Anger revisited

Summer fun - aircon required

I have received another book by John Holt, Teach Your Own. It is a wonderfully refreshing look at children and how they can fit into our lives. He makes many points that I can identify with in how we communicate with children. One in particular were his comments on saying no.

I have been struggling with this. There are times that I have to say no. DS sometimes wants to do things that he can’t or that I would prefer he doesn’t do (like cut his own mango, draw on the floor with wax crayons, or empty the bath onto the bathroom floor cup by cup). I have found that when he is doing something that makes a whole lot of extra work for me, I get really irritated and manage to grit my teeth and keep my voice down while I say No, and Please don’t do that. But boy, am I irritated and having to work hard to control my urge to shout. Sometimes I do shout, and then feel awful. Like when DS put his glass of ‘cold coffee’ (coffee substitute with ice cubes) right on the edge of the table and it fell and spilt all over the floor. I have been repeatedly reminding DS that he needs to put his glass/cup *on* the table, not on the *edge* of the table.

Anyway, in these details, I have been aware of my experience being one where I resent my child for making a mess, and on some level blame him, as if he could have avoided it. I expect him to be able to predict the consequences of his actions with more accuracy than he can. And this attitude is not making for a happy home.

I have been working on reminding myself that he is still learning, and he is not deliberately trying to annoy me. It is my job to support him in his learning, not scare him into behaving how I need him to behave.

So, by moving away from the idea that he is deliberately annoying me, I have decided to see it as a learning opportunity. I can still say no, without shouting or feeling intense anger. He can understand the word no, without it being muttered, forced out through pursed lips or shouted. It is perfectly possible to say no in a supportive way. And it works. (So far)

I have had a rather intense way of ‘testing’ this theory. I have had to cut down on breastfeeding as it is physically unbelievably uncomfortable. I was feeling so guilty, that I would often tell DS in a very firm (but angry as I felt so guilty) way that it was enough now. He would react with crying and being really upset. As soon as I said that num nums are resting now (without feeling guilty, without resenting him for making demands on me that I cannot meet), and was still there to rub his back, snuggle etc he is much more accepting of this change. He doesn’t always like it, and DH is very much involved in supporting DS at the times where he is frustrated and angry and does not accept that the num nums are resting. However, for the most part, a key to us getting through this time, is me staying centered and not ‘loosing it’ inside as I rant in my head about how I just can’t do this anymore.

Having said all of this, I do not think it is necessary to never be angry. And I do not think it is dangerous for my child to see me get angry and then also get over it and life continues. I just do not want it to be every day that my son sees me getting angry or working really hard not to be angry.

I will no doubt post more on this, but anger is  a BIG deal for me. Coming from a home where anger was not expressed, (I have seen my father angry maybe 5-10 times in my life) or it exploded, I have had to find my own way of understanding what it means in my life, as it does not work for me to pretend I am not angry when I am. It just makes it worse.

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Worthy of serious attention

I have recently received the book How Children Learn by John Holt. I am delving into the idea of homeschooling my family, looking at the emotional , financial and educational implications for everyone, me included.

Anyway, I was struck by his mentioning how babies were not considered worthy of attention from the scientific community in the 1960’s. This brought back a clear memory from the weekend (DH told me about it, I was not there).

My husband and son were visiting my FIL after an outing to the beach and DS needed a bath to get all the sand off. Now DS still does not like his hair being washed/brushed and resists strongly. FIL, in his attempt to show DH how it is done put a soapy hand on DS’s head which of course resulted in a protest. FIL assured DH that it is fine for DS to protest, it doesn’t mean anything.

This is precisely where myself and DH meet resistance with FIL on pretty much every parenting topic that can come up. In FIL’s mind until you communicate in full sentences and can give a measured and educated opinion regarding whatever is being discussed, your opinion does not count. Even when you are an adult, and especially if you are a child.

I continue to be baffled by this approach.

I do not feel comfortable ignoring my sons communication just because he is not discussing the issue in a rational adultlike way. If he says “no touch head, no hair” and makes a point of it before each bath, I have decided that is a good enough reason to respect his request. Yes, his hair looks a little manky sometimes, but mostly nobody would guess he has had his hair washed a handful of times in his life. It is not making him sick, or smelly. For whatever reason (I suspect partly sensory, partly control of his body) he finds having his hair washed extremely uncomfortable.

