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Mothering For the Long Haul

I get the feeling that in the old days, people had kids to add more hands to the labor pool. The more bodies, the better to help plant, pick, and pickle. And yes, they were all jammed into small cabins on the prairie or in the hollow much like we are today. Welcome to our ancestral American Roots where you were lucky if you survived bizarre daily accidents and went on to procreate yourself. Mothering for the long haul on Shalavee.com

Fast forward to modern day 2020 and we have all been reduced to huddling in our prairie huts with our families riding out the viral storm, living the past in the present Laura Ingalls Wilder style.. This occasion gives the thinkers like me time to stop and consider who we are and what we think. And what I discovered about myself is that I am foremost, a mother. The well-being of my children physically and mentally is at the top of my everyday priority list. Yes it’s nice if they can haul in the groceries and unload the dishwasher but their mere existence is joy enough for me.Mothering for the long haul on Shalavee.com

So in the first couple weeks of our lock in, I was acting much like I did when we would take them as young children to the beach for a couple overnights. I’d end up worrying all night about if they were getting enough sleep and I’d get no sleep while they’d sleep like the babies they were. 

These first couple weeks of seclusion, I wanted to help my daughter to feel safe. I wanted to be there for her and lighten her load and not add to it. As Moms around the world were doing, I was thinking of the children first. Because I understand this better. Because I remember what it was like to not have my feelings be prioritized. Because I esteem them so that they will esteem them.Mothering for the long haul on Shalavee.com

But I also learned that they needed to grieve for the loss of their normal. They eventually would grieve in their own time and their own ways and I had to step back and be present and allow for this to happen. I can not take away their pain. They are entitled to it. It is theirs. But they also turned to me to feel safe to feel this grief. And that’s truly all we can do for our family and our friends, just witness all the craziness with them and know that soon, this will all be a nightmare.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

Parenting Keeps Improving Me Despite Myself

There are days with these junior people that are trying as in, I’m trying not to be irritated or sarcastic because I’m tired and so are they apparently and nothing good can probably come of our interaction. Mornings when I can not wait until Fiona has gotten on the bus so I can sigh for the relief of no more drama to deal with. Nights when my son just won’t go to bed and leave me alone. Life is composed of day upon day and never is that more felt than in a parent’s life.

They ask you to rise with all the kindness and humanity you possess. All the humility, dignity, and patience you were sure you did not possess before you were a parent. Because a part of you gets born with them. A person who can no longer ignore your impact on the world’s footprint. A person who wants to model self-pride and self-acceptance. A better parent to yourself in the end and you know parenting is always do what I do, not just as I say.

Parenting Keeps Improving Me Despite Myself on Shalavee.com

You will also discover your limits and their limitless trust in the relationship you forge from the cosmic nothingness of childbirth. We can hope to give our children more than we had, make up for our childhoods with better ones for them.
But in the end, they love you no matter what you do with that forgiveness that you seldom afford yourself.

I am in awe and ever grateful for these gifts that keep on giving back to me, my children, the tall one and the small loud one. Eamon and Fiona are the most wonderful pieces of universal creativity I will ever have a hand in. And I am grateful on a daily basis for their ridiculous gift of my appreciation of my existence before they were here.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Value the Heck out of Our Good Educators

We have our kid enrolled in a public school. He’s a super smart kid, scores ridiculously high on those school standardized tests, and we’d absolutely go into debt to pay for a private school if it was the right thing. But he’s a musician and the music program at his school is marvelous. The reason the school’s music program is so very good is because of one teacher. One amazing dedicated inspirational teacher.

He’s the guy who was a music nerd in school just like my kid. He’s turned Eamon and his classmates on to Jazz and Buddhism and a number of wonderful things that would have meant nothing coming from me. And he hears and sees each of those kids. And they feel heard and seen. They feel like they belong there in that class. In a time when we are fast becoming cogs in a giant wheel, it is more important than ever to acknowledge our children as the people that they are. They need to know they belong somewhere and are not just being asked, nay commanded, to fit in.Value the Heck out of Our Good Educators on Shalavee.com

So imagine our outrage when the mandate got handed down that the 8th grade middle-schoolers in Maryland would have to fulfill a mandatory language credit for one half of the year instead of having band. So for one half of the year, band and choir and art students all had to give up their sense of belonging to complete a credit of something they’ll get plenty of in high school. He was unhappy and so my son passed around a petition to these children which they all signed because they thought maybe their disappointment would be heard.

