Monthly Archives: May 2009

A moment of contentment

Today we were visiting family for a birthday celebration and DS was having a fabulous time interacting with everyone. He really just was having a complete ball and people were loving interacting with him.

So my MIL turned to me and said (roughly translated), that she would have thought a child only at home with his parents and not in childcare would be timid around strangers. And that she is pleasantly surprised that this is not the case. We seem to be parenting him in such as way as to build his confidence.

It made me feel good to get some sort of recognition for a parenting job well done – although to be honest, I think it is more his personality than our parenting…. but still, it makes me happy to have her make a positive comment rather than a questioning one.

Happy days…..

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I need a holiday

I sometimes wish it would stop – the constant demand on my time and energy.

I sometimes feel like I have been both mothering my son and myself in this last year.

The intense disappointment I feel in my mother for not having ever been a soft place to fall or a sanctuary of safety for me is sometimes crippling. As I write that, I cringe. Have I become one of those blathering people steeped in their misery, ignoring their reality and the blessings in their lives? Am I to be forever mourning my childhood? I have never had much patience for people who dig through their childhood too much and get themselves all worked up and indignant over past hurts. Life is happening now and it does not serve to be too tangled up in the past. At least this is how I was raised. To avoid the psychologist like the plague and never to dwell on unpleasant things. Hell, I was even told to never disclose my feelings to the homeopath as they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to emotions. And when I burst out spewing all my anger as a 14 year old, no one knew where that could come from.

And yet, I do feel that this current journey is in some way warranted.

When my son cries, it pushes major buttons for me. I feel like I am missing something, and I get very very stressed out. And I do not think that is healthy for either me or him. I guess I am hoping that by exploring my childhood not only as an exercise in memory, but also re-experiencing the emotions, I will be able to let it go a bit and be more present as a person and a mother.

I remember some time ago being asked what I wanted from my mother by a friend and I was stumped. I had no idea. I had been trying to figure out who my mother was as a woman, in an attempt to understand why we have such conflict, and it wasn’t working. I think now I can say that I want my mother to hear me – all of me. Not just the parts she like or knows how to relate to – all of me. I want my mother to be able to relate to me in a supportive way, even if she does not share the same passion or ideology. I want my mother to hold me gently, to soothe me. I want my mother to ask me what is bothering me and take the time to listen. Especially the last one.

Unfortunately that which I want is not very likely to happen.

So, it seems I am not yet out of this wood of self examination. I have tried repeatedly to write my blog on other topics, commenting on books I am reading, ideas that are springing, experiences that are flowing….. for now this space is reserved for my personal work.

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Joshua Wlliams

Passed away last week.

Joshua Tree for those who want to find out more about this person. I only ever knew him as the playmate of the son of a friend of mine.

My heart goes out to his parents. I cannot imagine loosing my precious son in such an untimely manner.

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It hurts

I have still been mulling over this incident with DS and me becoming so frustrated and angry that I ignored him and forced him into his car seat.

I feel I have lost my mothering instinct. Up until now, it had been fairly simple to meet DS’s needs. As in it is easy to have a settled happy baby when I have had enough sleep, DS has had enough sleep and we are both in a baby friendly environment. I have not had to soul search too much about what DS needs – it’s fairly obvious. As soon as I accepted that DS’s needs were my responsibility to meet.

But now when he hits me, or pokes my eye or screams to avoid something, I am bewildered. I just do not know what it is that he wants – what it is that is being asked of me. For all I know he is asking me to play with him, bake something, work in the garden…. or maybe he is just saying he has had enough of something.

I have no idea.

On the one hand there is a part of me that is a little horrified that I am even trying to figure out what DS wants. The way I was brought up, it would not be important. I would have been expected to do what was needed in that moment regardless of whether I wanted to or not. There never would have been a discussion about it and my crying would have been ignored or even denied. And I do not think my parents did this because they did not love me. I think they believed that this is the way that children learn to be part of a family/society – cruel to be kind kind of thing.

