Category Archives: child care

For Everyone’s Sake

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I was the one loudmouth parent
on the playground today,
the one asking the big kids
to be safe on the slides
so that the little kids
wouldn’t copy their dangerous moves.
I was the loudmouth
asking the ten year old girl
to stop throwing full bottles of water
at the playground equipment–
with a dozen other kids
playing close by, in range of her missiles.
I wondered why more adults weren’t
monitoring and stepping in…
I thought about bystander apathy
and how they must reason “It’s not my kid.”
I was a big loudmouth stranger to those kids,
but I ended up playing frisbee with a couple of them…
maybe, even though I was a nuisance to them,
stepping in and diverting their daredevil plans,
maybe they nonetheless respected me in some way,
as the one adult who saw them
and asked them to be safe for everyone’s sake.

 

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P.S.  Do YOU tell other people’s kids how to act right when no one else is doing it?

Those Mothers

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Those mothers who manage
to write, sing, paint, dance,
practice yoga, cook, garden,
etc. etc. etc.
with their children around–
how do they do it?
Am I an oddball for wanting silence
when I write
or when I’m trying to learn new music?
Am I strange for wanting to be alone
when I roll out my mat to practice asana
(so that no one will be crawling all over me)?
When it’s 5pm and I have no idea what to make for dinner
and my kids are relentless in their lists of needs
am I a failure because I lose my temper?
No, I think I’m pretty normal.
But how do they do it,
those mothers who manage to create
with their living creations
making all that racket?
How do they do it?

Motherhood is Letting Go

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Time is flying
but we don’t notice
because it all unfolds
in this one moment.
I look at you, my children,
and cannot believe
how much you’ve grown.
Every moment of motherhood
a giving away,
a letting go.
Celebrating your steps,
your leaps and bounds,
knowing that someday
you’ll fly away
and I’ll have only the memory
of your tiny hands
reaching out to me
asking for the comfort of my arms.
It takes every ounce of courage
to not hold on too tight.
I don’t want my love to be a cage
that obscures the light you need
to flourish.
So I hold you when you let me
and breathe and let you go
when you’re ready to stand on your own.
Every moment of motherhood
a giving away,
a letting go.

Patience Not Perfect

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Patience.
I’d like to say I’m an adept,
but sorrowfully, I am not.
I yell at my kids still.
Especially when it’s about 4 pm
and my son has peed his pants
for the sixth time that day
and my daughter is wildly
flinging toys left and right
leaving landmines in my path
as I attempt to manage the chaos.
I’d like to say I’m patient
when I’m tired beyond belief
and there is no respite in sight,
and when I dare to attempt to rest,
closing my eyes
for just fifteen minutes
both of my children team up and destroy
the basement–
couch cushions everywhere,
toys everywhere,
complete disorder.
I’d like to say that my years of
daily meditation,
yoga studies,
therapy,
journaling,
and just growing older
have cured me of my reactivity,
but no–
I’m still reactive.
Only now,
I can see it, and I can feel it more.
I also apologize to my kids
for yelling at them and scaring them.
I am not the pinnacle of patience,
but I do know enough about it
to realize that if I can tap into its source
just a little bit more,
I might learn how
to love myself unconditionally.

Sunset First Aid

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Inside I wanted to scream
but on the outside I remained calm
as I spoke in soothing tones
to my boy whose finger was gushing blood.

Instead of going to sleep right away
after I tucked him in for the night
he got out of bed and
managed to pinch his pinky finger tip
in the folding door of his closet

cries of pain
sent me running upstairs

finger tip blue and awful looking,
split skin
blood on his other hand
blood on his pajamas,
now blood on me,
and I couldn’t see…

two friends who had come over for dinner
were downstairs helping us to install a light fixture
and of course
lights were out while working on the wiring

so we stepped outside in the sunset
and I administered first aid in the dying light
mother, healer, soother,
I managed to remain calm
even though inside I wanted to scream

Public Uncertainty

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She is five now,
my little baby is five.
Monday we will register her for kindergarten.
I’m scared.

All of these forms are a nuisance,
but that’s not what I’m scared about.
I’m scared that the public school system will ruin her.

I worked there, in the public school system,
for five years
I worked hard there,
and I took care of my students, I loved them.
But will she be loved?

She is so vibrant, so creative–
will that spark be nurtured?

I contemplate home schooling,
letting her move when she needs to move,
eat when she’s hungry,
rest when she’s tired.

What will happen
when she is hungry and it isn’t time to eat,
or she’s tired and it isn’t time to rest,
or she wants to move and leap and dance,
and she is told to “SIT DOWN!” ?

What then?
Will she turn into me,
wanting to eat,
wanting to rest,
wanting to move,
wanting to create,
and always waiting for permission?

I’m scared.

Always a Mother

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Sometimes I’m a monster.
The hormones rage,
awakened by a child too many times
in the night
sleep deprivation depriving
me of insight,
cannot see the light.
Patience is gone,
replaced by rage,
I’m an animal in a cage.

