Holding still is action too.

If you’re any good at yoga you’re likely better at holding still than most of us, certainly better than me. I’m usually uncomfortable being still – not as much physically but mentally.  Ideas are always bubbling up; task lists the elliptical of my life.

Apart from the realities of my life (three children with my husband one of whom has complex medical and developmental needs, running a business and working with my spouse), my personality is one of never being still and that includes my patience.

Part of my life involves working with parents and groups who face situations that require them to develop resilience, a well-won patina that pays tribute to the life they live. Often, during these workshops when we have our open discussion portion the topic of spouses/partners come up.

When it comes to relationships, marriage in particular but also siblings, friendships, parents or extended family, many of us tend to want to turn and run in the face of anger, disappointment, hurt feelings, or sorrow.  Certainly, this is true for me…my feelings so powerful that the idea of continuing feels like a physical burden I just want to drop-kick and step away from.

And yet, it’s discovering that holding still when I want to leap away or abandon ship is sometimes the most important action one can take and a helpful one when we struggle to make a decision about what to do or what direction to go in.

My husband and I have been together for 16 yrs. A lot to some and nothing to others except that given that we the three kids, live the special needs life, and work together 24/7 means our 16 years are experientially more like 16 to the nth degree.  This means a few things: I do actually know what I’m talking about when it comes to significant relationships, I understand the rigors of raising multiple children, and lastly, I am well versed in the break-down-pick-my-self-up again cyclone of resilience building.

Having successfully triangulated the most stressful factors in any marriage, know that when a person who isn`t good at holding still in any respect tells you that doing so is the most important action you can take sometimes, the reason is solid:  there are times when not making a decision is the decision.

Why might this be? Here are a few reasons:

  1.  It takes the pressure of making the ¨right” decision off our shoulders at a time when we likely need the break most.
  2. It creates the space for things to shift – be they our feelings or circumstances – so we can better understand them or reflect on them.
  3. It lets us see the difference between a moment of emotion (anger, hurt, disappointment, betrayal) and an on-going issue that needs resolution or termination.

Holding still is not ignoring or turning a blind eye, and it certainly doesn`t indicate acceptance of a situation or conversation. It means that you are managing to regulate your reaction to something difficult and give yourself the space you need to decide what to do.

Holding still can be a very active thing to do, actually. Because jumping to act is often a reaction rather than a decision and those can often implode things you wish were still together.

And it doesn’t require the skill or practice of a yogi or a monk to do it.

What does it take?

Mostly, it takes telling yourself that you are making the decision to hold still. Then, it’s about observing how your thinking and feelings about the person or situation change with even a little bit of time.  Maybe for you it can include making lists or writing a letter that you will not send.  I’m not the expert on what the decision might look like after you’ve held still for a bit to give yourself the time you need, but I do know that holding still is as active a thing to do as rushing to action.

A.

 

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Brand New Pain.

“She’s not brand new anymore, she’s just another kid!”

You love her more because she’s brand new and I’m not brand new anymore.

Not brand new. That’s what my 5 yr old shouted as we drove home from Chapters where we left a toy behind because the line was too long.

It took this moment of frustration and fatigue for her true feelings about being the eldest of three girls to come out to me.  My heart fell to my knees and my stomach fell clear out of me. Even her sister knew that this was big and to keep quiet and she’s just 3 yrs old.

I told her the only thing I could. That she was right. That her baby sister is just a kid, not a brand new baby anymore. And sad as I felt about the realization that my first born was hurting, I was equally saddened by the realization that  each will experience similar feelings of being loved-less than the others.

If it’s an exaggeration to say that every parenting book written tells you not to tell a child that you love them more I’d be surprised. My theory when I had my first child was that I would only love her that way. It was inconceivable to me that I could actually love more than one child. Then my second was born and I realized that just as she had grown in my body, so too there grew within my heart another little heart just for her.  I’ve said it repeatedly to all of them, you don’t share my love, I have a heart in my heart that belongs to just you – it’s for you and me and no one else and you don’t have to ever share my love.

And today I learned that some little ones need more. They need you to love them more because love leeches out of them faster than it might another child and their account of love needs to be filled more often, in more ways.

After getting her sisters out of the car I took a moment to place my hand on her heart and say:

You, my dear, are my first daughter. You made me my favourite thing to be: a mommy. I have known you the longest and I love the most and each day that passes I love you more because each day I know you more; and I will find a million ways to show you each and every day just how much I do love you and always, always, always will no matter how many brand new people come into our family.

