I Asked For This

Motherhood is F.U.N.!

Welcome To My World of Science! August 18, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 5:24 pm

Each child you raise is sorta like a science experiment!

With the first one you think you know everything and can’t do anything wrong, no matter what all the know it alls say!

The second one you realize maybe you didn’t do everything right and try to tweak things as you go, doing a little bit more research than the last time…

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A Kitchen Homecoming July 9, 2014

Filed under: Memories from my childhood — Beth @ 10:15 am

This morning I awoke to my daughter and husband chatting in the kitchen downstairs. This is not an unusual sound for 6 am in our house. There are some mornings in which she sets her alarm clock to ensure she gets those few precious moments with dad at the start of the day. We are at a place now where helping her to understand what “first thing in the morning” means sending her back to her bed 5 times, some mornings starting at 4 am! So far we have gotten it to the point that she can get up, go to the bathroom and then go back to bed. Leaving her door open is code for “Daddy, I am awake and would like to be with you before you leave”.

It got me thinking of all the adults in my life, of how they shaped me. Of how, WHO I am now, as an adult is all because of the little things, the precious moments, the words that “stuck”.

I headed down the stairs to the kitchen in a zombie like state, intent upon finding the bottom of a cup of hot coffee. I said good morning to my daughter, a simple thing to do, but only newly a routine. It is actually quite startling what kind of difference the words “good morning, how are you? did you sleep well” make. Especially in combination with a quick hug. But that is another story.

I have said it many times before that the value of “a village” when raising kids should never be underestimated. As I pulled up a chair for my daughter to assist me in getting the crock pot set up I remembered many of those moments. Like a scrapbook, flipping pages in my mind of all the important people and some of those formative moments. I thought of my parents, my grandparents, the parents of my friends.

The first person to flicker through my “memory book” was my mother. Images of sitting on the counter while my mother cooked. I think I started “assisting” in the kitchen by about age 5. I don’t remember my mother ever telling me to get out of the kitchen, she would definitely tell me warnings of “hot” or “danger” or “pay attention”. Even so, I always felt welcomed there. I still feel very comfortable in the kitchen. She taught me the importance of tradition, of passing traditions and recipes down from generation to generation. Associating my mother with the kitchen brings to mind the licking beaters while baking, the stirring of pots, the pressing of ground beef into perfectly shaped burgers. Thoughts of my mother have me remembering perfect platters with little red tomatoes and sprigs of parsley. Those were days in which I viewed my mother with adoring eyes. She was beautiful, she was amazing, she was everything important. The singer of songs, the player of loud folk music, the dancer with the broom who would take my hand and teach me love.

Thinking of my mother lead directly to thinking of her mother. I remember living in her house for a while as a child and while I don’t have a lot of memories of her cooking. I have this vision of her sitting on her stool in the kitchen nook. She is gazing out the kitchen window, not really seeing what is on the other side. She is eating her breakfast, a kaiser bun with real butter and preserves. She performed this ritual every day of her life for all I know, but what does this silhouette represent in terms of the moments that formed my life? I imagine that what I saw was a woman taking a moment for herself. A moment to align her thoughts. A moment to eat what she liked for the pure pleasure of it. A moment to enjoy the soft light of morning upon her face. A moment that was tranquil and nourishing in body, mind and spirit. A moment that was hers alone. I know now that there were probably a lot of opportunities for me to be in the kitchen with her but I don’t remember ever taking advantage of those opportunities. As a child I was a very nervous energy, I didn’t follow directions well and I almost fluttered constantly. My Oma had this zen energy about her with a layer of strict backbone hidden just below the surface. I think that I was a little afraid of that hidden back bone. Worried that I would do things wrong, that she wouldn’t be happy with me if I did things wrong. I know now that my perception was a little askew, that she would have taught me and helped me to practice if I didn’t do things well. These memories are very important to me for many reasons, one of those reasons is that remembering the child I was opens my eyes to the child my daughter is.

Let me get back to the kitchen though. My mother and my Oma taught me all about traditional cooking. Passed down recipes from generations before. They taught me the importance of caring for your family. How to start, grow, maintain and preserve the rewards of a garden. The importance of whole foods, the soul benefits of cooking for yourself, the health benefits of starting from scratch.

There is another side of this coin though. Another hand to this animal. My mother and her mother built the foundation of skills that would just grow from there. The next person in my memory book is my father.

One of the most important things he ever taught me was to work with what I have. How to toss a meal together when you didn’t start with a plan. How recipes are not set in stone and are more of a suggestion than anything else. When we moved to Alberta it became a necessity that all family members participate and contribute. I am sure this was a huge fight between my parents and us kids but it was very important to our growth. I remember things my father would say over and over again. Getting hung up on not having the right ingredients would result in his response of “so what! Get it in a pot!” and when I didn’t know how to do something he’d say “well, you wont learn any younger” and if I was worried that what I had wouldn’t taste good together he’d come back at me with “if it doesn’t taste good, we’ll let you know!”. There were some days when we had to eat something that tasted really horrible, but we learned from it.

