Tag Archives: Children

Portrait of Lotte

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A time-lapsed video of one man’s daughter from birth to Age 14 – all in only 4 minutes. As parents, we don’t need a reminder that changes in our children happen fast. Very often, far too fast. I thought this was a beautiful video and its existence is a testament to one father’s great love for his child. The importance and relevance of her development and evolution shines through. Well done!

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…and I go to sleep counting my blessings.

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▶ White Christmas Count your Blessings – YouTube.

As I lay me down to sleep, I peep cautiously out of one eye to see if my son has his eyes closed yet. He used to be infamous for his poor sleep, but he is 5 and a half now. All grown up and a great sleeper. He has placed himself so that his head is on the same pillow as mine and his nose is only 2 inches away, his breath warm on my chin. His eyes are closed but I know his breathing patterns and he is not asleep yet, or at least not deep enough for me to sneak away.

I have time to let my mind wander and so it will. I think about this week of holidays, family time and celebration. I have nothing to complain about. I have no wants. No needs. My biggest problem this week is embarrassing at best: deciding whether to switch from an iphone to a Samsung. Seriously pathetic.

So I let my mind wander to gratitude, where I know I can always come away feeling refreshed and light. To reach out and embrace my children. To have them want to cuddle and play with me. To have a husband who is engaged, honest, and fun to be with. To have a home that is warm and safe. To go to work and use my skills to help others. These are my Christmas gifts. This is my joy. I allow the soft hush of this realization to resonate and bring a peace to my mind.

Christmas as we know it today has become a reminder of what I do not need. I give thanks for all the marketing and lights and bells and whistles as they blare out a message: “If you are not enough, then we can provide. We have everything you need!” And I laugh at the ridiculousness of the idea. Didn’t we grow up watching the Grinch learn this very lesson every single year, trying to stuff joy and love into bags and steal it? So then, even if we know it in our hearts to be true, we may not be ready to become it. To live it. To allow the message to seep in, take root and grow, changing us permanently as it thrives.

I remember the smile on the Grinch and his heart swelling in anticipation. I lay there and count my blessings as I count my son’s tiny breaths. One by one, smiling as they come.

CB

Whispers of Sanity

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Silence is Golden
Photo source: http://www.influx.com.br

I woke up this morning in a coughing fit. It seems the little people of the house have infected me yet again. I painstakingly extracted myself from the cozy comforter on my daughter’s bed, writhing awkwardly so as not to wake her. My lungs wracking into spasm just as I closed the door behind me. I fell onto the couch and drifted in and out of sleep for another hour, thankful for more energy to get my small people through another day. I barely remember my husband kneeling next to me before he left for work. I think he apologized for his schedule. Sick or not, I was on my own. When my 5 year old woke and came to cuddle with me, I went to greet him quietly but my vocal cords were in full rebellion. Laryngitis. Oh crap.

I tried a few words but was rewarded with hoarse squeaking instead. For a moment I felt panicked. How was I supposed to parent with no voice? How do I compete for ‘air time’ with small, loud people all day? Can I just take a time-out for a day?

Taking a deep breath, I took stock of my tooIs. I thought about what I know of my children.

  1. They are capable of empathy
  2. They are reasonable (when not ruled by their over-dramatic brain regions)
  3. They love small changes in routine
  4. They are really just small adults

We can work this out, right?

So I started by whispering softly and then as the morning progressed, I just kept whispering. Eventually, they noticed the change and asked what was wrong. So I told them today my voice was sore and I needed their help to listen for my whispers.

As the morning progressed, I was thrilled that they quieted when I whispered. Their little heads would tip forward and lean in to hear me. Wow. Would you look at that! The change was sparking their interest.

Later, as we piled into the car, typical moments of tension evolved but I felt removed from them. Knowing that I could not interject, I felt like I was watching a scene unfold in front of me. I am certainly not a perfect parent and will admit to having to raise my voice on occasion but I still regret it every time I do. How unique to find the choice taken from me today. I have to be quiet, observe, connect and whisper today. I can listen in or offer a word or two of subtle advice, but otherwise, I must allow them to live the moment on their own.

Later still, as I carried my daughter off of the school playground against her will (how is it that even when their fingers are freezing off they still want to play?) I leaned in and whispered some words of comfort and distraction. She leaned her head back against mine and conceded. No big argument. Just quiet agreement. Yes!

This reminded me of something I had read once. A reminder that when we whisper or speak softly our hearts are more connected, somehow in tune with one another.

Below is the full excerpt from Paulo Coelho’s blog:

A master asked his disciples:

‘Why do we shout in anger? Why do people shout at each other when they are upset?’

the disciples thought for a while, and one of them said
‘Because we lose our calm, we shout for that.’
‘But, why to shout when the other person is just next to you? ‘Isn’t it possible to speak to him or her with a soft voice? Why do you shout at a person when you’re angry?’
The disciples gave him some other answers but none satisfied the master.

