Wednesday, December 29, 2010

In sickness and in health

I so don't enjoy watching my children be sick. At the start of any illness I seem to kick in to doer mode. Like a tornado through the house attempting with all my efforts to make it better. For folks who know me in general my parenting style is a hands off follow my children's natural lead sort of way. However when sickness arises in the house I turn in to some all knowing vitamin pushing drink this eat that military commander.  I dose my children with information I think is true about healing and health. I hide immune boosters in their drinks and food and then sit near by and remind them every 30 seconds to eat up or take sip.  I also start to clean fervently, every surface must be sanitized.

It was when my oldest son first said "mom leave me alone"  and later when my youngest nailed in on the head, "mom can you just cuddle me," that I started to pay attention in a different way.

When I stretch back in my memory I can see that from a very young age my oldest son has known what to do when ill.  He puts himself to bed and he sleeps until he is better. He asks for close physical contact and lots of popsicles.

Learning to trust in my children's abilities to know just what they require in any given moment and obtain it has been easier for me in some areas over others. The trick to it for me is truly seeing them outside of my stories and fears. And continuing to be the mom they need me to be in each given moment (as opposed to the mom that I think should take charge and eradicate the home and their bodies of foreign invaders).

There is a way I think that our world is set up to believe that the adults know all and the children know little. And many would go as far as to say our role as adults is to fill these empty vessels with information. However, many of my most humbling moments have arrived when I embrace the opportunity to learn from my children. Whether it be to unlearn something I thought to be truth or to see the world through their brand new fresh eyes I am often brought to me knees in deep gratitude.

This time around the lesson is just that in sickness and in the health my boys need the freedom to hear and respond to their own bodies. And that I get to stand by with offering loving arms to embrace each request.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I am a recovering

.. good girl.

I learned early on that it was best to keep my mouth shut and fly below the radar. I have a very clear and detailed memory of being chosen to feel the stomach of my pregnant teacher since I was "the only one sitting so quietly" I don't in fact remember feeling the baby kick or move or anything of the sort. But I remember clearly the message. sitting quietly and not rocking the boat will bring rewards. This message served me well throughout my school life.

Out here in the real world I have painfully learned, that rewards aren't randomly assigned to those of us who sit quietly and don't rock the boat. Now don't get me wrong I am not talking about changing in to   a super loud hell raising kind of gal (though I can see the value and reward in that) I am talking about a more subtle switch.

I will expand. My example shared here encouraged me from the ripe old age of six to look outside of myself for reward, validation and perhaps even guidance of how or what to be or do in the world. This message was validated for me over and over and over again in my school career. I create something hand it over and someone else decides if it has value or not and goes so far as to grade the value it has.  I was really good at this way of existing.

The toughest part though is out here in the bigger wider world folks aren't so generous with the praise and grading and its way harder to discern just how to properly meet everyone's expectations. Cause that is the other piece of the puzzle, with in the confines of school I was able to figure out just what folks expectations were and meet them. I met them with grand praise. I was rewarded with top marks for my skills at this.

Being in the world like this for the length of my school career seriously set me up for some patterns that have since come back to shall I say haunt me or bite me in the ass.  I continued to believe that affirmation, validation and guidance came from an external source. I trusted others to build me up (or alternatively knock me down) for I had no reference base of any other way to be in the world.

In looking so far outside of myself for ways to be in the world I lost the ability to dream for myself. The kind of dreams that lead to the grand manifestation of wildest freest happiest self.  I went along with folks, who I trusted and loved and ideas that made some sense to me. And don't get me wrong, on many levels this has lead me to the treasured life I have.  It is just that I keep bumping in to this place where a little girl inside of me is screaming "when is it my turn." And the more times I meet this little girl the harder it becomes to ignore her.

Parenting and living an unschooling life with my boys continually forces me to do the inner work that will bring my best self to our relationship. It is hard work. It is intentional. And it is taking me down some paths right now that involve some serious figuring outs and rediscovering.

As two young people who have never been forced to live by the external controls of others my boys are clear about how they would like their worlds to unfold. They are resistant to pressure from external controls such as guilt and manipulation. They are living for their personal happiness and the ripple out effect this shares with those they live with. Cause you see, living for you own joy and passion doesn't have to happen at the expense of others. In fact I am coming to see that quite often in can co-exist right alongside the living out of others joys and passions.

It is through their living experiences that I am coming to hear the tantrums of the young girl inside of me and nurture her. To pull of the ties of old thought patterns and welcome the journey with in. I can now work tirelessly to look with in for acceptance, affirmation, guidance and to trust what I find there.

I suspect my discoveries will continue to mirror the thoughtful, caring, optimistic person I am. I suspect my previous outward searches and discoveries have fueled my internal desires (even if I wasn't so acutely aware). I think what will shift and change in the most dramatic ways is my ability to dream and create from the place that is authentically and independently me! 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canadian Thanksgiving

Living in a different country has caused me to understand Thanksgiving in a new way this year. Puck and I have been hearing some different opinions on Columbus Day around here and wondered aloud, "is Canada's Thanksgiving in celebration of Columbus?" I know at 38 I the answer to this should be immediate. But the truth is in the past, Thanksgiving always meant to me a day to sit in gratitude for all that I was blessed with. Truly, I had never wondered beyond that.

