Friday, August 13, 2010

My Children, My Teachers

Oh my beautiful Rock Star and Itty Bitty – you have filled me and challenged me so much this week!
I was greatly challenged to remember that your needs are ever evolving, you are growing and changing both physically and emotionally; you need room, permission, and love as you move through your new feelings and questions.

This week you have reminded me that you have the right to move and feel on your terms. I cannot and should not force you to think and feel anything. You reaffirmed the lesson that I must spend time being still and listening to you; to your cries, your laughter, your questions, your silence.

Rock Star, you ask something important of me this week. I have learned that when I make assumptions towards your actions, feelings and thoughts is hurtful to you. You want to be listened to, to be fully and deeply heard. I need to validate your words and ideas. When you are given the respect of a whole listener you are in turn able to be open in your mind and heart.

Itty Bitty, my ever-growing independent one. I have spent many hours lately trying to figure out where your feelings of (what appear to be) anger and frustration are coming from and I was pleased this week when your daddy and I became aware that you want your space. You want your hugs and kisses, to be picked up and held, to have your space shared by others to be on your terms. You are transitioning from a baby who is content to explore the world in the arms of another and now you want to be free, you want your space, room to watch, listen and feel.

I have had to look at some of my time this week and choose to realize they were not bad days but days in which there was much to learn; perhaps this alone was my greatest lesson. I must set anger and frustration aside and search for what is to be gained; to realize there is always someone, something that is trying to communicate with me. To accept this I must keep my spirit open and anger only closes me off.

Thank you my little teachers. Thank you for not only helping me be a better mother to you but a better human being. I love you without measure.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Little Fighter

Last night after a very fun and active afternoon and evening I did something I hate doing. I yelled. I mean I really yelled. It was one of those over-the-top emotional, exhausted and extremely immature reactions to something small. It was the kind of reaction and behavior that leaves me feeling guilty, ashamed, regretful and fearful. The worst part is Rock Star was the recipient.

But here is the good part. I shouted and rather than cry, retreat, run away from me or any other reaction of defeat he went toe to toe with me. He shouted right back; he told me I was being mean and needed to stop shouting, he told me I was being rude. He told me he didn’t like me.

About this time the phone rang and caller ID said it was the hubs. I told Rock Star to go talk to his dad. We each spoke to daddy for a couple of minutes which was just long enough for us both to regain our composure. I immediately told Rock Star we needed to talk and I apologized for my behavior. I apologized for shouting, for losing my temper, for trying to make him feel bad. I told him I was tired and a little overwhelmed and I made a really bad choice in how to deal with it. He too apologized for shouting and saying mean things, he then started laughing and told me I was acting like I was “cookoo in my coconut” from here we both started laughing at ourselves, each other and our ridiculous behavior.

As I was reflecting back on this later that night, I realized how proud and happy I was he fought back. It was affirmation he has self-worth and he knows right from wrong, even when it is an adult. He knew my behavior and reaction was out of line and he was not about to be victimized by it. He was right, he didn’t like me right then – and he shouldn’t have. I didn’t like myself! It makes me feel confident that as he goes farther into the world without his daddy and I always there he will know he has the right to stick up for himself, to never let anyone take their anger or inappropriate behavior out on him. He knows he deserves kindness and respect.

Perhaps the title of this post is wrong. The truth is he is not a fighter, he is kind and loving. He is thoughtful and insightful and he is conscientious of the needs and feeling of others. But he is angered by injustice, by people being hurt or taken advantage of. I love that he is driven to fight for what is right, for what he and others need and deserve. I don’t just love this child, I respect and admire him.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Groundhogs Day

 Do you ever feel like you are living the same day over and over? I do. I get in these phases where it seems every day is exactly like the rest. Get-up, cook, clean, play with kids, cook, clean, errands, clean/laundry, cook, family time, clean, baths, bed. Not that this is a bad day, it is just so damn repetitive sometimes.