The next person in my kitchen memory book would have to be my Grandma. Now there was a cook! She not only cooked as a career, but also for the pleasure of it. She would buy cook books to read! As in, sit down and read the book from cover to cover. She could whip up supper, a pie for dessert, muffins for breakfast and cookies to fill the jar all at once, with one oven. You would sit down to breakfast and smell something delectable baking. Sit down to lunch and smell the beginnings of supper. She would read a recipe and write notes along the edge of the page about which spices were wrong and which ones should be used instead. The woman knew the ins and outs of the kitchen. To be fair I have to say that the amount of time I spent with her in all of my life would fit within a month. But it is all about the little moments. From her teaching me how to fry an egg, and dubbing my preference “flipped over and stomped on”, to her standing beside the mixing machine with my 2.5 year old making cookies. I suspect she was the person my father learned to cook from, as I would also hear her say “oh well, we started here but we ended there” or “we don’t have that spice so lets use this one” or “I don’t like that so lets use this instead”. The idea of a recipe being a mere suggestion, that food combinations were a fluid concept and that it doesn’t hurt to try were all reinforced in her kitchen. She taught me that I could make 8 batches of cookie dough, bake a tray of each and freeze the rest for a rainy day. She brought me back to the warmth of the kitchen, to the love inspired, created and shared in the kitchen.

When it was just my husband and I I used to cook all the time. I loved cooking, seeing what kinds of tastes my newly formed family would enjoy. I dreamed of all the cooking I would do as time went by. Dreamed of the recipes I would create and the changes I would make to to the time tested ones. Once our kids came along that all flew out the window. It turned into “what will the children eat?” rather than “put it in a pot and see where it goes”. It became cooking for myself and suffering through the “eews”, “yuckies” and “disgustings” since my hubby worked away during the week.

Several things have happened in our lives recently that have allowed me to reconnect with the kitchen. The first was the loss of my Grandmother. With that came the rushing forth of all the moments I ever had with her. It also provided me with her cook books, some of them hand written note books detailing her favorite recipes and possible alterations. The next change was the coming home of my husband and the growing up (a little bit) of my children. Now that the kids are a little older they understand that they can think something is disgusting, but that if they don’t force their way through it then they will wake up hungry in the middle of the night. I can teach them that food is nourishment, that meal time is time together, that cooking can act like a healing balm on the soul. I no longer have to cook for one, but for a whole family! Also, his coming home allows me to go back to basics due to the drop in the food budget. It allows me to make something one night, throw the left overs in a pot and add to them the next night. To buy and make from scratch instead of buying all the processed foods. It allows me to teach the kids the value of the garden and how to preserve what they grow.

I can now let my kitchen say “welcome home”. I can enjoy it once again, with my children. And maybe, just maybe, create some moments for my children to remember.

 

VERY Opinionated Blog Attack! July 26, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 2:45 pm

I have written this blog because I frequently read the blog of a woman who is the mother of a 2-year-old and an infant, she is also a teacher by trade. I understand and respect that she has the right to write what ever she wishes and there is no requirement for me to read what she writes. That said, I am a little bit concerned about the things she writes because many of my friends and acquaintances read her blog, talk to her for advice, and encourage her to continue writing about her struggles so that they don’t feel alone in their own struggles. Some of them feel that if she, who is educated in child development, struggles, then what will they be up against. I have also heard a few mothers talking about how her child has negatively impacted their children, and how this bloggers behavior has impacted themselves and their view of the association in which they are all united. This blog is not expressing their opinions, it is expressing my own.

She often writes things like:

“The toddler tantrums, the throwing of things, the hitting, the biting…I know it’s all part of (my child) learning and testing his boundaries…some days, nothing works. It sure doesn’t help that (my child) is not really talking yet. Truthfully, I think that a lot of his “bad behaviour” is due to his inability to communicate effectively verbally yet. I am holding onto hope that when he does start talking that these outbursts will die down. But until then, I just have to deal with it. And really, it isn’t “bad behaviour.” I don’t want to call it that. To me, bad behaviour denotes acts that are done with the intention of doing wrong. Toddlers don’t really know the difference between right and wrong yet. They are still learning.And that means that they will make mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. It also takes time. Sometimes more time than you want.”

This quote frustrates me because she seems to feel that the only way to communicate is verbally. She writes that his frustration is because he can’t talk, that might be part of it, but I suspect it is also to do with mom not slowing herself down enough to “listen” to what he is saying and helping him with prompts. She justifies tantrums, throwing, hitting and biting as acceptable behavior because he cannot speak her language. I am not saying her child is “bad” but these behaviors are definitely inappropriate in any situation. Toddlers don’t always understand that their behavior is inappropriate and they will make mistakes. It is our job as parents to teach our children at a very young age (before 1 year) to understand “no” and other words like “gentle”, “nice” and “stop”. If your child is hitting another child, biting another child, throwing objects or screaming on the floor of the grocery store, it is your responsibility as their parent to address it. They do understand “no, not nice” and “stop” when you kneel down to their level and say it firmly. It does take time, ONE time, and consistency in the parents behavior to be pre-emptive in diffusing situations before they occur. Is there a magical age the child will cross in which it will all just click and he will turn into a perfectly behaved angel? Some age in which everything you say makes perfect sense to them? I feel that is a pretty high expectation.