This year, I did and here's what I uncovered, in nutshell,

Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day (Canadian French: Jour de l'Action de grĂ¢ce), occurring on the second Monday in October (since 1959), is an annual Canadian holiday to give thanks at the close of the harvest season. (from Wikipedia)

There ya have it, I can get down with those origins and am once again proud of my Canadian roots.

With this ever subtle shift, so has come a shift in how I have been reflecting on my gratitude. Don't get me wrong, I am still drop to my knees grateful for the freedom that is mine each and everyday. And that the worries that plague my mind have nothing to do with personal safety, poverty or failing health.  And that the love I have in my life multiplies with ever breath I take. And .. and .. and

Today my reflections took me to consider what I had harvested that I am grateful for at the end of this season. What seeds did I plant, tend to and harvest?

So here's my this years, Thanksgiving Thankful list with a new spin

I am thankful for a courageous husband who said yes to a journey that has pushed me to the very edges of my own comforts so I could blossom.

I am thankful for the friends I sought out and opened my heart to so I could experience the support that comes from walking the talk.

I am thankful for children's confident in who they are continually pushing me to examine my own issues in order to shed the stories that no longer serve me.

I am thankful for the opportunity to sit in quiet reflection and quietly tend my internal garden that is continually growing my wildest dreams.

I am thankful for an unfolding heart that is strong enough to seek connection in the least expected places.

To to all my Canadian and Non-Canadian friends may you to sit in reflection of all that you have harvested this season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Broken Youth

It is hard not to think about the youth in our world lately as media streams stories of early death, heartbreaking attacks and a general loss of innocence. One article, titled "School Boards tackle Social Media Issue," brought me to write this post.

The gist of the article was, how were school authorities going to control the use of social media from spreading hurtful information. This was in light of recent gang rape photos that had gone viral. Yes, that is right photos of a girl being sexually assaulted by more then one person, had apparently spread like wild fire throughout the local community and beyond. And not only that, it was littered with comments about how the girl deserved this and other disgusting terms.  As well, there had been a bullying episode, similar to a cock fight, caught on tape. A mother fearing it would go viral had destroyed the video and any chance of showing her son had indeed been attacked and forced to fight.

As shocking as these two stories are, what I find more shocking is the response of school authorities. "We need to find a way to control how kids are using these social media outlets. This is a new area for us and we just aren't sure how to police it."

Seriously, something as heart wrenching as a young girl being repeatedly sexually assaulted and  boy being made to fight despite his inability to stand due to injury while an audience takes photographs and video and then takes that information and spread it around, and the conclusion is we must control social media. There are some serious issues here that exist with or without social media. And perhaps social media has brought them to our attention so we can deal with them.

I am blessed that I live with in a community of people who have made a commitment to put their relationship with their children above all else. However, that does not give me a free pass to turn a blind eye to the youth who are crying out for help. To ignore that there are sad, heartbreaking, devastating things happening to what I dare call our richest resources.

Whether you send your kids to school, school them at home or unschool that common space we share is that we are parents. We have birthed the next generation and we have the opportunity to do parent in a way that shapes a future worth living in .  We can do it differently then generations before us by tossing out sayings such as, "that's just kids being kids. It will toughen up."  We have the chance to make an impact.

And it doesn't come from controlling youth access to Social Media. It comes from turning that finger of blame around and pointing it at ourselves. Instead of looking to youth to see what it wrong and how we can better control them how about taking a good long look at our own core values and how we are living them.

It is super easy to say, "my family is the most important thing." To truly live that in a way that says it to not only our children but the world at large is whole different matter. If  Mr/Mrs Boss person continues to dictate how we spend our time, then our children will continue to look for other places and ways to be heard, validated and understood.

If we continue to rule over youth by controlling what they can and can not do, say, access, play with they will continue to look for ways to feel in control and powerful. They will seek out ways to feel empowered and lots of times that looks like hurting someone else. Why ?? Cause they are hurting themselves.

When we hear of children taking their own lives or spreading messages of hate about through social media outlets its cause they are hurting. They have unmet needs. And when parents are too busy, stressed or simply unconnected peer groups quickly step in to take their place. Which if we lived in a world where all people were raised in unconditional love and respect it might not be such a harmful replacement. However, in this world that often replaces family value with social status things can get pretty messed up.

I am not suggesting any really radical changes to how folks are living their lives. I am just pleading with parents to take a long deep breath and on the slow exhale to truly examine how they live in relationship with their children.

It's in action like, going in to work an hour late once and a while so you can have breakfast with your child, that we say you are more important. And it's in feeling important that are children feel valued.

When we care more about what our children think of us then what the neighbors do that we show our children their opinion matters. And when their opinion matters at home, they are less likely to change their opinion in other situations.

When we sit down and watch a TV show or play a video game with our children, we show them that the things they are interested in have value. And when our children feel their interest are valued they are more likely to pursue them in in the face of external judgement.

And when we show our children unconditional love and respect we set them up to do the same for others. We give them the courage to say, "hey that's not okay with me."

When we create a home space that serves as a moral barometer for our children they are able to go out in to the world and make big decisions knowing we have trust them. They are able to tackle heart breaking situations and know we have their back. They are able to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means going against the grain.

So I say to that those poor confused School Authorities who aren't sure what to do in the face of social media, use it in a way to shows youth they truly matter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the eyes of my child

.. I see more deeply who I was once

.. I see more clearly who I want to become

.. I see more love then my heart can hold

.. I see more compassion then I have experienced

.. I see more possibility then I have known

Sometimes life gets busy in the doing and being and the exploring that I forget to stop and do some seeing. And by that I mean more clearly probably gazing. You know the kind of gazing where all you feel and see is the pure brilliance of the object of your affection.  I do adore those moments when something halts me and I simply stop and gaze at one of my children. In those moments all I see is pure love and possibility.

