Happy Martinmas!

I have been posting some links for lantern making and Martinmas songs on The Parenting Passageway Facebook page, and the big day is today!  Happy Veteran’s Day to my U.S. readers and Happy Martinmas to everyone! We will be doing our Lantern Walk in a few weeks, so today we can celebrate at home. Every festival celebration at home has, to me, a few components:

  • Handwork for the festival – in this case, beautiful lanterns and there are so many ways to make them!
  • Music – all those wonderful Martinmas songs
  • Story – you can tell the simple story of Martin, or there is a book on Amazon, which I am excited to check out because it seems like this is one festival where there is a lack of books.  No affiliation, but here is the link:  Snow on Martinmas
  • Food – for Martinmas, I like to keep it simple with a warming soup and warmed apple cider, and warm homemade pretzels are lovely for a group of lantern walkers
  • Any special elements – in this case, the Lantern Walk is special to this holiday, but so are things such as warm coat drives.

How to Have  A Lantern Walk In Four Super Easy Steps

If you have time to plan ahead, have participants learn the Lantern Walk songs!  This is the biggest trouble most people have at Lantern Walks  – if there isn’t a core group that knows the songs, it all kind of falls apart.

If people don’t have lanterns, you could always have a lantern-making session before your walk!

Light lanterns, sing and walk in the darkness.  It’s beautiful! Make sure the walk itself is long enough.  If you have tiny children, short may be fine, but older children appreciate a little longer. If you have a big community and some trails in the woods, it can be fun to have the adults come together before and set beautiful lanterns hanging from the trees as well (usually glass!)

Have some warm soup, cider, pretzels or gingerbread and celebrate together!

It’s such a beautiful festival!

Many blessings,

Carrie

\

All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day

Honoring the past.

Honoring our ancestors.

Honoring the goodness in people now departed.

In this world that often feels chaotic and crazy, holding on to the ideals of the good people who have come before us can be a small lifeline of grounding and stability.

I hear from people all the time who don’t feel as if they have this within their family lines.  Maybe their family ancestors, at least those that they know of, aren’t who they want to be or who inspires them.  That’s why I think sometimes a spiritual practice can be so helpful, and All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day can be wonderful stepstones towards thankfulness and gratitude.

On All Saints’ Day, we remember those known and unknown who were holy.   I often think of how I can align with those known and unknown saints who stood up for the the right, the visionaries, the idealists.  What is my right, my vision, my ideal?  What people showed courage over fear, bravery over cowardice, and made a difference in the world?

In the Celtic Calendar, this day was called Samhain and was the beginning of the New Year. This beginning  implies that it is a space that hangs between the Old Year and the New.  This is how we began to see the boundary between the living and the dead can be blurred as we offer our great respect to those who have come before us.  The tradition of offering “soul cakes” to the dead began  out of great respect for the dead in many countries.  I also think this ties in with the warmth of the season – how do we show respect to the life before us?  Is it food, remembering, lighting candles, offering a prayer?  Death is part of Life, and finding a relationship between those two things is often something people try to avoid.  Yet, this is something that should be propelling what we do today – how do we take care of each other and the Earth as we don’t have forever here physically.

Create a beautiful harvest, an altar of remembrance, have a harvest dinner, plant some flower bulbs for the promise of spring!  Happy All Saints’ and All Souls’ from my family to yours.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Cozy Warmth for Fall

Waldorf Education puts a high priority on warmth as a quality we want to imbue into the lives of children for their health and ours. And whether or not you follow Waldorf Education, I do think there is something about fall that we all crave, even if we live in more southern climates where it doesn’t get as cold.  Even here in the Deep South, there is nothing but layers and short boots and pumpkin spice everywhere! (I am currently wearing a sweater even though it is 68 degrees Fahrenheit outside because, you know, it is October).

Warmth is about more than just physical warmth.  When a child is very little, we think about warmth in the physical sense – hats for babies, layers for littles, warming foods and warm drinks for winter. Providing physical warmth for our children via layers of clothing and hats is so important, especially for young children whose physical body doesn’t work like an adult. Children have a metabolic rate that runs faster than an adult’s.  Therefore, under the age of nine especially, they are unlikely to know whether they are truly cold or not.  I am sure we have all experienced the child that is swimming in cold water and is literally blue, but doesn’t realize they are cold.  This is common!  I love silk/wool blends for winter, and for littles we do recommend three layers on top and two layers on the bottom for cold climates.

However, I also want to point out that  warmth is about creating a sense of love, of acceptance and belonging.  I want to give you some very concrete ways to do this in your own home for this special time of year.