The story will continue to play out. These children will not get that time back to be seen and feel good about themselves being who they are this school year. And sadly, the program in high school isn’t the same and many of them will drop out. Not my kid but for many, this is their last chance before life continues its artistic oppression.

So on behalf of Eamon’s music teacher, and for all the teachers who deserve the credit we keep forgetting to give them, write a thank you note to one you appreciate. Gush if you can. Because they deserve to hear our appreciation for the mostly thankless job they do. Their administrators just don’t get that it’s truly about the students. Their advocacy, their support, and their chance to be seen for exactly who they are.

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

Belief

( Enjoy this post From 2015)   Belief is the word of the week, of the season. Wrapping up the year, this concept means the most to me now. And so I will start and end on what the word belief has meant to me recently in hopes that I can both make sense and find closure in the way I see things to be now.

I believe in the wonder and joy of the spirit of Christmas. That the generosity and kindness of man and womankind can rise us above our basic tendencies of smallness to bring about great moments of small humanity. That is what Christmas is to me. But to a child, the season is Santa. And the wonder and miraculousness of his visits is a gift every child should be able to enjoy until it’s time to move upwards. Eamon and Santa from 2007 on Shalavee.com

I had the tragic privilege of robbing my eldest of his belief in this magic a couple of weeks ago. He kept asking me and asking me, was Santa real? And finally, when he said he was going to make an addendum to his Santa list when I’d already shopped, I told him…

He cried the biggest crocodile tears for the longest time. And as I watched the big beautiful bubble of belief disappear after several outbursts of tears and “no no nos”, I doubted my decision to have done this but alas, I could never take it back, could I ? He declared he’d prove me wrong. I certainly hope he does. And then I told him to talk to his Dad about the tooth fairy.Fiona on the green on Shalavee.com

We believe what suits us don’t we? If our beliefs perpetuate a certain end or means to that end we can’t comprehend being without, we’re tethered then to our beliefs. We’re invested. We’re living in our belief suit. Until someone rips it off of us.

I found my esteem feeling quite naked after a recent incident robbed me of my self-belief. I was left wondering if I was in fact a talented designer. If I was worthy of the accolades I’ve ever received. If the inkling I keep having that maybe I don’t suck was true. Comes down to what I really believe is the truth.  love yourself on Shalavee.com

I believe that I have a light that shines brightly. That that light is different. And that it’s meant to keep shining so that others can benefit from the hope that it brings. Because when they’re ready, anyone can join with me in the belief that their creativity and voice can make a difference. I believe my belief affects other people’s beliefs. And that is nonnegotiable.

I make happen what I believe possible. So that is what I am going to focus on. Shifting my possibilities to believabilities. And relying a little less on what I think might be the awful truth and more on what I know to be true. I’ve got talent in spades. I just need to figure out where I’ll be appreciated and believed in and mirrored back safely. Christmas tree on Shalavee.com

Merry Christmas to you all. May the magic of Christmas renew your belief in yourself and in humanity. I’m taking a holiday hiatus and will return in a week. Love to each and every one of you my dear dear readers.

If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your emailbox. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest too. I am always practicing Intentional Intouchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

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Kindergarten Homework

With our enthusiastic “Go get’em” faces on, we waved our son onto the number 14 bus bound for Kindergarten. Maybe September allergies made my husband’s eyes water or maybe it was his relief that our child survived being stuck at home with me for the past 5 years. I contained my giddiness as I snapped that fateful picture of him waving back from the bus steps. We were each about to learn what going to school and developing new systems meant to us.Kindergarten Homework

The little guy loved school. Early in the year, I paid a visit to him and his 17 pint-sized classmates in their new classroom. I wanted to meet his teacher and to gather context for my son’s random, and sometimes jarring, disclosures of daily happenings. I’d been told she ran her classroom as smoothly as a Barney episode and I agreed after seeing her in action. She was generous with her praise and commendably judicious with a spastic group of five-year-olds. I felt my heart burst for all their sweetness and hardships. I wanted to wipe the pizza sauce off their faces and tie all their dirty untied shoelaces. And then I had to leave. Better her than me.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

Why was I surprised when the ridiculous quantity of paper began to flood our house? We got monthly activity schedules and cafeteria menus earnestly printed on green and pink papers followed by the “homework” sheets for the math and reading “clubs”. After a twenty-year hiatus, I had “homework” because it would take a herculean effort for my five-year-old son to list ten books we read in any given month plus their authors. Instead, he drew pictures for two books he liked. His reward was tattoos and bookmarks. I was rewarded with the return of these same drawings caught up in the paper river flowing from his “Dolphin” folder.