They often turn to me with that sort of "what are you lookin' at?" look on their face and sometimes they even say "what?" in a slight irritated way and I just say, "oh I'm just lovin' you up." And the day moves on.

The secret really is, that sure the lovin' them up likely gives them a feeling of security in the world, a trusting that all will be well and the sort. But I think I really do get a lot more out of it then they do !! I get filled up, filled up to brimming over and then I take that extra and I spread it around. Some times it even lands on an unsuspecting stranger who might, just might have been having a less then perfect moment.

Dare ya, to take a few moments today and gaze adoringly at someone you love like crazy, just to see what happens. I think the world could possibly be better for it !

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time In

Often the world around us sends a message that when the going gets tough, we need a time out. Whether it be commercials for tired parents, who need a vacation from it all or mainstream parenting books that insist that a trouble child certainly needs a time out to regain their composure (or more honestly behave the way the parent would prefer).

Recently, through my own tough moments, I have begun to recognize that time ins actually work much more smoothly to restore peace. Time in connection with my children fills me up and reminds me just why I want to spend some much time with them. Time in connection with my children heals the places with in me that perhaps were undernourished.

Time in one on one relationship with each of my children feeds a need with in us both to blossom and grow in our awareness of one another. Time in relationship with my partner heals the rushed moments and unthoughtful comments that have passed between us in hurried interactions.

Time in reflection with myself restores my commitment to live fully, joyfully, respectfully, lovingly and passionately.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The last straw (or more likely draw)

Prior to meeting my children, I was certain, with no shadow of a doubt that they would never play video games in my house. Those of you who know me in present day can appreciate just how far I have come, or more clearly just how much letting go I have done (or continue to do).

My husband actually was the first to start bringing the whole video game issue to life. Even before the boys had ever seen or wanted for any sort of system/game/experience we had a couple of arguments. Our first failed attempt at being down with video games ended in my husband removing the system from the house and lying to the children about it's working condition. Yep, we did that, back then in a time when our footing was a little less grounded. The boys memory of it all is truly how appalling it is that we told such a lie to them. I guess they have come to expect more of us.

None the less, time moved on and my boys did indeed experience video games at friends houses and the appeal with there. The passion was mounting and I had some work to do. For me, it involved taking a look at my own fears, concerns and worries and not just in the quick peek surface view kind of way. I had to pull them out, lay them in front of myself and untangle the roots to find the source.  You see I knew plenty of families who had happy, healthy, enjoyable children and video games. In fact, one of my most favorite families had a no rules policy around games and their children where excelling in a host of areas (tons of which grew out of their freedom to explore all and any game that came their way in that no holds barred go for it live your passion kind of way).  I discovered, my fears/concerns/worries were not attached to or based on any real life first hand experience. They were tales told to me by well meaning folk, or stories shared by well meaning research, they were stories I had been holding on to that had no relationship to the here and the now.

So we bought a Wii, for our then 5 and 3 year old. And because of where we were at in our own journey it came without rules or strings. It was another tool brought in to the house and available to use in any way that worked for those encountering it.

There were days, many many days, when I had to bite my tongue, as my three year old sat for hours in front of the screen. He didn't want to do any of the things we used to do and no amount of coercing or nudging could move the lad. I had fears arising now based on what I was seeing, they met up with those put in their by the afore mentioned well meaning folks and researchers.  Here I was once again, looking at some stuff and trying to untangle it in a way that made sense for me and as always preserved the relationship I have with my boys.

This time (as often is the case) it was the boys themselves that showed me the way through. When I could sit and listen, what I heard was children learning through play. Sure the mode was a new one for me, but the sounds of discovery, delight, problem solving and cooperation were the same, as were the sounds of frustration. The big loud noises, the tears were the same in this venue as they were when trying on a new skill in any venue. Once, I could really hear these sounds of play, I was free (for the time being) from my fears and I could see so much more clearly the value of this play and the skills that were being mastered all around me.

The one thing I hung on to in the very back recesses of my mind, was first person shooter games. You see I knew I still had issues with this style of gaming. For the first three years of our video game adventure there was no interest and so I was able to carefully tuck that fear aside. I worried a little when the PS3 first arrived in our home and I saw the abundance of shooter games marketed for the system. However, I rested assured as the purchase was made for sports games and the passion for those was huge.

And then the summer of 2010 showed up and after a few visits to favorite peoples homes, a passion for shooter games was spawned. My eight year was desperate to buy an XBOX in order to play Halo. GULP!  I had learned, from my own past, to simply keep my mouth shut and support the interest, heck who knew where it would really go.

Well, it went through a fast paced money acquisition that involved cleaning basements, repairing decks and washing a large number of cars. It involved hours of You Tube viewing, conversations and the interviewing of friends. It was supplemented with real in the forest recreations of the game with anyone who would play. I encouraged, questioned, I listened and honestly inside I wept a little. Could my eight year old really want to kill people on screen ?

Sensing something one night he said to me, "hey Mom, just cause I play shooting games doesn't mean I will change. Cause I know I never want to join the army or have a real gun."

My arms surrounded this thoughtful human being.

