I HATE The Mother That I Am

Every so often, I get emails that break my heart.  This has been one of those weeks.  There are many mothers out there just hating what their mothering is, what they themselves are right now.  And that breaks my heart.

Sometimes I don’t know all the details, all the circumstances.  Is this a chronic feeling and struggle or is it something right here in the moment?  Is it part of or tied to the July doldrums (if any of you have read this blog for awhile, you know how I feel about July here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/07/05/the-july-doldrums-again/   )

We ALL have moments we feel like this.  We may even be having more than just moments, we may be having rough patches with our children where we honestly feel like this for an extended period of time.  Some seasons of parenting are so difficult, so challenging.  Some children have behavior that is challenging and it just challenges us.

And we don’t always handle it well.  We don’t always handle it with grace.  We don’t  always handle it with love.  Sometimes it is hard to see how to best react when it is your own child and we don’t have that outside view looking at someone else’s child doing the same behavior.

Sometimes we feel our children would be better off with anyone else but ourselves.  I have been there too.  I get to those points too, and all I can say is that for me, it is a sign that there is too much going on.  Too much outside pressure, too harried to respond to things in an even-keeled way,  too many things to tend to, and a clear sign my spiritual footing has been neglected, and most likely a sign that my physical body is not being taken care of.

I often think of the village raising a child – how different than all the shaping of a child being done by mainly one or two parents!  Or I think of my own childhood – at school most of the day, coming home and going outside to play until dark, going to bed.  I wasn’t always around a whole lot.  No one had to “arrange” play dates and things to do back then, and the parents were not involved in every dramatic friendship disagreement or thing at school.

For better or for worse, things have changed on a societal level and we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves.  We talk about not wanting to push our children, but yet we push the hell out of ourselves.  We talk about our children being wonderful, never taking credit for that at all, but when they don’t “act well”, then somehow it is all our fault.

Just musings….So, anyway, once you have a good cry, see if any of this resonates: Continue reading

New Beginnings

Lenten tidings to you all, dear readers!

Lent is this sobering, quieting time of new beginnings.  It becomes the time and space for confession and for asking forgiveness, both in public and in private.  It becomes the time of setting forth priorities and laying forth new inroads of habits.  A time of using less resources, both of food and of our planet’s energy.  A time of new prayer and much reading.  And a time of doing.

I think many people do not associate Lent with doing.  But I do.  The website Full Homely Divinity says, “The Celtic saints who laid the foundations for our Anglican traditions were an extreme lot.  One might say that their practice of the faith was homely in the extreme.  They lived in harsh times and seemed to exult in taking on harsh challenges, physically and spiritually.  Thus, they challenge us in the softer times in which we live and in the softer ways in which we choose to live as Christians.” You can see the full article here, including a summary of the wonderful Lenten book about St. Kevin and the blackbird here:  http://fullhomelydivinity.org/articles/full%20homely%20lent.htm

Now is the time – what are your priorities for your family? Are you willing to step out and live that?  What is your place and your mark to make to help your community?  Are you doing it?

And your parenting:  it is not enough to just read blogs or books and toddle on the way you always have.  Now is the time to do.  Be present with your children by taking an electronic fast.  Play with your children.  Do real work in front of them.  Show them how to live!

In the spirit of Lent, I offer you several links that are my favorite for this season:

Carbonfast for Lent:  http://carbonfast.blogspot.com/

Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: http://www.churchyear.net/lentfathers.html

A Lenten Calendar for children:   http://thesefortydays.blogspot.com/2008/02/project-lenten-calendar.html

We will also be coming back to the oldie but goodie series  “Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother” with updated versions of these classic posts that will also include a strong component of real, practical work – the doing piece that is the balance to inner work.

Many blessings,

Carrie

A Message For the 2011 Twelve Holy Nights

This is such a special time of year for me.  As a Christian, the season of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and extends through January 5th, and then we move into the season of Epiphany.  This time of year, for me, is one of the major times of the year when I am off the computer, I spend more time thinking and dreaming and planning.  I spend time connecting with what vision I want to create for the coming year, and spend lots of time with family and friends and being outside in nature.  It is lovely.

In the past, I have chosen a focus of inner work personal to me, much like what Lynn Jericho does, to work really work off an inspiration for these twelve holy days. In the past I have worked with being easy with myself, one year I worked with “letting go”, one year I worked with love, one year I worked with “no comment”.   This year, I have been feeling especially inspired by this passage from Brother Victor-Antoine D’avila-LaTourrette in the book, “A Monastery Journey to Christmas”, which runs through Candlemas on February 2nd: “We can only find peace and calmness within the confines of our own selves.  Inner peace is a gift from the Lord.  Let us beseech him day and night for his gift.  And let us help him by cultivating actively all those things that lead to inner peace.  Like the angels on that first Christmas night, let us pray and work for peace on earth.”  How can I be a part of peace this year – peace in my heart, peace in my home, peace in my community, peace in the world?