She writes: “Occasionally when we are out, (my child) will have a toddler tantrum or do one of the other multiple frustrating things that toddlers do (this is more likely if I have neglected to bring enough snacks!). Some people will look at him and I can tell they wonder about my parenting skills. I just breathe when I see this and remind myself that they clearly have no idea. Either their child hasn’t hit this stage yet, they only have one child, or they are (very) rare parents who were blessed with an “easy” toddler. They’ll see. Eventually, they will see. Whether it be in the next little while when their child hits that same stage, or when their child is a teenager and hits a different stage. They’ll see.”

This frustrates me because it sounds like the only way to control her child is with food “be good and I will reward you with treats”. Good behavior is an expectation, not an option. IF you choose to use rewards in your parenting, I feel that they should be used to reward behaviors or actions that are above and beyond the expectation. Teaching a child to control their own behavior rather than the parent controlling the child is much more effective. I do wonder about her parenting skills, and yes I am judging her, I openly admit to it! Why, you ask? Because her childs behavior directly affects the other children around her in a negative fashion. She is supporting his bullying behavior and that is harming other children both mentally and physically. I feel that to say that other parents have no idea is ridiculous and screams loudly of denial. Raising children is never an easy road to take. Having multiple children around the same age is even more difficult. When she says that those other parents who are working hard to teach their children empathy, restraint, self-control have no idea and that “they’ll see”…I just want to throw that back at her! When she is being called to the principals office twice a week, when parents are calling in to the organizations she participates in complaining about her lack of parenting, when her teenager is being picked up by the cops on a regular basis…she’ll see, ohhh yes, she will see. That her sons behavior is NOT acceptable under any circumstances and needs to be addressed in a consistent and firm manner.

She then writes: “Some people have told me that boys learn rough behaviour. I think those people have never had a son. Because I guarantee you that we never taught him it, and most of (his) friends are girls. I think (most) boys are just programmed to be a bit more rough and energetic. Seriously. It’s not a cop-out; it doesn’t mean parents don’t have to teach them when it’s appropriate, they do. But boys just seem to like to wrestle and be a little more rough than girls. So girl mamas, a little understanding please while I try to teach my son that most girls (and some boys) don’t like that kind of play. In return, I will understand when your girls become PMS-riddled teenagers.”

I feel that all children test rough behavior, they all want to wrestle, to fight and to stand up for themselves. These are life skills and need to be developed in a positive manner. Even if you feel that you did not teach your child to be aggressive in a negative fashion someone did, whether by not addressing inappropriate behavior or by showing aggressive behavior within the village. I also know from personal interactions that this woman has a pretty aggressive, in your face personality. That she feels she is always right, that people who choose to raise their children differently than she does should be looked down upon, that her opinion is the right one and her doctrine is to be followed. Boys are rough and energetic, but so are some girls. Some boys are also very quiet and reserved with regards to touch. Shoving the sexes into these boxes and stereotypes is very old-fashioned. Writing that nobody understands because they don’t have sons, I feel that is a ridiculous statement. I have a son, i find him to be challenging most days of the week, but I do not allow the behaviors that have been expressed both in her blog and by the people affected by them. Once again she is justifying his inappropriate behavior by telling the rest of the parents in the world that they obviously don’t know what she is going through. I call “Bull Shit” and ask that she set beyond denial for a moment.

She also writes: “Two is a hard age. I am told three is worse, but we aren’t there yet so I am just going to pretend they are lying to me for now. Because I can’t imagine it being any worse. (He) has just entered the “mine” and “no” phases, so add those phases to the regular pushing, hitting, yelling, etc phases that he is already in and you get the picture as to how my days often go.”

These, in my experience, are natural phases of both development and part of a child’s personality. I, as the paren,t NEED to address them. Being trained as a teacher should have prepared her to calmly teach things. If it didn’t she could probably try absorbing some of the many blogs she reads in a day, or maybe read fewer blogs and give her child more attention. He is 2 now, asking him if he wants you to hit him and how he would feel might be a good place to start. I feel that being an active parent is a life long learning experience. Every time I think I have figured out my child and they become predictable I just blink and no longer recognise my own child. If she can’t deal with the temper tantrums, hitting, biting and pushing now, man is she in trouble when she reaches the extreme independence mode that is coming her way.

Then:”…(he) finds it necessary to push and yell and hoard toys. A good part of it is due to the fact that this is his turf, he is learning how to share, and usually he doesn’t want to (and I would argue shouldn’t have to all the time…) Regardless, I hate when it happens (be it at home or out and about). I hate “the LOOK” that other adults (even other parents!) give me. That look makes me feel like a terrible parent–that my child is a menace and that I can’t control him. Well, I have news for you world. Children are not little adults. That’s right! They don’t come into the world with knowledge of societal norms. They have to learn these things. And it takes time. Sometimes, a lot of time. I think that a lot of people forget this.”