And then there in the airport, as we are about to board a plane he says to me, "I'm not going to buy an XBOX cause that's way too much money to save up."

Phew, I sigh and I smile. Again, I don't have much to say, cause I have learned in theses moments all that is generally required of me is to listen.

"When we get home can I do Gamestop and buy Modern Warfare with all the money I made? "

And there ya have it, the passion and interest were not lost simply shifted, in a way that supported a faster immersion in to this new style of video gaming. Once again, because of my commitment to this process (you know the one that values and respects my boys opinions and passions) and cause I  know it's not really up to me how they spend their money, I took him to the Gamestop and he bought the game.

That is how the last straw of my resolve to keep any sort of video game experience out of my home was broken. It has me doing a ton of reflection lately and yes once again listening.

Play is how my children learn. The bigger the idea, the more play required in order to cycle the ideas and information in to their frame of reference. War, guns and violence are super big complicated ideas that I often have a hard time understanding. So, it would make sense that they would require a huge amount of playing with. And that it would make sense to want to understand it through the eyes of the solider, through the eyes of the victim, through the eyes of the enlisting officers and on the list goes. I dare say this is livelier the any history book I have encountered.  And cause the adults in my boys life are always near by the gaps are filled in with the bits and pieces of information as they are asked for, further cementing a deeper understanding of the world around them.

My learning once again leaps forward as I see what is truly before me, apart from the stories that are shared with me by well meaning folks and researchers, who's knowing of my children is far less then mine. I see that my children do not fall prey to the media they encounter but instead take information tear it apart, look at it from different angles and put it back together in a way that makes sense to them in the present moment.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not everyday is made of rainbows and sunshine

I have been having some deep, tender thoughtful conversations with a few mom's in my life that inspire me. As of late the topic has touched upon the less then joy filled moments we experience on this raw and authentic journey of unschooling in a most radical sense.

It can feel somewhat isolating at times, when blog post after blog post oozes on about the joy, the delight and the wonder of this path and you have had days on end of well shittiness.  The wondering, we got up to was about those in the trenches blog posts that talk about our far from perfect moments when connections and joy are not the results of our actions.

I will openly admit that it seems I have just as many of those days as I have of the wonderful connected chasing down our passions with pure and utter joy days. However, I am less inclined to share with the world via my blog about my short comings. I would say, the reason isn't cause I want you all to think I am the uber ultra perfect unschooling moma, it is more likely that I seriously don't feel motivated to write when I am at my wits end. And I also think, that for me, in those darker days, my blog is a place/space I can come to in order to re-motivate and inspire myself, kind of like a remember when or a look there is evidence that this too shall pass.

Which I realize is less then helpful for folks who are looking to hear or know that they are not alone on this big emotion roller coaster that is unschooling in the most radical means of the journey. Cause ripping off those layers of old thought patterns to discover the parent we truly wish to be with our children can truly take us down to the deepest darkest recesses of the yuckiest things we experienced in life and sometimes it is hard to see that there will ever be a light at the end of the tunnel let alone catch a glimpse of the afore mentioned light.

As this post meanders before me, I am not truly sure of it's purpose. Perhaps to simply say, hey off line lots of folks are noticing that this journey ain't always joy filed and that living freely with a whole house full of wants and needs can be exhausting and exasperating in the newest and most challenging of ways. And perhaps is is also the beginning of more posts that will see me crawling to the computer after those heart wrenching days, to remind folks that we are not alone especially when the the moon is not shining out of our behinds.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm that Mom

For the Blog Carnival inspired by Flo Gascon .. started by Ronnie Sundance Maier and fueled by super inspiring mom's and dad's around the globe!

I'm that mom

... who birthed her babies at home cause it felt like a good idea

.. who nursed her baby near every two hours for the first three years of his life cause it was just what he needed

.. who jumps in puddles when it rains even without waterproof foot wear on just cause it looks so tempting

.. who smokes pretend cigarettes with her kids cause such a big idea is clearly worth exploring in the most authenticate of ways 

.. who piles dishes on the counter when the dishwasher is full cause tickle backs on in high demand

.. who pulls out a ladder and holds it steady cause someone wonders if an egg dropped from the roof on to the grass will break

.. who bakes cakes, even if they are simply for the purpose of decoration and never actually get eaten cause the inspiration arises

.. who buys four cans of whip cream cause one is never enough

.. who is willing to pass back a cup/bottle/bowl for peeing in when pulling over is impossible cause sometimes holding it in just is way to hard

.. who watches from the sidelines while holding smaller hands cause she knows that participation comes in all sizes and shapes

... who watches way more disney channel shows then she might choose cause it means sitting beside someone I adore

.. who snuggles under the blankets and tells more then one bedtime story cause sometimes sleep can be elusive

And Yes I am that Mom, who would rather have others judge, laugh or shake their head at her then disappoint, embarrass or belittle her children (or anyone's children really).

Sunday, July 11, 2010


As we are looking to build our tribe of local friendships and connection we are spending more time around unfamiliar folks and witnessing a wide array of parenting preferences. Lately, the one thing that has really slapped me up side the head, is the true burden some folks feel in taking on this big job of parenting. 

This idea got me to wondering, I mean for the vast majority of folks they did choose to invite this human being in to the world. And again, for a large percentage it was cause they were crazy in love with their partner and wanted to make another human being out of that love. And from what I know for certain about babies they arrive in this world as nothing sort of a pure unconditional love. From day one, that is simply what they have to offer up, pure unaltered not tampered with or damaged unconditional love.  A rather powerful drug that makes parents fall head over heels in love. 

