does it for most? And is it the best way? If parents can honestly answer, yes - their child/ren is/are thriving and happy and healthy, then the judgment that routines aren't good for them is irrelevant.
This is part of listening, really LISTENING to yourself and your loved ones, including your kids. When your kids complain about not wanting to go to school (or dance class!) how do you respond? "Oh, you love it - once you're there I can't get you to leave," or "All your friends are in school," or "Sometimes we have to do things we don't want to," or "Do you think I want to go to work everyday?"
Naomi Aldort once said something to the extent that children are capable of adjusting and even appearing happy in almost any circumstance. She asserts that indeed children are wise to make the best of whatever their situation is. Children are the Kings and Queens of "Being" - they only know how to live in the moment. This is why they may appear to "get over" what they told you they were unhappy about. They know they don't hold the power in their lives, so they let go. We could learn a lot from children.
Finally I want to address the "judgmentalness" of the original article. This also seems to be a topic I continually grapple with. Here is what I have decided:
I AM JUDGMENTAL.
Can I finally just own this? Or every time I notice it do I take note and then actively choose something else? Is it possible to make life-choices so mindfully and differently and NOT be judgmental? If it is, then it definitely is going to take a lot of practice for me.
Luckily, I don't believe I come off as judgmental because I am also loving, kind, and generous. And slowly I am learning to keep my mouth shut. I constantly remind myself of what I truly believe, "We are all doing the best we can with the tools and knowledge we have." I can also connect to the feelings of others, even when I do not agree with their methods. Frustration, stress, anger, impatience - these I can relate to and have compassion for. No one wants to feel that way.
I've seen a lot of examples this week of parents really losing it with their kids. Usually it is about behavior that just seems pretty normal. To me the parents look like the jerks, not the kids. But I feel bad for both of them. I admit I'm still not sure what to do in these situations and usually don't do much at all. I'm hoping to get better at offering loving support in scenarios like those.
For now I'm trying to be a living example of the ideals I hold dear. I see it in the little things - a friend who was uptight about her kids wearing their shoes in the park last summer has decided this year to let them roam free and barefoot (my kids and I are such bad influences!) And I'm reminded by the big things, namely death, that our daily choices do matter because they are what ultimately make up our life. I'm learning to bare it all here where it is relatively safe and non-confrontational and I still have my coping mechanisms for "real life" - Like, don't read the comments, don't look directly at people when I'm uncertain of their reactions, or saying, "I loved school!"
Someday when I'm really confident maybe I'll just look right in the eyes of another mama and smile.
Every week I have ideas of what I want to write about, but usually at the last minute I end up changing my plan because something going on in Life actually sparks a new direction. Balance has been on my mind a lot lately. A post titled "Balance" has patiently waited for months in my drafts folder. In fact not a day goes by that I don't think about this word. What does it mean? What does it look like and how does it feel?
There is no formula for perfect balance. Balance will look different for every person and it changes with time too. This makes sense to me intrinsically. Individuals need varying amounts of sleep, different types of foods to thrive on, and are stimulated by a unique pursuits. Yet we seem to think that there is a magic number of hours or a specific percentage of our time to spend on various aspects of our life that will lead to this magical state called, "Balance". And then we judge and compare ourselves to others when we perceive what we think is an "imbalance". I am certain that what is a good balance for me would not be a good balance for many people.
What is it exactly that we are trying to balance in our lives? Here are a few simplistic dichotomies that jump to my mind:
Work and Play
Work and Family
Activity and Rest
(and one especially near and dear to my heart...)
Thinking and Being
For all of my fellow homeschooling parents, there is the balance between home-tending (got this from my friend Shan and love it so much more than house work!), supporting our childrens' learning (however we decide to do that) and of course we can't forget, self-care. So I guess that is a "trichotomy".
I'm currently reading Deepak Chopra's book "Perfect Health" which is based largely on the ancient Indian system of healing called Ayurveda. It is fascinating. In Ayurveda there are three doshas inside each person - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - and the amount of each one in a person makes up their "body-type". (This is a very simplistic explanation of it and I'm still just learning about it). But what is really interesting to me is the idea that for each person there is an ideal level of these 3 doshas, and that it is different for each person. When one or more of them rises or falls from the optimal level it manifests in our bodies - often in illness. I'm sure we've all noticed that during times of stress, lack of sleep, or poor diet, in other words poor balance, we are more prone to getting sick.
