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A few days ago, I had a heart to heart moment with the youngest of my two daughters - who is one of the oldest ones of my bunch. This came about because I came to the realization, that from all of my kids, she is the one that needs the least amount of stuff from me. She is self-sufficient, reliable, always in a great mood, and very even tempered...seems like the perfect kid, huh? But, when I remember how she was as a baby, I realized that this was not how she came to this world.
For starters she was born colicky. She cried and cried for hours, and days without end... She was an emotional child - and I don't mean this in a bad way, but in that way, that when she feels something, she feels it in her soul. She was one of those babies who was tough as nails, but also gentle as a butterfly.
Now, self reliant and practical, the traces of that emotional baby are long gone. She no longer shares her feelings with me - or anyone else for the matter. She is excellent in terms of helping her baby brothers when they need her to hold them, cuddle caress or care for them: but her emotions are bottled up tight and held in the safe of her heart. She does not share them with anyone...and you know, this makes me sad. I think that a lot of times we adults don't care for ourselves in the proper way, because we have learned to bottle our emotions.
Where did they go? I'll tell you. I tucked them away. You see. When she was a baby. She cried so much and was so full of emotion that I didn't know how to handle it. She was one of those kids that cried all of the time...and I didn't know how to deal with it. You see, I was taught that there is no reason for children to cry. I was taught that crying was bad, and that if a child's needs are met (food, clothing, toys, etc.) that there is no reason for them to cry. I would tell her to stop crying. I would scream at her because she seemed to cry all day long. Non stop. Most days it would drive me crazy and I would become angry with her. Now after a few years, she is older, I am wiser, and have learned how to become more patient, and have become very aware that crying is a sign of a need, not something to become annoyed with. I have realized the harm that I did during that time, by not allowing her to feel free to feel her feelings...I made her bottle them up. So where is the heart to heart you ask?
Well, a few days ago, while I was making breakfast we were having a talk - about random stuff. Food. Her brothers. The day. Nothing in particular. And she tells me that she remembers being a baby, and me putting glove things, on her hands because she used to scratch her face. She was months old when this used to happen. So I asked her. "Do you remember crying a lot, when you were a baby?" Her response, "Yup. I used to want you to pick me up." Folks. My heart sank! My little baby, only wanted to be held...and back then I, didn't listen to my heart, I listened to people tell me that I should not pick her up a lot, because she would become spoiled, and would want to be held all day...this, BTW still breaks my heart to know. Anyhow, I told her that I was sorry. I told her that I was sorry that I didn't hold her more then. That I was sorry that she has learned to feel that her emotions are supposed to be buried deep within. And I told her that I take responsibility for her thinking that way. And that I promise to always, be available for her, and that I will help her feel comfortable in sharing her feelings.
I was reminded this weekend, once again that the way that I treat my children matters...but mostly, I was reminded that learning to understand myself, and love myself while I become healthy emotionally and physically, are a few of the most important things that I can do for my children. Because the way that they see themselves and interpret their lives comes directly from the way in which they see us react to them and our environment. It is my mission, to help her learn, in as loving a way as I can, to help her heal and learn to express herself fully... and I am happy to report that over the course of the weekend, hugs and kisses have been in abundance :D and she is willing to come out of her shell.
I am dedicated to helping other mothers out there, so that they don't have to go through these hard lessons with their children. If you have a situation that is similar to this, or would like to understand and/or prevent this or understand yourself and child better, please sign up for Regaining Harmony. It's FREE.
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Tonight, I watched Mommie Dearest, and it made me cry. I sat up in my bed and cried during the infamous "No more wire hangers" scene. I'll be honest with you, I'm not exactly sure why I cried. Obviously I cried because I was watching Christina - the daughter - be beaten with a wire hanger...but I was also crying because I was watching what utter lack of control, self knowledge and the inability to understand one's emotions can do. Of course, this is an extreme reaction, but who is to say that these things can't actually happen?
