Hey Mumma, You’re Doing Fine

 

I hope you had a great day today. One of those days where you’re woken with a kiss and your coffee tastes just right. One of those days where the sun is particularly warming and your kids make you laugh over breakfast. An easy day. A day where you walk down the street and people see you. The relaxed you, the real you, the you that radiates all the good stuff and makes everyone smile back.

I hope it was one of those days where strangers took a moment to tell you what a good job you’re doing with your beautiful kids, or where family gave you an extra hug and told you how valued you are.

But days can be fickle sometimes, just like people.

Maybe you didn’t get your dose of wonderful today, so let me share some with you now.

Mumma, you’re doing great. Amazing. Freakin’ fantastic. And no tantrum in the supermarket or homework disaster can change that. The messy kitchen, unfolded laundry or weeds in the garden? They don’t matter. Trust me. They don’t. You’ll get to them, you always do. But you rocked at today Mumma, because you loved fiercely today. Not perfectly, but that’s ok, we don’t aim for that, perfect’s too stiff, real is better. You loved your family today in that real fierce Mumma love where you saw the good stuff in them even if they were hiding it.

You took time to explain kindly, even if you wanted to yell. You were patient, even if you felt rushed.  You found time for a game, even if you were busy. You made them smile even if they were making you frown. And you also probably stuffed up Mumma and that was the best bit of all, because NO ONE gets it right all the time, not you or your kids and when you picked yourself back up again and owned it you taught them courage, and humility and that it’s ok for them to be human too.

Some days you’re going to be adventures and crafts and freshly baked muffins and other days you’re going to be pajama pants and baked beans. It doesn’t matter. Life has its rhythms and you’re allowed to as well. But you laughed with them today, didn’t you? And you probably danced, or sang or made an animal noise at least once. You found something that was impossibly lost forever in their room or turned balled up socks into a football.

You gave them something good today. You. And they love you to the moon and back for it.

Yep, even during the tantrum in the supermarket.

So sleep sweetly Mumma, because if life didn’t show you how beautiful you are today it will tomorrow.

You’re doing fine.

 

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Your Book

I love you and I’m proud of you.          

I try to show you how special you are to me whenever I can and slip little I love you’s into everything. But some days the other stuff is louder. The “come here”, “listen”, “we have to”, “stop” or “just a minute”.  It’s part of growing up, along with climbing trees and silly jokes and those times when you’re scared of the dark… but the I love you’s should always feel bigger. Bigger than the reminders, the trips and falls, and far bigger than the meltdowns or tears that sometimes find you along the way.

So this is your book, little one. And every night, once your eyes finally close, Daddy and I will write in it for you. We’ll write a different thing each night that we have loved about you that day, a different thing that we’re proud of. There are so many, I doubt we’ll ever run out. When we fall asleep we’ll have that memory on the tips of our minds, ready to dream about.

In the morning when you wake you’ll find this book beside your bed and every day the story of you will slowly fill these lucky pages.

Growing up is one of the most amazing adventures you will ever have. There are twists and turns and ups and downs and moments of laughter and tears. But this is your adventure, and it’s you that makes it special. I hope that opening this book every morning reminds you just how special you are and that nothing is more important than the good bits.

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To Have Shyness

In English they say you are something, as though your state at that moment defines you, you are thirsty, you are hungry, when in truth you’re not – they’re moments that pass, some delicious, some unpleasant, but you are so much more than any of them. In Italian and Spanish and probably many other languages I’m not wise enough to know they say you have thirst, you have hunger, right now, maybe not in an hour or a year or even tomorrow. It doesn’t define you, its just part of you in this very moment.

My little one has shyness. Eyes cast downwards in timid moments, stock still or running back to Mumma when it all gets too much, arms wide, crying that cry that seems to come straight from the baby still inside the walking talking little one.

And it’s frustrating sometimes. Because when it eases I see how beautifully he plays with other kids, I see the delight he takes in the interactions with others and the stories he tells us afterwards. So I put him out there – enough for all the scary bits to seem not so scary anymore, from the vantage point that feels most like home, be it mummas hip or just in the aura of someone who makes the world seem a little smaller.

Tonight, like so many nights, my boy ran around the house pushing his pink stroller, Peppa Pig tucked in neatly. He sang, he talked about his day, he made jokes, he played in the bath with me laughing so sweetly and freely that it made me soar. He talked to the stars, marvelled at a spider, tore around the house squealing with glee playing chasey and covered Daddy and I with kisses.

And I felt so intensely grateful for this little boy. This boy that has shyness right now. Because soon the world wont seem so big to him, people wont seem worth hiding from, my hip will seem too limiting, the urge to explore will get too much, he will chase others with that same gleeful squeal that he chases his family and they will be lucky enough to hear all the stories that bubble out of him.