The other parents are not giving her “the LOOK” because her child is having difficulty sharing, they are giving her the look because they expect her to help him learn it. They expect her to approach her child and teach him to communicate. They expect her to get down to his level, help him reason, teach him not to grab, teach him to take turns. They are not judging him, they are judging her! They don’t expect her to “control” him, they expect her to step up and teach him self-control. They expect her to use the opportunities she is given to diffuse situations before they explode, to use the opportunities to teach. Children are not little adults, they are prone to out bursts of energy and emotion, there is nothing wrong with that, but when they step in the wrong direction it is important to help them re-direct, to use the opportunities that come along to teach the societal norms. Other mothers are giving HER “the LOOK” because she is not helping him to navigate and learn the social norm, this only creates insecurity in him! Here he is looking for some direction, doesn’t get the attention/direction from mom and therefore falls back on a behavior he know will FORCE the other child to understand how he feels. It does take time, but the more consistent she is as a parent in diffusing, addressing or removing her child the quicker these lessons are learned.

There was a situation a while back in which her son hurt several other children, the mothers of the other children brought their concerns to her and she shot these women down! There was a huge build up, several people’s feelings were hurt, several women were removed from the community in which they all belonged and I got to hear all about it again and again. In this particular situation she ignored her childs behavior, saying that there was nothing she could do. I am sorry, but if my child is injuring other people’s children I should probably pay attention, rather than continuing to sit in the women’s circle chatting and offering advice. If I can’t teach my child that making other children bleed is not appropriate behavior then maybe I should go home for that day and try again tomorrow. When the other mothers expressed their concern she should have been apologizing profusely and taking the privilege of playing with others away for that day. Instead she made these women feel like they were in the wrong for standing up for their children.

I have nothing against this woman on a personal level. When we are in the same group I don’t have any issues with her. I am a strong, confident and comfortable mother. I am willing to hear other people’s points of view and discuss alternative ways of doing things. But I would discourage my friends from taking advice from someone who feels a do nothing philosophy is the way to go. But that, of course, is MY opinion, and I have the right to write it.

 

 

Growing Healthy Children

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 1:06 pm

This is basically part 2 of my post “Growth in Parenting”.

Children need to know that your love is unwavering, that your arms are always there to wrap around them no matter how far or near you are. When your child feels that love waver, perceived or otherwise, it sends waves of frustration, ripples of fear, through their uncertain worlds. Telling your child “I love you”, wrapping your arms around them as often as possible, telling them it is okay to need/want physical comfort, or to not want it. Letting them know that you are there when they need you.

Nurturing their minds, bodies and souls. Accepting them for who they are, even if that person is a little quirky in your opinion. Children need opportunities to grow, they need the opportunities to learn, to think, to make decisions.

Respect that they have thoughts and feelings, even if those thoughts or feelings don’t make sense to you.

Be patient, we are all learning here, sometimes you have to take a mental step back in order to decide the right action to take and that is okay. Govern your thoughts and reactions with kindness, nobody wants to be told they are less or unworthy, think and filter before you speak, as you are the adult. Being kind to your child and to those around you teaches them to do this as well. Not looking down on those less fortunate, but helping to lift those who need it.

Some days you just need strength, those days where nothing is going right, nobody is co-operating and the world seems to be against you. Those are the days you have to remember that the only thing your are in total control of is yourself! Your temper, your body, your words, your stress level. By teaching yourself to take a deep breath before you snap, you are teaching your children to do the same. By remaining calm when everything around you is falling apart, you are teaching your child to do the same. Teaching yourself to follow a chain of events backwards to deal with root causes, communicate you understand, apologize if you created the decent into chaos. This is strength, to be able to admit when you are wrong, to be able to realize when you need to apologize and to actually step forward and humbly offer the apology and to accept that it is not a requirement that the other person accept your apology immediately. Your child will follow your example.

We need to teach our children that “weakness” is not a bad word. We need to teach our children that we all have weaknesses and that in recognizing our own we are opening doors to potential growth. Not everyone has strength of mind, or of body, or of soul. Not everyone is connected to the world or themselves. Some people cry, some know how to show anger without hurting others, others are happy all of the time. If you have any strengths, you also have weaknesses. We need to teach our children that they are both strong and weak and that is okay!

Confidence is a difficult thing to attain. It starts as a little seed and grows slowly. Some days it gets trampled so badly you have to rip the plant out and start again. Developing confidence in your child is equally as difficult. Some days you just have to step back and say hey, I did that or said that wrong, this is what I should have said or done, will you forgive me? While other days the offer of a hug might be enough. For a child to be confident, they have to find it within themselves. They do this by learning, they do this by trying, and they learn this by failing. I teach my kids to say “I tried, I failed, I will try again”. I teach them that they don’t need to be the best at everything, but they do need to try at least once. I teach them walk into the world and treat others as they want to be treated.

