Raising Elves

As wild as nature. Myself, parenting and natural remedies blog.


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Identity and At-Home Motherhood

As an at-home parent I have experienced an incredible process in terms of identity that no other life experience could offer.

Being at home can leave you feeling identityless in the beginning and that can tear your confidence apart. You begin to doubt your opinions or just give them up altogether because you don’t have the space left in your brain. Or you find yourself repeating the same story to the same people because you thought you told that story to someone else the other day.

The fruits of your labour are so abstract that you can’t even measure the results of your parenting choices.

Many times I have had people switch off to me when they ask me what I do and I tell them I am at home with my children. In the early days this was upsetting but no longer do I feel upset by it because I have firmly allowed myself to form an identity as a sahm. Anyway,  it says more about a person who validates people only on circumstances that they deem worthy.

Consciously choosing this route despite society telling you how unimportant you are, when ‘science’ and politicians say your children are better off away from you and to continue on this path despite all the hostility is powerful and damn fucking feminist.

I would like to take this opportunity to offer a V sign to all the opinions and ‘studies’ that do not see my children as individual people but as something herd-like to be ‘studied’.

I choose to relinquish my identity as an earner and vulnerably place my trust in my husband. That is empowering- to relinquish financial identity.

I choose to exchange my identity as a passionate current affairs debater to one that offers recommendations of tried and tested laundry detergent. I relinquish the identity of importance.

According to what I read in Irish newspapers and through political statements, there is no job more invalid than that of a sahp, so yes, I now relinquish validity.

It was only a farce anyway- society has a tragic blind-spot when it defines a person’s validity as it still lives in a system of hierarchy.

As I have said, I have found myself processing a life experience like no other. Becoming faceless, invalid, unimportant, unfeminist, lazy, incompetent-

identityless.

And it

feels

wonderful

There is nothing more empowering than having yourself and society strip you bare, beat your brow, invalidate you, make you disappear, ignore you, make war on you. It is this that has left me free to define myself.

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photo credit: shenamt Trollstigen via photopin (license)

As Mother.

The most powerful being on Earth.

And you can throw all your studies at me and judge my choice. I can beat myself. I can doubt myself. I can fail and try harder. I can be a great incredible mother and I can be a shit exhausted mother.

But I am MY mother and she raised me, a woman who does not fear her facelessness but evokes it and remains a blank space for my children to mould.

For they are the true teachers.

And just as they mould me, they will mould their society.

They will teach respect for all kinds of people because they were raised by a women whom society laid no respect upon.

They will honour effort over result because their mother will have walked through hell to be the best person she can be for them, and she will still be a flawed human being.

They will teach their society to move beyond the scope of their identity. To push themselves to the point of facelessness. For it is here that they will find their true selves and when we find that authenticity we no longer have to pin ourselves against our peers.

In that state maybe society can appreciate everyone’s uniqueness. Imagine that kind of world?

 

 


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On being slow

When I was a child

I was slow.

Slow to process

slow to learn

slow to grow.

 

In those days there was

no such thing

as a person who learned

outside of the ring.

They yelled and they screamed

I could not do

anything.

 

So I became fast.

 

I acted instead of thought,

so fast.

I escaped instead of felt,

too fast.

I stopped thinking.

I stopped feeling.

I stopped being.

I stopped breathing,

at last;

they stopped shouting.

 

In the quiet of the night,

when no one was around.

I stopped stopping.

Dwelling inside

the rhythmic nothingness

of sound.

 

And I was slow.

 

I was me.

 

I comprehend slow, but deep.

I act slow, but wisely.

I am so slow,

I can hear your heart break.

And as a witness, you are held in my slowness.

 

I see you

I see everything

I process the elephant in the room

I store a few ounces of your anger, fear or pain

I am slow enough to see your light bloom,

or fade.

 

And although I am slow in living this life,

in learning or counting or holding

a knife,

I see all that is magic and all that is there.

I see you, Great Spirit,

I feel your soft hair.

 

Caressing.


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Wowed by Alflorex

I have had IBS my whole life.

Sadly, my youngest little Elf struggles in that department too.

I’ve tried everything and nowadays the emphasis is more on management rather than cure.

My youngest started suffering a few weeks after we weaned her on to solids.

She is very sensitive to certain foods and when she avoids them the (severe) bloating is gone and, thankfully, no pain. Despite this her bowel movements would still be a bit off, or ‘not quite right’.

