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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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

 


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Those sh*t mornings where you fail at being a mother

Well. Here I am again.

Sitting at the table waiting on the consolatory tea to be made.

With that heavy sh*t feeling in my chest.

Wondering if I’ve set her up for a really sh*t day,

All because you couldn’t just keep your sh*t together.

Failure.

Failure.

Failure.

The word that goes through your head.

As you put her tiny face in your hands and look into those eyes,

and say,

with conviction,

‘Have a good day;

I Love you’.

And you squeeze her face too tight

because you want to erase the moment where you were

a fucking asshole.

And I return home to the kitchen,

that I have been praying for silence in,

all morning.

Which is now silent.

Except for a rumbling tummy

and I realise I haven’t eaten.

I think of all the ways I might make up for my impatience,

as I pick at an eggshell.

But then the insurance guy rings and the day begins for me,

two hours after I dragged myself out of bed.

Then I think of all those great parents I know and I wonder why they never talk about these moments.


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A gift my children have brought to me

In the three years since becoming a parent I have done some major growing up.

I think that no matter what age you have your children at, this naturally occurs to most parents although it could just be a natural occurrence now that I am nearly thirty.

The main gift parenting brings to me is the immediate distortion of my position in the universe- you know, the centre of it.

I don’t live there anymore.

It’s a hard adjustment at first having to forgo your basic human needs in order to provide for your little ones.

After a while, when you’ve settled close to the centre you see life from a whole new perspective.

It’s like you are watching a movie of life.

There is a calmness here, on the edge of centre.

See, when you are the centre of your own universe you are constantly trying to keep the balance right so that you remain there.

As the universe flows naturally, in a constant state of flux, you adjust yourself, your view of the world and others around you to remain at the centre even if this means you are living an illusion or if it is at the expense of others.

When I had my firstborn this all changed.

Gradually, over time, I settled just on the edge of the middle and as I said up above, my perspective shifted. More of a 360 degree angle rather than a single lens. It’s the difference of view between floating in space compared to looking up at space through a telescope.

Image

I started seeing others’ centres.

From my new perspective, where I had finally found stillness, as I no longer had to adjust and fight for central position (i.e. control my surroundings), I could just view others’ realities without thinking anything. Without judgement, opinion or even desire. Just observation.

Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I slip into that centre of the universe viewpoint and catch myself wasting my life on opinions that have nothing to do with me but hey, nobody is perfect. I also think this is where judgement, criticism, jealousy, competitiveness and other such emotions or reactions come from, in this single visioned place.

In realising the gift that my children have given me, through placing them at the centre of my universe, I have become more empathically stable, less opinionated, more accepting and most of all, content. I have become a better listener and less of a talker although there is still lots of work to be done in this department.

I wonder does parenting do this for everyone or do I just think a little too deep?

Another thing that this shift has done is it has allowed me to accept more help and support from others, seen as I am no longer holding all the cards.

In my observations I have come to realise that most people live in the centre of their universe. Some not all the time, some definitely all the time. Some are stuck there and don’t even realise it. Some never live there. Some have never left.

I don’t know if there is a right or wrong, maybe ‘imbalance’ is a better word. For those who never have lived there can sometimes end up becoming drained and unable to give to themselves or take from others in a balanced way. This is as much an imbalance as those who can only think about themselves.

I guess it’s about finding that balance- the middle path.

I think sitting on the edge of the line is just the right spot for me.

I see more outside of myself yet I am still able to acknowledge my own needs.

Most importantly I get the wonderful viewpoint of watching my two buds open up and be their magnificent little selves.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/lexrex/266558967/”>radiant guy</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

 


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What are we teaching our children

This is a fictional piece

I am born. I eat, sleep, poop and piddle. I open my shutters and see these magnificent, colourful and unique eyes smiling back at me. I bring happiness. My soul mission complete. Just being me, I make people smile. Especially adults. Even the broken ones who carry a lot of pain, anger and sorrow. Happiness, joy, love, peace. Heaven on Earth! My mission is complete.

I learn to move and to talk, a little, and the smiling eyes are sometimes filled with anxiety, worry and frustration. I struggle to understand these crashing waves inside of me. In fact, some eyes show contempt at my not being, saying or doing what they want or expect from me. I bring frustration, anxiety, contempt. This is not my soul mission. What am I doing wrong?

I am a person now, I can speak for myself. Sometimes my beloved still looks at me with happiness and joy. I like toys, sweets and money. I also like painting and drawing and being with my friends, although, I don’t always like sharing. I am not fully out of the ‘me’ zone yet but I do feel shame when you point out where I am going wrong with those eyes or that voice or just plain and simple with those words. I like having my needs fulfilled but can’t keep up with my desires. I want to experience everything. I have learned to control the waves inside of me. They haven’t gone anywhere but I must hide them away so that I don’t experience the rejection and shame for having tidal waves crash throughout my whole being. I have learned to be seen and not heard. That is the safest place to be as I can then avoid those eyes of disapproval from outsiders and eyes of embarrassment from my beloved. This is not my soul purpose. I am beginning to forget.