And as her little soul seemed to expand and her body appeared to relax, I glanced up to heaven and said a silent prayer that I could heal the pain by being more mindful of my daughters need for loving reminders that no matter which brand new person is around, she doesn’t shine any less brightly.

A.

Lessons in parenting. From my 4 yrs old???

Seriously?

The words “who’s idea was it to have children, anyway” actually formulated in my brain and spilled out of my mouth to stun my husband.

Forget the terrible twos. If you can leave town while your child is 3 and 4, DO IT.

They talk back, they have opinions, they are RUDE, they are annoying, they whine, whine, whine.  They take forever to do everything make demands instead of requests, and for some strange reason act as though they live in a democracy.  This is no democracy. This Parent/child contract we tacitly consented to when mommy and daddy had sex is entirely about what we each HAVE to do.

My compulsory tasks are: 1) feed you, 2) wipe your butt, 3) kiss your boo-boo’s (though that comes straight from the heart), 4) educate you, 5) take you to at least 100 extra-curricular activities and generate stress for you in your young life, 5) show you off, 6) teach you manners, 7) teach you respect, 8 ) give you a safe place to live.  In no particular order.

A child’s compulsory tasks are: 1) Listen to ME, 2) Do as I say. We’ll keep it short because little ones ought not be overwhelmed with responsibilities.

Are they cute and bright and smart too? Sure. But the crap they pull whips the crap out of you and leaves you begging for a pillow to scream into or a quiet plush room with a locking door and sound proof walls to hide in.

We teach, train and praise. We disciple, threaten, and bribe. Lord help those parents who don’t…they’re in for a world of hurt.

What prompted this particular post?

My 4 yrs daughter’s monologue on how other parents are not  rude to their children like I was to her, insisting that she put her PJ’s on and brush her teeth.  This on the heels of 5 repetitions to put on her PJ’s (yes, I get that was my mistake), a 30 minute long stream of whining (this time from her not me), and three thrown toys and said PJ’s.

“I didn’t want you to say I can put my PJ’s on!!!!!!!!!” has become the amazingly loud background noise of the night as N wails and whines about not looking pretty with the PJ’s and her headband. Frankly all I wanted to do as my arms tensed and my face hardened is shout “SHUUUT UUUUUUUUPP!!!!!” and fling her into her room.

I don’t think it’s just the hormones here….really, age four is massively annoying and worse still past 7 pm.

Overall I find that past the 7 pm mark, I don’t do very well as a parent. I’m pretty terrific in the morning and during those middle of the night sessions but 7 pm, particularly during the winter months find me at my worst. Everyone I know is strongly advised to not call my house at that time, chances are a bitch will answer the phone and you’ll wonder if you dialed the right number.

At 7 pm this is what I like to do: get cozy, have a tea and either read, blog, stumble on the net, or watch something on Netflix with my hubby. I want sweet soft kisses goodnight from kids who go promptly and easily go to bed and I want to not hear them again until at least 7 am. I want to hear the words, “can I get you anything?” (which I happily always do) and then blissfully lie in my bloated state until sleep washes over me.

So can you imagine then when it’s 8:30 pm and there is still a 4 yr old N whining and complaining and not doing what she’s told just how hard it is for me to mask my aggravation?? I figuratively rip through the memorized reference notes in my brain for excerpts on techniques on how to best engage my daughter and I come up with only one: let her very capable dad deal with it.

A.

Wake Up Already.

I’ve been experiencing a reawakening.

The sort that causes you to pause and notice yourself and your life a little bit. The kind that results in rediscovering past passions, interests, skills.

I can’t say with definitiveness what ignited this awareness but I do think that Dan Millman’s The Sacred Journey has a lot to do with it. I had this feeling before, a few years ago, when I read The Peaceful Warrior.

All of a sudden I’m remembering that I like colour. That I am great at crafts. That I have a philosopher’s mind and lover’s ache for life.

I am settling into my self. Coming together by letting myself come apart and simply be. Not an easy feat for me. I’ve usually succumbed to the demon that  demanded I be appropriate, polite, perfect.

I am ripe with our third child and haven’t figured it all out. Nursery done? Nope. Names picked out? Nope. Work tasks organized so that someone can take them over? Nu-uh. Person hired to take said work tasks over? [shake of the head in the negative].

See? I am letting things come undone. How much do you wanna bet my husband is loving this?

But see here’s the thing, I’ve discovered in subtle ways throughout my life that everything sorts itself out. There is beauty and wisdom in allowing the universe participate in how things unfold. Now, you’ll find that perhaps you don’t see yourself as a superstar who manages and oversees and excels at everything, but then, how well was that working for you anyway?

