Humbleness

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.

Bumpy roads

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.

Enduring

Sometimes the path is hard. It feels hard to put one foot in front of the other. The bushes along the path scratch up your arms and legs. You stumble and trip on the rocks on the path. You fall down and cry. You sit in the middle of the path, sobbing.

You also know that you must go on. You know that the path won’t always be so difficult and you must put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, even if you don’t progress for a while because you keep backtracking to see what exactly led you to this hard path. In the end, you’ll get there.

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My planning is done. Everything is tidy. Our first day of school begins today. Grades 1, 4, and 10.

Last night was very hard. Parenting teenagers is not for the faint of heart. My first reaction is to cancel today and feel angry and sad about my plans being derailed. But I know my other children would be so upset to not begin, they are so looking forward to today. And I don’t want to wear the martyr hat. So, I remember I’m the captain of the boat and I put one foot in front of the other and navigate into unknown territory. I let go of expectations and just jump in and see where it goes.

I’m sure tonight I’ll post plenty of pretty pictures that will make some out there feel less-than or jealous that I have it all together. This is why I’m sharing this blog post. I think sharing our struggles, the truth behind the pretty pictures, is a gift to others. We are all human. We all have our struggles and fall down on our face sometimes. It’s easy to pretend it’s all roses with the internet. But the truth is: life is hard sometimes. Parenting is hard sometimes. Mothering can sometimes makes you feel like your heart has been ripped out. We must endure and push forward. Feel it all, give ourselves a hug and keep putting our feet down for the next step. That’s all there is to do.

Our day in pictures

(This isn’t our cat but we saw him on our walk, and he is blind. I had to take a picture of him enjoying the sun.)

Of course, there was much much more to our day. Lots of meals and talking and fighting and crying and dishes and playing and laughing. Life is never dull.

Self care and fridges

Pictures from our day.

I feel like we entered a new level of homemaking today since we purchased a second refrigerator. I got it used for $50 and it’ll live in the garage next to our chest freezer. My teen thinks it’s hilarious and slightly embarrassing to have two fridges, but I assured him that it’s quite common. We will finally have space for all the veggies that we juice and lots of extra fruit! I’m a little too excited about it.

The sleepless baby saga continues as we wait for that tooth. It isn’t too bad, but it does mean I’m much too tired to wake early, before my kids, to do much self-care. Waking up at the same time as my kids, feet hitting the ground when I wake, isn’t my ideal. In fact, my favorite time to wake up is 4:30am. But with a baby now, that isn’t happening and probably won’t for a good year more. So i settle for 5:30 most mornings, and the first child (usually the baby) usually at 6. For me, self-care can be anything that fills my cup. Meditation. Long showers. Cup of tea and a good audio book. A book I enjoy. Journaling. Making things. Just sitting and enjoying the silence.

But I have a lot of patience these days, this being my fourth baby. I look forward to the days when I have more time to myself, but I am also deeply savoring these days of child rearing that slip by so quickly. I know all too well that in a few years, my days of babies will be over. So for now, I’m quite content to just be here, now, and enjoy where I’m at, squishy baby snuggles and little time to myself. It’s all perfect.

Teething

Not much blogging happening as not much sleep is happening. The babe is working on his sixth tooth and this whole cutting teeth thing isn’t a walk in the park for him. I’ve learned that it usually means 2-3 sleepless nights for him (and me).

We’ve had the usual stuff going on. I’m starting to enter full-on planning mode for our 2018-2019 school year. I just finished reading, from cover to cover, the third grade curriculum that we are using. (Waldorf Essentials). Soon I’ll start getting into the nitty gritty of ninth grade planning, too.

As ever, LOTS of babywearing happening these days. Thank goodness for wraps. I don’t know how we’d get through without them. I have so many pictures of babywearing but I still struggle with my feelings of posting pictures of my kids on the internet.

Growing

This week has been full of ups and downs. I took the kids camping alone with some homeschooling friends. It was their first time really camping. Between being on-call for births for 9 years and then being pregnant and having a small baby/toddler, camping just never happened for our family. But, the kids loved it and we’ll be going again very soon. I’m taking them camping for four nights to fiddle camp in a few weeks, and then we’ll be taking a family camping trip in August sometime. (We need a pet sitter, though, so if you are local to me and know someone , let me know!)