Natural consequences are something I struggle with on a daily basis. It is hard-wired into my brain and all of my actions to protect my child from suffering in any fashion. I have to fight internal battles all day long some days because I want to feel like a good parent. I have to coach myself all day long not to step in where my children are qualified to make their own choices. I have to remind myself that telling my child that if they don’t eat supper, they will be very hungry in the middle of the night, is consequence enough. When they wake in the night with their stomachs cramping I will say “you chose not to eat any supper, do you think that is why your tummy hurts?…what will you do differently next time?” I have to remind myself about natural consequences every day! I am lucky to have many people in my village to also remind me, to ask me “what is the worst that will happen if they make that choice? If it wont hurt them, it will teach them, and there is no need to veto their decision”. Active parenting, means helping your child to figure out what went wrong, not to prevent them from ever making a mistake.

Communication is a huge topic of debate in the blogs I read. At what age does a child understand appropriate vs inappropriate behavior? Is verbal communication the only way to get your point across? No, communication is all about tone, body language and consistency.

Raising children is not a job, it is not a series of jobs, it is not a life long career of giving without appreciation. Active parenting is a lifestyle, it is about learning to be the type of person you want your children to emulate. It is about teaching your children to be productive members of society.

I am not perfect, I have a lot to learn, I will never learn enough. But in the mean time I will try my best and hopefully my children wont be too scarred when they grow to be adults.

 

Growth in Parenting

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 12:55 pm

I have read a lot of blogs written by people in many walks of life: childcare providers, early childhood development specialists, psychologists, teachers, mothers, fathers, friends…

As a mother I try very hard to look for resources to help me through any rough patches that I come across with my children. I look to these “professionals” educated or otherwise for ideas and knowledge that I am not alone in my struggles. I am constantly trying to learn new techniques to manage my own personality “defects”.

I have taken a very hard look at myself, my past, who I want my children to remember and have come to some very hard self criticisms. I have flaws, I am not always able to give 100%, I am prone to the occasional emotional breakdown or loss of temper, I don’t always say the right thing and my expectations are not always reasonable. I will not shrink from my weaknesses, but instead, will use them as stepping-stones and tools to become who I want to be.

In all my reading of blogs and articles, as well as talking to my village, I have come across 3 schools of thought:

1.) Nurture, love, respect, patience, kindness, strength, weakness, confidence, communication and natural consequences.

2.) Ignore the inappropriate behavior and reward the appropriate behaviors. Deny that my childs behavior and choices have anything to do with me and how I manage myself.

3.) Anything your child does that is inappropriate should get a smack, verbal ridicule, or be shamed out of them. Intimidation and punishment.

When I read through these descriptions of child rearing practices I have to put myself in my childs shoes and think very hard about how I want to be treated.

Look at description #3. Now, in reading this, many of you will say “Oh my god! I would never hit a child!” But hold on a moment. Have you ever said something or given body language to a small child that made them feel blame, shame or pain? Any words you ever said that made a child feel they were “less”? Ever “piggy-backed” a compliment (good job, but you can do better)? If you have done any of these things (and most of us have) I am not saying that you support child abuse. If I say something I shouldn’t and the person I said it to slapped me in the face, would I learn that the words I said were inappropriate or would I lose respect for the person who hit me and avoid being in their presence because that crazy person hit me for “no reason” that I understand. Many parents raise their children the way they were raised, and in the past, what other resources existed? That is no longer the case, there are support groups, playdate calendars, health professionals, personal growth programs and THE INTERNET!

Look at description #2. Do I learn anything from being rewarded for good behavior? I don’t feel that I do, sure I want to do the good behavior over and over again to receive the prize but I haven’t learned which behaviors are inappropriate. This ideology seems to create a very confusing world of trial and error, setting me up for failure, I have to do the inappropriate behavior several times before I fully understand that it is not on the “treat” list. I can tell you, right now, that much of my children’s’ inappropriate behavior is a mirror image of someone in my village! When my child gets frustrated with something, hits it and yells “damn it!” That is a mirror image of someone in the village. If my child calls another child a name that is not acceptable, someone in the village taught that to my child. These behaviors could have been taught by me, I may not realize it, I may deny it, but the truth remains. Children are trying to learn who they are, and in that process they try on all the hats in the village! (the image that comes to mind when I talk about this is the book “caps for sale”)

Looking at description #1. This is the most important to me and one in which I am reaching towards emulating (which comes with much person growth). Children need to feel safe and secure. The ability to create healthy, happy, productive members of society does not come to everyone. Behavior is learned, mine, yours, theirs. Nurture, love, respect, patience, kindness, strength, weakness, confidence, communication and natural consequences. This is how I want to be interacted with, why would I teach my child any different way of living?

People are not born with the ability to parent. We do not start out with an understanding of how our behavior affects others. We are born with genetic traits that provide us with strengths and weaknesses, beyond that we are formed by our environment, by our village. Please join my village and help me to teach my children to be better than I am!

