and the pendulum swings…

Is there anything in the middle on the parenting continuum between ‘I got this! I know it all!’ and ‘Oh-my-word, how much more can I screw up!?’ I’d just like the arc on the pendulum to be a little shorter. Or to spend more time in the fair-to-middling section.

My mum used to lament that babies don’t come with manuals. Yah, I know. In today’s age, I wish that we could download a program that will automatically switch on when we are about to say or do something that we will regret. Or that might negatively affect our kiddos.

I get it. The only way to navigate parenting -and the things that come up in us as parents/humans- is to go through it, be as self-aware as possible, and make amends and learn when possible. Sometimes it’s super hard to even realize why we’re reacting.
We may just feel the heat creep up our neck to make our head explode – or we won’t even feel it, it’ll just seem like a sudden explosion. Other times we won’t want to explore why we’re having a reaction to what a kiddo did/said because we can feel it’s unfathomable depth and we’re still scared of what’s in the dark. It can even happen in good times: kiddo’s desires are overshadowed by ours and they can’t see a way out to tell us their truth. We won’t be sailing along all smooth and calm all the time. And that’s okay.

We have to take the fumbles and the misses and the shining successes. It’s what keeps us engaged in the game. It’s where we learn and connect and grow. It is *very* uncomfortable in the moment. And in the moments that follow where we wish things could have been different. This is where we can check in with ourselves. 
Why
is it so uncomfortable? What’s coming up inside us that causes these feelings? Where did they come from? When was another time I felt this way or had this situation? If that’s too much reflecting, a body check is helpful too – where on my body am I feeling the uncomfort-ability? Hop back into the game. Apologize when appropriate. Share your thoughts. Take the learning.

Twice tonight I reacted with trio. I didn’t feel I was particularly yell-y but two seemed to shut down, so I know I missed an opportunity. Seriously – we talked about hair cuts last week. And the night before grad is when you ask? I’m supposed to help decorate your gym tomorrow after school. And then the other two need to picked up from school, then we have dinner and get back to the school for the Ceremony. Whew. I was sharp in my shock. I guess I sounded rough. I was worried that this was important to you and I just want to try to support you, and it came out all wrong.
It’s hard not to kick ourselves when this happens, and to try and create some space for self-reflection. Why was I so sensitive to what was happening? How can I shift this? What might I be able to do next time? Can I talk to them about it? What is missing in my life that might fill-my-bucket?

If it seems that this line of thought heads down a dank old rabbit hole, it’s important to stop and shift. Do something else. Squeeze a mental hug. Remember that I’m learning too. Breathe. And keep shifting away from the spiral.

edited to add:
No one is sleeping tonight. It’s nearly midnight and each kiddo has woken up at least once and wandered and said hi and had drinks of water and peed. But, happily, my oldest and I chatted it out and shared and talked, and even thought I think I could have better handled the moment at bedtime, it led to a wonderful connection opportunity between us.

We’re all works in progress. It’s hard to realize that as the parent, when I thought I was supposed to have it all together, and know all the answers. There’s no downloadable program after all, so it’s helpful to remember that I’m human too.

xo
Mto3

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Adulting. Yah, that.

Be the adult you want your kids to be.

Whoa.

That quote from Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly runs through my mind at unexpected times. When I’m driving. When I’m talking to others. When one of trio are standing before me. When I’m frustrated. In quiet moments with trio.

It’s not that I need to be perfect. Or always calm. Or super knowledgeable.

I read it as being open. Smiling and extending love. Asking for help, and giving help when asked. Offering help when it seems to be needed. Being kind. Apologizing. Sharing time together. Questioning and debating. Following through. Standing up for others.

Being authentic to yourself.

Helping trio discover their authentic self.

There are moments everyday when I have an opportunity to model the adult for trio – even if they’re not there to witness it.

There have been several times recently when an opportunity has presented itself to be the adult I want trio to be. Each time, it would have been easier to close my eyes and ears and put my head down and mind my own business.

