Missing the obvious

There is nothing unusual about missing the obvious. We forget that sometimes as adults, especially as parents. So determined to be examples for our kids we lose sight of the frequency of our stumbles. We forget, in our strength, to be humble.

I was frustrated this week by my son’s struggle to learn what seemed like a simple case of cause and effect. Obviously this choice will lead to that outcome, I mean why wouldn’t it? It has hundreds of times before. We had talked about it, explained it, acted it out and tried every other version of making it click. It was so simple really, wasn’t it?

Then I thought about myself. About how many times I have repeated choices whose outcomes I knew with my eyes closed.

I thought about us, all of us, and how many times we have made choices that have affected our health – what we put in our mouth every day even as we lament our weight or energy levels, the choice to procrastinate precious time away when we could be moving, sweating, breathing more fully.

How many people have chosen to get drunk, wasting their bank accounts, their pride and precious brain cells only to spend nights they can’t remember with people they don’t particularly like.

How all of us have wasted – our money, our time, our friendships, our love, before we learned how to choose experiences with value.

How often we still act with instinct, rather than the minds and hearts we pride ourselves on, only to end up exactly where we expected and nowhere near where we wanted to be.

And how many of us, right in this very moment, could change so many things if we chose, and revolutionise our lives.

None of us are victims, not of habit, not of circumstance and not of fortune. We’re a beautiful messy collection of choices and we’re creating ourselves, right now.

I don’t expect you to get this today, don’t worry, I probably wont either, not totally. I’ll think I will, with the false confidence of being an adult, until the next time little boys playing duplo remind me to be humble.

One day they’ll be tall enough and wise enough to call me on my choices, just as I help guide them through theirs. Until then I’m thankful for the push parenting gives me. The way it reminds me how very much growing up we all have to do, and how simple our beautiful messy choices really are.

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 Copyright 2014 Nirvana Dawson

 

 

 

Home

To My Boys,

I heard a Mumma talking today as she cradled her little ones on her lap. “I can’t wait until they move out.” she said, full of enthusiasm. “I’m going to make sure they leave home as soon as they possibly physically can.”

She wasn’t having a hard week or feeling tired or overwhelmed, she just wanted them gone, she explained, and couldn’t wait to have her home back.

All of us love differently, and none of us perfectly. This Mumma loved her kids her way, and that’s alright, but it made me realize how much I’m looking forward to the future – a very different one than she has planned.

Home to me is not just a place, it’s a feeling. It’s the breath you let out when you walk in the door on tired legs at the end of a long day. It’s where you wear comfy track pants and savor moments of silence surrounded by the treasures you’ve collected along the way.

It’s the pencil marks that measure height on the kitchen wall. It’s the dints on the floor from dropped toys and secret spots used over and over again for hide and seek.

It’s noisy games of chasey and giggling kids jumping between fresh sheets as the bed is made. It’s toys in a pile on the couch right where I want to sit every single night.

It’s a kitchen bench full of flowers picked by little hands from the garden, and that mysterious orange juice stain on the ceiling.

It’s love. Messy, beautiful perfect love.

Home, for me, is family.

And I want you to know that life is going to give you so many adventures. It might take you around the world, or to your dream job in our own neighbourhood. Maybe you’ll be social butterflies or crave solitude. You might move into an apartment with friends or choose to live at home longer and save your money for a car or a house or a trip around Australia.  Perhaps you’ll study, here or abroad. Maybe you’ll fall madly in love with someone as a teenager and follow them… or maybe you’ll wait a while and take the time to fall in love with yourselves first.

The thing is boys, it’s your adventure, not mine. And I have no right to tell you how it’s going to go. I’ll dream with you, plan with you, listen to you and be excited for it every step along the way, but I am not going to plan out your future for you.

I just want you to know that no matter where your adventures take you – you have this place, wherever we are. I want you to know that you always have a home with us, no matter what.

You’re going to make a lot of places special in your lives, but this place, this family – you’ve brought it to life – and you are always welcome here. There’s no expiry date, no caveat, just a space to call your own for as long as you want it, and a home that will evolve, change, and grow along with you.

One day the orange juice stain will be long forgotten, the pencil marks on the wall faded, and the enormous piles of lego packed away. I wont be woken in the middle of the night by little arms wrapping around my neck for a hug, or called in at bedtime to check under the bed for monsters. The games of hide and seek will be replaced with board games, and I’ll get to put those sheets on the bed without anyone jumping in between them.