Until we tried Alflorex.

I didn’t expect huge changes. We’ve both taken different strains of bacteria before. I’ve never noticed much difference in my little one when taking other brands but I still dosed us both based on a recommendation by the doctor. As you can imagine, I had no expectations when taking Alflorex because I have never been ‘wowed’ before. I was more veering toward trusting that they were doing something good on the inside.

Within a few days of taking the pre-filled straws, my little one’s stools started to change. Without the need for vivid descriptions, they went from being ‘not quite right’ to…well, normal. I couldn’t believe that after just a few days taking Alflorex that for the first time in her life (she’s 2.5 years old now) she had a normal looking poo.

This became consistent, the norm, over the last few weeks. It was only until last week where she had been given something from her avoid list, and she had terrible pain and diarrhoea , that I realised just how good things had gotten for her. I can only describe is as having been ‘wowed’.

For myself, I would say I have noticed a significant difference in the bloating and tenderness I get. It gets worse for me at certain times of the month (hormones effect the IBS flare ups) and it really effects my ability to do core or strength types of exercise because my gut is so inflamed. I noticed a huge difference. I found myself without pain during my exercise classes at the stage of the month where I would usually be crippled.

I received eight weeks worth of Alflorex to try in exchange for a review and was so pleased with the results that I’ll be buying it from now on. Yes that’s right. It works so well that I am now a purchasing convert.

I’ve had such great results to share with you that I’ve been offered one of my readers a chance to WIN a three months supply. I just love it when brands are generous to readers too.

For your chance to win tell me which product you’d prefer- the straws or the capsules. You can comment on the Facebook link for this post on my Facebook page.

Mini Elf will randomly draw a name on the 1st of December and I will post a video of it on my Facebook page.

alflorex

For more information go to http://www.alimentaryhealth.ie/products/Alflorex


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Trauma, depression and children.

Thinking back, in conversation with others, about the phases my eldest has gone through, has spurred on a serious whirlwind style re-cap of the last five years since I became a mother.

At first, I was seeing it all in a self-centred way. Phrasing it like I was a victim (although sometimes it did feel that way, I fully admit it was/is a self absorbed, immature kind of way). How I labelled her third year the traumatising threes. Then I’d go on and think about how I did not even have those fantastic fours which was the pep talk to get me through those threes.

You’d swear she was a tyrant. Which she wasn’t. She was normal.

These days, I see snippets of who she is becoming and she is just so wholly beautiful my heart swells. She is nearly 5.5 now. Still whinge-y and wild but I’m so proud of her. She has come a long way, through social anxiety, intense shyness and of course, this tiny little person has lived through her mothers depression. A trauma of its own.

And it is this sudden realisation where I stop in my tracks. A big dead heavy STOP and my breath sucks in deep and I hold it for a long moment; only for it to slowly stutter out of my lungs as if there were clumps of earth in my trachea. The kitchen tears away from my psyche and suddenly I’m standing out on a dirt road in a bland desert. The twisted crunch of dry hard stones under my boots has a grating echo vibrating through my body. The air is hot and dry, suffocating. There is no wind. No sound. No leaves rustling. An empty void giving me the space for this realisation to take hold.

 

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She is here five years and I was severely depressed for the first 2 years of her life and then (milder, thankfully) again after I had her sister.

There I was. So deeply stuck in my own crippling, heavy, world of depression that I never even took stock to measure how this little one was suffering too. I was so focused on my own surviving that I disassociated from hers.

Imagine coming into this world to a mother who fights daily, those thoughts that are trying to take her out of it.

I only heard it there recently, for the first time, a new narrator in my head.

It said ‘I want to be alive’.

What a smack that was. To hear, for the first time in… as long as I can remember, a new inner voice. One that actually wants to be alive.

That is intense, I know. In recent months I’ve been working to find the root of this and it seems to all fall back on the car accident I was in when I was ten. I had what some might call a near death experience. Or, well, a death experience. I just remember being sucked back into my mind and waking up, instantly alert, to give people my home phone number.

A fearful memory that subsequently has led me to teach my eldest my phone number, back when she was just aged three.

It’s since then that I’ve had this overriding feeling. Was it fear? Is that what suffocated my will to live? By live I mean to live, not just be alive. I’ve mastered staying alive through depression. I have never shared this aspect of depression with you before. That way of thinking lives on the shameful side of the depressive spectrum.