I remember, a long time ago, when I had four under four - and it was HARD. I remember going into my bathroom to cry, because I didn't know how to do it all. I always felt lonely and alone during this time. My family was far away, my husband worked all of the time, just to bring in the bacon, and I was alone all day long with four small children, and you know what? I know what it's like to be furious and exhausted. To be so angry at my situation that I didn't know what to do.
For the longest time, I had to crawl through the trenches, and relearn everything that I thought I knew about myself, so that I could become a different kind of human being, one step at a time, I had to turn myself around to be the best mother for my kids - I didn't want to turn into that (Mommie Dearest)...and I learned that the hardest struggle that I had to overcome was myself. The story that I'd told myself for so long.
I had to rewrite patterns, change my reactions, and release old habits. You see, I learned that many of the things that I was struggling with, were in fact not truths, but merely beliefs that I was holding on to. Beliefs like:
Although this movie is an extreme example, the truth is that we all loose it is at times, and react in ways that at our best, we would never consider. We all have moments of frustrations, and self doubt, it's only natural. The trick is to use these moments to learn more about yourself, and your child, and the key factor to learning from yourself is HONESTY. Learning to understand why I felt the way that I did. Learning to understand the purpose for my reaction. Taking responsibility for the reactions, feelings and thoughts that lead to my reaction, and understanding where it came from. You see, if I did not learn to be honest with my feelings, myself, and my children, how was I supposed to change?
Being as transparent as possible. When you're honest with yourself (your actions, the reasons, and reaction) you can begin to understand, heal and move forward. When you're honest with yourself, believe it or not, you understand your child and life in a completely different way. Yes. It takes courage. It takes strength to live in such a open/raw manner, but when you take this step: learning to ask yourself why or why not, a different world opens up for you, and you can begin to live...with no BS in between - and then you can start to live the life that you want, for yourself and your children.
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Or share your thoughts below. I would love to hear them..
There is a young boy who lives in my neighborhood, one who I’ve been watching grow up for years. He’s 19, he’s handsome and he seems to be aware of the things and people around him. He seems kind and is very quiet. As you can tell, by my vague description, I don’t know him very well: but I can tell you that when my dog got out of my yard, he brought him back – this action has always stayed with me, and gives my me a nice memory when I see him. So when I found out yesterday that this young boy has a severe drug problem, it saddened me. Deeply.
Now, I’ve always recognized that within him there is a deep sorrow but lately he’s been more lost. He’s becoming lost into the world of drugs and all of the dark things that go along with that world. The mom in me wants to help him. I want to hold him while he cries and tell him that it’s going to be ok. I want to rub his head, while he releases his sorrow in tears, and tell him that it’s a fleeting moment, and that it will pass like everything in life – but I can’t. Watching him grow into a tortured person hurts me from the outside and makes me think, “What can I do?” So I pray. I pray and I pay more attention to my kids – because you see, the thought of one of my kids choosing a life style like this keeps my up at night.
I lay awake at night, in the dark thinking about all of the people that we come across who have chosen this lifestyle and what brought them to this. I wonder about their family life, and about the examples or experiences that they saw in their childhood that made them run to these methods of coping. These thoughts help me remember to become more present: because I know that the key lies in the now.
The moment that I live in, always NOW, is what holds the key. When they – my kids – are crying, what’s the true reason behind the tears: the purpose behind the sadness. When they are struggling with something, how am I nurturing a healthy way to learn from the challenge? When they are feeling big emotions, like my daughter and her anger, how can I turn this moment into introspection and understanding for both of us – and chose connection and understanding vs. guilt and shame…so many questions.
Did I forget to mention that this boy has a son? Yes. He does. This lost boy has a 2 year old baby son – a son who is watching his father, and learning from everything that his father does. Not what his father says, but what his father does. Because the truth is that they learn from what we do. Our children, especially when they are younger, watch us intently, learning from our behavior. They learn to see the world through our eyes. They learn how to react to the world around them, by watching the way that we react to our world - they take on these understandings as their own while they grow. They learn to see and react to challenges, emotions and changes, as we do. The adage, the change begins with you, has everything to do with this.