So if we have these people who are in love and they make this person that is pure love, where is the point that the child becomes this manipulative little being who is out to make their parents life challenging? Where is the turning point that the child stops being unconditional love and becomes devious and in need of discipling or reshaping? 

I imagine it could be at the point when they start to push a parents buttons and in doing so encourage this parent to turn inward and have a look at what is going on for them. Cause really, for a child to be spoiled wouldn't that mean at some point they were rotten? And if they were rotten wouldn't that mean at some point the scales began to tip from good to bad? In order for that tipping moment to emerge from a being that was pure unconditional love when it arrived one would have to argue it had something to due with the environment the unconditional love was being nurtured in. And if this is truly the case we present, how in the name of any powerful being can that be the fault or the responsibility of the child. They were the one who was invited in to this world after all and showed up wrapped in unconditional love. 

I vividly remember a moment in my life when an subtle internal shift occurred that opened an even deeper well of unconditional love with in me for my children. It was late in the night and my 2 year old had woken me again to nurse (for the first three years of his life this happened nearly every 2 hours) I turned to him with frustration. I heard a stream of stories and advice pouring in to my mind about how he was manipulating me, I should have trained him out of this by now etc. You know what I saw in return, a smile. A smile that radiated that pure untainted love he had for me. I recognized in that moment that that was all he ever had to offer me. It was at the heart of our every interaction. How in the world could I meet that with anything but the same pure and free love. 

I try my best to have a huge amount of compassion for the chest puffed father asserting his power over his children in the park, in a manner that belittles, shames and embarrasses them. I suspect he is responding to the world around him that encourages this sort of dominance as evidence that he is doing a "good job" as a parent. And I offer a smile to the frazzled mother in the grocery store who is threatening her children  in a public manner cause I suspect she has bought in to the idea that a good parent keeps their children quiet in order to not disturb those around her, who by the way don't have an ounce of unconditional love for her. 

I still don't think it's okay though. I wonder about a world that accepts and makes it okay, to take unconditional love, manipulate it or train it or discipline it and then turn around and blame the results of that on the person who arrived invited offering nothing but that unconditional love. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cause your just as important as I am

Just the other day the boys and I were at home doing our thing. We were having what the boys call "a home day." It is what they ask for quite regularly to integrate new experiences, information and ideas in to their world.

I was starting to cook up some food for dinner and the boys were lounging in my bed, watching Disney channel. When off in the distance I heard the high pitched screaming of a child. The child was screaming "no, no, no, no," repeatedly in a desperate sort of manner. To say it broke my heart was an understatement. Now I took a moment to ground myself in the knowing that I hadn't a clue of what was going on or what the parent and child interaction looked like and to cultivate compassion for all parties involved in this heart wrenching altercation. And then it went on and on and on and on. I scoped the areas close to my home, in hopes of catching the interaction and offering a smile, or hand if it looked safe. However, I could not get a visual on the heart broken child. So I stood on my deck and I cried. I cried for the child who was so obviously asserting their desire for something to stop and I cried for the adult who wasn't able to hear that see that or meet the child's need.

Later in the evening, the boys and I were discussing what I had heard and how I so desperately wished I could help out. Mitchel so wisely said, "Ya but the parent might not have liked that." This caused me to pause before offering up a response. To me, the child is just as important as the adult and if I can show up and simply offer a smile that breaks the moment or let's the child know their is an adult in the world who recognizes them in their distress, that's enough.  I think he got that for the most part. But me I kept on thinking.

How often in our world do we over hear parents talking about their children using negative language? How often do we hear parents discussing funny or embarrassing moments right their in front of their obviously uncomfortable children? I think this sends a subtle, quiet message that us grown ups are far more important then children. I mean heck really this is only the tip of the iceberg in the number of ways this message is given to children over and over and over again in mainstream society.

This whole ideas has always baffled me, from childhood, through University and in to parenting.  My wondering is this, is respect something you have to earn? Or is it something you give freely to those around you in order to be open to receiving it right back at you? And what is the magical age by which you arrive that gives you "power" over others? Is it your right as an adult to then make up for all those years you wished someone would listen to you or take you seriously by disrespecting and holding power over younger smaller people?

I am thankful for that fact that I have always questioned the value of one age group over another. I truly believe it is the driving force behind how I came to know the little people I was blessed to work with in a number of "work" situations. I remember once, a mother saying to me, "I wanted you to work with my child because you always bend down to talk to her at eye level." What was shocking here was two part, the first being I had no conscious clue that this is what I was doing. And secondly, that others around me weren't.

When I first met my boys it made sense to me that their will and desire was on par with mine. It was one of those things that came from with in.  I was surrounded during my early parenting years by parents who were desperate to have their children sleep, who were using anything from Ferber to the Baby whisperer to make this happen. I just could not bring myself to get in the way of what ever need it was that my young sons had that waked them. I mean come on we spent our ever waking moment wrapped up in each other, why suddenly when the lights went out would they want to be separated from me for 10-12 hours. I struggled in the face of others who cringed at my nursing toddlers, somewhere in me I knew their need to receive nourishment from physical contact with me was just as important as my need to for personal space.

