big shadows

October 9, 2017 at 7:06 pm 3 comments

worry gives a small thing a big shadow

.
”The nice thing about being a second time Mum is that you know what to expect (from pregnancy through to life with a newborn). And the wisdom that comes with age is that fretting about ifs, buts and maybes doesn’t prepare you any better if those worries become reality. So with less than 6 weeks to go now until baby I’m waddling along in a bubble of ”I’ve got this” Mumma courage”
– Me, Feb 2016

It can be so amusing looking back through journal entries, emails or in this case, unfinished blog drafts. It’s true that caring for baby second time round has been easier and less fraught with worries about little things. What hasn’t been so easy is juggling the needs of two children, as well as my own (practicing self-care is not something I’ve ever really mastered in all honesty). It can feel so messy sometimes when my own emotions are becoming frayed, energy is low and both boys need me at the same time. We get through it of course and with not too many wounds but the Mum guilt around attending to one child at the expense of the other is heavy baggage to carry. And sadly my own tendency to anxiety in such moments sometimes leads to impatient, abrupt juggling rather than the calm, unflappable response I’d prefer. I’m learning in tentative steps to keep my own niggly, lecturing voice in check when I’m feeling tense and snappy (if I’m talking I’m not listening afterall) and reach out instead with a warm, silent embrace. Loving touch and calm connection, with a soft ”I’m right here” is always the better choice for everyone.

17-7-16 - boys in a bucket_cuddle 4BParenting is hard and we bring to it familial conditioning about how things should be done, what is expected of us, how children should behave. It can be hard to tune in to your own intuition and forge your own path. Especially if you feel a sense of judgement from others who observe your way is different to theirs and mistakenly feel criticism of their choices in your opposite view. When hurtful experiences from your own past, triggered by your child’s outburts or mis-behaviour, are thrown into the mix it can be difficult to remain calm or respond tenderly (there is a brilliantly insightful article on Aha Parenting about why we get so angry when our kids act up and how to handle it). Understanding why we overreact sometimes to small things can be really helpful. Being empathic is where healing lies, for ourselves and our wounded past self and for our children.

If I had to give our parenting choices a label ”gentle parenting” would be the closest I guess. I’m not about to write an essay on what ”gentle parenting” encompasses – if you’re interested L R Knost has it covered and has tons of fab resources. She very simply says

”Gentle Parenting is about guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It’s about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating”.

Alongside other gentle parenting websites I read like Sarah Ockwell Smith’s and Dr Laura Markham’s Aha Parenting I also love the Hand in Hand parenting approach developed by Patty Wipfler. All four parenting experts have empathy, respect and kindness at the core of their approach but Patty also recognises the need for peer support as parents precisely so those toddler like reactions we all have from time to time have an outlet that is not directed at our children. Patty advocates listening time with a non-judgemental adult to release the frustration and hurt our child’s behaviour may be triggering in us. Developing a listening partnership with another parent also helps develop listening skills for responding to our children’s complaints!
Hand in Hand parenting meme - deep hurts are erased by many cries copy
Children naturally release their hurts through tears so it’s important we respond lovingly and supportively to allow them to release their tension/fear/upset completely. If we shame them with our response (”what are you crying for? You’re ok, don’t be silly. Stop crying right now or we’re going home” ) we risk plugging up their emotional release system. When E gets upset we tell him all feelings are allowed and do not limit his need to cry and rage (safely of course ensuring no-one gets hurt and nothing gets broken). As an adult I find it hard to extend this free expression to myself after years of swallowing down my feelings when I was younger. I wrestle with difficult emotions inwardly and don’t expose big shadows cast by worrying to the light in the way that I should – ‘‘no I’m fine, really {said through gritted teeth}. As a parent if I allow my feelings of impatience or frustration to create a response that is anything less than kind I risk chipping away at my child’s self-esteem and making him feel responsible for my emotions. E hasn’t yet learned to filter out negative comments yet at 5 years old so the way he is spoken to shapes how he sees himself. He believes everything he hears so feels the pain of being told his pictures are rubbish by a classmate or is paralysed by fears about drowning if he goes in water when he cannot swim (both true examples for my lovely sensitive boy). I always want the words he uses to describe himself to be kind and empowering and while I can’t protect him from others negativity I can do my utmost to ensure he always feels supported and championed by us.

E wears his heart on his sleeve and has such love and compassion for his brother and his friends. Slowly he’s learning to check in with himself if someone says something that hurts him. ”I felt sad when they said my pictures were rubbish with such a mean face. But I like my style and I am an artist aren’t I. I’ll just ignore them and keep drawing’.

Love wins.

Entry filed under: home life, quotes.

wordless wednesday Woops, the downside of blogging from a phone

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. talespinnerwordweaver  |  October 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    Well done You and E, he does lovely drawings and I’m glad he’ll continue. I hope that E can learn though that although mean comments are unkind it’s also ok not to like everything.
    Your right in that you can’t protect him from other people’s comments, but you are clearly giving him the armour that he needs.
    Be kind to yourself too, you are raising (with G) two amazing little boys and it’s ok to make a mistake.
    Yes, what you say to E & L will shape them for the future ~ But, as someone whose biological parents and their friends made Hitler and the Spanish Inquisition look like an afternoon in the park. I can absolutely 100% assure you that the odd slip, especially with an explanation later ` I’m so sorry that I said …., it wasn’t true and it was mean. I wish I hadn’t said it because it wasn’t true but sometimes when I’m tired, worried….. my not so nice head slips on’ will not damage either of your lovely boys.
    How you handle mistakes is more important to them than you never making any.
    I hope this doesn’t come across as me trying to teach you how to parent, because that’s not what’s meant and you’re doing well. I don’t need to know you in real time, the photos show the reality and it’s lovely.

    Reply
    • 2. Nip it in the bud  |  October 11, 2017 at 5:00 pm

      I hear your reply with the kindness and encouragement with which it was intended, thank you. I’ve been thinking a lot about this because E comes home from school with comments from others and I have to remind myself that while it seems he spends more of his time at school than at home we are still his greatest influence and that our positivity won’t be eroded over night.
      You are so right about making mistakes. It’s something I value so much, the ability to acknowledge, apologise and repair. You’re right E is doing so well and his body armour is intact without that meaning “toughen up”. Gentleness is strength :0)

      Reply
      • 3. talespinnerwordweaver  |  October 11, 2017 at 5:07 pm

        Thank you for reading it as it was intended, one of my hang ups is getting it wrong 🙂

        On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 6:00 PM, Nip it in the bud wrote:

        > Nip it in the bud commented: “I hear your reply with the kindness and > encouragement with which it was intended, thank you. I’ve been thinking a > lot about this because E comes home from school with comments from others > and I have to remind myself that while it seems he spends more of ” >

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