Really though, what I really came back with, was premature self consciousness. Self consciousness and an immature mind do not live well together; and I think that is what they mean when they say, ‘let kids be kids’. Leave them in their ignorance, for that is peace. I lost that peace, violently, when I was ten.

There are worse traumas; war, abuse, grief. So in one way I struck it lucky. On the other side of that coin, though, it was left for a long time because it was easy to dismiss once the physical healing took place. I never looked at it as a trauma. It was just something that happened. Once my physical body recovered and I started, as a coping mechanism, living as if a chameleon, it was easy to forget the psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma of the experience. It didn’t help that I never verbalised it. How could I? I came back into my body in survival mode. I didn’t trust life. I didn’t trust myself. I had lost faith. Everyone around me was clueless because my coping method is silence. Pretend everything is under control. Blend in.

***************

The voice that says “I want to be alive” does not mean that I have been saying that I want to die all this time (although there have been times, during my darkest hours). I’ve just never wanted to live. It was like, staying alive was a battle enough, a burden. To actually LIVE always seemed out of reach and much of my living has revolved around the quest to be healed.

Finding the originating factor of the depression has been a blessing. I’ve been able to see that before that time, the accident, my hazy memories are happy, content and easy going. That who I was before the accident was a settled, secure child; well protected, loved and supported.

It is easy to blend in through childhood and adolescence because you’re busy. You’re busy being directed into adulthood by guiding hands. It is only when you become an adult that the shit hits the fan because, well, you are alone. No matter how much support you have, you are alone when navigating your inner world. Until then, you’ve been told what to think, what to feel or, more aptly, what not to feel; and what to be.

So there I was, lost in my inner world while this little one went on about her traumatising threes, ferocious fours and so on. Being born onto a depressive is a trauma. It is not war, or abuse or grief. Although, maybe grief lives there at times, especially in more severe lifelong cases.

They have a right to be angry, or insecure. Or both. It’s a good thing. When they stand up and fight. When they moan, scream and whine. It means they’re safe. They know they are loved. Coming from my perspective, it is the silence that is worrisome. Silence comes from fear.

 It is a natural process, those terrible twos, threes, fours, fives and beyond.

There is a whole person evolving inside this tiny being, trauma or not.

It is precious.

I am truly grateful for the honour to bear witness to it,

and to live for it too.

 

 


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On starting school

It’s like all the colours on the page.

Splat.

splat

You can’t see the wood from the trees.

You know that somewhere in there lives joy and excitement.

As much as there is fear and grief floating -homeless- through the air.

A little bit of terror.

But it’s just all the colours on the page.

Splat.

Not an ounce of coordination or cooperation.

Just splat.

All the feelings.

Splat.

Stomach swollen. Throat swollen. Ribs sore.

Tears falling.

Wet paint.

Mulchy.

Cloudy.

splat2

 

Colour gone. Grey-brown murky splots of splat.

And that is the state of the page, now.

For now.

And then things will calm down.

And we’ll throw that page out and start again.

One colour at a time.

 

 


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Unsupervision, and a reason to look at your phone while your children are playing.

We arrived at the empty skate park at 9.30am.

The two year old achieves a new ‘first’ by climbing up the mound herself, scaling the fence on the (relatively) steep hill and succeeds in reaching the top of the high ramp and sliding down it with her sister. They get straight into a game of save me while I fall off the ramp complemented with a monster chasing child off of ramp finale.

I don’t cheer her or give her a gold medal and I don’t sit there with my stomach in my throat. Risky play is normal for us these days. Risky play is a decision I made a while ago when I decided to stop being so anxious and worried. I am going to enable my girls to take risks, trust their instincts, their bodies, their boundaries while building their strength and agility.

They do it well and of course we have bruises here and there. I also accept that sometimes serious incidents happen but I don’t believe hovering over them will prevent that.

Sometimes I’ll hover. Like when my squinchy two year old is walking across slim bars that stretches her legs and arms to the max.

I make a conscious effort to butt out unless I otherwise think or feel so.

I discern.

I know what my children are capable of and I expect that most parents and caregivers do too. Although I do recognise that everyone’s gut instinct may not hold the same strength, therefore I understand that some may not easily access the part of themselves that allows them a deeper sense of discernment. So, I don’t judge hovering parents. Whatever their reason, it’s none of my business.