For me a huge part of honoring my children's importance lies in the place where I take them seriously.  A few days back, Makinley announced "I am going to work in a toothpaste factory when I grow up." There are many a response I could have come back with that discouraged this any thing from, "you won't get rich doing that" to out right laughter would have crushed his very in the moment determination. Instead, I listened and took him quite seriously. To which he explained, "and mom I am going to ask my boss if I can bring some toothpaste home for you so you won't have to buy it anymore. I hope I can be the guy who puts the cap on at the end."  Wow, he had given this some careful consideration and was asserting his dreams, hopes and ideas about the future while also considering my economical needs. This was a tender sharing by a young person who's dreams are just as important as mine.

As I move through the challenges of parenting I am continually called to bite my tongue to keep my thoughts and ideas quiet while holding my children in space that is as valuable as my own. Cause sure I can apologize later for the mistakes I make (cause there are plenty of those) but grander are the moments when I can keep my internal dialogue to myself while  holding my child in the space that reflects how we are equally important in this world!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Anger is one of those emotions that really, really, really triggers me. Whether it be the anger of an adult thrown my way that I feel the need to duck and hide from or the explosive anger of my child that I feel the need to manage, it triggers me. 

My oldest son feels things in a big way. Ever since he was born, when he is pissed off, it comes out with what to the external observer can appear to be rather violent. As he gets bigger things have started to look scarier. And for some reason the scarier they look the more I feel the need to get in the way of it all and manage it. Even though in my rational mind, I know for sure when he is in the place that makes him through a Wii controller across the room, he most certainly can not hear a thing I have to say. And if he is yelling and throwing things about his room, me yelling back is not the thing that is going to restore any sort of peace. 

Just yesterday, I got to thinking in the way that I hope turns in to some sort of shift. The first step for me was rather humbling. I realized, I was asking of my son, something I had yet developed the skill to do. "Please, when you get that mad can you just walk away and cool off." I don't do that all the time. Heck, I had just been right there in the living room yelling alongside him. Check that little piece of reality. 

The next step logically for me, was to admit to my son, that what I was requesting of him appeared to be beyond my abilities and was likely not the path that was going to take us away from yelling inappropriate words as the top of our lungs. 

So, we talked about anger and what it feels like. "It is like something just takes over my body and I can't control it." Wow, this is good information for me to know but more importantly for my son to know about his own physical reaction to anger. 

And the hardest part for me at this stage of the discussion, is to shut up and listen. I don't need to give him information about what he should or even could do when that happens. I can offer compassion for how challenging it must be to be in a body that feels clearly outside of your control and I can ask, "is there anything I can do to support you when feel this way?"

"YES, leave me alone and get out of my way."

I am sure that my heart beat could be heard from a few miles away. It was quite literally pounding inside of my chest. I want to help, in that do something way, and my eight year old has requested, I back off.  Alongside my teary eyes, was a hint of amazement as I realized he had just the skill I wished for earlier in the day. The ability to recognize what anger feels like in my body and to know what I needed those around me to do in order to give me the space to adequately process it. 

The challenge, for me to remember this conversation in the heat of the moment. To feel my own anger and my own urge to help and still give my son the space he needs to fully experience the anger coming in to his body, going through and inevitably leaving. Cause heck, who wants to carry that kind of nastiness around in your body clear in to your adult life. 

I thank my son for showing me, anger isn't something to be afraid of, it's just a feeling or emotion, that needs to find it's way through your body, in order to be fully released. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Tribute to Father's

I had a wonderfully imperfect father growing up. He did the very best he knew how to be a father to me. I could have chosen to spend the rest of my years, picking apart his imperfections and how they tainted or stunted me. But you know what, who he was and how he was are sewn in to the fabric of who I am today, and heck I am bold enough to admit I turned out pretty darn well. Father's day gifts, were always my favorite. As a little girl, I adored pouring on the love and telling my dad just how fabulous I thought he was. He was in fact that first man I loved, and he single handedly had my heart for a very long time. In fact, when he died I discovered in his closet a box of letters he had kept, from when he worked away. They were letters I wrote to him for everyday he was not home, a collection of love letters with the sweetest declarations of adoration ( I digress).

As a woman, Father's Day was a time for me to share with my Dad how some of the offerings he shared with me had shaped the person I am. I completely admired my dad's ability to continue to grow, examine himself and learn new things. The most touching example of this came in his sixtieth year of life. That was the year, my dad changed from the Catholic church to the Untied church. This was a big move for him and showcased how his religious up brining wasn't going to determine his spiritual practice in his later life. Shortly after joining the united Church the congregation began a discussion on whether they would perform gay marriages. My dad had a strong opinion on the matter, and attended the first discussion to share his thoughts. He boldly declared, that marriage was a sacrament and this was the driving force behind his opposition to the proposal. The minister kindly turned to him and explained, "it's not in this church Rick." And my dad's opposition was stopped in its tracks. Many weeks later, my dad called to share a personal moment with me. He explained that during the minister's sermon declaring why the church would know openly accept and perform gay marriage, he was brought to tears. "It's all about love Shan, how could I have ever been against that." It was one of the most tender moments I shared with my father, the witnessing of a crumbling wall of a belief no longer needed.

In my father's 62nd and final year of life, he joined his first choir with me by his side. He declared to me that he figured he had been a closet singer his entire life. And in fact, the day before his life ended my dad sang with gusto in the church choir on the one and only day his adored grandson's choice to check out this church.