My first tip is to create  a rhythm that carries your family, especially for those under the age of 12 (although even teens need and crave rhythm!). The staples of rhythm, which is a loose order of the day, includes things such as wake-up times and sleeping times, but also mealtimes, and a flow of activities through the day and the week.  This provides an important sense of security for children and helps us know what is coming next without spending a lot of time re-creating the wheel every day.  Children can then use this energy for growing and playing and not use it in worrying about what comes next in their day.  Schools have a rhythm to their day, day cares have a rhythm to their day, and homes do have a rhythm even if you don’t think that you do – humans are rhythmical.

In creating the warmth of fall, we can add markes of warmth to our rhythm. Maybe breakfast is candlelight with warm porridge and warm hot chocolate or tea.  Maybe if you homeschool, you have lanterns or tea lights in your schooling space.  Maybe bedtime involves snuggly blankets, and a cup of warm milk of choice before bed.

My second tip is to incorporate your child’s love language into your day for a sense of warmth and belonging. Children need warmth not only in terms of hugs and holding, but in words of affirmation and in spending time together. We can do this easily within a space of rhythm and working together in the house or garden or with taking care of our animals.

Lastly, warmth is done well and rightly when we share with others.  If we help our children spread joy and warmth to others, whether through helping the family or helping neighborhoods or through service and volunteering opportunities, we can bring warmth to the world.

I would love to hear your favorite tips for autumn warmth.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

Partner Strong!

I think fall, with its turning inward, is an amazing time to check in on your relationship with  your significant other.  Are you feeling separate, distant, strong, powerful together?  What things are working – and not?

It’s hard to give general advice as to  how to keep any intimate relationship particularly strong as I think every couple is so unique and what works for one couple may not work for another.   But over the years, I have seen a common thread of either drifting apart or pulling together when people reach their 30’s and 40’s, so I have a few ideas to toss out……

  • How are you keeping your friendship alive?  If you don’t talk about your day, your hopes, your fears, your dreams but only talk about how to pass off children to activities or who needs to pick up something at the store, it’s easy to not feel very invested in each other personally – more like you are just managing practical stuff together like housemates.   Gottman’s work ( I covered his book “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” on this website chapter by chapter – you can find it under the Book Reviews header) talks about how partners make bids for each other’s attention.  Usually someone will try to get the other person’s attention, and then the partner responds (hopefully! – or not, sadly).  If you don’t respond to each other, it’s hard to be close!  You can read more about that in the summary of Chapter 5 of this book I wrote here: Chapter 5 summary
  • Some couples are really happy to do all the things as a family with their children, and I think that’s great if it works for them! However, I will say my husband and I really value any time we get to go out just us or with another couple.  We started taking overnight trips just the two of us a few years ago, and that was also really wonderful for our connection.
  • Your love language is also very important to know about yourself and your partner.  Sometimes I think we don’t feel love or our partner doesn’t feel love because we aren’t expressing it in a way that is understood.  Have you read the Five Love Languages book?
  • Physical intimacy is important – and for that I think several things need to be in place:  feeling close to each other and like you can have fun and trust one another, you both need to have decent health (if you are perpetually falling asleep on the coach at night or just so stressed out all the time it’s hard to think about being physically intimate), and you need time to unwind and relax without worry together (ie, some couples can deal with children or teens being up and awake and other couples really can’t and feel stressed about it).  I think the older we get, we do need to be on top of the health changes.  Hormonal changes for both men and women can make things different than they were in the past, and you have to be close enough to talk about it!

But lastly, I think it’s mostly about having fun! If you can have fun together and laugh through all the things life throws at us, you will enjoy each other and be closer to each other.

I would love to hear your thoughts on being partner strong!  What helps the most?

Blessings,

Carrie

The Season Of Light

I love this time of year! Finally, the temperatures have finally dropped here in the Deep South, it hasn’t rained for too many days in a row yet (winters have tended to be rainy the past few years), and we still have had blue skies most days!  The leaves are finally turning colors, and the world is full of October.

But even more than that, I love this season of light we are entering into. I love how it begins with the ideas of harvest and jack o’lanterns, and heads into the festivals of All Saints Day, Diwali, Martinmas with its Lantern Walk, the soft candles of Thanksgiving dinner, and the lights of the winter holiday season.

Are you ready to bring this light to your family? Here are some of my favorite ways, by festival and by seasonal ideas:

Diwali is actually coming up on October 27, 2019 this year.  We usually celebrate this within our neighborhood. There is also usually a large celebration at our local library, and at our local mandir that is open to the public.   The largest mandir outside of India happens to be in my metro area, and it is always open for tours; you can read more about it here.