So it hurts when I was told by my mother that I cried for 3 years most days after school (my father says this is not true – I cired from time to time, not most days). 3 years that I was left without a safe haven and no one to support me. It makes me want to weep for the child I was. It makes me rage at my parents. The cruelty that I experienced at the hands of the other girls in my class was not much compared to the devastation that my parents didn’t try to help me or find out why I was crying for 3 YEARS.

And this all brings me to what is happening in my life now as a mother. I never want DS to experience that lonliness or isolation that I did. Even if the world is not treating him well, I want him to have a safe place where he knows that he can be loved and accepted. BUT. How can I parent freely when I have this underlying goal? DS is a different person than I am, and heย  will have different needs and challenges in his life. I do not think it is good enough to just prevent the pain I had. I want to meet his needs – be there for him, not my own ghost.

I am very cautious of falling into the trap of parenting DS in the way that I wish I had been parented. I do not want to parent out of a knee jerk reaction, but rather be left free in my parenting – free to meet the child in front of me.

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The car seat

I was more of this

I want more of this

I have been neglecting my blog recently. For a couple of reasons – the most pressing being lack of sleep. DS is pushing through his eye teeth, we have mosquitoes (that LOVE me) and I am trying to stop drinking coffee – which for some reason leaves me restless at night.

I also have been feeling a bit down. I had a rather traumatic incident with DS – nothing dangerous – just emotionally exhausting for both of us.

All my best efforts to avoid DS crying unattended were stretched when I found myself trying to get home from my LLL meeting, and him refusing to get into his car seat. On the way there, I had had to stop to breastfeed and had been late, making me slightly annoyed. Anyway, this DS not getting into his carseat opened a huge conflict for me. On the one hand I really needed the toilet and I was also hungry and on the other hand I had a child who was refusing to be strapped into his seat, arching his back and shrieking. I felt at such a crossroads as I had thoughts of “he is not a baby any more, his needs do not trump mine every single time” and “he obviously does not want to be in the car seat now, why?” and I gave in. I did what was easiest for me, and took us both off by foot to a cafe for lunch. While I was able to go to the loo and eat a sandwich, I was not happy to have gone so out of my way to get my needs met.

What was also troubling for me, was that I was getting angry at DS for not just agreeing to be in the car seat. Angry enough to force him into the car seat with rough movements and not so gentle words.

As I was walking to the cafe, I was thinking to myself that if I would just take a deep breath, it would help me deal with the stress of having an upset child, and it would help DS, as he would not be having to deal with the extra stress of a mother getting angry. This option held the promise of an easier time of it.

Only that it did not work. I could not keep myself level headed when again DS refused to get into his car seat. His crying really upsets me and my getting angry obviusly upsets him more. To my horror, I found myself just strapping him in and ignoring his cries and driving with a shrieking child who eventually fell asleep exhausted.

I really do not want a repeat of this incident. I know that this is just the beginning of me and my DS having to negotiate different situations where there is a conflict of interest, and I want to find a way that doesn’t leave either of us too fraught or traumatised.

I feel in myself the conflict of “he needs boundaries” “he needs to know who is in charge” with “how can I ignore his crying”?ย  I asked for some advice on MDC, and was given some good advice and mothers shared their experiences. A piece of advice that I am conflicted about it giving sweets/food. DH has proposed this as a way to get DS to comply – but I am not sure. Firstly, we don’t feed him sugar at any other time, and I am concerned I will have a hyper child in his seat. I also do not want him eating sugar for a reason, ie his health. And, I am not sure about giving him sweets as comfort. Argh, is all I can say right now.

Yesterday I did give him a rice cake and that worked well…..

I am sure we will find a way that works for us and is line with our values.

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So who am I?

This

This

Since I can remember I have had two images of myself in my minds eye.

One is a woman with long flowing hair twirling in a field full of flowers wearing a light cotton swirling skirt and a knitted cotton top, bearfoot and smiling. Somehow this image has captured wholesomeness for me.