I am alone yet I am surrounded by lots of people. My beloved now has eyes for the new baby. I no longer create joy in people’s eyes, only frustration and sometimes pursed lips. The tidal waves have increased and I struggle to control them. I have learned words for them. Anger, frustration, jealousy, neglect, loneliness, sadness, fear. The waves are no longer connected to my voice box, though. I don’t know how to get them out of my body. I feel so alone. Nobody loves me. This is not what I came here for. I WANT TO GO HOME! This is not my soul purpose. I have forgotten why I am here.

I have learned to control the waves. I don’t feel them so much anymore. It’s more like a deep sad lake breeding lots of midges that bite me every now and then which provoke various chronic illnesses and things like headaches, IBS, depression, arthritis, lethargy. But the difference is that I’m not alone anymore. Most adults I know also live with a silent lake and forgotten mission inside of them. I find some things help like smoking, alcohol, food and other stuff like spending money and watching TV helps me separate myself from what used to be a live ocean. Sometimes I have moments where I feel so sad I touch the lake inside and it starts to ripple. I feel so alive in those moments but I struggle to keep them going. It doesn’t move fast enough and I don’t have it in me to commit to the necessary changes. I just want someone divine to intervene, just once it doesn’t change things too much though. When I am happy I will change. I am in my comfort zone. This is not my soul purpose and I have forgotten why I am here but, I don’t really care anymore. I am too busy.

No one takes joy from me anymore. I have stopped offering it. Truth is, I lost it. I am now the one giving looks through my thoughts. I became those that broke me and continued the cycle. That grating scream in the middle of the supermarket. That kid obviously manipulating his parents. That toddler clearly looking for control. That teenager just standing there being a teenager. The jerk in the car overtaking me on a busy road and then braking in front of me. That annoying person who annoyed me no matter what- just being themselves. Urgh! how annoying. That happy go lucky hippy being at peace with themselves. That successful person. That spiritualist living in zen. That old person trying to spark up conversation at the bus stop. That old friend trying to get in touch. Delete. That junkie. That person with that opinion. That person that looks like they were dragged through a hedge backwards. That uneducated person with no opinions. Urgh! That uneducated person having opinions. That foreigner. That minority with their weird culture. That bad parent. That tree should be dug up cos it might fall and if it falls it’ll destroy everything so let’s dig it up and build a concrete path over it.That know-it-all. Oh and worst of all- that person that is happy with their lot. Ha! Can’t they see A, B & C wrong with their life? That bully? I am a victim of the world! I am sure this isn’t my soul mission but sometimes I am doing it without realising, you know, judging and expecting everyone to be whatever I deem most appropriate. Fool on them for not reading my thoughts. I shouldn’t have to spell it out, like. Idiots.

Well, it happened. I burst. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Now I feel kind of empty but relieved at the same time. I feel a little bit excited. Today, something happened.  See, truth is, no matter what I have done in my life there has always been someone there to steal away that moment with a look, a tone or a smirk. When I became that person I saw it. Today, I watched a toddler’s face right in that moment where they were no longer the focus of all joy. It was a split moment and nothing to us- by us I mean adults. I was just a split moment of frustration. The difference was, the adult got down to eye level and told the tot that they were in the wrong, that they were stressed and shouldn’t have taken it out on the tot. That the tot didn’t deserve to be spoken to that way. The adult apologised to the tot and asked them forgiveness. The tot smiled and moved on to the next moment. Healed. I am not a fool, that tot’s heavenly joy will be destroyed by some other adult but it made me realise two things. 1. That we adults have the power right now to change the cycle of abuse (even the most minute forms of it like a simple look or tone of voice that steals a childs inner power). 2. I am responsible for me. Even if that screaming child is agitating me, it’s not their fault that I feel that way. In fact, I think that if I hadn’t a ‘proverbial’ infestation of nibbling midgets I wouldn’t even notice. That child ‘manipulating’? I am envious of their ability to have their needs met. That jerk overtaking me on a busy road? Who cares? Let him. That weird culture? Does it really make me feel better to judge them? No. It is a false sense of superiority. That happy person? They reflect to me everything I am not. It is easier to destroy someone else’s happiness with a smirk or a tone or a rumour than it is to get up of my own rear and find my own happiness.

So, I burst. My lake has drained. There is something shifting inside me. Like Earthen plates. Time for a change. My atoms have evolved and the stagnant ones are disappearing. I can feel it. The waves. The waves. Oh the beautiful waves. Frightening and exciting at the same time. I have left behind all those looks, tones and stagnant minds- my stagnant mind. I am alone and am soaring. I can feel it. The tidal wave of joy and love. The peace. The bliss. I am home. I am me. I am free. I lost my soul mission but I have found it again. To have meaning. To be something to someone. To be love to someone. To be joy to someone. To be peace to someone. Let me be as free as the ocean. Let me be my soul purpose. Let me be like a child again- the wisest of souls on the planet.

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Credit: Flickr’s lrargerich