Finally he explained:
‘When two people are angry at each other, their hearts distance a lot. To cover that distance they must shout to be able to hear each other. The angrier they are, the stronger they will have to shout to hear each other through that great distance.’

Then the master asked:
‘What happens when two people fall in love? They don’t shout at each other but talk softly, why? Because their hearts are very close. The distance between them is very small…’

And he concluded:
‘When they love each other even more, what happens?
‘They do not speak, only whisper and they get even closer to each other in their love.

‘Finally they even need not whisper, they only look at each other and that’s all. That is how close two people are when they love each other.’

 

For a day, I have no choice. No option but to submit to calm and cool parenting. But will I remember the lessons learned tomorrow when my voice returns? My children hope so. And so do I.

CB

Single parent for the weekend

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Parental escape…Go big or go home  always say! Photo credit:lasvegas360.com

Parental escape…Go big or go home is our motto!
Photo credit:lasvegas360.com

My little family keeps busy in a great way and we all work hard to get our breaks away. My breaks are usually for dancing  and my husband’s typically for business but occasionally for guy time. This time apart always refreshes our tolerance for the routine and the frustrating parts of parenting. We remember why we chose family. We remember how being alone was not a desired option in the long term. When we escape together, our romantic weekends away are fantastic even 6 years into our marriage but we cannot wait to get back for those little arms to wrap around our necks and squeeze. Those little faces lighting up on our return. What a powerful feeling. Love, full-throttle. No hesitation.

When we take separate time away though, the experience for one of us is very different. When I see the looming dates blocked out in green on my calendar, I get antsy. ‘Dave in Vegas’ scrawled across 4 full days. Anxiety creeps in so I shut down the app and try not to think about it.

When the day arrives, we are so swept up in the morning routine to get to school, we barely say goodbye. “Gotta run, have fun!” The rest of the day pans out as normal since Dad is always at work anyways. The hardest part of the day for me as a temporary single parent is late afternoon. Kids are tired, I am craving a moment to myself and dInner is yet to be served. Instead of thinking “How can I make this day special and have fun with the kids?” I am thinking “Please just let this day be over!”. It is a different kind of exhaustion than my regular work. More emotional and seemingly endless.

There is no competition between a 12 hr critical care shift full of resuscitation and transports. 12 hours with two small children is way more challenging. Even at work there are moments where I am only responsible for my own hunger, my own bathroom breaks. Childcare is relentless. I am needed non-stop.

Late day moments are the hardest. I have looming thoughts of the kids never ever getting to sleep or at least taking 2 hours to complete the process. Knowing it will all repeat the next day makes it worse. It becomes a challenge of just making it through the weekend, not enjoying the time together.

However, there are some truly unique things that occur when I am a single parent for the weekend. Situations that make the parenting just a little easier in a way. I never expect them and always forget they exist, hence the anxiety.

One benefit is that there are no conflicts in leadership. I am the boss. I make the plan (or so the kids have me fooled into thinking). I don’t have to think out loud or ask for help with the basic tasks. It is all me. No communication blunders here. It’s a one-woman show!

Another perk of the partner-less weekends are that family and friends are more willing to help you out. (I realize that I may be in a unique situation here as some families have no helpers around). Invitations for the three of us abound for dinner, visits and play dates. Have pity on the Mom at home while husband is off in Las Vegas. (More so pity the Dad left alone with kids because ‘What on earth will they eat all weekend?’). My husband once skirted out of every single meal when I was away for the weekend with takeout and family BBQ invites. He was quite proud he didn’t have to cook once. I was honestly relieved! We don’t have a fire-extinguisher in the house!

This is not my husband, but this IS the only cooking tool he knows how to use. Gotta love a stir-fry!  Photo credit:dadsthatcook.com

This is not my husband, but this IS the only cooking tool he knows how to use. Gotta love a stir-fry!
Photo credit:dadsthatcook.com

The last perk that I can find is that I get Me time at the end of the day. No discussion about whether to read or watch a show. The brain just winds down doing whatever I like. I often choose my solo pastimes here; painting, blogging, reading or catching a quick show on Netflix.

But that is where I run out of positives. I’ve stated before on my blog that I marvel at the sanity of full-time single parents. I cannot imagine not having backup. No respite for days on end. Wishing the days over instead of seeing them as opportunities for growth, fun and play. If I was a single Mom, I don’t know if I would be able to really slow down and practice gratitude. Those moments would be few and far between. I also marvel at multigenerational family living. Is this as easy as the families make it look? Having grandparents in the same home to engage in every day life. Having extra eyes and hands for the little ones. Do these benefits outweigh the lack of privacy?

I am grateful for what I have. Grateful for all the good moments and also the ones that drive me toward my favorite Riesling. The changes keep us thinking, learning and growing as parents, which is also what I ask of my children. Monkey see, monkey do. Or so I hope. The change and the time away gives us a Super-Mario style power-boost. If it wasn’t my turn this time to relinquish my parental duties, then the anticipation of planning the next trip is tantalizing enough. Heck, maybe next time, we’ll all just go to Disneyland!

