What am I building?
My kids are experimenting with labels and identifying (it seems) with every trend that passes by.
I am well aware of our need for family values and patience. Holding hands helps me feel both connected and protective, in a healthy way.
How much do we share? I watch my son's head roll as he tries to navigate the vastness of his reality: school rules, social temptation, academics, mom expectations, chores, down time...etc. When I step back and really consider his overwhelm, I just feel inclined to say nothing.
The same goes for my daughter. Where she generally plays by the rules, she is also fascinated with social connection and how to 'fit in'.
I believe they will find their way as I maintain our base (right?).
I have my own stuff. Life is BIG and amazingly complicated, or at least it can feel that way. I know that living in the moment is my best medicine. Watching my kids flutter around can be challenging. Giving them the space to explore is, well, terrifying. I see it on their faces and hear it from their lips: "Mom, you have no idea and know NOTHING about what I am going through." Honestly, watching them brings back all my memories of adolescence. GAWD
Right now, they are talking to me. I wonder how long that will last, really. Probably not long after they read this post ;-/
They need structure. This is different from schedule.
Walking and talking with another mom yesterday, we were in agreement that we want to hear our kids with their voices of today and their ideas for tomorrow. We can love them with respect and gratitude. Our own upbringings have seriously colored how we parent and the caregiving of yesterday needs to shift so we can cultivate responsible and independent fabulous humans.
Another friend wrote me yesterday: "I feel woefully inadequate for the task at hand, however."
WE GOT THIS! Absolutely. Do not be afraid of changing - as this is a fundamental truth in my own situation.
Charis Denison ( http://prajnaconsulting.com/ ) Is showing us a new way. I brought her into our world and she worked with our daughters, our boys and us parents. It was a tremendous experience. As I attempt to identify and tackle my own "Fall Backs" I can clearly see how my approach has been impeding our development as a family. Big time. I need more work on this front and hope to stay open as opportunities arise.
Here is my short version: I NEED TO STOP TALKING.
I am unconsciously barfing judgement all over my kids as I am reacting in fear. I am filled with assumptions of terrible. As Charis mentioned, learning is through doing. Our kids NEED to make mistakes. I NEED to give my kids room to discover themselves. And here is another benefit: it can free me up to focus on my own life. I am supposing that LESS of me (verbally) will be MORE for all of us in the long run.
My own ideas surrounding my inadequacies as a person and a mom have probably pushed me toward needing validation from my kids, a reassurance of sorts. I have to trust myself, grow my own confidence and unburden them. My bullshit is NOT their responsibility.
I am a single parent with a 12 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. I am not afraid of challenge, I am afraid of being ineffective.
I picked my son up from basketball practice yesterday and told him I would like to have a family meeting (inspired by another single parent). We poured ourselves into the hot tub and began a list of WANTS and RESPONSIBILITIES. I let him do the talking. He seems pretty clear on his responsibilities being his homework, screen time, behavior (!!!????!!!!) and some chores-not his favorite topic- namely keeping his room in order. He really wants his phone back (been 3 weeks), he wants his personal space and to have a happy childhood.
He thinks my responsibilities are paying the bills, making food and going to work. I asked him if I get personal space too and he agreed.
We discussed swearing (barely). His argument: "Better to call her a 'fucking shit' than to punch her in the face". I think they are both lousy options....to be continued. (Suggestions welcome).
My son told a family friend that he was a dick in the boys' workshop, disrespectful and distracting. He did NOT tell me that at all. So the posturing continues. It makes sense to me that my kids wear different masks depending on their surroundings. In a way, they are learning how to get along in the world on their terms. Just like me ;-)
My daughter LOVED the workshop and wants to work with Charis more. She shared no details other than: "Mom, it's private." So she gets to have the space to be who she is, her way and I can still love her. She went off on her Stepping Stones Project (https://www.steppingstonesproject.org/) day long yesterday, spent 6 hours with strangers at the beach. Before she left, I kept suggesting what she needed to take with her and she just kept disagreeing with me. She was dressed for a day trip to NYC and I tried to remind her about hiking, beaching and bonfiring. She did not want to pack layers or snacks. So I really had to let it go and LET HER BE. Because of Charis' workshop, I consciously decided to simply receive her home and to NOT ASK HER ANY QUESTIONS. She flew in the hose, asked for her phone and mumbled, barely audible: "Good call on the down jacket, I would have been miserable without it." She did forget her water bottle and she obviously figured out how to hydrate while trekking beach terrain.
I asked her this morning if she had a good time- YES. She clearly did not want to discuss and I am learning to be okay with that.
Both my kids do not want to do anything today as there is no school. I remember when I was younger and how I just LOVED to stay home.
I heard Charis reference posturing, academics, and social media as a full boat agenda. If we take a moment to really recognize our own experience, daily, we can appreciate BUSY all over the place. And as unpracticed on the trust front I may be, I need to start somewhere. So my kids are home with no specific agenda. My son is helping our contractor lay new floor in his room and my daughter is roaming around town with her pal. I asked them to keep me posted on their whereabouts and so far, they have been checking in with me.
Managing the details of their lives keeps me from focusing on the details of mine. I am well versed in putting off what I need in any given moment. Self worth comes to mind. If that 'modeling' notion carries any weight, I need to show my kids I am my main priority. As we distinguish responsibilities and share some of the housework, we will all have space to grow ourselves as we see fit in the moment.
I am in THE SET UP. I have been conditioned for decades. My heart is open and I want a better way forward that supports our truth as a family and as individuals. I do not want to be afraid of the unknown anymore, instead I hope to embrace it. The uncharted path may just deliver exactly what we all seek and need.
Our kids are amazing and they are living in a world none of us really KNOW. We are all desperate for quality connection, some of us may already have it. I think we are all moving in a wonderful direction, let's hold hands while we go.