We are all beginning to feel somewhere within ourselves that the stories and beliefs that we have been telling ourselves is no longer working – I dare you to challenge and change them. Not for yourself, but for your child. We can each change the world, our families, our children and our lives one choice, thought, feeling and emotion at a time.
By taking time to nourish YOUR soul, and nourish what makes you feel good - and alive. By bringing that into your life, family, community etc., you can be the change. It’s time to be authentic, and live your happy. The only way to break the cycle is to be the change. It starts with you…and in the mean time, I will keep choosing connection and understanding wherever possible...and as for this boy, I will continue to pray and send out good vibes his way.
I am a floater...I've always been a go with the wind, and ride it kind of gal! I've had many great opportunities from just being open and flexible. As a result, I never felt the need to change many things, because I was just going with the flow: from one thing to the next, and learning as life happened and as people, places, and events came my way...In fact, I tell most people, that if it were not for my children and husband, I would float away into the sky. I was like this until I started to have my children. My children are the biggest reason that I've learned to seek and actively change, in more ways, than one.
One example is me becoming a raw vegan. I did this because I was tired of being tired. I wanted
to have energy to play with, and run with my children. I felt compelled to do something about the way that I felt and found raw veganism to be an answer. For those of you who have not had a food related life style change, I tell you that this is SO HARD! For the first few weeks, I wanted to stuff my face with everything and anything that was around me. But, knowing that this change meant the difference between a connected mamma, and a tired grumpy mamma made all of the difference - I pushed on. There have been others things like learning to stop yelling (which was big), learning to listen and understand my children in a deeper human level, or learning to understand and pick apart my past and family/ancestral lineage so that I can pick apart and release old family patterns and hurts.
I've learned to be present, more empathetic, and compassionate because of them. In every stage of my life, they have been the driving force for me to become a better person, so that I could become a better mother. I think that when we face the demons and the darkness that we feel, with a brave face, we learn so much about ourselves. I believe that children are our mirrors, in that they reflect what we are putting out into the world and into our home. Being honest with these truths, we are able to embrace the changes that need to happen and learn to live a fuller, more connected life. I have found that even though different circumstances may seem challenging, I don't have to define the challenging times as hard - but as a new way to see the world. I have understood that in life's divine timing, I have the fantastic opportunity to learn and grow...and for this, I thank these beautiful people that I am proud to share my life with.
Healing the relationship with your child can be scary. It requires questioning our beliefs and behaviors. We have to begin to treat our children and ourselves in a way that we are not familiar with.
When I began the process of learning to understand my children, in order to become a more gentle peaceful parent, I didn't realize that, although my initial mission was to change the way that I reacted to my children, I was also changing myself. I learned how to change the patterns that were the norm, and I learned how to heal my own emotions while healing theirs. Today, I will share with you, some of the things that I learned along the way.
Forgiveness Is Important
This one is very difficult for us to do. As mothers, I think that we have attached a strange pleasure to the guilt martyr feelings...I jest! Kinda. We replay things that we did over and over and over again in our brains, replaying what happened. We obsess over the things that we've done. Or could've done better. Or should've. Or blah blah blah. When the truth is that we all have moments that are not stellar, and holding on to these things is sure to do one of two things:
The truth is that every not-so-great moment, is a chance to learn something. A new way to react in the future, form a new perspective and understand where we learned the behavior. Rainbows come after the rain, and we too blossom through every experience. We all go through this. Beating yourself up does not help you in the long run. See it for what it is: a chance to change and start anew.
Being Less Reactive Can Be A Miracle
I still remember when I realized this for the first time. I was on my couch, after a long day: 9 pm and husband still at work: kids needing to be bathed: exhaustion: lack of sleep: and me needing a break. Most days this would've been the perfect concoction for cranky and yelling.
One of my twins walked by me, and headed to the kitchen. At this time, he was 3 years old, and had a new found fondness for climbing onto the kitchen counter and going through the cabinets. He would take everything - as long as he could reach it - out, and would throw it everywhere. This time was different. I asked him what he wanted, and if he was hungry. He nodded his head yes. Being a late talker, this communication was huge. If I would've reacted as times before: yelled, assumed that he was playing in the cabinet and wanting to take things out and spill them everywhere, I would not have learned to understand. Instead I would have become angry with the thoutht that I had to clean the mess that always happened when he went through the cabinets.