  • A man in the grocery store didn’t have any cash or cards to cover his bill – he only had a Visa gift card, and it wasn’t applicable at this store. His bill was $17 and he had cat food, some veg, and a frozen meal. I offered to include it in my bill. He was so thankful and offered the gift card in exchange. He said he was just out of hospital after a heart attack and his cat needed to eat, and he needed something for tonight’s dinner. He was nearly in tears.
  • At a stop light, Lil Miss noticed that the pick up truck in front of us had it’s trunk open and there was a gas can in danger of falling out. The light was about to turn green, so I hopped out, pushed the can back in and closed his trunk door. Another car was trying to shout to the driver what was happening, but the driver had no idea. He eventually understood and waved his thanks to us with a big smile.
  • At another grocery store, a woman’s card kept declining, and the woman didn’t understand the cashier’s words well enough to figure out what was happening. The customer behind me split the woman’s bill with me ($75 was too rich for either of us to absorb on our own).

My good friend has often commented that she feels community is very important. We are as strong and healthy as each other. It makes sense, therefore, that we should strive to help and support each other. We can do this by seeing and hearing a need and moving to reduce that need.

I had a scary moment at the weekend when I thought the water pipes in my house had burst (don’t worry – they didn’t) but I saw that the problem far outstripped my experience and I called for help. Letting trio see that I help when I can, and I ask for help when needed allows them to see that we are all on both sides of the helping hand. And it’s ok.

For me, that’s the adult I’d like trio to become. That’s (part of) what Brene’s quote means to me.

xo
Mto3

The last few weeks have been very … enlightening for me. Maybe because of how I’m interpreting the end of my recent relationship. Maybe because of the things I learned about myself while I was with him. Maybe because of my meditation and yoga practice. Maybe because of the amazing people around me.

Maybe because of all of it and I have my eyes and heart open in a new way.

Usually my paid work is inside my house – coaching, remote administration work, training prep – and I am so grateful for the flexibility to be able to be present for trio, my doggo, and the self-direction. And gawsh, it can be quiet and lonely and I can easily get sidetracked with my long-range projects.

I have the amazing opportunity to work in a temporary position for a little while outside the house. With people! Lots of people! Projects with definitive finish lines! Using excel (I LOVE excel!) and chatting with people in short bursts. I can even wear jeans most days. How perfect is this!

The gratitude I feel is over-fulling.

The shift into new routines has been mostly smooth – trio has to pull up the slack, and they’ve tried to do so amazingly. I’m grateful that they’re resilient, open hearted, and communicative with their needs. I love our after dinner KP time: messing around in the kitchen, tidying up and prepping the next day while listening to music. Any combination of kids usually ends up in the living room – last night they were doing these weird throwing jumps, so funny! They will often absent themselves at different points and snuggle with Loki.

My neighbours and friends have been so supportive – helping bring the kids home from school, and offering up whatever. It’s so uplifting.

Being at a job where I feel competent, successful, capable … where I’m a person first … where I can stretch and gain comfort at being authentically and wholeheartedly me … it’s been so opening for me. I’m sure I’m making mistakes, and I know I’ve said things that I’m embarrassed about – and I’m still standing. People still talk to me. My life hasn’t fallen to ruins. I walk on.

This work experience has given me a rather safe platform to practice my recent learnings:

  • To be grateful
  • To not make assumptions
  • To be compassionate (with myself and others)
  • To lean into uncomfortable feelings
  • To be aware

Working in an temporary environment allows me more freedom than I would have guessed – I like to feel good at whatever job I do, but there is an awareness that I’m not desperate for this work. So while I strive to do my best, and be a considerate colleague, there’s no stress to try and do and be a certain way.

There’s something to be said about embracing impermanence. Extending that sense, that freedom, into other areas of my life might be interesting.

xo Mto3

Quiet tears and being present 

The last few days have been kinda hard for me. I’m feeling raw, slightly fragile, and yet frenetic at the same time.