Speaking of illness, there is a nasty cold/virus making it's way through my family right now. Currently I have a sore throat and just really low energy. Yet, it is one o'clock in the morning and I am working on this post. Balanced? Most people would probably say, "No way!" (I can hear Mike yelling at me right now - Go to bed!) But I dozed on the couch for about an hour earlier and these ideas are buzzing in my head. I know myself, and I know that sleep wasn't happening right away. So here I am writing.
Speaking of writing - I suddenly seem to have this intense desire (need?) to write every day. (My sister thinks this is weird. I have to agree. But what can I say, it's there and I'm going with it!) Anyway, one of my challenges right now is figuring out my balance point - for myself and my family. I really want to write, but my top priority is to be present with my kids during the day. Difficult to do when you keep having these awesome ideas for blog-posts! So I usually write late at night, or right when I wake up, or sometimes even the middle of the night if I can't sleep. I also write little notes and snippets down when I can (journals and scrap paper are now easily accessible).
Speaking of my kids - how do they learn about balance? Many parents think that they have to control things for their children because they haven't developed the capacity to make decisions about "balance" on their own. Unschooling has led me in a totally different direction. As much as I can, I support them in finding their own balance. This means with food, television, computer games, going outside, social activities, reading, sleeping... really anything you can think of. This can be difficult for many parents who are attached to the idea that children couldn't possibly know what is best for them. I see my children prove this idea wrong every day. Just the other day Marisol said, "I have to listen to my body so I'm going to stop eating this cupcake now. My tummy's starting to hurt." Later she asked for more "healthy food" and chose a ham sandwich. Marisol can watch TV when she wants and every day she is itching to get outside and play with her friends. Was it always this way? Nope. When she was 3 1/2 she didn't want to get outside or see other people hardly at all. (She was also adjusting to big sisterhood). Her balance was different that winter. It was challenging for me when I got serious cabin fever, but I pushed myself and I'm glad I did. We both learned a lot about ourselves and trusting each other through that experience.
Allowing our children to learn about their own balance does not mean that they will always make the "right" choice, or the choice you would make (you know, the one you want them to make). (Side-note: Do you always make the "right" choice?) Sometimes we have to experience extremes to find out what is really right for us. I know sometimes I just need to sit around, because I'm tired or uninspired, or whatever the reason may be, until the urge just builds up in me and I can't to it anymore - I just *have* to get sh*t done! I firmly believe that allowing our children to figure out what is right for them when they are young helps them develop and believe in their own decision making abilities as they grow older. Yes, I give them input and my *opinion*, but really there is very little in life that is black and white, cut and dry. Marisol recently asked me if sugar is bad for her. Lately I have "heard" vague "whisperings" through the internet that there is "scientific evidence" that sugar is a "toxin" to our bodies (By that I mean, I've seen some headlines, but have not read deeply or paid it much attention.) So I proceeded carefully when I answered her question, not wanting to allow fear to color our conversation. I told her that some people think it isn't good for you. But that what I think is most important, is to listen to her body. She concluded that a little bit of sugar probably is ok for her. I'm sure that her relationship and understanding of food will continue to grow and evolve as she does. I feel very strongly about letting her make her own choices and learning through her own experience. I also know that I will be by her side supporting her in the best way I can. It's not always easy but I believe the benefits outweigh any fears I still have. Gerry is already pushing me out of my comfort zone even farther - that kid LOVES his sweets! I feel better by making sure he also gets fruit (strawberries and apples are a favorite now) and a carrot every day. I know that they are learning about their own limits and developing their own internal sense of what's good for them instead of relying on me to tell them what is right.
And besides all that, I just look at human nature. If someone tells *me* what to do or what I *should* be doing I immediately dig in and don't want to do it! Why would I want that dynamic in my relationship with my children? For instance, I can't stand it when Mike "nags" me to do something. I rarely get up and do something cheerfully if I feel like he's asking in a not-so-nice manner. But as I'm making my own choices to get things done, I feel his nagging fading (also I think my response is changing, but that's another topic). And I am feeling good about what I am doing. From his point of view, the "nagging" may have worked. But I know differently. I know that I am *choosing* to do things that make me feel good and to please him too.