 

Stars, candles and pennies… July 5, 2012

Filed under: Life In General — Beth @ 10:47 pm

I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight…

There are many things that people wish for in their lives that they simply may or may not recieve. Sometimes it is simple wishes “I wish for ice cream” or more complex “I wish for world peace” but everyone, everywhere has a wish in their hearts.

As my children get older I am constantly forced to look to the future and the prospects of going back to work. I dread going back to work. Everything I WANT to do as a career gets pushed off the table due to not being lucrative enough. Everything that is lucrative enough costs too much in time and money to get there. This leaves me standing in the middle with a bunch of ideas that either dont bring in “enough” money or I have no interest in. I have to filter them based on motivation to remain in that “career” for the rest of my retirement saving life.

Someone told me that work is not supposed to be fun, it is supposed to be a sacrifice for future and family. That the world revolves around money and there is where our focus should lay. Sacrifice today so we can enjoy tomorrow. But what if I am not here tomorrow? What if you are not here tomorrow? Then I have sacrificed yesterday, today and tomorrow…in that event, what have I lived for?

I look around me at all the people I know. I make a list of everyone, if you are reading this you are probably on that list, trying to make up my mind. How many of the people in my world put money first? How many of them are wealthy in money and healthy relationships? How many of them would wish to go back in time and make “people” their focus rather than money? How many are happy? How many are not? How many have gotten into their career and then have to drag themselves through it day by day for the sake of money?

How do I find a career that I can remain in for the rest of my life? That is lucrative and makes me happy? In other words, how does one go about finding their calling?

I wish the world did not revolve around money and that I could be free to choose where to lay my gifts of self.

I have a wish but it is far from reach. I have a need within me to follow my calling, but it may not grow beyond a tiny flame. A dream sparkling at the bottome of a black hole.

Until I find a way to alter my path in life in the direction I would like to follow I am left with wishing… upon stars, candles on a cake, pennies in the well…

 

Table Manners June 21, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 6:23 pm

I would like to start this post by saying that my parents definitely taught my brothers and I table manners. Use your utensils, chew with your mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table and so on, we were always well versed in european manners. From the time we could sit on our parents laps for a meal we were taught table etiquette. When I was around the age of about 5 I suspect my parents just gave up on harping on us and worried about life in general instead. We all knew what kind of behavior was and was not acceptable at our families table. We felt confident that we could join anyone elses table without the fear of embarrassing ourselves. As time went by our family, like most families, sort of drifted apart. The type of thing where the kids had better things to do than commit to family time and the parents worked late and life just carried us all away. As I continued to grow up I never realized the erosion that my table manners went through, a slow sapping etiquette, a small reversal in evolution! Many times we didn’t eat at the same time. Sometimes we even ate the same meal but all in different rooms!

It wasn’t until I joined my boyfriends parents at their table with all the extensions of family around us that I realized I had jumped into the ocean without a life-preserver! I was young, I was cocky, I knew everything…but had forgotten all my table manners without even realizing it! Suddenly I had one foot tucked under me, my elbow on the table, talked with my mouth full, forgot to wash my hands before the meal, ate with my fingers, slurped my soup, interrupted others conversations…all things that my parents trained me better in. I basically had to relearn all the rules.

One of the biggest ideals that differed from when I was growing up to when I sat at my in-laws table was the act of remaining seated until all at the table were finished their meals. I have to admit that in the beginning I just didn’t get it. I remember sitting down at my mother in laws table to eat a snack or maybe it was a late meal all by myself. I was comfortable do so, but she respectfully sat down across from me to keep me company, she had no plate in front of her. Initially I felt very awkward, almost as though I was in trouble for something, continuing to chatter incessantly rather than eat, confused about why she was there, staring at me while I ate! lol It took me years to understand that she noticed that I was sitting alone and, even in the beginning of our relationship, cared enough about me to pause her day, to keep me company and to listen to me chattering, patiently waiting for me to finish my meal. It was an act of love and respect.

Now that I have children of my own and am in need of teaching them table manners I am glad I had to retake all my manners as an adult! In saying that it just means that I know what table manners are, not that I practise them on a regular basis!

My children are now 3 and 4 years old and I recently realized that I have not done a very good job by them. Every meal they beg to sit in front of the tv to eat. They don’t have set eating times, try to leave the table as soon as their mouths are packed with their last parentally negotiated bite. They have elbows on the table and food falls from their loaded mouths as they try to tell me about their day. Utensils are rarely used, napkins become confetti instead of lap protectors, there is food all over the floor, the kids take way more than they can eat, there is dancing and singing at our table, food crumbs all over the house, popsicle sticks in the bathroom, people leaving while some are just beginning…need I go on?!

My my daughter, son and myself were sitting at the table for supper one night. I was finished, my daughter was packing her mouth with her last bite and my son still had half a plate of food that I wasnt sure was going to make into his body. My daughter got up from the table and walked away…huh? I asked her where she was going, “I am done, I am going to go play now, see ya!” and she was gone.

