Raising Elves

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


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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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Every depression is valid

Sometimes it’s acute.

Sometimes it’s chronic.

Sometimes it’s severe.

Sometimes it’s mild.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes it’s depression and anxiety and paranoia and ocd

maybe mania alternating with severe lethargy,

or suicidal ideation

or suicidal

and millions of other symptoms that there are no words for,

that have to be labelled as a condition beyond depression.

Sometimes it’s just depression.

Sometimes you can get out of bed, strap a smile on your face and nobody,

NOBODY, can guess what you are hiding.

Sometimes you just can’t hide it.

Or get out of bed.

Sometimes you’re nuts.

Sometimes you’re sane.

Sometimes you can’t control yourself.

Sometimes you can’t stop controlling yourself.

Sometimes you have it once.

Other times it doesn’t go away and is a chronic illness, you need to manage.

Depression is a wide, infinite, spectrum.

Every single experience is unique.

It’s genes, it’s receptors, it’s environment, it’s lifestyle, it’s trauma, or, it just is what it is.

No matter how severe, or mild it is,

whether you use prescriptions or exercise or counselling,

or everything.

Or nothing.

EVERY depression is valid.

 

 

My Random Musings


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Wave Riding (when depression ends)

It’s no secret that life is tidal.

Up and down, back and forth.

Always moving, sometimes crashing.

Some of us handle it better than others.

Some are riding bigger waves.

But we’ve all had to learn to ride them.

Some are natural born wave-riders.

Others are swallowing buckets of salt water and barely reaching the surface for air.

Magnificents were born deep under the water but found their way out and won life over.

Then there were those of us who were born wave-riders but trauma set us back.

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

That is me. I was born upright, skimming those waves on fearless feet.

But I got hit.

Literally.

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

By a car.

When I was ten.

I left my body.

I came back into it.

Changed.

Fearful. With a hole inside of me.

When I recovered, I built myself a ship. So I could ride the waves of life, protected.

Although I was protected behind this hard steel shell. I was dry.

This ship floated from destination to destination,

I stayed dry while I watched others surf, and fall.

Then surf and thrive.

Inspired, I might have dived back in again.

Only to quickly swim back to ship because I’ve forgotten how.

Then after a while, you realise your life is stuck.

There you are, sitting on your empty ship, listening to the ominous creeks,

trying to remember,

when you used to be wet,

and alive.

So you work on a way to dive back in.

You tie a rope around your waist and dive in, only to pull yourself back up.

Unfinished business.

You keep trying. Waiting.

Waiting for the clouds to lift.

You experiment with chemistry to see if they’ll go away.

All kinds of tricks.

Everything. You try everything.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you find the formula.

Sometimes there is no formula but you have to find a way to just ride the storms.

Bring your crazy to the ocean because those clouds are going nowhere.

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

When the depression lifts and you feel like your real self again…

It’s magic.

I’m ready to cut that rope and dive in.

To clear, fresh moments and cloudy aspirations.

Coming up for simple, deep breaths, for no reason.

Not to relax or unwind or to become mindful.

Just me right there, breathing that air, with no need for a reason.

Or an explanation.

Or a purpose.

Just being.

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

Of course, I have to start from the beginning.

I have to relearn everything- joy, peace, survival.

There I am, in the deep with unborn souls, babies, kids and the plenty of adults who,

like me,

delayed.

For whatever reason.

My arms are weak but they keep going. Once I get afloat I’ll find it.

My wave.

And I’ll f*cking own it.

You will see me soon, at the shore, and we will ride alongside one another.

And I’ll realise that there is room for me on this Earth.

I have a place.

Then we’ll meet on the beach, light a fire, laugh.

We’ll look at the stars,

and I will feel the universe in my belly,

again.

And for the first time, in a long time,

I will want to be alive.

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

Radical Face: Welcome Home

 


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How watching My Little Pony helped my 4 year old

A friend recommended My Little Pony on Netflix. She described it as not too PC but appropriate and relatively watchable for adults too.

I have found myself grateful for My Little Pony in how it has helped Elf figure some things out in relation to socialising, friendship and so on, which is a challenging area for her. I don’t think I’d have had the ability to teach her the subtleties and politics of friendship, especially because I always struggled to navigate those areas of life myself.

The recommendation wasn’t wasted breath and I am so surprised by the good that has come out of My Little Pony and here are just a few simple examples as to why:

Friendship is Magic: The overall theme of MLP is friendship. The series’ as a whole runs through the ins and outs of friendship, the good and bad, how friendship is an investment, why friends are important etc etc. My (mostly) introverted and (easily) hurt/offended Elf has really needed help in this area and MLP has given her the opportunity to process that there is a value to being a good friend and also how to cope when others aren’t quite as friendly.