A lot is going to change around here over time, and as you grow into men I’ll grow older and my grey hairs will be a little harder to pluck out without going bald ;)

But you have a home here, whenever, however and for whatever reason you need. We built this home out of family together, and it’s yours as long as you want it.

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2014

Thoughts on child safety from a ‘Helicopter Mum’

I hate that term, but I’m going to use it here anyway. I’m going to use it because it’s become the supposed antitheses of everything we want to be as parents. The idea of sheltering our kids is frowned on, as if this shelter – which is our very job as parents to provide for this short time – is automatically synonymous with suffocating them. I call bullshit. Our parenting styles – just like our children’s development – is a spectrum of possibilities. A good parent worries less about the labels and more about reading their child and their needs at that time.

This isn’t about not hovering, or even hovering at all, it’s about responding to your child and the situation.

First of all let’s deal with the negative associations with being protective. You’re meant to be. That’s kind of the point of this parenting gig. Your child is, and should be, innocent and vulnerable (to a degree) when they’re young. It’s the age of rose coloured glasses and seeing the adventure in everything. It isn’t, and shouldn’t be, about seeing the danger in every situation, the monster in every stranger.

A lot of growing up is about becoming responsible, and as children grow it makes sense to make them aware of their own safety. From spatial awareness to observing their surroundings, to following their feelings about new people they meet (or those they’ve known for years), but we need to be careful not to put that full responsibility on shoulders too young to carry it.

Your three year old, six year old, nine year old or twelve year old is not an adult, and nor should they be taking on the world of adult dangers alone.  Watch them, listen to them, be there – even if you’re watching from a distance. The time when you’re needed like this will be so brief, but the more you support their freedom by protecting their innocent adventures will give them wings as they grow rather than baggage that might take a lifetime trying to unpack.

One of the most important things we can do for our child’s safety is to encourage them to listen to their feelings – and to do the same. You don’t want to give Mummy a kiss before bed? That’s ok. You don’t want to go out and play with the neighbour’s kids? That’s alright. The man chatting to us in the park makes you feel uneasy? We’ll move away. You don’t want daddy to tickle you today? He won’t. Encourage your kids to stay in touch with their gut and teach them how to listen to it by listening to them. Even if it’s not logical to you, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it doesn’t make sense a thousand times over. The more you trust them, the more they’ll trust themselves.

More often than not the monsters we’re protecting our kids from aren’t the men asking them to get into cars by the side of the road or lurking in shadows. They’re the ones at BBQ’s that we never would have suspected. They’re the friends of the family that push the boundaries but are oh so likeable.

What bothers me most about cases of child abuse is that often the child said something early on. They talked about having a feeling about the person, they told someone that they’d been touched or hurt and their protectors didn’t listen.

The more we respect “I don’t want to be tickled” etc the more our children will feel strong to tell us what makes them worried or scared, and the more familiar we’ll be with listening and responding.

That’s the responsibility we should be giving our kids – far more than the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ speech. Strangers, more often than not, are friends we haven’t met yet, and they piece together the social world for our kids.

I’m a protective mother, but I also respond to my kids. I stand back if they’re climbing the ladder safely – but I step in if it’s not safe for them. I love the chats my kids have with the neighbours or people at the shops – but I’m never far away either.

Maybe you’re fiercely independent. Maybe your child is too. That’s great. But still keep an eye on them Mumma. Listen to your gut as you listen to your kids, and make sure you’re responding to them rather than the people around or the media you who tell you what you should be doing.

You might be accused of sheltering them – don’t worry, there’s plenty of storms to deal with in life, this will just help keep the rain outside them. You might get accused of being over protective – don’t worry, you can find your balance in this and your kids will naturally reach for space when they don’t need your safety quite so much.

I’m going to give my kids a childhood rich with experience, adventure, and inadvertently a little scattering of life’s stresses too. But in doing so I will respect that they are children, and let them keep their impulsiveness and innocence as long as they can. I am determined that they will go into adolescence and adulthood with no more angst than necessary. And if that means I’m the crazy Mumma who’s keeping an eye on her kids while everyone else is enjoying a latte so be it. They deserve that, and their strength will come from not having to carry any burdens that shouldn’t be theirs.

thoughts onCopyright Nirvana Dawson 2014