I’m excited for him, for every one of those bits to come. I also feel blessed, because right now, when my shoulder is still a safe place to nuzzle into and when “Mumma” is still whispered like comfort, we know this boy, this fascinating little person, in a way that others don’t yet. Like a really amazing secret.  And in this moment, he is ours in a way that only the ones who have shyness are.

We have his jokes, his quirks, his funny faces that he pulls to make us laugh. We have the raw moments and the joyful moments and the moments of wild toddler abandon. Sometimes he lets others glimpse them too, before deciding that maybe our secret is best kept a little longer.

I am blessed to be the mother of a little boy who has shyness, just as I am to be the mother of a big boy who has none. As time passes they will have many other things, many other parts of themselves that wont define them any more than these ones do, they’ll just become pieces of the puzzle of who they are. For now I’ll just aim to be the one who has balance for them when they need it, and I’ll enjoy all the little moments that are ours to keep.

Sebastian

The things you teach me

My babies,

Before me you are growing every day. Now and again I go a week or so without noticing just how much, then I stroke your head or hold your hand and the weight of it is different in mine, your hair wilder, your fingers stronger as they entwine with my own, your sigh deeper as you lean in for a hug. I wish I could take a snapshot in those times, photos I could feel back to, to remember your scent, your lopsided grin or the oh too many kisses you assault me with while the housework mounts just outside of our moment.

I am struck by so much about this time, and even with this I know there is more I’ll find later, like a treasure hunt you set up every day without me knowing. There is wisdom and laughter in this and it’s right there for years to come when the deepening of my perspective makes it obvious to look back on.

There are many things I’m learning from you now, from both of you. I’m learning that you are my mirrors – much kinder, wiser and more honest than the ones under harsh lighting in the bathroom. I am learning to accept the flowers and sticky fingered cuddles and whispers of “you’re my princess” like gifts, and to cherish that view of myself through your wide eyes. I am humbled by that love, and try to tell you the same every day with actions and laughter as much as the words I whisper into your soft hair.

I am learning that your bad moments are just as much of a gift to me as your good ones. That the hard is just as good as the easy, even if it doesn’t feel as smooth at the time. As I teach you about life you teach me right back. You teach me not to lose myself in overwhelm if you scream in a tantrum, you teach me to be aware of each moment so I can piece your preferences together like a jigsaw, and that more often than not, your state is a reflection of my own. Even when it isn’t, me being in a place of ease and happiness relaxes you like a hug you probably wouldn’t want me to give you at the time.

I have learned that minds are naturally hungry, but are picky as the eaters they are attached to, and that information, properly prepared can be just as sweet as your favourite dish. You teach me that mischief is actually curiosity, ‘getting into things’ is actually exploration, and that looking me in the eye while you do what you shouldn’t is actually learning the arts of persuasion.

You teach me to be patient, even when I’m not.

I see every day from you that we learn what we love, so love is the thing most worth fostering because learning follows impossibly close behind without fail.

I am discovering that the magic I find in words may be hidden for you in patterns of lego or the great outdoors, so not to try to force my own magic on you, but rather follow, heart in my throat, hoping to catch a glimpse of what I can learn of yours.

I am discovering that good and bad, tired and relaxed, stressed and happy can and often do coexist in the same moment, but that we choose which one we see. This is such an important lesson that we’re teaching each other a little of it each day.

I am learning to stretch, with you, because of you and for you. And I am better for it.

That the best example I can give you is to be the best of who I am, which doesn’t mean being perfect, it means being wildly curious, joyful, playful and kind.

You show me the absurd in the world around us, and the fierceness in myself as I rise to protect you from anything less than you deserve. All the while we find the good together in places we often didn’t expect.

You are both so whole and fascinating before me, and I am relaxing into seeing you with the richness of now, rather than the hopes, pressures and fears of the future. I do not need to see the men in you in right now, that’s not my role, my role is to see the spark in you right now and let it light something of your future each day.

So thank you, little boys, for the muchness of all that you are.

funny

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Questioning the labels

We have a habit of labeling. Maybe it goes with our inherent need to belong, or maybe we find instinctively that we bond better with a common good and common enemy.

We see it in religion, when even Christianity is segregated within itself, we see it in generations, when whole groups of people are put into boxes they don’t fit.

And we see it in parenting.

This week I have been reading about different styles of parenting. Of peaceful parenting, though it had many names. And my first reaction to this is joy that people are questioning, thinking, trying to do the best that they can for their families. But then I found that what a lot of people perceived as clarity was beginning to look quite black and white. And we need those shades of grey.

Apparently from a psychological perspective we get them about age twelve. That’s when black and whites such as “stealing is wrong” gain perspective and we think “stealing is wrong, unless a person has to steal medicine to save their child” and so on. Most of us keep those new found hues and they serve us well as we navigate the truths before us. Until labeling encourages us to suspend them for a while.

I think it’s really important to question society, what’s put before us and even our own beliefs.

