One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from being a parent is using my willpower to walk the path of humbleness.
Being humble doesn’t come easy to me. It hurts to have to look at yourself honestly and admit you’ve been making things worse. This self reflection doesn’t come from a place of judgement or being self-critical. It isn’t about feeling guilty, although that is a very easy place to get stuck for me. Maybe this doesn’t come easy to me because I don’t like feeling incapable or inept. I know I don’t like feeling like I’ve caused emotional damage. It’s much easier to not look in the mirror and just keep doing what you’ve been doing.
But easier isn’t always the right path. Sometimes we must use our will power to ignore our ego and turn the light on so we can properly look in the mirror.
I’ve been struggling so much with my older two children. There has been a lot of conflict between them and some between me and them as well. Self-reflection isn’t something I enjoy doing, but the fact is if I want to help us move past this, it is a necessity. No, I’m not responsible for their choices , words or actions. But, I’m responsible for my words and actions and I cannot deny that how I act affects not only the situation, but the whole family. In fact, the only person I can control is me.
So I’m doing what doesn’t come natural to me, and what hurts to do, and that is self-reflection and being humble and willing to learn and change my own approach.
I’ve had this book in my stack of to-read books for a while and just haven’t gotten to it. If I’m honest, I will admit that I’ve been putting off reading it because I knew it would make me have to face mistakes I’ve been making, and that’s uncomfortable. I’d rather avoid that. But the time has come to face that feeling and be humble and willing to be open to growing.
One practice that gets me through these uncomfortable growing pains is self-compassion. Being kind to myself and talking to myself the way I’d talk to a friend in my shoes. It is what helped to pull me out of some very dark times in parenting a number of years ago.
Parenting never is dull. There are always opportunities to know ourselves more and grow.
While we tend to take off most of December, we are so busy with crafting, baking, shopping, and other Christmas related activities, that it doesn’t feel like downtime.
Now that Christmas is past, I feel this sudden space to breath in and assess where we are and where I want to head for the new year.
I started by going to the library on my own this afternoon to work on planning for the rest of the school year. I have already finished my first and fourth grade planning for the year, but I still had high school to work on. We are supposed to start back Monday and I had nothing written in for our daily plans! I know which blocks we are doing but I needed to work out the detailed planning.
I was putting off high school planning because I’ve been really unsure of where we are headed with high school.
The last two months have been very hard with my tenth grader as he was in a play that was consuming most of his time and headspace. We also were using Udemy courses for the first few months, which felt like a break for me, but I don’t think it was the best choice for him. He likes more interaction with learning.
So, now that we are coming out at the tail end of 2019, I am feeling more clear on where to go. We are doing a month of chemistry in January, which is something he loves. That will be a good way to ease back into things. I’m also going to start getting more serious about writing up his transcripts now that I have a book on the topic (Setting the Record Straight).
We were down one child today, as my teen was out of town at a concert. It was still very much a Monday, though. Here is our day in pictures. I’ll be writing a follow up post, that’s more reflective.
Copy and verse memorizing work.
Fourth grader knitting. He’s making a sweater for his little brother.
Painting from a Norse story with my fourth grader. He wanted to use paper that would fit in his main lesson book.
Painting with my first grader. I accidentally grabbed the wrong red and we leaned first hand why we need the circle colors. 😂 Carmine red doesn’t quite mix the same way with yellow. You can see my prop painting above, with a lovely golden color for the goose. But we made it work.
I had to snap a picture of my toddler. He always wants to paint with us, but what a mess still! This photo was after he’d dumped the tiny bit of rinse water I’d given him. But the pleasure is in the process and I know it’s good for him to experience painting.
Some pictures from today and yesterday. The rain has come, thankfully! I love this time of year.
The tenth grader’s work for the week. He’s working at his own pace, which he seems to really like. He is feels more in charge of his time this way. He only comes to me for help with his math, as needed.
The first grader was writing a summary today. (I erased the first pay to help her keep track of where she was in copying it down into her main lesson book).
The fourth grader and I had another painting lesson to go along with the story of Sif’s golden hair. Mine is on the left, his is on the right.
His summary from yesterday combined with a grammar lesson (underlining).
He’s also learning cross-stitch, making a beanbag.
Yesterday we started out our day at home, like usual, but things didn’t go as planned. Against my better judgement, my teen had been out late three nights in a row, which meant he was exhausted. This led to an atypical morning and I accepted that he likely wouldn’t be getting any school work done before we had to run off to play practice at 11:30. When the time came to leave, I’d finished my first grader’s work but not yet main lesson for my fourth grader. I saw it was a gorgeous sunny day, so we packed up our things and took to the park.
We are in the middle of a Norse mythology block. Yesterday we discussed Loki’s story and painted from it.
This morning I managed to quietly get out of bed before the toddler and had the house to myself while I did a quick tabata. I took the trash out to the curb and got to see the full moon and the sunrise.
When I woke at 4 am this morning, I woke with a sudden word in my head: control. This is the problem for my teen. He feels like I’m trying to control him. We’ve been having huge struggles with him lately. I mean, to keep it in context, I know it isn’t that bad. He still wakes up every morning and comes to me for a hug; he’s not drinking or doing drugs; he’s not sneaking out at night, etc. But we’ve been having big struggles with finding balance between freedom and responsibility. He’s such a different person that I am, that I find it leads me to loose my patience with him and fall into old habits of exerting control, which in turn just make him buck more wildly.
So, back to this word that came to me. I realized suddenly that I need to stop trying to exert my force on him, because when he feels like he isn’t in control of his own life, it just makes things worse.
Parenting pushes and stretches me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I know people think I have it all together but I mess up so often. I suppose that’s all we can do. Mess up, dust off, make amends and go forward.