The other image is of me in a suit with my hair tied up, face made up, nails manicured, high heel shoes and my briefcase in hand. I look much more stern in the image in my mind.

Both of these images have been equally appealing to me at different times, and I think also equally confusing, as they seem so contradictory. And I know that within myself there is a huge conflict about just who I am and what are my values and what values do I want to nurture in my family. Yep, motherhood once again demands of me to be honest with myself and be the best person I can be.

At the moment I am feeling like the flower woman is who I am at heart and the manicured woman is whom I sometimes feel I have to be in order to be respected (one day I’ll look at why it is just so important to me to be respected ).

Somehow, in my mind, the flower woman does not deserve the same respect the manicured one does. In the culture in which I live, image means a lot and free flowing cotton does not inspire the same respect that tailored suits do.

I guess this is essentially about me and my confidence in myself. Do I really care what people think of me? Can that be important enough to me to not be true to my values and the things that I hold dear? Why can I not be both flowing cotton and tailored suit whatever I wear?

Today I am in shorts and a nursing tank top. It’s comfortable and practicle.

I guess what I am trying to tell myself, is that I need to make peace with the fact that my family eats organic local food as much as is possible, that we clean our house with ecological products, that I am raising my child at home myself, that I have a healthy suspicion of all things modern medicine related, that I find sense in a Waldorf approach to educating children, that I have religious feelings etc etc.This is part of who I am and it isn’t working for me to try and pretend these things are not important to me when in the company of people who belittle these choices or do not understand them. Somehow I need to make peace with the fact that I am a little bit out of the ordinary in my choices, and not feel defensive or apologetic about it. That just is who I am, and others might find it easier to accept if I accept it in myself.

And this

And this

(I hope to move out of this stage of defining more clearly who I am and what my values are and be able to focus on actually building those values ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

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Stimulation and the enriched environment

With a title like this it can only mean that I am feeling very insecure about my choices and I have been doing some digging to make me feel better about my choice and why it is the best one for me and my family.

My aquaintance from the local funky mamas has started her son (2 days older than DS) in a kindy type set up – I don’t know what the term is, as play group seems to be when the mothers are present and this is mom-free. She is raving about it and I think would love for my DS to be part of the group. It’s all open ended toys, organic whole foods type of parents. So it could be my kind of thing…. BUT

For a 14 month old? This mum described how a day was organised for the children where people dressed up in costumes from different cultures and served food from that culture and it sounds amazing. But for a 14 month old? What on earth would that mean to my DS? What tools does he have to decode that experience and make sense of it?

I am also aware that I have a different approach to stimulation than many people around me. I do not feel comfortable pointing things out to DS. A bit like I do not feel comfortable coaching him to say words. What I do feel comfortable with is answering his quesitons. He has taken to pointing at things and touching things while looking at me as if to say “and this? what is this?”. He does say something that sounds like “et zeh” which would mean “this” in English when he points to things. He also says ‘ptzzz’ to things. Anyway, when he points to things, I do find myself naming the thing he is pointing to. It feels right and for now I am going with what feels right. As a reminder to myself – there is no need to worry about DS’s development until a problem is spotted. Then there are many professionals who know how to help, should we need their help.

My best solution so far. Provide a nurturing environment and let DS choose how to interact with it. I certainly do not have a firm enough grasp on every aspect of child development to be 100% confident that I know more about what my DS needs to be doing than he does. I see my role as providing the environment and the support and letting him do the rest. And he loves immitating me sweeping, raking, vacuuming, stirring, clapping, etc. My gut tells me this is enough for now. (Although more of a structured rhythm would be nice – slowly slowly I’ll get there)

And I am guessing that this environment will not be provided in a kindy for 14 months olds. The temptation to teach something would be too huge. And there is time enough later for DS to be formally instructed.

I am wanting to find a solution for DS to be in regular contact with a group of children/parents. I do not feel comfortable with me and DH being his primary sources for socialization….. hmmmm

More like it :)

More like it ๐Ÿ™‚

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