I have this belief that life should be a constant cycle of moments and experiences that give us something, an opportunity to learn, feel, enjoy – whatever. I want my kids to crawl into bed each night feeling like the day was really worth living. The truth is I want this for myself too. And here is the thing, I am not talking about “activities” or running around to play groups, kids play-warehouses, or other stimulate and entertain sort of things. I am talking about the ability to be really, really present in every moment of the day, to fulfill the need or reap the gift of it. Sometimes I find myself living and operating on autopilot. I loathe feeling robotic and emotionless about my time.

Is it realistic that I feel connected and present while doing the laundry and mopping floors? My immediate logical response is, "No Amy, lower your expectations.” But then I think, why not? While reading a book on Buddhism (forgive me as I have read so many I forget exactly which one it was!) the author spoke of eating a repetitive, limited diet and how even though he ate the same bowl of rice each day he was able to think of the life that went into providing this meal for him; the growth of the plant, the hands that harvested and prepared it – he was connected and in the moment. So is it unreasonable to desire this while doing the laundry?

Oh, but as with all things done in the midst of raising and tending to the needs of small children priorities must be set. So perhaps my laundry will remain mundane for a bit longer and I can focus on other things like making time with books, art even sleep a more beautiful experience for my kids and I.

I feel so very far from where I want to be, from the peaceful, settled place I want my spirit to be. I must remember this is a journey, not a destination and give myself space to grow and experience.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Being Beautiful

I am sure many of you saw this today (if you watch the Today Show) while drinking your morning caffeine but if not, check out Operation Beautiful. Simple concept, huge impact potential. It was interesting that I saw this as I was having many thoughts this week about what being beautiful means. Monday the hubs and I celebrated our 13 year wedding anniversary and since I was home all day with the kids and spent the day cleaning and doing laundry around 4:30 I decided the best “gift” I could give the hubs was to shower and dress with make-up and all. It is unheard of for me to do my hair and apply make-up in the evening if there are no plans to go out. So the hubs came home we spent some time with the kids and then started the bedtime routine. While tucking Rock Star in he said the following:
Mom, I always love you but I love you extra right now because you are so beautiful. Your lips are pretty and you smell really good.”
How sweet right? I felt good, great actually, I was showered and energetic, I was in a comfy summer dress and yes, I had lipstick on. Anyway, the conversation encouraged me in the days since to get up and get completely ready in the morning. This means real clothes (no sweats) with hair, make-up and a bit of jewelry.

But of course I had this little part of me that was bummed that my kids, and even myself, was viewing my beauty to be so external. I loathed the idea that my beauty and worth was tied up in whether or not I was wearing lipstick. I actually quit wearing make-up (with the exceptions of very special occasions) when Itty Bitty was a newborn because she had extremely sensitive skin and anything I wore would rub on her. To me, this was beautiful, granted my face looked haggard, but it was the face of a mother who wanted to kiss and snuggle her baby. However, this morning while watching this clip on the Today Show it dawned on me that perhaps what my kids were “attracted” to wasn’t the lipstick and eyeliner but rather my improved spirit and attitude. I felt better; I know my attitude reflected this. I was giving myself a few moments of pampering (funny how something so basic becomes “pampering” when you are a mom!) and it gave me just that little extra boost I needed. Rather than serving the kid’s breakfast in my PJ’s with crusty eyes and a prayer that I would soon come alive, I was dressed, energetic and felt ready to tackle the day. Yes, THIS is what my kids see and love. THIS is what makes me feel beautiful and happy. I have to remind myself that I love this body of mine not because of what it looks like but because of what it does, what it allows me to give and who it allows me to be and giving back to it a few minutes each day through a bit of primping is a part of its fuel.

My appearance has changed much from my pre-kid days. But I have never felt and believed I am more beautiful than I am being my kids mama.

What are you doing that makes you beautiful?
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