A.

Plug me in. I’m a connected parent.

I am really excited about 2011 and I’m fairly certain a lot of it has to do with the fact that I haven’t made any resolutions.

As I think about it, I find that I do certain things differently that I never resolved to; and definitely didn’t share them as conventional wisdom stipulates we ought to in order to see those resolutions, well… resolved.

Take for instance that I ended 2010 with a three-week stream of yelling at my three year old to hurry up, to slow down, to eat more, to put back the cookies, to get into the car already, to get out of the car for once, to put on her clothes, to get into bed, to stop biting her sister, the table, the doll’s head…you get the picture. Compare that to my starting 2011 listening to an audio interview with Pam Leo about connected parenting for 1 hour and only today experienced a minor flare-up of what will go down in my parenting history as three of the worst-job’s I’ve ever done.

I’m no expert. Don’t quote me, don’t learn from me, don’t do anything except shake your head at me in either agreement or judgment…but her words alighted an insight that I always knew. Knowledge that lived in my heart and connected with me.

Here is what I understand: Connected Parenting is about the creating and maintaining a relationship that helps our children feel connected to us,  feel safe, loved, and listened to. It is a mode of parenting that functions from a point of respect for our children over the mode of authority. Which is not to say that we do not have authority over our wee ones, just that how we convey what we need them to learn and understand and do is done so with respect to who they are as people just as we would interact with other people.

In the interview, Pam talks about how the power of coercion, as in “You better be here before I finishing counting to 3 or else!” decreases as children get older. Older, in my experience ought to be defined as: as soon as they are 4.

Instead, she inspires parents to parent through connection. And not in the ‘come here now or you’ll connect with my fist/mean spirit-breaking words/harsh face’ parenting style that I hope most children are not raised by, but in that way that demonstrates that you want your child around – with all their tantrums, quirks, and tiresome antics.

I’d like that. I’d like that for my girls. I’d like that for myself.

Happy 2011, may it be a ridiculously prosperous, healthy, and connected one.

A.

A Government Baby Incentive

A little earlier today I was contacted by a journalist with the CBC who invited me to participate in a live call in show about whether or not a government incentive to have more children would affect the plateau in the baby boom we’re experiencing recently.

And as I sit and wait to be dialed in I ponder: what do we consider when deciding to have a child, be it our first or second/third/fourth.  Are we thinking about whether we can afford it? Whether we have the energy? How this will affect our career paths as women? And are we even thinking at all or simply doing it – all matter of pun intended.

Sitting here, 7 1/2 months pregnant I’m overcome with discomfort, hormones and fatigue that I hadn’t counted on experiencing at this time in my personal/professional life precisely because I didn’t think about it.  Instead, I happily surrendered to a lusty summer day with my husband while my little girls were in preschool (a fabulous perk of working from home with your spouse).  Now, preggers with our third child crushing my diaphragm and a near constant need to urinate I consider the cost, the energy, the humour, the painkillers associated to having another child as I excitedly and anxiously set about welcoming our new baby into the word.

So the question: should there be an incentive for people to have more children? Well, let’s see. Does the incentive facilitate a sustainable and healthy standard of life for people who wish to have children? If  so, I emphatically nod in the affirmative. On the other hand, is the purpose behind the incentive to entice people to have more children in order to bolster population size for the province given that women are now having 1.87 children and the impact of the rate of immigration is simply sustaining population growth from one generation to the next?  In which case, my answer is a resounding no.

Considering the output of money, time, energy and humour required to raise a child, all of which are exponentially increased with each child, the incentive ought to lie in resources, funds, and access for parents to be better equipped to create the life they need and want for their families.

How about this, Ye people who create government incentives:  Facilitate access to mom and tot social groups, co-ops, subsidize businesses servicing young families like activity centers, savings programs, childcare, hell even mini vans! Those suckers don’t come cheap.

Assist in making the maternity year that many of us enjoy with our children as engaged and connected as possible for the parent staying home and foster an environment that lends to parents having the families they yearn for – not to bolster population size as the MO, but so that children have the life their parent’s dream about. And so that none of us feels chocked by the costs – tangible and not – of having children.

I have no idea how I sound in the interview. It was live and took place a little over 20 min ago, but I will post it here tomorrow when it becomes available. No doubt I’ll be engaged, surprised and enthralled by your comments.

A.

She’s the Girl.

A Girl.

Me, I was the girl.