The camping was good.

It was the recovery that was hard. Of course, we had the usual mess to put away, laundry to clean, and sleep to catch up on, but it was the meltdowns that were trying. I assumed that my oldest, I., would not have any issues once we got home since he seemed just fine during our trip. How wrong I was…

It may have been the break in his usual rhythm, or the lack of sleep, or something else. I don’t know. Within about an hour of being home, he totally lost it at his brother and then spent the rest of the evening angry at everything and lashing out at everyone.

I spent a good part of the night crying. I know my own thoughts are what cause me the most anguish. Thinking about how he’s 12, and we are still dealing with his lack of control of his words; worrying that it’ll never get better; feeling like I can’t take him anywhere since the meltdown just isn’t worth it; even wondering in what ways have I screwed up so that my 12 year old can’t handle life.

But. But, I have to lift my head out of the vat of those kinds of thoughts. It took a while, though.

When I went to say goodnight and talk about everything, he said something that triggered me all over again. I went to sleep devastated to have heard him say that he can’t change, that this is just how he is.

Thankfully, when I woke the next morning, my head was clearer and I realized something important. He said that because he doesn’t believe he can change, not because he doesn’t want to change. Such a simple shift in how I saw his statement, but it really helped me to have perspective.

Perspective to realize that my job is to hold the space for him, and never waiver from affirming to him that he can change and it will happen. When I told him later that morning that I know he can change, he sadly said, “You think so?”

I know I have to believe in him enough to not give up on him.

This is hard at times. I have three children whom I love desperately. When one is attacking another, even with words, it takes every bit of commitment and effort from me to not lose it at the offender. Because, he’s also still my baby. I can remember holding him when he was seconds old. The desire to protect the other children is so strong, though. And I must protect them. But not at the expense of the offending child. Because I know all too well that when he’s acting like that, it’s because he feels bad inside, and the meaner he is to his siblings, the worse about himself he feels. The last thing he needs is me to tell him (or convey to him without saying it directly) is that he is bad. That is throwing gasoline on a fire.

I don’t always succeed. I’m human. I have my moments, or days, even, when I miss the mark. But this is where self-compassion comes in. And forgiveness. Forgiveness for myself and towards him. That’s where I’m at today. Remembering that in the end, all there is is love and I can return to a place of love anytime. Letting go of thoughts of the past (what he’s done) or worries of the future (what if he never changes?) is the most loving thing I can do.

Be here now. That’s all.

Random Thoughts Saturday

-Incredible thunderstorms today. This kind of weather makes me feel charged. My chickens thought the world was ending, however.

-I haven’t had kid-free time in weeks. And when my husband took them out today for an hour, I felt this panic, like I must enjoy each second as the clock ticks away. I dream of having 5 or 6 hours free. Once my youngest is a few years older, I am going to have to take myself on a once a year weekend retreat…ALONE. No talking. No urgency of things to do. Just silence.

PSA: using styrofoam as mulch isn’t a good idea. Someone did this at our house who knows how many years ago, and I’m constantly battling styrofoam. And of course, the chickens are obsessed with it. I think I got practically all of it finally out yesterday. It only took 2 hours of digging (and I’ve spent hours working on it in the last few months).

-After spending the afternoon digging up sheets of styrofoam, I then found myself driving a baby crow out to a wildlife animal rescue center. I didn’t find the bird myself, someone else did and it was brought to me. That center rocks, they are amazing. That is my third time I’ve has to give them an animal, all birds.

-Some days, I feel like I’m balancing on the boundary of  sanity and losing it with the incessant talking that happens in my house. My children are incredible and smart and have so many wonderful things to say and ask such interesting questions, but there is a breaking point of how much talking one person (okay, maybe just ME) can handle. Wow! I know others can relate.

-This week, we re-homed two of our chickens. They went to I.’s farm/outdoor school and I know they’ll be happy there. Our yard feels so much emptier without them, but I know it’s for the best. Nine chickens were too much for our yard, it couldn’t handle the damage of nine. I think seven will be just perfect.