Personally, besides writing I'm also learning what is a good balance for me and my family in regards to teaching. I'm so happy that I found something that I really love in Teaching Hypnobabies, but I also am constantly evaluating if it's the best fit, not just for me, but my kids and husband. Right now I don't feel perfectly balanced. I'm so hyped up about a lot of things (teaching, writing, and just life in general), that I'm feeling a little lop-sided. I'm also a little sick and that is my body's way of saying, "slow down!" Also as a mom to young children I can't always take care of my own needs immediately, in the optimal way. Sometimes I have to suck it up and take care of them. But I'm learning small ways to get my own needs met at the same time. Just this week we had an amazing day, followed with two very low key days at home. Instead of looking it as a "high" followed by a "low" I know that they are just different kinds of days. We are all sick and need some down time.
I guess that sums it up for me - listening to our bodies, minds, and spirits the best we can. It's about being mindful and checking in with yourself. All of the important things in life require practice and dedication (ie inspiration and positive thinking). At first it might seem like a lot of work, but it is worth it. I am consistently asking myself now, "what do I want to do with this moment right now?" One time I am especially aware of my choices are when Gerry naps. I can do the dishes (or other home tending), I can get on the computer, I can take that time to connect with Marisol, or I can rest myself (usually while cuddling with Marisol). But I know whichever I choose I have thought about what is best in that moment - for me and my loved ones. I am not just rushing to the first thing that jumps in my line of vision and then wondering later why I didn't choose something else. Will we always make the "right" choice? Probably not - but we can get better at it. And we can always get back on course.
Stop letting others or what you "think others think" dictate what you choose. If you are tired the house can wait. A clean house with an exhausted mama is not balanced (in my opinion!) Don't worry about what others say about how much time you spend with your children - listen to the people that matter - yourself and your children. If you are working so hard that you cannot enjoy any other aspects of your life, examine why you are doing that. Is it serving you? No one except *you* can tell you what is *your* perfect balance. And your balance will change - that's why you need to be in tune to yourself. Your needs for exercise, for nourishing food, for stillness, for connection, for stimulation are your guiding posts. Of course, we have to balance our needs with our loved ones' needs too, which is where things get trickier. But we try. We listen to each other with love and problem solve when our needs seem to clash. I loved this status from a friend on Facebook, "Balance is taking care of what matters MOST at the time it matters most!" This especially rings true to me for mothers of young children. Sometimes when you have a sick child there just isn't anything else that's going to get done except caring for that baby. And that is the perfect balance for that moment.
I lay in bed tonight at 10:30 - Gerry went to bed "early". I thought, "I'm just going to go to bed in my clothes (at least they were linen pants) without brushing my teeth or anything." It felt so good. I thought of this post on "balance", and it seemed fitting. My body is tired. But habit and my bladder weren't listening and the need to release (my thoughts!) won out. My kids - if they are tired you can't convince them to brush their teeth or anything else. It's just time to sleep. Things are simpler for them. I hope that maybe they can stay that way.
Anyways here I am working almost till midnight like a kid in school with a paper due. And I love it! I feel good and I know tomorrow even if I'm tired I will be more present with my kids. Sometimes I am better at being still when I'm tired. Guess that's part of my balance.
Two more things and then I really must retire. During Lent I was randomly opening the Bible some mornings to read. A few days after I wrote in my journal about balance I opened up to Proverbs 11, which state, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but an accurate weigh is his delight." (it also went on to say "whoever belittles another lacks sense, but an intelligent person remains silent" guess we better not knock other people's sense of balance!) Powers bigger than me continue to speak to me. I try to listen.
And finally, check out this sticky note that has been posted on my computer's desktop for months now:
I don't think I could say it any better than that. So thank you, whoever I saved that from.
What are your thoughts on balance? What are things you do to help you achieve your optimum balance? Have there been times in your life where you felt either particularly balanced or unbalanced?
Today I started to feel overwhelmed by all the "things" I want to get "done". We are heading up to Rochester for Thanksgiving and we are all very excited about the trip and being with our family. Between preparations for the trip and then Christmas coming soon after that I start to feel like my head is going to spin off. I get stressed and grumpy and can be unpleasant to be around (which happens every year and is ironic because I love this time of year)! So I took a deep breath and reminded myself what's really important. Maybe I won't remember everything that I want to for our road-trip, but it will be fine. And a thought entered my head that really helped, "Time is an illusion". Really all there is, is right now and what we choose to do with it. We feel like we don't have "enough" time, but there is no such thing! If something is important to us we will get it done, it just might not be right this instant. When I can remember this I feel much calmer and can decide what I need or want to do in this exact moment. It's not something I've always been good at - there have been so many times that I felt like I was running around trying to get 50 things done at one time and making little progress on any of them. But I'm getting better at it. It helps make me a better mom, wife, and person.