So my tribute here is to honor each and every Dad out there and the tender loving moments they share with there children. Cause even with in the most imperfect of people there is love. And I dare say that this love is the only thing that reaches out and lives beyond our physical existence.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Sleeping

I was super moved after reading this post by Swiss Army Wife, that when I started to leave a comment I realized I might have a little more to say then just what can be summed up in a post blog comment. So here goes. 

Before my first son was born, we created a Jungle themed room for him complete with a brand spanking new crib bought by proud Grandpa to be. We found the cutest bed set and got it all ready. In my pre  momma brain, I just figured when the baby was sleepy I would put him in there and he would sleep. I mean that is what I had witnessed time and time again on the large number of Baby Story shows I had been indulging in. 

When my son did make his appearance in to the world, born at the foot of our bed, we instinctively curled up in bed and cuddled for days. I kept waiting for the moment when it made sense to put him in his crib to sleep. And it simply never showed up.

There were times when daddy needed more sleep, so we put a double mattress on the jungle room floor and baby and I slept there. The crib was a great place to store toys and more then once I put baby in there so he could hold on to the edge of crib and bounce up and down up and down. He really enjoyed that.  It just never made sense for him to sleep there. 

This chance to sleep with my children for the past eight years, has come to open up a pretty cool world to me.  We now coin sleeping in our house as, playing musical beds, just because you fall asleep in one bed, you are not guaranteed to wake up in that same bed !! 

A night terror could send you running in to the warm place between two adults, or a crick in the neck could send you searching for the emptiest bed. Every bed in our home, is open to whomever needs in when they need it, no questions just loving arms to welcome you. 

My oldest has night terrors and often asks, "how did I get in here" upon waking or, "tell me about last night's terrors." He is absolutely fascinated by the fact that while he sleeps peacefully we bear witness to him screaming in terror and seeing things that are beyond our scope of vision. I am comforted in those moments by simply holding him, loving him and eventually drifting back to sleep.

The other treasured gift that sleeping together has given me is the best pre-sleep connection times ever! This is the time in the day when I get to lie with one of my boys all to myself. We talk about the stuff that floats around in their minds right before sleep. We get to dispel myths, remove worries and reassure each other of our connection. We laugh a lot about silly things we saw, jokes we have made up or just at the kind of things you say when you are drunk with sleepiness. 

In these precious moments I know my boys on a deeper level. I get a milliseconds peek in the busy minds that are theirs. And we talk about the kind of stuff that can keep ones mind up with worry. 

A favorite of mine to hear, "mommy can you put up the catcher and make sure it is full only of all the things and people I love." There was a time when sleep eluded my youngest as he was sure he would have a bad dream. So, we talked about dream catchers and there role in different cultures. He was drawn to this idea and asked me if I could put one up for him. In my adult mind, I thought this meant searching out a handmade dream catcher and affixing it to his bed. To him it meant using his and my vivid imagination to create a protective shield a top the bed, to stop anything yucky from getting in to his sleep world right now!  And so that is what we did and do near every night since. 

I have been asked night after night to recreate stories, original of course with the starring characters being my boys. This has opened to me a passion I have for the telling of children's stories. And I will admit that even on the nights when sleep presses heavy on my eyelids, I can always be perked up by the request for a "pretend story." 

Some nights are trickier then others as we negotiate our way through four different personalities and the circumstances life tosses our way.  But is just keeps making sense to find away for every to fall asleep happy and all loved up .... 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Conference Crud

I saw a few facebook posts of fellow Life Is Good conference attendees referring to conference crud. And as my house filled with the sounds of sneezing, coughing and the odor of explosive rear ends I knew just what everyone was referring to.  It hit the boys before slapping me upside the head.

My head was still so jazzed from all the connections and inspirations from the conference that while lying in bed I got to thinking, and thinking and thinking a little more about this thing called conference crud.

I wondered to myself, could it be true that after my soul was so enriched my physical body had some toxins it needed to expel?

It began to make sense to me that guttural explosions (from either end) could indeed be my bodies way of aggressively purging those deep seeded fears that for survival needed to be expelled from my body. Their fast and furious departure mirroring my commitment to release all and any roadblocks holding me back from living in freedom with my boys each and everyday.

And that slow and annoying nasal drip (post and non post) could be indicative of lingering beliefs that are so habitual I near miss them when they trigger me.  The kind of things, that truly need to be wiped away in order to see they are there. Perhaps these fall in to those should or would categories of beliefs that require a good .... long hard blow to eradicate.

The sore throat and cough perhaps my voice, crying out to speak its' truth. Reminding me of the little girl who so early on learned to be silent and not rock the boat.  And encouraging me to tune things up so the message my boys hear is one that encourages the full living of every passion that ignites them.

So in hindsight I thank the Conference Crud, if for no other reason then making me lie down and think about the stuff I was ready to purge from my life.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I have to admit

.. I have been faking it just a little bit when it comes to fully trusting my boys will come to reading all on their own with out interference from me. I rely heavily on others I admire in the unschooling community to remind me that this will happen ...

.. I am after all a product of the public school system, from which I jumped full on in to a Bachelor of Education program, graduating with distinction. So, a huger part of the trusting, has been me letting go of what was thrust upon me and embracing what is unfolding in front of me.

.. My oldest is seven nearing eight and if asked by well meaning relatives I will say, "yes he is reading," and then quickly change the subject. Truly, in my wider definition of the word he is reading. He interacts with text, he notices letters and words, he navigates computer and video games screens, points out familiar signs and the such.