There are some resources out there to help you celebrate the Holy Nights. Continue reading

A Christmas Mood

The excitement in the air is palpable for the children; the gifts, the tree, the relatives, the food, oh my!  There is a definitive mood in the air, and it is one (hopefully) of good will and cheer.  An idea that the world is a good place.

This is a mood that children  in our society need more than ever:  that the world is a good place, the people in the world are good, and that my own little personal world is stable and good.

Maybe this holiday you are facing times that are not “so good.”  Divorce, financial crisis, housing crisis, illness, death in the family  all conspire to make the Christmas mood disappear.

Do not let it.  Part of being human and being an adult means we have the ability to strive, to rise up, to not let our circumstances define us but to allow us to define our circumstances.

As we come also to a close of another year, I can only leave you with this parting thought:  do not be the reaction to circumstances this coming year; be the visionary and shape your world.  What you cannot shape, call on your faith, remain strong, do the right things even when no one else is, and be someone who is proactive.  Be the goodness, and carry that Christmas mood in your heart for your children.

Many blessings, and Merry Christmas my friends,

Carrie

Another Question From The Field: Balance In Homemaking

This question came in awhile ago and I have been pondering it since in the back of my mind.  I was not certain I had anything valuable to add;   some things ”just are”
in life, but then I did think of something I wanted to say (uh, and it turned out to be way more than I expected, so you may need a cup of tea! LOL)   Here is the original comment/question:

Here is a very honest admission for you: I get no satisfaction of out homekeeping and I am quite certain that I never will :) I *can* do all the things: cook delicious meals every day, ferment, and mill my own flour, I can sew and knit and paint, I can keep the home clean and in reasonable order. But when that is all I do, I can feel my soul slowly dying! I go through seasons of pulling myself together and even enjoying my tasks, and then falling apart, throwing in a towel, because after all, what’s the point? Yes, this is a lovely way to live, to have a cozy home and good food, but I.am.miserable. I’ve been told all manner of things: I’m lazy, I need to change my attitude, I need to get therapy to deal with some deep-seated resentment and blah-blah-blah. I feel that the truth is simpler than that. I am someone who is extremely extroverted, requires massive amounts of regular intellectual stimulation, and a great deal of variety in life :) There must be a way to find some kind of balance. I realize that my children are young (2, 4.5, and one on the way), I am quite realistic about the care, time and effort they require at this stage of life. But I just can’t give up my sanity and my very essence to keeping the home.
Thoughts? thanks!

That is really hard and I think so many of us as mothers can identify with the feelings expressed in this comment.  It can be so hard to do all the things we might think need to be associated with homemaking and parenting, to make things “right”.  Maybe there is also a bit of perfectionism hidden within many of us – if we don’t do all these things, then our children will not do well.  This can make things seem burdensome or a chore instead of light and lovely.  And, it all can be such a big burden – why do I have to be The Queen of My Home? Can’t someone else do it?  I just want to take the day off!  There are days I feel that way as well. Continue reading

Struggling

Sometimes there just really are no words. I look around and see such good people, such wonderful people, struggling.  Maybe they are ill.  Maybe they have financial challenges that are crippling their family. Maybe they are going through a divorce.  Maybe their spouse is in the military and is deployed, or they are all trying to deal with the adjustment that happens when he or she returns home a different person than when they left.

All of us have struggles, from the small baby who struggles to get into crawling and sitting and upright, to the inner struggles of the teenager learning to be the king of his own kingdom to adults who may struggle with depression or addiction.

And yet, we can see the glimmers of beauty.  The smile of a child.  The simple meal on a simple table. Having a new to you coat to wear for the winter.  A beautiful star in a winter sky.

My middle child is a master of this.  She notices the most tiny detail of beauty and never fails to remark upon it.  Look, mama, how beautiful!  And to myself, I think, slow down because my Creator is saying, look, I put this here for you to see, to notice, to have it all sink into your skin, into your bones.

A good lesson for me…and.in the midst of all of this challenge and struggle, I pray.  I look for beauty. And I wait to be awed by the good things, the things that pop up when I least expect it, the miracles that do happen.

When things happen to me, I often take a breath and gently say, “May it be blessed.”   May it be blessed anyway!   It is not my plan, it is hard to watch,  I feel so sad people I know are going through things, what can I do to help them, what will happen?

And yet, may it be blessed.  May there be a glimmer of goodness, of grace, of love, somewhere in all of this.

Be blessed today and every day,

Carrie

Squirrel Fun

 

I know much of the Northeastern United States is currently buried under snow and even some power outages, so I feel almost bad for saying that fall is finally here in all its glory in the Southeastern US.

I love fall; I always have.  Crunchy leaves of many splendored colors, smoke rising from chimneys, crisp air and sunshine, squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about, fall foods such as apple, squash, greens and pumpkins!  Oh yes, my favorite time of year!  I am gathering up Thanksgiving recipes and getting ready to start on some holiday crafting as well.

So, in that vein, I wish to bring some fun poetry, verses and movement about squirrels to our homeschooling this week, especially for my sweet little toddler who has finally figured out that not every four legged animal is a doggie like his giant Leonberger!

Here are some squirrel ideas for this week if you would like to play along with me: Continue reading