I’ve been smiling since my friend introduced me that way. Actually, she is the mom of a friend of my daughters and until recently a parent at the same school as my girls. She is a warm, wonderful close acquaintance with whom I have friends in common but TODAY, when she introduced me as a girl, my heart catapulted her to the status of a really, really, really close almost friend whom I will spend a lot more time with and soon reintroduce to the world as my very friend G.

There is a purity to the word girl – an innocence and youth that I have to say actually breathed fresh air into my cobwebbed head. Dare I say that I actually feel younger and lighter now?

Really? Fuck being a woman. That’s been too hard for me to understand or define for years. I want to be a girl – a funny, clever, happy girl. And now because G introduced me as one I feel as though I have permission to live in lightness again.

I am a girl with kids, a business, a social group. I can be a girl with all the passion of my youth that for some reason I have not given myself permission to feel….well to be truly honest, passion that I have lost.

So hello you, allow me introduce myself. I am Ariana, the girl who writes, plans kids activities, wants to change the way parents are marketed to about all things kids and is setting out at 35 to release herself from womanhood and join the light-hearted wonderful girl she once was.

A.

There’s No Morning Glory.

I know all the rules.

1. pick clothes out the night before and set them out.

2. have breakfast at least partially prepped the night before so that you have less to do in the morning

3. wake up before the kids so that you can get yourself together and your head together before your thoughts are invaded.

I’m not good with rules. I like it when others follow them, but me – I’m a lost cause.

So while I know that the Start-The-Day-Off-Right rules are designed to help me get the morning off to a cheerful organized start, it’s hard to remember that as I flail about in a semi-dream state while my daughters yank me from my sleep by either drop licking me in an affectionate fly to precisely where my soft stomach is exposed or whining in the most irksome and ear-cringing way.

Instead, I try to swallow my yell put on a smile and welcome the day opening my eyes to a little face in my face. Those are the good days. When Sienna comes to see me, I usually end up with her loaded diapered butt in my face and as has been the case on an unfortunate number of mornings, she opts to perch herself – loaded diaper and all – on my head.

That my days start late and with a lot of negotiating, whining and yelling more often than not deters me from having any more of these things we call children. These little people we “painted” to quote my Naya and unwaveringly (most of the time)  adore.

Mornings at our house are truly awful. It’ll take me a good hour to come back to center and focus after dropping off the girls and that’s after it took so long to get them there in the first place! I won’t even tell you how long it takes. It’s embarrassing.

I can get through the ‘during the day stuff’. I manage to be funny, enlightened, connected, warm and positively challenging. But come bed time or when morning swings around again all I want is to dive into a tea – or martini rossi depending on the day – or into the couch with a book or a movie block out the fact that I have mommy duties to perform.

This morning, Noosh and I hugged it out for a solid three minutes. She was so upset about her pants that she couldn’t even figure out what she wanted. When I asked if she preferred to change in to one of two other pants her only answer was “I don’t know what I want” – and that was pushed out by snotty sobs that shook her curly little head. So we hugged and rocked and I coo’d and she calmed. And we changed her pants.

I used to say that I couldn’t wait for this or that. Now I grip this moment in life so deeply that my nails dig deep into the fabric of life because experience has shown me and wiser people than me have told me that it only get’s harder from here.

A.

The laugh that healed the day.

Today’s post is an excerpt from a random and typical conversation that occurred this afternoon between a man and his wife. Specifically, my husband and his wife.

“Did you just- poo?”

“Yes.”

“When?!”

“When I went to the bathroom a moment ago.”

“That fast?!” (really, he was incredulous)

“Yeah, I don’t sit and hang out. I go, I do and I carry on with my day. Frankly I have no idea what you do that you end up lost for hours in there.”

“Who cares what or how?!!  I don’t bother you about how long you take to do the things you do. Or why you repeatedly use my razors in the shower and then not bother to rinse the hair down the drain. ”

Here is where I thought it would go the ol’  don’t use my razors or I end up slashing my face bit. Instead, he continued like this:

“This morning, I climbed into the tub to be greeted by little hairs stuck around the edges because the water pooled thanks to your hair clogging the drain and left the little hairs from whatever you shaved stuck to the sides of the tub as it s-l-o-w-l-y drained.

But I didn’t care. I was too tired. And when as I showered I found myself standing in ankle deep water, watching the hair come away from the tub and float about I didn’t care.

And when those little hairs that are not mine started getting stuck to my own ankles, I didn’t ask “how” or “why” I simply couldn’t care. I shook my head and carried on, so honey, don’t care why I take the time I do, just shake your head and carry on.”

And in the midst of my cackles of laughter I stood up and he stood up and as we hugged and laughed and laughed the way you can only do with someone you are truly intimate with, all because right with the world.

A.