-Does anyone else feel like we are in a Twilight zone episode? Things are so strange and crazy and nothing seems surprising anymore, politically.

-I turned 35 this year and I’m blown away by the things I’m still learning about myself. I mean, you figure you know yourself pretty well by the time you are 25 or 30, right? At least I did. But, this year especially, I am realizing that I’m just now starting to get to know myself and my place in this world around me. That’s likely a lifetime revelation. I feel simulatanously overwhelmed and excited by what lies before me. So much unknowns that haven’t been written yet.

Slowing down

It’s been ages since our kids have been sick. Easily a year or two, aside from a minor sniffly nose here and there. But the two younger ones are still down for the count right now with some virus. Nothing too horrible, just a sore throat, runny nose and aching ears.  I had a moment of freak out (worry) in the middle of the night the first night H. was sick. But once I turned the light on and got out my Dr. Mendelsohn book, I calmed myself back into sanity. That book has saved me countless times from unnecessary worry, doctor visits and antibiotics. Truly a treasure.

But, wow, am I wiped out. Three nights of restless children. It has totally slowed down our pace these last few days, which is a good thing.

Thankfully H. only had one night of not being able to sleep. Since then, he’s feeling better and is now just tired and sleeping. He hasn’t napped for 5 years, but he’s taking hours long naps daily right now. P. wants to sleep a lot, too, but the difference is that she wants me with her, in bed, nursing. So, that means I’m stuck in bed most of the day with her. I’m getting plenty of reading done, and napping myself. And enjoying listening to the awesome rain storm outside. Pouring rain is my favorite!

But the kink in my neck? Ouch. Hours and hours of side-lying nursing. It feels reminiscent of having a newborn. I managed to get outside this evening to clean the chicken coop while she was sleeping, but half way through she woke up, screaming and inconsolable, only wanting me back in bed.

So I lay here, enjoying the silence.

 

 

Homeschool week 10

Monday was busy. Always is. We have a few short hours in the morning to do a slew of chores, breakfast and cleanup, and then get a short bit of homeschool work in for I. He heads off by 11:30 for the rest of the day to his Naturalist class at farm school and we don’t see him again until nearly 6pm. So, as usual, this week our Monday morning was busy. Except that I. woke in a cranky mood and was just upset about everything. So, he spent his morning upset and angry, and we just didn’t get homeschool work in. The struggle to push it didn’t seem worth it that morning.

Tuesday found us up in Portland for dentist appointments for H. and P.  P. had a filling done, and it was done without any anesthesia or gas or anything. She did amazing and just laid there. H. did great, as well. We had lunch out, then headed back home. The day felt spent by then, so I decided it would be a good day to go get hair cuts for the boys. A projected wait of 12 minutes turned into an hour and we were all ready to be home already!

Wednesday and Thursday we got to stay home, and it was glorious. I spent most of Wednesday catching up from being out of the house the day before. I. did lots of math, and practiced his flute, and finished up reading Little Men. I got our March circle time going for H. and P., and that was fun. I love learning the new songs together.

Today, I. is gone all day, from early morning until past dinner time, to farm school again, as he is every Friday. I had planned a quiet day at home, full of preschool and kindergarten activities (circle time, painting, baking) but H. was up almost the entire night, unable to sleep due to a little cold. He’s better today, though mostly just sleeping, since he hardly slept last night. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to stay up almost the entire night, and I am feeling a tad nostalgic about the nights of attending home births, and coming home and having to be on all day, in spite of the exhaustion.  I don’t drink coffee anymore, so I mostly just lean into the tiredness and let it be, and get done what needs to be done.  Feeding P. Making green juice and smoothie. Cleaning dishes. Chopping wood for our hungry wood stove. Sweeping the ever-dirty floor. Making lunch. Doing our daily two loads of laundry.  I can’t quite wrap my head around dinner yet, but it’ll get it figured out.

I was lucky enough to see Dr. Wayne Dyer when he came to Portland last year, just months before he passed away.  And, his voice, quoting the Tao Te Ching, echoes in my head almost daily whenever I feel overwhelmed: “I do nothing, and yet I leave nothing undone.” This is my mantra, and it gives me strength to move forward.