I don’t love Halloween, (sorry, I know many do), but I do love harvest and pumpkins (and i do have a few back posts about Halloween on this blog if you are searching).  I so like  what the book “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz says about experiencing Halloween as a transition point between Michaelmas and Martinmas:  “The candle inside the pumpkin or turnip, both fruits of the earth, is like the very last memory and afterglow of the summer sun with its ripening strength.  Then for Martinmas a candle is lit within the home-made lantern; this is the first glow of a light with a completely different nature, the first spark of inner light.”   The holiday we actually celebrate the most is All Saints Day and you can read some of our traditions in this back post.

November 11 is Martinmas.   Martinmas marks the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD).    St. Martin may be well-known for his compassionate gesture of sharing his cloak with a beggar.  This charitable gesture is at the heart of this festival for many Waldorf schools, who hold coat drives and other charitable drives around this festival. One symbol of this is working with light from lanterns in the traditional Lantern Walk.

Regarding Lantern Walks, the authors of the book “All Year Round” write:  “The traditional way of celebrating Martinmas is with lantern walks or processions, accompanied by singing.  St. Martin recognized the divine spark in the poor man of Amiens, and gave it the protection of his own cloak.  When we make a paper lantern, we, too, may feel that we are giving protection to our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world.  It may only be a small and fragile light- but every light brings relief to the darkness.”  There is more about this festival with links to stories, how to make lanterns, the idea of coat drives and warmth and more in this post.

Then that leads into the gratitude of Thanksgiving in the United States; Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the and , championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the Thursday in the month of November in 1863.  We can use this holiday for gratitude, for being together and making wonderful food, and for serving others.

Lastly, we head into the Season of Light.  My family celebrates Advent, so I have many posts about Advent but also other different winter festivals on this site.  Here is a back post about Advent and other Winter Festivals in the Waldorf Home but there are many back posts about each specific winter holiday (St. Nicholas Day, the weeks of Advent, Winter Solstice).  If you are looking for Winter Solstice ideas, try this back post as the reader comments with ideas were terrific!

This is a wonderful time to draw inward, and to really penetrate what you want these festivals to be about for your family and how you will celebrate these special times of closeness together.

I can’t wait to hear what you have planned!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Manbabies

Manbabies are the subject of sarcastic definitions and memes on the Internet….here is an example from Urban Dictionary:

Manbabies:

A man who acts like a baby. If he doesn’t get his way, he becomes crabby and unable to work with. thinks he’s always right. Can be angered and upset by anything.

Must proceed with caution!

If you come into contact with a Manbaby, back away quickly and run like hell.

Manbaby’s are good at concealing themselves amongst society. They seem normal at first but throw fits not long after dating them. Be wary.

-From Urban Dictionary

I am so fortunate because TERRIFIC and WONDERFUL partners and dads write me every single day!  I am so grateful for them!  I am married to someone who is the complete opposite of a manbaby and I am grateful for that, every day of our 27 years of marriage.  However, I have to say being 49 years old can be a bit disheartening because I see a lot of women in their mid to late 40’s and early 50’s dealing with divorce.  

Some of it is infidelity and growing apart…but a large reason is women who have killed themselves for years doing EVERYTHING and her spouse or partner essentially  wanted to do nothing at all, sometimes not even wanting to work, and who certainly didn’t act like they wanted a close emotional relationship with their family – partner or children.  They wanted to do what they wanted to do, and it didn’t really involve the family.

Selfishness in romantic relationships has always existed. In this sense, the idea I think people are trying to convey with “manbaby” is maybe just a new term for something that has been around for ages.  So, my definition of a manbaby  might be a little bit different then the Urban Dictionary one. My indicators, not all inclusive but a few brief points  in the context of family life goes something like this:

  • Does your partner want to at least equally contribute to the finances of your relationship? Does your partner hold tight finances over your head but buys whatever he wants? Can you even talk about finances?  That’s partnership level stuff in a relationship.
  • Does your partner support and nourish and protect you? That’s the friendship/lover side of a relationship.
  • Do you find equity in household chores and caretaking?  Inside and outside, lawns and garbage and car care and cooking?  Or are you doing EVERY single thing every week, including working outside the home, taking care of children, and everything thing else?
  • Does your partner do anything with the children – does he change diapers, feed them, help set boundaries, do bedtime, help with homework, help arrange so you are not always on and that you can have time by yourself? Or is every single thing an unwanted chore and source of complaint?
  • Is your partner verbally and emotionally supportive?
  • Does your partner want to be home or are they always gone out with friends or zoned out in front of a screen?

I know relationships can be more complicated than the famous Ann Landers question, “Are you better off with or without him?” – especially when it involves children and marriage. It’s complicated!!    And sometimes there are extenuating circumstances such as addiction, mental illness and more.  Sometimes I do wonder though if the whole phenomenon/idea of manbabies is sort of a cover way of saying “narcissist” – you can always look up narcissist and find a therapist specializing in how to deal as the partner of a  narcissist if you think that is what you are dealing with.