Back to John Holt. As I read the sentence about babies not being worthy of serious attention until time makes them more interesting, I remembered FIL’s comments about DS when he was a baby. And that was just it. Babies are boring for him and only interesting when they speak rationally. Even then (DH being a prime example) you cannot trust them to think in the right way and draw the right conclusions.

Rant off.

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I’m back

Our family gathering in Berlin

After an intense period getting used to being pregnant, passing the anniversary of my mothers death, witnessing my fathers wedding, I have the head space to start writing again.

We have been very busy preparing our home to receive another child, making sure DS will have his own space. Building an outside play house, making toys, preparing to bring rabbits into our yard, preparing to change our spare room into a play room, making our master bedroom (all 9 square meters of it) into one giant bed for the family and generally just investing in our home space.

Passing the first anniversary of my mothers death was an enormously important date for me. I feel like a different person and have the motivation and determination to get back to building the life I want.

I can’t wait to bring this blog up to date with all that we have been busy making and doing, as well as DS’s potty learning and how smoothly it has been going so far.

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DS and his tricks

Walking in the orange grove

I woke up this morning and scrolled through my facebook page and found a link to this blog, and the blogger is blogging about Gentle Discipline.

This is something that I can really relate to, and something that I definitely aspire to, and something that inspires my parenting. Yes, lots of very non-committal stuff. As a disclaimer, I definitely will never hit my children and I hope to be a stronger, better person and not loose my temper with the resulting raised voice and feelings of intense anger.

But, I am not a 100% perfect parent 100% of the time. And it worries me that at first glance Gentle Discipline can come off as holier than thou and give the impression of parents who have endless patience and time to handle the whims of babies and toddlers, while ensuring that their own needs are met.

Sometimes I do. Like this morning DS took my car keys as he wanted to press the button to unlock the car doors and then would not give me back my keys. He was strapped in his car seat, I was sitting in the drivers seat and he still would not give them back. Now, I was not in a particular hurry to get anywhere, we were off to the park to meet up with friends. So we waited. I patiently explained that we would sit in the car going nowhere until I got the keys and eventually (about 10 minutes later) he gave them to me. I decided that whatever his reason for needing to hold onto my keys, it was sufficiently good enough for me to not take them back forcefully. It was not in immediate conflict with my needs. Had I needed to be somewhere, I would not have been able to give him the time to decide to give me back my keys.

I never thought I would be a parent stuck in my car while my toddler won’t give me my keys. I was sure only the weakest parents would allow such a situation to happen. And yet, today, that was a perfectly acceptable experience for both of us. I don’t like power struggles with him, unless they are needed. Like when he is running around with a knitting needle that he has found, I will take it away from him. Or like when he wants to pull the keys off my laptop and I close to to protect the remaining keys.

However, I do not always have the time, energy or reserves to be patient and understanding. Sometimes I NEED to sleep, go the the loo, cook, get somewhere, etc. And those times I cannot entertain the same level of flexibility in my planning and response.

Another trick is that he is imitating his grandfathers smoking. Any long cylindrical object he finds become a kada-ran (his word for a cigarette). And he ‘smokes’ it. 😦 I know he is just imitating, and that he is not about to start smoking, but it makes me a little sad and a little angry that this is something he values (I know it’s his grandfather he values, but still).

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Back to normal – kind of

Story time with uncle

My brother and his grilfriend left last night. I have my home back to myself and now I have some time to think about being pregnant and preparing to bring our second child into the world.

I have set myself the task of looking into nutritional requirements for pregnant mothers, and started with zinc However, it is a much larger project that I initially thought. I do hope to get it done. It is facinating to see what one mineral is responsible for throughout pregnancy.

I am still quite amazed that I am  pregnant. My life is so intense right now, I still do not really know how to integrate this news. Yesterday I was 7 weeks pregnant, I can feel a small swell over my pubic bone and I look very pregnant thanks to bloating and gas (despite no complex carbs). But I can’t get my head around the reality yet. I am not doing ultrasound, and have not yet been to any doctor for ‘confirmation’. It’s kinda weird to just own it, me and my husband. No one else butting in just yet. I am glad we are doing it that way this time.