Baring in mind that I have an extremely strong gut instinct, today, when I was comfortable that my two and five year old were body confident in their risky game, I switched on my phone and thoroughly enjoyed indulging in a very interesting article on one of my favourite topics.

When I finished the third article (because one always leads to another) I said to myself, now, that’s enough and I switched my phone off and put it away. To my surprise I found a man hovering around about 10 feet away from the mound that my girls were playing on. I had noticed him arriving a while before and bringing his own children into the playground.

Despite the fact that he had three children of his own, he left them in the playground to go hover around my kids and give me a body language lecture on what seemed some kind of criticism.

We made eye contact. He seemed surprised that I didn’t hang my head in shame, so I speculate. He turned around and shook his head at me while he walked off.

I laughed inside at two things, the fact that he didn’t have the guts to look me in the eye while he was shaking his head at me and the hypocrisy of this caregiver leaving his own children to climb around a playground unsupervised just to come and pointlessly stare at my two climbing from ten feet away. I don’t know, maybe he can jump ten feet in 0.5 seconds so that if one of my children had fallen he could have saved them. You never know.

Or, he left his own children unsupervised to stare at my children on my behalf so that I could read my articles. How kind.

Or, he is so pleased with his own parenting that when he sees another parent not parenting the way he thinks they should parent he likes to leave his own children unsupervised just so he can go over and shake his head at said failure of a parent.

Did I mention that he left his own children unsupervised so that he could come and supervise my children for me?

So, if there is one single (ok, satirical) reason to look at your phone in a playground it is this:

You might give another person the chance to feel so smug and wonderful about themselves. Although the smugness is a false sense of security, do you know what? A false sense of security is a good start. Fake it till you make it, as they say, and I’m a giver, I can’t help it. I bestoweth upon thee smugness. They can stand there looking at you, or glaring at you to the point that they can no longer see their own children. If they can’t see their own children, for just one moment, you are giving their children the opportunity to play unsupervised. To explore. To take risks. See how much you are giving to the world? Future leaders. Children with self confidence, intuition, self reliance, agility, freedom.

And that is not the only smugness going around. Look at me now, writing this. Smug as fuck because I don’t have a stick up my ass and my hardy kids have knees full of bruises. I read my out of date articles while I trust them to be kids and have fun and connect with their bodies and boundaries. And of all the things I get wrong I get this one thing right (and I get a lot wrong), so do you know what? Thank you.

Thank you, hovering man with what I think is a weird set of priorities. At a period in my parenting timeline when I have heard myself say ‘I am a shit mother’ more times than I can count, you have given me this one moment where I am confident enough to be happy with the decision I made that one time I consciously took my phone out to read articles while my young but capable children engaged in risky play involving uneven ground that contributes to their development in the most incredible of ways far beyond what any flat surfaced playground can offer¹. Thank you, over concerned citizen, for giving me the opportunity to support myself in reading something that made my brain feel temporarily alive whilst reminding myself that the dates on these articles are from 2015 and January 2016 and that is how many months I am behind in world news because I don’t spend enough time reading articles because I am busy committing myself to “conscious parenting” and general survival.

Read your articles. Close your eyes for ten seconds and breath in. Daydream. Meditate. Chat. Chill out. Read the magazine or stare at your shoes. Its ok to give your kids a little but of well discerned unsupervision sometimes. Its also ok to give other parents some well deserved unsupervison too.

Trust your instincts. Trust their instincts. Discern what you can entrust in them. Trust their abilities, do not judge them on the size of their bodies, their gender or their age.

They can do this, if you let them.

¹Preschool children who play among trees and rocks and who move over uneven ground develop stronger skills  in motor coordination, balance and agility than those who play on conventional playgrounds. (Fjørtoft.I(2004) Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children,Youth and Environments, 14(2),21-44.

 


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Today, my child replaced me.

Today, whilst driving home on yet another wonderful grey rainy day here in Ireland, my darling Elf told me she would like her teacher to be her Mam.

Cue silence whilst Mother staples her eyes to the road so her child cannot see her heart bleeding out of her nostrils.

I have survived. And here is the tale.

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No 1: Hold it together

 

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No 2: Suppress instant defensive anger mode (she is just a child)

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No 3: Give yourself time before you answer

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No 4: Suppress inner clingy insecure person

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No 5: Try to find a way to express your hurt without too much drama

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No 6: Hmmm, maybe I should’ve processed it a little longer