.. Recently my eyes have been opened even wider to the amazing process of language understanding that is my sons. He has been pointing out to me, words and letting me know what letter they start with. A basic skill some may say, however, he has devised this system on his own and it is his. His understanding, his terms, his time line and there is a quiet confidence that he exudes while using it.

.. On the way home from the Fedex office last evening, the most hilarious conversation unfolded between the two of us. It began with him again discovering letters that begin words (this time of some of our favorite people)

    Son, "You mean K, J, F and F"

   Me a little puzzled, trying to devise who he is referring to asking for clarity, he gives me the names and then the humor entails.

   Me "actually, Craig is with a C who's making a K sound and Gillian with G who is making the J's and there is silent E ... "

  Son, "What the F**K people. Letters should only have one sound. Who made this up people from space."

Not only does this moment highlight the joyful, hilarious relationship I am honored to share with my son. It also showcases to me, that he is continually trying to come to terms with the english language. He is more then learning to read, he is solving a giant puzzle, piece by piece. He is finding his way to an understanding that makes sense to him so he can use it over and over again to encounter new words and situations.

I bow down in gratitude to those who have trusted before me and shared their stories so I could continually be reminded, to do the same.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Things I was wrong about

This past week, I have truly been reflecting on things, I thought I knew about myself and my own limitations.

And you know what I was wrong about a few things.

Prior to this move, I would have told you, "I can't drive in big cities, it's just too much." And now I drive on freeways sometimes with 12 lanes. Not only do I drive on them, I navigate, predict my next move and ensure I am in the lane I need to be. Heck, I have even pulled the daring move of a huge acceleration that allows me to narrowly pass a car in order to make a turn I might otherwise miss. Worry not, I always give a wave of thank you, I am after all Canadian.

Six months ago, I would have told you, "I could never live in the US." Well, here I am living, laughing and enjoying myself in the US. It's not as scary as I thought it would be, there are some super nice folks here and lots of grand opportunities. I will always be Canadian however, I am making the most of my US adventures.

In the past, I likely would have told you, "I have no sense of direction." Turns out I have a pretty keen awareness of the space around me and can navigate myself from off the beaten path, back on to the beaten path. Who knew!

For the better part of my life, I have held on to a line, told to me by teacher after teacher after teacher, "she is so shy." I have told myself this on many an occasion, not as an affirmation, I see now, but perhaps as an excuse. Turns out, in many situations, I am not that shy after all. Sure maybe I have days where I feel shy or nervous, I like to turn that around now and say "I am having an introvert kinda day," instead of using it as a definition of how or who I am in social settings. I am actually, in some instances, rather extroverted and make new connections with ease .. Huh, interesting new observations.

At the end of my pondering, I came to realize, without saying "Yes" to those things that frighten me, or push the boundaries of my own comfort zone, I would miss out on knowing new things about myself. And it is about time, I stop carrying around others peoples stories about me, and be the author of my own experience.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just Say Yes

... cause quite often you haven't a clue what you are really in for.

"Hey mom wanna have a hot bath with me?"

"Sure," with a hint of reluctance.

We jump in and chat, the water fills up.

"I'm hot, and gonna get out. Actually, I just made this hot bath for you mom. And this isn't one of my pranks I really did. Now I am going to turn off the lights and get some candles to light for you."

Exit five year old to find the afore mentioned candles and return with daddy to help him light.

"Today is your lucky day and this is your treatment mom."

Exit five year old and daddy, leaving me to a hot bath, on my own, by candle light!"

And this is why I say YES!

I'm serious

This past week, I have witnessed in a new way the importance of truly taking my children and their passions seriously. Mitchel is crazy about hockey. For him this means full immersion in the sport, through games, play, conversation and mimicking. We have had to gather gear, in order to emulate hockey players. This week's request was for a mouth guard and a jock.

I can not pin point the moment when we discussed a jock, or the need for one, however here was my seven year old requesting one. There was every opportunity for me to laugh, joke and question this requirement. Yet, there was a part of me that knew this was an important moment and a genuine request. And so we went to a store and we purchased a jock and a mouth guard. We discussed what would be a good fit, wondered how to put one on, all the time treating it like any piece of sports equipment.

I quickly came to see, that what was happening was powerful for him. He was discussing how to protect his body. He was requesting equipment that all hockey players request. He was purchasing his first jock, with folks he trusts and loves. There was no shame, there was no embarrassment there was nothing but the job at hand.

At home, we examined our purchase, discussed who we thought it would be best to put on and then we tried it on. Right there in the comfort of his own living room, he tried on his jock. There was no secrecy, there was no locker room humor, there was no shame. This was a natural part of being a hockey player. I kept seeing how this was important, this was not something to joke about or make fun of, this was important and I was grateful that I had the awareness to take him seriously.

Next up were discussions while playing hockey in the rain, about females and do they where a jock? Which of course turned in to an anatomy lesson about where the important reproductive parts of males and females are located. There was no big moment of having a "talk" , there was no shame, there was no giggling, there simply was a matter of fact conversation in the hockey game that seriously addressed his wonderings.

In my growing and learning, there was such shame attached to the body, its functions and its sexuality. As I raise my boys, in an open and trusting way, providing answers to their questions and taking their ponderings and passions seriously, I come to see the power in truly taking them seriously. There is a message of faith, of value that comes with this. And I see in them a quiet sense of confidence building as they come to know themselves and the world around them, as truly worthy of serious consideration.