Being non-reactive and understanding instead, allowed me to change my perception and reaction. I learned that day, that being one sided and not giving thought to the why he, or any of my other children, do certain things is disconnecting. Taking a breath between feelings and reaction can often be life altering.
Listening Without Defending and Apologizing After
Admitting I Was Wrong
When I was pregnant with my last baby, I had a conversation with my oldest daughter about my old behaviors and parenting style (yelling and not understanding). It forced me to confront the reality that I was not listening to them. We spoke about where I learned those behaviors. She was glad that I was not going to be "that mommy" with her new baby brother, and that I am not like that anymore with her and her siblings. When I listened, and created a space for her to feel trust, without her feeling attacked, or as if she had to defend herself the healing process began.
When we listen to our children and what they have to say about our actions/reactions to them, we learn to understand them - their needs, wants, feelings and thoughts. We allow them to get out what they keep inside, and help them heal past hurts. We learn to understand the consequence of our actions, and learn to behave in a way that honors them and ourselves while fostering the relationship, and just as important, we gain their trust.Saying that I was wrong and apologizing moved mountains. Not only for my children but also for myself. It lead to freedom.
Understanding My Beginnings - My Ancestry
It might be hard to know why act in a certain way, when we don't know or understand were these behaviors come from. When we are unconscious of the energies in our relationships: thoughts, emotions, feelings, acts etc., with out children we may be doomed to repeat them. Unconscious energies have a great ability to creep up in our everyday lives. Changing and understanding my behaior, was one of the reasons that I started to question my beliefs and ancestry. Research has shown that it is possible to pass along memories and trauma through our DNA. It is possibly carry along family dramas or past actions into the present, and being unaware of these past issues, patterns, or stories, can lead us into repeating them. Fortunatly becoming aware of these energies, gives us a head start, and the ability to consciously change.
Becoming More Available
The more present that I am, the more I am able to connect, and understand. I am able to see issues, before they become a problem. I am able to understand what my needs are, hunger, tired, thirsty, sleepy etc., so that I can be more available to my children and I can nurture myself, and also be more nurturing to them.
Checking messages, looking through social media, reading articles online, etc., these are all things that take more time that I may have at the moment. Leaving devices alone has helped me tremendously. I have realized that having my smart phone with me creates a lot of crap that is not necessary. In the world of a child, 5 extra minutes in hunger mode (or mommy - hanger is real here folks!), can make the big difference between melt down and cooperation.
I am learning to leave my laptop in my office and my smart phone in another room or on a shelf. I check only when I have a personal message or call from family. Everything else is left for certain times of the day (early morning or night). Of course, at times, I do pop in, but I have noticed the difference between being present and just being in the room.
It is said that there is not such thing, as a good or bad child, only someone that needs attention. I agree with this. I find that when my kids are acting out, is when they need more attention: open, honest, and loving attention. I am able to deal with the issue head one and figure out a solution that helps and heals us both. Labeling the behavior as "bad" stops the progress.
When we label something, we automatically define it. Our children are more than labels. They are not black and white, or good or bad. They are people with feelings and emotions that span the entire spectrum - as are we. When we learn to remove labels, we learn to deal with the issues that are at hand.
Learning to LOVE Oneself
This one is kind-of a big deal. In order to properly nurture and heal my children, I had to learn to start healing myself, emotionally, physically, and spiritually while listening to my inner guidance. I had to learn to be honest with my needs. Listen to my body, and take care of it. I learned to stop doing things that were hurting me. This is one of those things that I am always learning and improving.
I will not say that all of this happens over night. In fact, I think that the older the child is, when we start to heal and move forward, the longer it might take to heal and move past a lot of the layers of baggage - but, I know that it is worth it. If I can change the relationship with my "defiant" child (the one who came along to help me heal and learn another way, into one of harmony, trust, and openness), then you can definitely do it too.