There is something so soothing and warming when someone just meets you in your sadness and hangs out with you there. It’s a gift when someone can do that naturally.

Lil miss came in to my room after I excused myself from the after-dinner kitchen-tidy argument that had broke out among trio, and just crawled into bed beside me, being quiet while I leaked tears into her hair and snuffled against her forehead. Amazingly she didn’t seem uncomfortable – she just seemed to intuit that a cry was ok, and gently asked if I had anything on my mind that I wanted to talk about.

We chatted a bit (honestly, I was crying the whole time, even when I was smiling or chuckling about what she said) and her message was

3-be

Gradually the boys came up, and although they appeared more uncertain with my emotions, they laid on the bed and joined the chatter. We joked and laughed (through my tears, sheesh) about this old song* we used to listen to and still sing together sometimes. Because it *is* alright to cry.

I literally could have cried and laid there with them tucked in around me for the rest of the night. But. I hustled them out to choose a movie and lay out popcorn and chips, and I sat on the bathtub edge and continued to cry by myself for a little while longer.

While it may be true that I’m feeling less resilience for regular-level stress because my knee really hurts, and I’m not sleeping well, and Christmas is late in my house, and I haven’t baked *any* Christmas desserts this year…
…but I’m also keenly feeling the loss of Mike and I the last few days. Every once in a while my heart catches a glimpse of understanding and then recoils in horror at the feeling of letting go of the love.

Being vulnerable and sharing (thanks to Brene Brown and my book club):
My heart was secretly hoping that he and I would eventually be able to figure out how to be together. My mind and spirit acknowledge that he and I aren’t in alignment right now, and maybe never will be. But fuck – that’s hard and painful for my heart to fully grasp. So there are these very uncomfortable moments when that understanding pierces me and it hurts so much.

So I strive to take the advice from Lil Miss – I can be present with my sadness and feelings and tears. It’s mutable. I am, too. Everything is. And there’s beauty and magic in that.
It’s not a reach to be positive and know that I am ok and will bounce, and there are happy times ahead. In the moment of tears, it’s hard to deeply know and believe, though.
Be grateful. Be grateful. I hear this and feel not only grateful to Mike for all of the gifts and challenges from him, but also for the quiet acceptance from lil miss. And the support and love I feel from my friends. For opportunities. For my warm house and full freezer… I am profoundly grateful for them, and all of it.

Last year I posted my 30 days of gratitude and was full-up of holiday spirit – and this year I only just put up the tree yesterday. (It’s cool – I’m present, positive, and grateful)

I have 7 more days until Christmas and would like to post a truncated 30 Days of Gratitude … so, 7 days of Gratitude. Already I can feel my heart lifting.

xo Mto3

 

*”It’s alright to Cry” by Darius Rucker on the first “For the kids” cd… I cannot find a youtube copy. That CD is certainly worth the purchase, if you’re looking. 

Breaking up is hard to do… especially as a mum

Unexpectedly, during a conversation with my guy, he and I saw unbridgeable gaps in our relationship and so decided to end it. 

Even though my head could hear and understand what he was saying, and even though I had already realized these gaps, my heart has been slower to catch up. As my first “real” relationship after my marriage ended, I knew I had a lot to learn and had a lot of room to grow. He was perfect for me while I was navigating this new path, and I deeply appreciate and cherish him for that. 

But I’m sad, nonetheless. 

After about a week, I realized I wanted to talk to trio about him and I. I finally felt capable of saying the words “we broke up” without throwing up or crying, and didn’t want to wait too long because I anticipated one of them would ask “when did this happen?” and couldn’t handle the deception of either lying to them about it, or letting them know it happened a long time ago. 

So without much preamble, I just baldly stated that we decided to end our relationship. They had questions, and I tried to stay open and honest and respond with age appropriate answers. At one point I teared up a little, and that alarmed my oldest (he was very concerned if I was Ok) and saddened my youngest (she didn’t want me to be sad), and my middle just sort of let it wash over him. 

The perspective my oldest shared was amazing – he recognized that it’s not as devastating as a marriage break up, and that having misalignment is ok because there is the capacity to learn. He kept checking in to make sure I was ok, and asked poignant questions like, if he told me he loved me and wanted to get back together – what would I say? 

I’m glad I waited until I was no longer so cry-y, and I’m glad that throughout our whole relationship trio and I chatted about what was happening in my dating life (to a certain degree!!)

Having kids helped me maintain my rudder during the tumultuous years after my marriage ending, and they continue to ground me and highlight my path as I experience other relationships. 

I feel deeply blessed that I had the experience of this relationship, and for my kiddos who are with me on my journey. The path may be rocky or difficult to discern, but I trust my feet and my heart. And I know that I can’t get lost, maybe especially because I’m a mum.

xo 

Navigating dating like a ropes course

Maybe you remember that dating and getting to know someone is new for me. My whole world can easily be seen in the eyes of trio, and there aren’t any men reflected there (for better or worse… and it is what it is).

So maybe you also know that there *has* been a man recently who has shaken me up and shown me that it’s okay to date and enjoy being out with a man who opens doors for me, who is interested in experiencing new things together, and can talk about everything and anything with warmth and kindness.

Recently, he and I were joking around, but the concept of something he said really stuck: that it can take a long time (like, a couple of years!) to find all the corners in another person and decide if it all can truly be embraced and loved.

Whaaat?

Does everyone else know this but me?

*That* is what dating means?? That we’re setting out with the intention to find all the icky bits and the lovely bits and the hard bits and the soft bits, and to see how they all mesh with mine? And probably, to find some of my own bits inside that I didn’t realize were there too. This is a concept WAY more grasp-able at 39 than it would have been at 19.

As a visual person, I imagined a ropes course. A very long course with varying degrees of challenges. In dating, we go through this sort of together; checking to see how we enjoy each other, how we handle the tough spots, how we communicate and celebrate the successes, but also to learn about when we want to go it alone and when we want support, and how to be okay with all of that. We can see each other no matter where we both are – do we encourage or get frustrated? Do we wait for each other or is it a race?

SONY DSC
Little Cove, Tobermory

This shift was quite profound in the way I consider dating. It relaxed me. It allowed me to see a larger picture. For him and I, it’s not a race. We *want* to experience the full course and learn as much as possible about each other. We want to see how we each deal and communicate and to see how we grow as individuals.

There’s a definite ending to the course, when we can go into the chalet and enjoy a hot bevvy and maybe a dip in a hot tub together – but we can also tap out at any time and feel richer because of our time together, and realize we know more about ourselves and the world around us than we did before.

How magical is that?!

 

New adventures of an old mum

Being a solo parent means learning how to do *everything* on your own. It means struggling to find your own solid core and how to rely on yourself. I do the BBQing, the lawn mowing, the laundry, the baking. I go investigate scary sounds at night, and comfort puking kiddos at 2:30am. I comfort myself when I’m lonely (thank you Ben and Jerry, and Merlot) and celebrate my own successes (thank you Ben and Jerry, and Merlot). I get to figure out what I like and don’t like. I make choices for me and trio, and all decisions rest on my shoulders. It’s liberating and enjoyable, but it’s also incredibly heavy. There’s no one to blame but me (geez, thanks for nothing Ben and Jerry) and no one with whom to discuss challenging thoughts  or issues. I can’t know if something was successful if it’s beyond my experience or scope until it fails or is wildly positive.

And so I was completely wrapped up in mummy-ing, and caring for trio, and working, and doing things I liked. I was snuggy and happy in my comfort zone. There was no one but me to challenge my edges and question my knowns.

 

holding_hands

Turns out, there’s more in this world. There’s things you can’t learn all by yourself. Sometimes another person is a *must* in order to challenge your edges and broaden your mind.

…and warm your heart.

 

xoMto3