I don’t believe in control crying, neurological research aside I can’t get my head around it. But there are times out there when a mother may be desperate, she may not have help or family support, her exhaustion may get in the way of her taking care of her baby or other children, put her driving or health at risk. There may be times when it’s absolutely right in that situation.

I don’t believe in smacking, but I have smacked. And every time I see it referred to as this horrible violence against children I wish that I could take a snapshot in time, of the few times I’ve done so, when nothing had reached my son, when he was so lost in a tantrum, so lost in the anguish of his own anger that everything I did would make it worse, even walk away. And those few times that in desperation I gave his hand or bottom a single smack and pop his spell was broken.  His anguish drained away in an instant. Then we hugged, we talked about it, he heard me. Because for my child, in those moments, that momentary tap was kinder than an hour of words or demonstration. I see people say that smacking teaches violence and from an adults perspective I absolutely 100% agree. But a child, more often than not, is in the moment and their perspective is different to ours, that’s how siblings fight but love each other just as fiercely a couple of moments later. I’m not suggesting you smack your child, not at all, just as I don’t plan to do so again, but I am suggesting that you don’t beat yourself up if you have. Just question it, like everything else.

I don’t believe in putting kids in situations that are likely to push their buttons – but sometimes I do, because life does. I read a comment the other day where a woman said something along the lines of “I thought my daughter was being naughty, then I realized that I had dropped the ball by talking on the phone. It was my fault not hers.”

See the thing is, sometimes life makes you wait – for a phone call or cookies to bake or something you want to buy, sometimes it makes you be quiet, sometimes you need to listen, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, sometimes you need to take a deep breath when you’re angry or you need to calm down when you’re sad.

I want to bless my kids with a life that involves them greatly and nurtures them as much as possible. But that life will involve phone calls, trips to the supermarket, waiting in line, cleaning up the toys and taking responsibility for themselves in that moment.

Peaceful parenting often focuses on our tone and language when we talk to our children. As it should, they’re extremely receptive to it. But I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that there are times that my child only hears me when I raise my voice. We laugh about it later, because it’s “Mummy being loud” but mummy has to be loud sometimes, because sometimes he’s being a dinosaur or a robot policeman and they don’t have very good listening ears.

Sometimes I snap at my son. Rarely, but I do. And though I try very hard not to, I’m not sorry. Because the times that it happens is when he has pushed and pushed and PUSHED, and my kind tone and language finally expires into a flustered snap. That snap is just as important to who he will become as the love we give him, because in life people respond to you how you treat them. And it’s much kinder to my beautiful boy for his Mum to occasionally bite, then explain why, than for him to believe that he has less of a duty to treat others with respect than they do him.

 Apparently we shouldn’t argue in front of our children, we should avoid being sad or angry in their presence.

When I was a child my parents tried not to argue in front of me. I’d feel something simmering between them all day, because kids are smart, they get that, then I’d hear hushed, angry voices from the living room while I lay in bed. My belly would twist in knots – what was this horrible secret that they were hiding from me? Those everyday disagreements, to me, became enormous. They became frightening because of their secrecy.

We try not to fight in front of our kids, but sometimes we do. And that’s ok. Because I want them to grow up knowing that conflict is alright sometimes. That love doesn’t diminish because of it. That it’s possible to disagree with someone, even for them to piss you right off, and to hug and make up five minutes later. I want them to see their parents say sorry too, and mean it. I want them to know that their family is safe in the calm and in the rough because it’s bigger than that.

Bodhi has seen me happy. A lot. He has seen me laugh and smile and joke around and dance a chicken dance in public to make him giggle. He has also seen me cry, real honest to God sadness that reaches the depth of my soul. And I’ve told him, in words that make sense to him, why. I’ve told him that it’s ok to feel sad sometimes, and it’s ok to cry. He has wrapped his arms around me and kissed it better. His sadness isn’t a scary thing to him, and neither is mine. I’m allowed to be strong for him and he’s allowed to be strong for me… or for a friend or a kid he doesn’t know at the park who needs someone to hug it out.

He has seen me angry. He’s seen Daniel angry too. And 99% of the time we’ve done a real good job of being angry. We’ve been the kind of angry we ask him to try. The kind where you take a deep breath and talk it out, or go for a walk or be alone until the fire eases. But he’s also seen me be angry badly (which equates to loudly in my case). He saw Daniel throw keys at a wall once. And we talked about it, and he got to tell us how we could do it better. He got to tell us how we should have handled it. And that let him be wise too. It let him know that everyone makes mistakes, so not to worry about his own.

Labels can bring people together, and I love that so many parents are coming together to peacefully parent their children. I love that old ways are being questioned and that compassion reins. But I just hope that we keep sight of those shades of grey in amongst it all, because they belong there just as much as anywhere else.

I hope that when we parent, we make it our philosophy above all else to be kind. To be kind to our babies, our kids, our partners and ourselves. They deserve it and so do we, because as long as we keep questioning and doing our best it’s ok not to be perfect.

As I peacefully parent, I’m also going to be at peace with that.

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012