I’m loud, I stomp, I slam,
I feel put upon, resentful,
exhausted, alone.
Then comes the guilt
for not being better.
When it’s like this,
I often forget that…

Sometimes I’m a saint.
Most of the time
I meet my children
with tenderness and kindness
when they are grumpy,
resistant, messy, loud,
and mostly oblivious to my efforts
toward their happiness.
I cuddle and hold them close,
I tell them how important they are,
how special, how dear,
how glad I am that they are here.

I love from the deepest part of me
and forgive every single thing,
because I see their purity,
their goodness,
their absolute trust in me,
and I want to be worthy of that trust.

Sometimes I’m a monster.
Sometimes I’m a saint.

Always I’m a mother.

Remember Your Wonder Child

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But then sometimes
we get so caught up
in the rational, logical, mathematical
world of adults
that life loses its magic.

We get tunnel vision
as we strive for the success
that the outer world pressures us to achieve.

Inside something is languishing.
That something is the child,
innocent, pure, vibrant, creative,
bounding with life,
a zest for new experiences.

The child,
who gets grumpy when she is tired,
or acts out when he is told
he needs to behave a certain way
so that the adults around him
won’t feel so anxious.

That child knows what she needs,
and knows how to make those needs known.
That child can take an ordinary moment
and transform it into something wonderful,
something fresh, surprising, alive.

When life loses its magic, it’s a sign
that we have lost the child.
At times like those,
it would serve us
to allow the child to come out and play.

Maybe, first,
that child needs to know it is safe.
So the adult in you
holds the child for a moment,
rocking it, speaking in soothing tones,

It’s okay, I am here for you.
Your needs are okay with me.
I am so glad you are here,
and I will do everything I can to help you.
You are allowed to explore,
to make mistakes, to fall…
I am here to help you up again,
to encourage you to try again.
I am here to help you understand
your own unique way of learning,
and to support you as you take
steps toward realizing your greatness.

Don’t disregard the child.
Give it space to be who it is,
Love it unconditionally,
and when the fear and anxiety melt away,
when the grieving of the unmet needs has passed,

Then the child can shine in all of its magnificence.
This is a beautiful part of your mind indeed.
This is the closest you will ever come to knowing God.

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I felt a little uneasy after publishing last night’s post, afraid that it might appear that I was brushing aside that which is childlike in us and extolling the virtues of a seasoned adult’s wisdom.  The child mind I was writing about last night is the one who is anxious, afraid, who doesn’t want to try because it is hurting for some reason or another.  Because I didn’t get that nuance across to my satisfaction, I felt a need to respond to my post in defense of that which is wonderful about the inner child.  Words can be so clumsy, and wielding them well enough to bring others close to understanding our inner workings takes great skill.  Although I still feel clumsy about my own word wielding, I hope that a part of you will understand a part of me and perhaps resonate with what is written here.  The wonder child is, after all, a universal archetype–one that we all can relate to–so maybe all of our inner children will come out to play at this invitation, our sparks of creativity will flame together, and we’ll raise the vibration of the whole universe with our enthusiasm.  Blessed be.

PMS Hell and Other Fun Things

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I hesitate sharing with you in a way that could be construed as my airing my dirty laundry over the internets.  But this blog was at the start, and has continued to be, a place for me to explore my real life situations in the context of my yoga practice, and I ain’t hiding nothin’. This is real life, people.

Pretty sure that I can attribute a lot of what I’m feeling to PMS.  It has its way with me every month. Just a week before my cycle starts, everything goes to hell, and finding one tiny spark of hope takes monumental effort.  Patience is in short supply, and it seems as though everyone is out to get me, especially those closest to me. I manage for the most part to keep the undercurrents of rage at bay for the benefit of my children; I do not want to traumatize them with my moodiness, explosiveness, my reactivity.

I’ve been told that the moodiness associated with PMS occurs as the veil between the conscious and the subconscious wears thin, and everything we’ve been trying to conceal from the world behind our sunshiny/I’m a caregiver/a nurturer/a healer/everyone else comes first exterior rises up to demand our attention for the purposes of learning and healing, and at the very least, for moving through us, for changing, even if it’s on a minute level.

I’ve also been told that PMS is worse for women who feel that they are going about much of their existence without getting their own needs met.  This doesn’t surprise me at all. How long can one continue to maintain a facade of strength, patience, and cheerfulness when she is tired, underfed, under-appreciated, and at the end of her mental and emotional rope?

The chances of a woman suffering from PMS might be linked to our genetic heritage.  This could be part of what is going on here for me–as a child I finally figured out what it was that caused my mom to become a volcano of rage once a month, and I learned how to avoid her during those times.  Before I made the connection, it felt like my world was ending every time my mom withdrew her regular supply of compassionate understanding and gave in turn loud words, slammed doors, angry faces, disapproval.

At any rate, understanding its source in no way helps to mitigate the heaviness, the unease, the sadness, the anger that plague me during this time…and this is precisely where I was when my husband came home last night and scolded me for not shoveling the snow.