Archetype identification: Each character has a characteristic and virtue that allows children (particularly girls) the opportunity to find an identifiable archetype that is beyond the scope of pretty, agreeable little girlies. Not that there is anything wrong with that but it is nice to allow girls the opportunity to explore beyond the stereotype. The reality is, each pony symbolises a little of some ‘virtues’ we might find in us all and I’ve been able to appreciate my girls’ leniency toward different archetypes and through that I feel like I understand them more as individuals.

Music: How do I get to turn the TV off without a row? I tell them they can listen to the MLP music on Spotify. The music is surprisingly tolerable for a kids TV show and it’s clear that a lot of effort went into it. After a while we know all the words and have a sing song in the car. Even Dad doesn’t mind it. I love watching Elf as she sits beside the computer with her eyes off in the distance as she really open her ears to the lyrics and rhythm of the different songs.

I never thought I’d have written something like this over a kids’ TV show but here you have it.

All of the My Little Pony series’ and the Equestria movies are on Netflix.

StreamTeamBadge (1)

 


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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

 


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Depression is not Dirty Laundry

I find it incredible, the reactions I receive from some folk after I have written about depression or shared posts about depression on my Facebook page.

For the most part, friends or loved ones might mention, the next time they see me, that they read it and ask how I am doing. Nothing huge. No big deal. Just a gentle reminder that they care for me.

Some might say nothing at all- and that is perfectly OK too as they might not have anything to say about it, or might just not know what to say. But they acknowledge it in other ways through simple acts of kindness.

Some might be uncomfortable letting me know that they read my blog, which I understand.

Very occasionally, I find a small number of people change.They may be hostile or passive aggressive- I don’t know what airing my depression triggers in them. Embarrassment? Are they embarrassed that someone else might read or know about it? About me? Some may post on Facebook about how people should just get on with it or how we all choose to create our own happiness. The folk who react like this are minuscule (and of course they may actually not be reacting to me, because, I know it’s not all about me), but I need to be clear when I say this:

finaltree

I don’t care for attention. I don’t care for pity. Let me tell you now, I would much rather FEEL the happiness and joy that is in my head.

And although I cannot always FEEL my joy and although, sometimes, there is a chemical cloud suffocating my joy, I will never stop talking about it.

Why?

Because there are people out there who suffer in silence. People who have depression and don’t even realise they have depression. People who end up causing serious harm to themselves at this time of year. People who commit suicide just to get away from the pain that many people simply cannot fathom to exist. But it does.

Why do I risk being seen as a person looking for attention, or airing their dirty laundry or simply not behaving the way you want me to behave?

Because I CARE about those suffering in silence. I want them to know they are not alone. I want them to know that although I may not be capable of empathising with the depths their depression takes them, I can say to them that they are not alone, that it is nothing to be ashamed of and that even if there are a few incredibly stubbornly ignorant people out there who seem to think depression is something you choose, I understand.

And I have hope. I have hope that one day people will feel brave enough to own it, and find ways to pull themselves out of the gutter or to even just survive while they are down there. I have hope that one day people who have never experienced depression will see it as yet another physical illness- because it is.

It is physical. It is debilitating. It is the loneliest place you will ever find yourself. It is the worst pain. The pain you can’t escape. The kind of pain that makes you wish for death.

Depression is NOT a choice.

It’s the cards you’ve been dealt.

And I have no problem exposing all that is flawed within me to the world.

HERE.I.AM.

FLAWED. IMPERFECT.

DAMAGED GOODS.

I am more than that, though. Much more. But those things aren’t as important to talk about.

Nobody suffers being a good mother. Nobody suffers being a caring, empathic person. Nobody suffers being good craic. Nobody suffers being accepting of others. That is not suffering.

I don’t need to tell the world how fucking amazing I am and I sure as hell am not going to lie.

I need to speak to those suffering in silence from a physical disease, in a world that seems to think it’s a ‘makey-uppy’ excuse for feeling a bit sad.

Depression is a debilitating illness that has serious consequences if it continues to be brushed under the carpet with ‘You’ll be grand’ or ‘Sure aren’t we all a bit down sometimes, and don’t we all just get on with it’.

So, if you have found this post and it is relevant to you I implore you to please not take offense. I implore you to hear me. I implore you to not respond to a depressive with a suck it up, or a lecture on choosing happiness. If you don’t know what to say because you don’t understand it, you can stay silent, you know?

Or you could just be honest and say:

I really don’t understand depression, but it sounds really awful. You really don’t deserve that and I hope you get better soon. (Optional) Is there anything I can do to help?

Watch this: (Many thanks to Emily in comments for this recommended watching) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw