Learning and Loving



"Life is the school.  Love is the lesson."



I don't know who's words these are, but I discovered them on a bumper sticker.  I now have this bumper sticker on our element.  Every time I go to get in the Element,  I read them and nod my head and say, "Yup, that's right."  Really, this is all I need to know and remember.   

Life is full of opportunities to learn and grow.  And everyday offers me something new to take in or contemplate. My life may not be very exciting, but I can assure you that it is never boring.  Redundant maybe, but never boring. In fact, this week was full of a fair amount of chaos in the form of emotions and wild thoughts, and mini meltdowns,  and some sleep deprivation. Indeed, this week has been a rough one, though today has been great.  I am thankful for a full night of rest and a peaceful smooth morning.  Maybe we all know it's Friday.  I don't know what that means really, other than, a break from the "have tos" .  

Anyway,  being a mom or a parent is no easy job even though it is full of wonderful.  I think the thing that I am really beginning to understand is that no one knows what they're doing.  Each family must find their own way.  Sure, there is a lot of advice out their and some of it is helpful.  But to tell you truth,  I often feel overwhelmed by the information and then that turns into me feeling inadequate and crappy as a parent. In fact, I do a lot of what I am not supposed to do.

Confession:

I yell. I yell when I am frustrated and tired of repeating myself or wanting to have Liam just stop and listen.  It rarely works and usually, it makes things worse. It sucks and I realize that this is a sign of my inability to cope.  I venture into vocal carziness simply because I am running on empty and have not done enough to care for myself. I am learning how to change this and handle things in a more calm and rationale way.  Admittedly,  I have long way to go. 

I let my kids watch T.V.  and as I write that, I notice my want to state that it's mostly PBS, so I will feel less judged and bad about it.  But here's the thing,  sometimes the T.V. gives us all a moment to pause and regroup when things are getting out of hand.  As long as I keep it in check,  it's okay.  

I still lay down with my son at night, after reading books, to cuddle and help him go to sleep.  Most nights,  I love it because it's our time alone and it is a relief to rest and relax.  Other nights, when Liam is restless and it takes over an hour, it's a pain in the ass.

I am still nursing Lila. She is almost 2!  I adore those moments when we are close like that and I can just stare at her beautiful face.  In the middle of the night, multiple times,  I don't love it quite so much because I want to sleep and I am grumpy.  We are getting close to weaning, but I am cherishing this for now because this is the last time I will get to do this.  These moments are precious and really, this time in life goes so fast.  

I stink at disciplining. I just don't know how to discipline or even know what that means really. When I was little, I got yelled at a lot, got hit, or put in the corner for ridiculous amounts of time. I am not for hitting or the corner method or even yelling, which we've established I do, as a way of teaching or controlling my children. I find myself threatening out of frustration and hate that too! What can I say, I am learning the art of being a firm and loving parent.  I have a lot to learn in this department because I still don't know how to help my son regulate his emotions or deal with his frustration in a healthy way.  All I can do, is watch my own reaction to his less-than-desirable behavior and help him see there is another way.  Some days I do better than others.  

The point is,I do a lot wrong and yet, I am doing a lot more right.  I just have to keep that in mind. One bad day or moment does not equal a terrible life or mean I am horrible mother, though I may feel that way sometimes. It's just there is a tendency in our society  towards perfection, control, and keeping things tidy.  We live this life to learn, and the only way we learn is from our mistakes.  It seems so simple.  But the truth is, that the media and other people are always telling us we are doing it wrong.  Get it together!  Make your child mind!  You're the boss!  

Hmm... I just don't know about all that. I think what it comes down to is realizing that no one knows how best to raise a child and especially not your own.  I do know that love matters as does patience and a lot of compassion. We need all three of these virtues if we are gonna make it. Also, I think we learn as much from our kids as they do from us. 

Truly, my children show me something about myself that I need to work on or change nearly every day.  They are little masters in training.  Me too, I suppose. Sometimes they show me an aspect of myself that makes me cringe and makes me want to look away, but because I am a spiritual being,  I want to learn how to expand past my limitations.  I want grow beyond the negative and habitual so that they too can do the same in their life. Liam and Lila are my most beloved teachers. 

What it boils down to is that in order for them to be who they are,  I have to be who I am, mistakes, shortcomings and all.  I have to lead by example and choose to live life in a meaningful, sincere way. And most importantly,  I must always remember what a gift it is to Love them and to be Loved by them.

If I forget,  I will read this...

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto
Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions--the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.
I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.
We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.
We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.
You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.
I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.
I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.
When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.
Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.
We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.
As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.
I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.  
(Brene' Brown)

Live, Love, Laugh, and be Light,

Marcia

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