CB

Dear Momma,

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Dear Momma, 

I love it when you look at me. I love to see your face. When you hold my hand to walk down the street, I feel strong and safe and happy. 

But sometimes Momma, you make me sad.

The times you walk ahead without me. I can see you but you can not see me. What if I fall?  Will you see me then? Will you know? Will I be alone?

I love you most in the world Momma. If I could I would never let you go.

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My son just started kindergarten and I have a newly widened social circle. With that becomes new experiences, some good, some bad. Of the things that I noticed, one was a habit that a few parents have when they pick up their children from school. They collect them from their class and then proceed to turn their back and walk in front of them to their vehicles or homes. They seem to expect the children to just follow them like ducklings. Survival of the fittest?

So, I am really interested in opinion on this subject. Are parents just distracted and get ahead of their kids without realizing it? Do you really trust them to just follow you? (I am referring to young ones here…like ages 3-6). Do you have such disinterest in your children that you don’t want to see there faces and speak to them up close? Are you not aware of the myriad of teachable moments that can occur when you walk with your children?

Of course, we see this behaviour in many animals: ducks, horses and elephants to name a few. But aren’t we different? We have an awareness of our own mortality that sets us apart from animals. So I am curious about this behaviour. What drives it? What reinforces it? To me, it seems to disregard the child. A turning away with disinterest.

Either way it makes me sad. So if I feel that way, I would imagine the children in question are as much or more disheartened by the practice.

CB

Intuitive Parenting?

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Strive to thrive, not just survive.

Strive to thrive, not just survive.

The active child. The quiet child. The talker. The screamer.

How can we let go of preconceived ideas of what our children should be? How they ‘should’ behave.  Is it really helpful to use someone else’s theories and methods on parenting on OUR own children?

Before I had children I was bombarded with ‘information’ on how to create the perfect baby. How to eat, how to sleep, how to take yoga classes when I was pregnant. Once the little peanut arrived, how to breastfeed, how to make home-made organic baby food, how to create an amazing sleeper. But did anyone once tell me what I really needed to know? That the very act of parenting would release childhood emotions of my own. That the tears and the unrestrained anger exploding from a toddler could elicit responses from my own inner core that were as yet unprocessed and raw.

Here’s a thought… what if you were to ignore all the input from others and learn how to REALLY listen to your child? What if you practiced extreme empathy? Would your child’s behaviour speak to you and tell you the answers? Perhaps you could you do a better job on your own than by using most of the ‘helpful’ suggestions from parenting advisors.

If there is anything that parenting has taught me so far, it is that intuition rules. If I feel like my child needs a day of rest even though he has not played extraordinarily hard that week, I will keep him home from school. If my child continues to hoarde toys and retreat with them into a corner, I’ll declare a day of self-play and quiet. If my daughter is overly clingy and fussy, we will have a day of cuddles and cancel appointments that aren’t necessary. However, if I were to add any other adults into any of those situations, my responses to my children have the potential to change. My expectations of my children’s behaviour can be significantly different with an audience and the social expectation for ‘good’ behaviour. Clingy toy hoarders could be embarassing if I have high expectations for self-sufficiency in my own behaviours. I don’t ‘do’ needy. Needy makes me angry (it’s a long story). Suddenly my behaviour towards my children is completely changed. I am impatient, unkind and NOT listening. Suddenly, it’s all about me. In fact, the problem is no longer the problem, it’s my percepton of the problem that is creating all the drama.

I can no longer listen to my child and even if I did I would not hear what they were trying to tell me. My own, inner child is screaming too loudly, awoken by the crack and rumble of my shifting ego. Unfortunately, it is these emotional moments that most parent choose to try and ‘teach’ their children good behaviour. Urging them to share, threatening them with toy confiscation if they cannot, using time outs. Let me ask you parents… do you learn well in stuations of stress? No. You will both fail huge as you are in no emotional state to remain observant and calm, resulting in you shaming your child with your words and actions. The distance between you is created and it grows on every such interaction. Children are so very forgiving, but are only human. We never forget how a person makes us feel.

If you are willing to accept the fact that you yourself are a work in progress, you may just have a chance to create a wonderful human being. To do this, you will need to let go of becoming a perfect parent.  You will need to admit to your children that sometimes, “Momma is learning too”! If you yourself cannot communicate open and honestly with your friends and family, why would you be able to teach this skill to a new human being? If you fear change, your children will observe and feel your behaviour. Not a one of us came with an instruction manual. We must all battle with our inner child as we help our own children grow.

So where do we start? Try reading  ‘Parenting From The Inside Out’ by Dr. Dan Siegel. LOL, another referral… but this time a book that leads us to answer questions about ourselves and what we bring to the parenting table. More importantly, a resource that focuses on our ability to learn, change and grow in our role as parents. If you are asking your child to do these things, why should you not be practicing the same?

CB