I absolutely loved my son’s drawings of primitive smiling suns and the stick people who suddenly had on pants because one of his bossy girlfriends proclaimed them necessary, although his stick figures soon returned to their original nakedness. And, of course, I liked the pictures where I was a part of the action. Sadly, only five percent of the rest of the book bag busyness consisted of these. Instead, I got glued, cut, colored, and constructed things of all sorts randomly based on holidays or nursery rhymes. Paper dolls tenuously perched on Popsicle sticks, sticker books, cereal cemented to construction paper, and drawings from his classmates. These barged into our home and tumbled out of his green backpack onto the kitchen table, sofa, and floor. And each and every loving one of these papers was suddenly and forever my responsibility.  

If I had kept every one of these suckers, in twenty years I’d have ended up on one of those hoarding shows, walking between mountains of papers and being buried alive under them. And, left up to my son, each little scrap of paper he’d ever put pen, crayon, scissors, or marker to was precious enough to keep forever. So, I smiled and nodded as I placed everything in the basket on top of the refrigerator, the paper avalanche repository. I had a secret stealth plan called The Purge, the goal of which was to land all the papers worth keeping into an out-of-sight place in an orderly fashion because the opposite of an overwhelming landslide is doable chunks.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

The three-step Purge system started with the placement of the papers in the basket atop the fridge. I then stealthily moved them to a drawer upstairs and, after being sorted essential from non, they would go into a portfolio in a closet. My theory was that if you were to mark the start and end of the monthly paper ocean with a ribbon marker in the basket, after a week I feel pretty sure the child would have forgotten about that hunk of stuff between the markers. There’s an official month of paper stuff to sort then. But out of sight means out of mind; I couldn’t let the child become an obstacle to The Purge.

Only when I was alone in the house, did I attempt to ruthlessly sort and cull this mess for the essence of my child. Parental wisdom must fight that guilty voice. One drawing of trees and kitties and a page of E’s are great but twenty of them are not. Into a paper recycle bag went the extras plus that which does not at all show the talents and charms of my child. I felt guilt-free when I pitched the gigantic paper penny, nothing against my man Abraham. And while I may have been kind and offered my in-laws the opportunity to take from the bag any art they may have liked, then Hi Ho Hi Ho off to the grey recycling container it went.

The final step was to create the holder for everything I’d culled. For his daycare artwork, I’d made a giant cardboard pita pocket portfolio and taped up the edges. It worked out nicely. Poster-board would work with packing tape seams. Certain well-known crafty people have made these attractive with fabric covered foam core and ribbon ties. I saved the pretty for later after I’ve mastered the simple de-clutter. This was the trench-work for the kindergarten homework clutter attack and it was all about biting off only as much as I could chew.Kindergarten Homework on Shalavee.com

I visited his classroom again that year. His lovely teacher and I spoke about educational mandates. All the busy work is still proof to the parents and legislators that the children are learning. And conversely, the clubs’ homework proves the parents are working with and reading to their children. She said if she had her way, there would be two recesses for her kindergartners (and 7 years later she would finally get that when she taught my daughter in Pre-K). Maybe there are too many cooks in the educational kitchen substantiating the price of their ingredients, but they’ll never pay this magnificent teacher enough. In fact, she’d been saving his “special” work from his year in a scrapbook she gave us parents at the end of the year. Why was I doing any of this when she’d had it covered? 

None the wiser for his mother’s devious deeds, my busy-brained boy continued to be overly stimulated as he dumped out his paper laden book bag. One day in March, he came home excitedly talking about Rosa Parks and Harriet “Tubb-s-man”. Apparently, he’d learned a lot about civil unrest and the Underground Railroad for black history month. They sang freedom songs, made paper buses, and discussed the mistreatment of the slaves. I was a little thrown by the sudden candidness of the subject and I commenced with a serious “discussion” about the ramifications of slavery and the inherent rights of all human beings to their freedom. After a long thoughtful silence, he said “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s play slaves!” Nothing new there.

(This piece of creative non-fiction was one of the very first as I began to write on-line and Published on Divine Caroline, a writing site that gave me reason to write. I then began this blog a year later but never republished it here. This Kindergarten Homework’s grand edited revival.)

And If you enjoyed what you read, subscribe, via the subscription box in the sidebar, to my thrice weekly posts via your email box. And visit me on Instagram to see my daily pictures, friend me or like my page on Facebook. Or come find me on Twitter or Pinterest  too. I am always practicing Intentional In-touchness so chat at me please. I live for conversations.

And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

 

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