It's what all those cheesy sayings about living in the present are about. But they are *true*. We really *don't* know what tomorrow is going to bring so we need to make the most of every moment we have here and with our loved ones.
I've found letting go of this illusion of "not having enough time" is very freeing and empowering. It helps clear my mind and make better decisions, even if that decision is to lie down on the couch and cuddle with my daughter while she watches a show. Because sometimes that is what we both need at that moment, even when the to-do lost is a mile long.
The second illusion, which I can't do justice to in this brief post, is control. I've been thinking about this for years now - especially in regards to parenting and all relationships. Really and truly there is very little, almost *nothing*, we can control - except ourselves. Our thoughts, our reactions, our behaviors - you get the idea. I know it's kind of obvious, and I'm finding that a lot of my thoughts seem kind of like, "duh!" lately. However, even though they are simple they are not always easy to live out, which can cause unecessary unhappiness and conflict.
I love Tara Wagner, aka The Organic Sister. Check out her website here: The Organic Sister. I joined her Organic Tribe and have been loving the calls twice a month. On our last call she talked about what she calls the Algebra of Life. It was basically the same thing - we can only control ourselves and what we put in. And *that* will determine what we get out of it.
Reminds me of another one of my favorite quotes: "Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how
you respond to it." Lou Holtz
So as we enter this holiday season, which can be fun, overwhelming, busy, stressful, inspiring, tiring, exhilarating, exhausting, depressing, uplifting, and many other things... I am going to try and remember that time and control are illusions. When holiday cards, shopping, cooking or cleaning threaten to cloud my brain into a stupor I will try to take a deep breath and be present.
I'm also checking out this free gift from a fellow Hypnobabies instructor. Janet Field is a hypnotherapist and she created these hypnosis tracks to help people have a calm, peaceful holiday season. Sounds wonderful to me!
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
Part of my hesitation in sharing my family's choices is that I do NOT desire to hurt others in any way. Especially my closest family and friends. But because many of our choices fly right in the face on "conventional wisdom", there is often a very natural defensive response in others. This includes my own parents. My mother is one of the most supportive, loving people I know and actually was the first to suggest to me that I should think about homeschooling. My initial response when she said that was, "What?? That's crazy, we are a FAMILY of public school teachers... school was good enough for me... I believe in public education..." etc. etc. Kind of ironic and funny to look back on now. My mom and I talk EVERY day. Really, it is rare that we miss a day. She has loved and supported me, my husband, and our children through our journey that has included unconventional decisions regarding sleep, food, TV watching, going outside, having playdates and many other things. Even when she has doubts, even when she saw me exhausted and discouraged, and her grandchildren making choices she wasn't sure of, she was always a safe place for me to explore new ideas, express myself, and talk through challenges. Even though she was the one to initially to voice the idea of homeschooling, when I began to explore the idea of Unschooling, it was new to her. My dad definitely does not agree with me on all parenting issues (discipline and homeschooling come to mind) but he continues to love and support us fiercely. I know that it can be difficult for them sometimes to see choices we are making and not feel like it is a direct judgement of choices they made for my sister and I as they parented us.
This is true for anyone facing a new idea or way of doing things. BUT we also have choices about how we react. Will we take a new idea as an attack on ourselves? Will we dismiss the new idea without really exloring it? Or can we look at the idea, really look, without taking offense and fighting back. Then after examination we are free to choose - choose what makes sense or might work for us. Free to strengthen our own convictions or do more research. Free to ask questions or share our own experiences from a place of love.
It's not easy. I know because *I* am defensive and feel the need to defend *my* choices. So I'm trying to move beyond that and hope to have people join me in walking on that journey.
I get daily inspiration here. This particular post explains a little why things have become simpler and easier for me. I have found "how I want to be" - the big ideas or principles that I hope guide my family daily are Peace and Learning. In my opinion these are best attained through partnership. So that is my starting point. Not every person's or family's starting point will be the same as mine/ours. But I hope that by sharing a different perspective more people can begin to clarify for themselves what is truly important in their lives. That is my intention - to share - not judge, to inspire - not disparage. Hopefully I will be successful at least some of the time and get better at it too!
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.