However, not withstanding all that, maybe a better question is this:

Can this relationship become legendary? Can we be an amazing, communicative, connected TEAM that drives the family?

 How can we move towards this?

What would that look like?

Is my partner or spouse open to that?

Perhaps the second better question than a casual meme or definition found in Urban Dictionary is:  Can relationship dynamics change?

I guess I am always hopeful that relationships can get better, that we can get better.  Maybe you are saying  right now, hey, my partner and I are ready!  We have talked about it and we are ready to change our lives and level up!  I love this, I have seen it happen, I think it is possible if both parties are open and narcissism is not involved.

But How?

  • Clear and open communication
  • Visionary goals set together!
  • Counseling
  • Time and attention on your actual relationship, not just the children. You are a team, you are the beginning of the family as a unit and after your children are grown up and living their own lives, you will be together again without them living with you.
  • Respect and appreciation for each other and each other’s strengths

A few recommended readings:

Feel free to DM me admin@theparentingpassageway.com and share your thoughts or comment here.

Blessings,
Carrie

Supporting Young Adults Past High School Graduation

This is such a hot topic amongst my friends right now since many of us have young adults in the age range of 18-20.  We have debated responsibiity and freedom, future plans and goals or lack thereof, and how we help our young adults transition into being healthy, happy, independent adults.

We all kind of know the options – four year college, two year college, vocational or trade school, military, gap year, or full time employment.  The teenaged brain isn’t a mature one, and many teens have developmental needs that impact the timeline of further independence as well.  There really aren’t easy answers, and every young adult is different in what they need in terms of support.  It can get a little crazy at this age and almost becomes a pressurized comparision time just like it did way back in the  baby and toddler years of who is sleeping through the night first, who is walking first – only now it is who knows what they might like to do for a career, are they going to college, if they aren’t going to college what does that transition to independent living look like?

Things are different now than when we started out.  Financial constraints are real.  A full time job that pays federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would require a 94 hour work week in order to afford a one bedroom apartment (typically).  You can see a breakdown of this by state here.  Also keep in mind employees that are tipped could make more or less than the minimum wage.  I also find many young adults who are used to a certain standard of living from their family (my area is a suburb that definitely has a mix of poverty and wealthy), are reluctant to try to branch out on their own  because they essentially want and expect what their parents have and probably built up over many years.

Student debt is real.  The student debt figures from 2017 stood at $1.4 trillion overall, with the average student loan debt in 2017 being $34,000.  Some students, depending on their major, have reported being underemployed or with difficulty entering the job market.

So, perhaps for some of these reasons, for  the first time in 130 years, according to the Pew Research Center, those 18-34 are more likely to be living with parents than married or living with a partner (see article here).  There was also a  super interesting article here at The Washington Post that pointed out another potential cause.  It suggested that there are many young able bodied men without college degrees that are happy being underemployed or unemployed, living with their parents and playing video games.   In part, this article said, ” The paper attributes one-third to one-fifth of the decline in work hours by less-educated young men to the rising use of technology for entertainment — mainly video games. The new study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and the researchers say they are continuing to refine the precise figures. But other prominent economists who reviewed it for this story said it raises important questions about why so many young men have abandoned the workforce….[ He added], “They find evidence that a portion … of the decrease in work time of less-educated young men can be a result of the appeal of video games.”

So, if you are supporting your 18-19 year olds, or you are coming up to that age in a few years, what are some things you could be thinking about for this transitional period?

1 – Actually making it a transition.  Can they pay you rent if they are living with you?  How will you handle that?  What about responsibilities around the house?  Do they hold a job?  Why or why not?  Are they playing video games in place of employment?

2 – How can you help them with further training for employment?  What do they need to go to trade school or a two or four year college? Or will they work a job and get on the job training?  Is the cost of training/education realistic debt-wise in comparison to a salary that can be made?

3-What are their relationships like?  How can they tap into community? Is there something beyond screens that is healthy and satisfying?

4- Are you rescuing them?  The best way to prepare for life isn’t just a high school diploma or a GED, but  to learn is from mistakes and natural consequences.

5 – Do you trust your young adults to create their own lives, even if it looks different from what you envisioned?  

6- Do you know your own boundaries? What works for you and your family in relation to your young adult.  What are your expectations, your attitude, your ideas?  It’s easier to think about this before the situation comes up and you are in the middle of it.

Everyone has different stories and experiences.  Leave me a note in the comments and tell me what worked or didn’t work!  Would love to hear your tips and ideas!

Blessings,

Carrie