In other developments – it turns out that I REALLY am not ready for my father to get married. I am angry at him for rushing it, and I do not trust their reasons. She is Catholic, so no living together or even touching each other until they are married. Hence the rushed marriage. They really do want to be together. I just think that it is artificial to put that kind of pressure on an older couple. My father has hardly mourned my mother, and now he is getting married. Her girls do not want them married now, but there is no way for my father and her to be together without being married. ARGH! I have never been a fan of organised religion, and I wish that people could be more in tune with their needs emotionally without sticking the whole church/religion thing into the decicion.

He is getting married on the 7th of July. I will meet her one day before they get married. I will have to accept this. And get on with my own life and leave them to get on with theirs. I cannot help but feel this is driving us apart. However, I am not an adolescent, and my father must do as he sees fit.

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My body

This may turn out to be quite a heavy blog entry. I have had much on my mind in the last days, and I have been thinking, feeling and reading so much.

Firstly, I had a wonderful chat with the assistant of a midwife who lives fairly close to us. The midwife is on holiday, but we’ll be in touch in the next month. It was wonderful to share hopes, experiences and commiserate with a woman who has made similar choices to the choices I have made.

However, this is in the context of me being rather concerned about not finding a midwife who will support me, or be open to doing things my way. Put more honestly, I am terrified I won’t find a midwife who will support me and my birthing body. I have control issues.

There are three things that are weighing on my mind when it comes to this pregnancy and birth.

One, I will never, ever, ever have a transvaginal ultrasound again in my life. The last one was the most painful and intrusive experience for me, for absolutely no gain. I need to find someone who is OK with no ultrasound for calculating the EDD.

Two, I am concerned that I will have problems birthing my placenta, after the previous attempt. And subsequent mismanagement.

Three, it all boils down to childhood sexual abuse, and me being unable to succumb physically to all the tests and procedures that are expected from pregnant women.

In my previous pregnancy I was not honest about my terror of loosing control of my body *to another person*. I had no issues going with the flow of my birthing body. I even relished the experience of being able to trust my body. However, I could not contemplate my body being under anyone elses control other than my own.

And this is all much more intense right now. I will not give up control of my body, or allow anything to happen to my body that I am not in agreement with (unless my life is in immediate danger of course 😉 ). I feel very strongly about this.

And I am taking myself off for counselling. This has been all much more intense than I thought it would  be.  I know that I need emotional support through this pregnancy, and I will find it.

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My health plan for this pregnancy.

I have been exploring diet, exercise and my mental and physical health prior to conceiving, and have put myself on essentially the GAPS diet. No grains, or complex carbohydrates. Plenty of fresh vegetable, some fruit, meats, liver, eggs, fermented milk, fermented veggies, butter, olive oil. I also started to take fermented cod liver oil and will start with a broad spectrum pro biotic.

I walk every 2nd day, alternating with my husband who is still running. (I am very proud of him). I have been doing sprints, and will see how I feel with it this pregancy. Due to holidays, my brother visiting, our dog dying, there has been a miriad of reasons why I have not had my morning walk since testing positive for being pregnant. I plan to add some yoga at home.

The book Rebuild From Depression started my quest more serisouly into how to support myself through diet. I knew we wanted to conceive some time this year, and I have been anxious about having a second child with so little support aroud me, especially without my mother. I wanted to prepare in such a way that at least there would not be a nutritional reason to suffer with depression during the pregnancy or after the birth.

Then, after worrying about phytic acid and oxalic acid, I decided to try not eating grains for a while, and see how that impacted on me physically and emotionally. After a couple of rough days, I felt much better. No more bloating, cramping, gas. My mood is still not what I would like, with me being quite impatient and overreacting to life events, obsessing about details most people don’t even register…. I am hoping that will stabilise too, although being pregnant might not help right now LOL.

After about a month now of not eating grains, I find myself eating more according to the GAPS diet. I mostly just take the cue from my body, if I am bloating or gassy, I cut back on whatever new food I tried out, like strawberries.

There is no insurance that I will indeed have a stressfree pregnancy, birth and post partum period. However I am sure that this gives me a better chance than filling up on pasta an bread.

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