This moment sent me back in time to being a 3,4,5,6,7-year-old and how as people finished their meals they left the table. My brothers to their rooms, my father to the tv or back to work, my mother to the dishwasher or the laundry room. That left me, sitting there, slowly pushing my food around the plate, not eating or even really seeing the food. I could have sat there for hours, just day dreaming and pushing my food around on my plate.

I can’t tell you why, if I could I would be able to unlock the secret to my own children. I can empathize with my parents now. If it were up to my children we would sit at that table for an hour for each meal, maybe even 2 hours.

When it comes to meal time I understand how, as an adult, there are so many things on my list to accomplish in my day and how the thought of sitting at a table watching a toddler eat can slowly drive me to drink. How a parents’ leg can slowly start to shake and then their toes start to tap. They check their watch, they tap their fork or finger on the table, refuse to acknowledge their chatting child. Glare at their child, releasing exasperated sighs of frustration. I have felt the violence inside myself, wanting nothing more than to rip the fork from their fingers and shove the food into their mouths each time they open it to talk. To yell at them, punish them, ridicule them and berate them for not eating to my standards…instead, to avoid this unacceptable behavior I leave the table, I have better things to do with my time.

As a child I often remember everyone being too busy for me, watching my family “abandon” me each night added to me developing this deep sense of loneliness. I remember sitting in front of my grade 4 teachers desk after school for hours spinning tales and talking incessantly because I felt she was actually listening to me. I would enthrall anyone who would stop, for even a moment, with stories that couldn’t possibly be true. I am sure that many adults saw me as a little liar and warned their children about me, but I saw myself as a wonderful teller of stories.

In the past I have tried to tell myself that it is okay to leave my children behind because I am just in the next room, the child can still see and hear me, the child is safe and they know it, I am still there, they know I love them…but in reality, I am not present, I am not available, I am not providing that child with security and knowledge that they are an important part of our family. I am not showing that child that they are loved, respected and appreciated. With my impatient body language I am showing them that they are not good enough, not fast enough, not doing it right. That they are failing to meet my standards.

Something I often struggle with is trying to make decisions that are best for my children. With all the people in this world who know how to raise my children better than I can it often feels as though, as a parent, I am wandering around in a mine field with a blindfold on. I never know when someone will inform me that I am doing it all wrong and that I am going to be scarring my child for life.

I will always try to make the right choices, but at the end of the day there will aways be the need to sit down with my adult child and ask them if there is baggage they need help to unload in order for them to move forward into a balanced adult life.

In the mean time, I plan to take a page from my mother in laws book and no longer leave my child behind.

 

 

Homecoming June 20, 2012

Filed under: Motherhood — Beth @ 10:34 am

My husband and I recently took a vacation to celebrate our anniversary. We were gone for almost 2 weeks and while we were gone I frequently dreaded my homecoming. When I expressed my worries to my husband he basically brushed them off and told me I was being silly. He would say “your children love you, stop worrying!”

I didnt stop worrying, when we had the opportuinity to get an earlier flight that would allow us to get home 6 hours earlier then our previous flights would allow I hesitated and almost turned down the opportunity.

I feel as though I am giving everything within myself to my family. I suspect this is a very typical of many mothers and wives. I am often striving to be more than just a parent, striving to be both the nurturer and the diciplinarian, trying to listen to my children even when I just want some quiet time, coaching, cuddling, adventuring and learning. I take great joy in my children and our experiences together. So then where did my dread of homecoming come from?

With my husband working away so often it is only natural that he has become a grand commodity. From the moment he steps into the house it is loaded with happiness and excitement, fun and sugar, rough housing and special treatment. He loves them and they adore him, everyone misses each other and so it becomes a party as soon as he walks into the house. Which is fine, it is to be expected and I love the vibrancy of the color he brings to our family.

Due to my husband becoming a commodity my children have begun to express that I am not to take away from the precious time that they have on this earth with their father. I often hear comments such as “I dont want mommy!” or “I want daddy to unbuckle me” “I want daddy to do ____ not you mommy!” They dont want me to come to the park, they dont want me to give them baths, they dont want me to sit near them at the dinner table, they dont want me to read them bedtime stories. All day long I am bombarded with the phrase “I DONT WANT YOU!” But only when daddy is home.

I dreaded my homecoming, on our vacation I had all of my husbands attention. I recieved all his smiles, his kisses and his snuggles. My dread, however, was not brought on by the “loss” of attention from my husband, not jealousy, or immaturity. It was brought on by the realization that I had to convert from these grand feelings of love, adoration and the constant knowledge that I was WANTED…home to the constant chant of “I dont want you!”

We arrived home and the children were still awake. The door was wide open and I could hear happy sounds coming from within as I approached up the walkway. I came through the front door with my suitcase and said hello into the warmth of my home. My children came down the stairs, saw me at the door, their eyes opened wide and I remember thinking “this is it! I am the commodity this time and I will get a happy homecoming, I really am loved!” I saw the clicking of thoughts in my childrens eyes as they realized that if I was home, so was daddy! They ran towards me with arms open wide, huge grins stretching their little faces…3 steps away…2 steps away from my open arms…1 step away the swing to the right of me, nudging me out of the way to throw themselves into their daddys arms…they are all laughing and giggling, delerious with happiness.