Here is what happened in my mind the second he told me I should’ve shoveled the walk in front of our house:

Are you fucking kidding me?  I let him know how hard it was with our son today, how he was inconsolable, tantruming, yelling, crying, wouldn’t eat, wasn’t feeling well, and was using his time to tear up everything he could, making a mess of every room he was in.  I am tired as hell. I worked hard to make a good dinner for everyone, one kids is bathed and in pajamas, the other kid is in the bath right now,  I have spent the last few days cooking my ass off, there are dozens of cookies and yummy leftovers to show for it, I haven’t had a shower in two days, I haven’t been able to write in my journal, or sew, or practice yoga, or anything for my self in days–and I already TOLD HIM I HAVE PMS–so he can go fuck himself.

I told him I forgot.  My husband said that wasn’t an excuse.  That’s when I started getting defensive.  When he let me know that we were the only house on the street that hadn’t shoveled, I thought about the number of times that I had shoveled our sidewalk and didn’t stop at ours, how I had shoveled my neighbors’ sidewalks and put down salt for them without them knowing (random acts of kindness–I’m a believer).  I was 1)Annoyed the one of the neighbors didn’t go, “Ah, whatever, it’s only an inch of snow, I can take care of this for them,” and 2)Flabbergasted that my husband would dare suggest that I could have in some way found time in the midst of toddler hell to get out there and take care of the completely inoffensive, completely innocuous one goddamn inch of snow that was no threat to anyone.

Yep, recipe for angry outburst.  I’m actually proud of myself for the amount of self-control I was able to muster at that moment.  I did raise my voice a little, I’m not going to lie, but I said to him, “I’m giving our daughter a bath right now, trying to put conditioner in her hair.  If it needs to be done–you go do it.”

“You are deflecting responsibility!” he argued.

“I’m not deflecting anything!” I told him, “I’m not willing to have an argument with you about this right now! If the sidewalk needs to be shoveled, YOU TAKE CARE OF IT!”

He slinked off, clearly annoyed, and I tried to regain my composure so that I could be gentle with my little girl as we finished with her bath.  I managed, but inside I was steaming.  Then my mom showed up.  She has been staying with us since the move on February 1 in order to  help us to get settled, and she has been for the most part very helpful, but then this happened:

I told my mom how Cliff just ripped me a new one for not shoveling, how I told him how hard it was with our son, and how I’m so angry I could just slap him, and my mom gave me a sort of sympathetic look, said nothing, walked into her bedroom and closed the door. That was odd.  Normally she says something like, “Men!” and I immediately feel heard and vindicated.

So now I had to figure out why I wasn’t been met with the motherly sympathy I was wanting.  A few minutes later when she reappeared, I cornered her and said, “Did you not respond to my complaining because Cliff already told you what happened, you think I should’ve shoveled also, you think I have no reason to be upset?”

“Yes, Cliff already told me about what happened, and I don’t want to take sides,” she told me.  She doesn’t want to take sides?

“I’m not asking you to take sides,” I told her, “At the end of a long day, all I want is some empathy.” She patted my shoulder, walked into the bathroom, and took a bath.  Well, fuck. Now I’m mad at my husband and my mother.  She of all people should understand what it is to be bogged down by household responsibilities and then be told that she hasn’t done enough!

I barely mustered the strength to write my daily post last night.  My husband was on the laptop downstairs and I wasn’t about to have an interaction with him to retrieve it from him, so I had to muddle through posting from my iPhone. I didn’t show up for my journal writing practice.  I didn’t show up for my evening meditation practice.  I just went the hell to bed.

This morning I was hoping that I would be in a softer, more forgiving place, but none such thing happened.  As I awoke I felt the same seductive pull of my anger and my resentment, the same self-righteous indignation that was burning through me the night before. Great.  I went ahead and sat for my thirty minute morning meditation, I got breakfast started, made myself coffee.  The kids woke up just as I was getting breakfast on the table. I helped them through a smooth morning routine, and when my husband awoke they were nearly ready to leave for school.  I got his breakfast started for him too, in spite of the fact that I would not, could not look him in the face.  He said something about discussing last night, and I said, “If it’s going to be you justifying your disappointment and reiterating how I didn’t fulfill my responsibility, then I’m not interested.”  He said, “So you’re okay with holding on to all of this?”  I said, “I’d rather us not talk right now than me get angry all over again because you can’t understand what I’m feeling and where I’m coming from.”  This was a clear invitation for some empathy from him, but it went right over his head, because he was caught in his own beliefs about the event, so he shrugged and sauntered off to get ready for work while I was left to clean up smears of cream cheese from the breakfast table.

I played with the kids while the husband was in the shower.  Then I brushed their teeth and their hair, got their coats and back packs ready, helped them with their socks and shoes, and got them out the door with my husband–and felt a sense of relief when he was gone.  Now I’m hiding from my mother in my bedroom.  I still don’t want to talk to her either.

And I’m writing about all of this because it is therapeutic.  I’m not quite ready for the yogic phase of this experience, in which I take ownership for all of my crappy feelings and muster empathy for my husband and my traitor of a mother, and then tell them how much I appreciate them and care about them, and apologize for my reactivity. Maybe later.  For now, I’m going to wallow in my PMS hell, and allow myself to be seduced by my anger and resentment for a while longer.  Perhaps my feelings will have something to tell me, if I take the time to listen.