Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Never Say Never

March 7, 2013

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When my child was five, I took him to the beach and he was so terrified that he stood at the edge of the grass and refused to walk on the sand, crying and crying.  I was beside myself, as I had hopes that swimming would be soothing for him, and enjoyable.  I made a tough decision at that time.  I decided that my child would swim no matter what, because the planet was 3/4 water and I felt it was an important skill.  Because of this commitment, I took him the next day, and the next.  He continued to stand there crying and soon it turned into rage.  I would sit about ten feet away on my towel and he would scream insults at me.  One that sticks in my head to this day was “I’m not swimming, you old handbag!!!!”  (He got that one mixed up, and I still laugh about it.)  The whole beach was staring at us.  Finally, through perseverance, I got him to the towel, and then the water.  The whole process took daily trips for weeks.  I could see the compassion in the faces of other beach-goers turn from compassion to utter dread at the sight of the mom with the screamer.

Swimming lessons was a disaster, as he stood there crying for most of it, due to the noise and commotion of having so many children around him.  The lifeguard came to speak with me.  She said that she wanted to congratulate me because she had seen parents who threw in the towel after one or two days, but never in her life had she seen a mother spend a full month acclimating her child to the beach.  She offered private lessons…and we were off and running on our journey to swim.

What was a regular class for most kids was something that was about 70% harder to navigate for my son with sensory processing disorder, or SPD.  When he was a few years old, a specialist told us something I would never forget.  She said that unfortunately, if we were to throw our child into deep water with a bunch of other kids, our child would be the one that drowned.  I stopped going to that specialist, and determined to spend my lifetime making her wrong if that was what it would take. Our first year of swimming lessons was the year that he accomplished getting wet and walking on sand and attempting to follow the instructor. Small headway, but I would take it.

The next year I tried something new.  My friend was offering for kids to come to her pool and take lessons with a teacher we paid by pooling funds.  It was a tiny bit better because the group was small and less chaotic for him, but still not optimal, and I felt sad that he just couldn’t keep up with the other kids.  Still I insisted on my swim mission.

The following year (to the best of my memory) I learned that I could get private lessons with that same teacher before the regular class, and so we signed him up for that and for the first time, he began to learn how to do some strokes.  One on one lessons, I found, was what worked best for him.  He could only stay afloat with a device, but he began to learn something.  I was elated.

Every year I did my best, and some years we couldn’t find lessons for him that he could deal with, and so my husband and I worked with him in the water ourselves, playing and encouraging him.  A few years ago, he could actually stay afloat for about six feet, swim underwater, and began to at least attempt the back float.  Other kids his age were already swimming away, but I continued to focus on whatever I could to help him only compete with himself.  He was small for his age, and so he blended in with younger children, which helped him not feel as self conscious.

Two years ago I found out about a man that I call the “Swim Whisperer”.  Jim offers classes at the local Y for homeschool kids.  I was very hopeful.  Within the first few weeks, my son was swimming better than he ever had, but still struggling for stamina and coordination.  I made another hard decision then and there to continue his lessons year round to ensure that he could maintain his stride and and improve through the winter.  Trudging through ice and storms to get to swimming was no picnic, and classes dramatically diminished that time of year.  This worked to our advantage, though,  and my son enjoyed lots of individual attention from the teacher.

Jim, the Swim Whisperer teaches like noone I have ever seen.  His patience, natural way with kids, and non-competitive classes are one of a kind.  He makes every single child the focus of a good example, and helps each of them shine.  He is magic.  I might also mention that every day swim day rolled around, my son still dreaded it.  He fought with me, didn’t want to go, and told me he hated it.  It was so hard for me to continue to drag him there when he really fought about it.  Many times I almost gave up, thinking perhaps I was fighting a losing battle, or that I was wrong to force him to learn something he didn’t care about.

My stubborn Taurus nature won out, and I held strong to my mission.  Always, I would come back to the thought that there had to be one thing this child could conquer, and that he would thank me someday because he would be able to enjoy the water, boating, summer fun…this kept me going.  Suddenly this season, my son’s swimming improved dramatically in the last year, and at almost 13 years of age, the payoff began!  My child, who was destined to drown, could now freestyle a full hundred yards, dive into the deep end and take off down the lane, and continues to improve with speed and skill.  

This whole process has taught me so much as a mother. It taught me that sometimes I have to stand for what is good for my child no matter how much he hates it.  Patience and love can get him there.  Relentless vision and commitment are as important as air when it comes to supporting a child.  It taught me that people can assume lots of things, but if I stay true to what my heart tells me is right on, miracles can happen.  I have learned subtle things about my son and how he operates, what works with him and what does not.  I learned that he says no to almost anything I suggest at first because this is the nature of SPD, that defensiveness is a first off self protection mechanism in a world that is too much for a subtle, sensitive soul.  I have learned that if I hold him with patience and love through his “no”, and allow him plenty of time to adjust without rushing, he often will melt into a “yes” after a while. 

I have learned to slow down, to completely give up comparing anyone to anyone else, but rather celebrate personal wins.  I’ve learned that well meaning people can say hurtful things without a clue as to the suffering they’ve caused.  I’ve learned to continue to plod on determinedly in the direction of my desire no matter how slow or long the journey is.  I’ve learned that when one makes up their mind with sharp focus, the universe does indeed conspire and sends us exactly what we need.  I’ve learned that if one teacher isn’t working, keep asking until you find the right one.  I’ve learned that just because something works for the majority, flexibility with individuals is best.  Most of all, I have learned to never give up and never, ever say never.

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Unlovable, Ugly, and Surely Bad

July 5, 2012

 

Sometimes, I’m afraid to really let you see me, because I’m so flawed it’s ridiculous.  Somewhere along the line, I was thoroughly convinced that I was bad to the core, that noone could possibly love me, and that I had to do some pretty fancy footwork to make sure noone would find out.  After all, if anyone knew, they’d hate me and want me killed.

Where does a child go from there?  No matter how hard a parent tries, there will be messaging a child receives that’s bound to wound their psyche in some way.  Children are each unique, and they absorb messages we don’t even say out loud.  You could have four children and one family event of emotional charge, and each child will internalize it differently.

My own childhood was rich with uncertainty, fighting, anger, a good dose of poverty, and plenty of emotional abuse.  The flip side was some pretty awesome love, an absolutely gorgeous location, organic food, scholarships for voice lessons, some incredible adventures, and the freedom to explore and play to my heart’s content.  I’ve heard of far more terrifying childhoods than mine, and far more privileged ones as well.  Not one of us comes out unscathed.

Regardless of the decades of work I’ve done on myself, the personal growth workshops, deep transformational work, spiritual practices, and therapy, there will always be that voice inside.  It doesn’t go away as we assume it will if we work hard enough.  The truth is that it’s a part of us, and accepting this is actually a way to make peace with it.  The difference, I think, is whether we’re victimized by our internal predatory voice or empowered by it.

We can become skilled at distinguishing this voice, putting it aside or using it’s energy to generate a new message.  When I notice that I’m afraid people hate me because I’m shining too much, it’s a big red light that I need to breathe and listen.  That’s when I assess what I’m really afraid of, and give myself the talk.  It goes like this:  “Oceana, that’s your scared little girl.  She is trying to protect you and keep you safe. It’s time to reassure her that she’s safe, and that for you to do your job of helping other women feel confident enough to shine, you must allow yourself to shine.  It’s your dharma.  Go for it.”

I encourage you to create your own pep talk for those moments when your inner child is having a hard time.  I’d love to help you with this.  I offer introductory sessions for women who are exhausted with the way things are, want to feel empowered and passionate again, and want to go for their dreams but need some support and a skilled spiritual coach to guide them.  Just go HERE and follow the directions, and we’ll have you shining brighter than you ever have before…

Goddess Oceana

http://galadarling.com/article/100-ways-you-can-start-loving-yourself-right-now

http://www.owningpink.com/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/14692-inner-child/

Parenting from the Heart

July 1, 2012

I had a rather exceptional pair of parents who had already raised three other children, and they just didn’t punish me.  They allowed me to be who I was, and supported my interests, loved me big, and stayed out of my business unless I asked for help.  Who knows, maybe they were just too old and tired to deal, but somehow it worked to my benefit in some amazing ways.

I find I’m similar in my parenting style.  I’m easy going when it comes to allowing my son to pursue his interests, even if those interests aren’t what I had in mind for him.  This has required some willpower and ego wrestling on my part, but I’m pretty good at it now.  We both come up with interesting questions and we find new answers together.  I rarely ever tell him to do something simply because I said so and I’m the boss, and if I do it’s because I’m personally overwhelmed or stressed, so apologies follow.  Reasons for my requests that seem impractical to him in the moment are discussed, and if he comes up with a better way, we try it out.

In witnessing my internal process about whether I’m doing a good enough job as a mother, I’ve noticed this hidden voice emerging that tells me I’m falling behind, not good enough, that because of me my child won’t be a well-rounded and independent adult.  I’m realizing that the ensuing worry is such a waste of energy, now that I can see myself  doing it.  So instead, I’ve started handing my son’s well being over to his Higher Power and affirming clear guidance in supporting him, and for wonderful outcomes for his highest good.

Last night I received some great confirmation that it’s working.  Usually, because there’s only the three of us entrepreneurial spirits, we rarely eat at the kitchen table for meals.  If we’re home together, we sit on the couch and watch a show together.  I desired more face time with hubby and son, so I requested we turn off the tv and just eat together, expecting my son to be upset and sulk over missing a favorite show.  Surprisingly, he ran over and promptly shut off the tv while exclaiming, “Oh good!!!”.  We proceeded to have a great time catching up on his interests and enjoying our meal.  What I realized is that my lack of authoritarian parenting has actually produced a child who genuinely appreciates the time we spend together, and that he’s not only all right, he’s awesome.

Goddess Oceana

www.GoddessOceana.com

http://www.theparentszone.com/

http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

http://motherhoodlater.com/our-blog/

http://www.childperspective.com/

Tips To Wake Up Your Relationship

June 29, 2012

These are some tips off the tippy top of my head this morning that will spice things up.  You can do these alone or enroll the help of friends, or you can forget about it and keep complaining that you’re bored, neglected, angry, resentful, whatever your gig is.  I have no attachment but I would like you to thoroughly feel your feelings first before trying any of these.  Feel them full out.  Trying to repress and deny them out of a sense of being good isn’t going to work, as it will only sublimate the emotions and they’ll end up coming out sideways later.  Instead, have your feelings in a safe, supportive environment, and then when you are fresh and ready to give something a try, give these tips a shot.

  1. Get naked and massage yourself all over with your favorite lotion or body oil.       Make sure it’s something that smells delicious and take your time, enjoying every stroke.  You may wonder how this will wake up your relationship since it’s about you.  That’s the key, though.  This is about waking up your relationship to yourself, which will show up everywhere else automatically.  Cool, huh?!
  1. Think of something you used to love to do that you haven’t done in a long time.  Remember how amazing it was?  Now get out your calendar and schedule time for yourself to do it again. This is refueling time where you will be filling yourself up with so much great attention that you will overflow the juice to the one you love spontaneously if you make it a practice.
  1.  Close your eyes and imagine yourself receiving some really wonderful texts or emails telling you how amazing you are, what you love most about you, what your favorite features are, how in love you are with you…and then quickly compose a short email to yourself saying exactly those things.
  1. Now think up four things you absolutely love and adore about your partner.  Write them down.  Text one to him in the morning and one at night for two consecutive days…or do one a day for four days, your choice.
  1. Write out ten things you appreciate about your partner every day for a week.  This single practice transformed my relationship in a flash.  Try it.
  1. If you are home before your partner gets home from work, make sure you greet him like you would greet a favorite friend.  After all, this person committed their entire lifetime to a relationship with you!
  1. Hard, introspective, advanced tip:  Determine the one thing about your spouse that is bugging you the most lately.  Now, get cross legged on a meditation cushion with incense, a lit candle, and some new age music.  Close your eyes and breathe through your nose, deeply into your heart space.  Imagine them doing the thing they do that you cannot tolerate because it makes you want to erase your wedding from time.  Now, instead of them doing it, imagine yourself doing it.  Look very closely at ways in which you do this to yourself.  You’ll most likely need to dig very deep for this.  Once you see how you do this, own it and surround yourself in a pink bubble of love.  Forgive yourself and send out angel waves of gratitude to your spouse for showing you what to heal inside of yourself.
  1. Last tip of the day…do something different.  If you never order take out, order it and make it fun.  (If you always order it, consider cooking a homemade meal).  If you never initiate sex, try it.  If you do everything perfectly, do some stuff imperfectly on purpose.  If you never finish anything, pick three things to complete and just DO them till utter completion.  Find something in your life that you can shake up and wake up and see what happens.

Would love to hear how these tips worked out for you. Remember, anything that wakes you up will wake up your relationship, because we are all reflections of each other.  If you have your own great tip, please feel free to share it with us here.

Goddess Oceana

http://www.goddessoceana.com

Motherly Advice: A New Child-Rearing Manual

June 19, 2012

I’ve heard it and I’m over it.  I’ve heard every old belief, every story, and every ‘rule’ about child rearing possible and most of them don’t apply to my child.  Is it possible that they don’t apply to anyone other than the ego of the person that is touting the advice?  It may be.

When I had my son I was open to all manner of advice, and unfortunately I tried it all, but to no avail whatsoever.  You see, my son was unique in that he was born as himself, infinitely individual, unlike any other model ever made and only similar in that he was one of a species called human.  No two are the same.  Let’s start there, shall we?  A rational, totally left brained approach would have us believe that if it works for one, it works for all.

What are the things they tell you to do with babies?  Put them in a crib to sleep, they say, and swaddle them, let them scream it out.  You should take them for a ride in a car to get them to nap, but don’t ever let them sleep in your bed because they will never, ever fall asleep again by themselves for the rest of their natural lives.  Yes, someone said that to me.  There are plenty more where those came from, but I don’t feel like digging into that slime pit at the moment.

Our child would only sleep with me or my husband, screamed louder if we swaddled him, screamed as if on fire at the sight of a car, and made our ears bleed with the decibels inside a car from the sheer terror of the movement.  I have a memory regretfully branded into my brain of when I tried putting him in a crib.  He screamed at naptime daily until he vomited and shit himself for three days straight, and then was wary of me, his own mother, for two weeks afterwards.  (I was following the directions in the book which told me not to rescue him under any circumstances, while I sobbed silently outside the door, curled up in a ball on the floor.)  Both of us sweating and shaking, I finally came to my senses and realized cribs were not for us.

You see, he was too smart for Dr. Ferber who invented “ferberizing”, but I didn’t know this yet.  I allowed Dr. Ferber to alienate me from my own infant.  I just read last week that the other famous doctor whose advice I tried to follow like a good mommy, Dr. Sears, left a tidbit of crucially important information out of his books and has recently added the information.  Thank you, Dr. Sears, we are still suffering the repercussions of your neglect, 12 years later.

Do I carry a little bit of self righteousness about this topic?  You bet I do.  I feel that I have run alongside the best of them, and any one of us who’s had a child who doesn’t fit into the regular mold (as if there is one) and has been patronized, ridiculed, judged, advised, and bullied until she builds an armor like that of a Roman soldier,  I have earned stripes so deep that I’m loathe to explain anything to anyone anymore.

One thing I will tell you is that I have some wisdom to share.  My wisdom doesn’t include telling you what to do with your baby, or how to be a good mother.  My wisdom doesn’t give you some pat answer that’s going to fix everything.  My wisdom is about trusting your own wisdom, because every single mother is a unique being and every child is a new creation.  There’s never been one like her and never will be again.  You do get a manual, but you have to listen in the quiet for the information.  You have to listen to your heart and your gut, and you have to be able to withstand the onslaught of everyone else’s opinions and then not waver in your truth.

If I’ve come away with anything from the gift of motherhood, it’s the realization that I have to trust myself above all others, and that I have my beautiful, bright, highly intelligent, uniquely perfect son to thank for it, not Dr. Know It All.


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