My hubby turns his face into his children and says “what about mommy aren’t you happy to see her too?” My son turns towards me with his arms open wide and leaps into my arms with hugs, kisses and giggles. It only lasts a second or 2 and then he is back throwing himself at daddy. The rest of the family comes to the entryway and with hubbys arms full of children I get hugs and welcome homes from my mother in-law, father in-law and mom. Then hubby again reminds my daughter that I am home too and she pulls away from him to briefly launch herself into my arms with high pitched giggles and laughter. I manage to hold myself together through it all and not burst into tears, run off to my room and cry myself to sleep. I was sad that my children had to be reminded of my existance.

To be fair, there was a lot of chaos and excitment, they are used to the “routine” of welcoming daddy home and it was past their bedtime. The biggest problem is that I had lulled myself into this false sense of security. I had convinced myself that when I was gone from their lives for 2 weeks, they would miss me, that they would suddenly “want” me because I had been gone. I had forgotten to remind myself that daddy had been gone for the same amount of time and that he ranked higher on the “want” scale.

Both my mother and my mother in-law explained that they recieved the same treatment while we were gone. That the kids always glommed onto the male role model and stated that they didnt want the female role model. They said the kids talked constantly about things daddy had tought them, told them, showed them. But the moms didnt mention a single moment in which my children actually said they missed ME in any way. So our moms lived my world and both of them empathized with me and acknowedged that it wasnt fair and that it was difficult to deal with.

Just to emphasize how much she didnt want me, my daughter had a temper tantrum about not wanting me to be around through the bedtime routine. My son followed her example and instead of letting it hurt me further, it was after 10pm after all, I just walked away. I fed the animals and closed down the house for the night. I joined them after my hubby had read them a bedtime story. He told them that I would be reading the next story and my daughter flew off the handle, kicking, screaming, saying she doesnt want me, asking why I didnt stay away in italy…I have to give points to my hubby here, he removed her from the room, and tried very hard to impress upon her that saying such hurtful things really hurts mommy and daddy, that mommy truly loves her and missed her like crazy while she was gone.

Meanwhile I started reading the second story with my son, he cuddled up to me and seemed happy to enjoy my company. Part way through the story my daughter joined us. My hubby had asked her to say sorry to her mommy for hurting her feelings, but when she joined us, she sat there with a stubborn look on her face and tears brimming her eyes. I didnt push it, it was her choice after all, if she didnt feel like apologizing then I wasnt going to force a false apology. I turned to her and asked if she would like to join us, she nodded yes, so I invited her to snuggle in on my other side for the rest of the story. Afterwards I gave her a hug and kiss, told her I loved her and to have sweet dreams. That night she slept all snuggled in to daddy chest with his heart beating beneath her ear. Our son had pretended to fall asleep during the story, I pretended that it meant he wanted to snuggle with me. So I turned off the lights and cuddled in next to him.

As I write this I have to ponder what the future holds, I have to admit to finally understanding all those mothers day cards, to wonder if I have done anything right.

When my children are grown will they look back fondly on memories of mom playing with them, laying on the floor with piles of blocks and barbie dolls. Will they remember the hours upon hours of sitting on the couch reading book after book until hunger pains drew us to the kitchen. Will they remember dress-up time and music parades? Will they remember walking adventures, hours of crafts, or all the places we have gone? Will they remember planting gardens and watching them grow? Walking through the pet store to see all the animals? Eating doughnuts while watching the cars go through the carwash? Dancing in the rain, splashing in the puddles and rescuing worms with straws? Partaking in the wonder of the robins nest as it fills with eggs, tiny hatchlings and then watching the baby birds fly away one day?

I understand all those cards that write about how a mothers work is never done, how we do many things day in and day out that are not often recognised and that a mother is a driving force in the formation of who these little people choose to become as adults. I understand the lists of “careers” a mother holds down, ie. taxi driver, chef, nanny, maid…

I also know that I must have done something right somewhere. For the most part I have gentle, loving children who have a very distinct wild side. They are mostly loving and affectionate to me and others. They are smart, inquizitive and active. They inspire me to be better than I started out and to make each day the best that it can be. I take comfort in knowing that even if they dont have many memories of their childhood spent with their loving mother, I am a major force in determining who they grow up to be. I know that my love and support, compassion and patience will affect how they are molded.

This morning my daughter gave me some recognition that took all my hurt away. Sitting at the breakfast table she said to me “I like it when daddy is not here, when it is just us” I asked her why and she said “it is quieter and I know you hear me”.

So I will walk on from here knowing that it is not that my children “do not want me” but that when daddy is home they want him and love him and need him. That when he is not here they want me and love me and need me. I will start this day and the next knowing that when my children say “I dont want you” they just mean that they dont want me right now, they dont need me right now.

I am needed, I am wanted and I am loved, I am all of these things ALL OF THE TIME. Just not to the same degree every moment of everyday.