Some mothers are sweet and soft spoken and would never know how to say something sarcastic or angrily reactive. And they never, ever shout. I've always wanted to be like that.
Some mothers are naturally rather gruff and stern.
I'm somewhere in the middle. Like many others, I suppose. And sometimes I even find myself at one absolute end or the other.
I've been saying often lately that I don't believe we're all meant to be the same. Homogenized. That goes beyond my image of sweetly mothering, rather what I mean is something bigger - something that looks more like saints can come in all shapes and sizes. I mean that (as I said to someone recently) there is Mother Theresa or Thich Nhat Hahn, there is Richard From Texas, and there is me.
Very different ways of life expressing Itself.
Mothering problems come most swiftly when we're ill prepared. And by 'problems' I mean being reactive and terse instead of behaving with kindness and absolute empathy.
Most of the time I try to do things to keep myself firmly on 'friendly' ground. The house kept up... feeling good about who I am....the babes well-fed and well loved... (have you ever noticed how easy it is to pass around love and joy when everyone in the family is genuinely happy? Living in joy is a very good idea.)
But it's not always possible to live life from a place of Perfection. One doesn't get to choose to interact with others only while standing on blissful ground... in a Zen place.
But I've had some opportunities, lately, to realize that my center -my usual ground - is much more trustworthy and pleasant than I had supposed.
I told you about when I woke up a while ago, and Trev was still up. I was mostly still asleep (and very unreasonable) and clipped at him "Go to bed." We had a conversation in the morning -his morning- about it, and we came to an understanding. Thank goodness my children know enough to come to me with "Hey... we have a problem..."
But here are my scenarios.
Trevy gets really wound up sometimes when he's playing a new game. Completely frustrated. Screaming and crying sort of frustrated.
Keeping going - wanting to live like this - is completely foreign to me. "If you're not enjoying yourself, then put it away," has been my thought often, if not my direct response.
Yesterday as this was happening, I didn't voice it, however.
By just observing, instead of being pulled into the emotional turmoil (it's so easy for me to be emotionally affected by things), I came to realize that this process is something he has to do for himself.
I don't mean he has to walk it alone, I mean that this is something his Self has told him he must do. He feels compelled. He must go through this process. It's mandatory that he conquer and complete this mission.
It doesn't matter that it was a Godzilla game. And a few months ago it was Bowser. And something before that, and something else before that.
When I woke up last night - a mouse, you know - I could hear that he was still up. Sometimes laughing. Often talking. It was early (for him)- 12:40, I think.
As I wrote it got quieter, and at around two I supposed he had gone to bed.
At three I thought I heard him, again, so I went into the den.
Sure enough, he was up, and on the computer. Now this game is just an older game, one that he has to play online. It isn't something we have software for. And you don't get to "save". So there's lots of "game over"'s and you have to do the whoooole thing in one stretch. If your objective is to win, that is.
"Hi Mom." he says softly. "I finished my game."
"You did???" I asked. "Wow, Bud. Congratulations." I hugged him and spoke softly back. It was three a.m., after all.
"Yeah." Phew, he blows, "Finally. I finally finished it."
Do you see that?
Tenacity. My son has chosen to take upon his character something that looks like determination and tenacity.
"I'm gonna go to bed, now."
"Alright. See you in the morning. Love you."
I think a lot of folks just wouldn't see this situation as a pleasant and loving thing. They might be too busy trying to swallow the "three a.m." thing.
But here's the thing... when you let go of certain ideas - restrictive ideas - you come to find yourself on more loving -and friendly- ground.
If I had a more close-minded outlook, then it's totally conceivable that I could eventually drive this character trait entirely out of my son. It's completely possible that I would have inadvertently taught him that if things are too hard or too emotional, we should just walk away.
Yeah. That doesn't look very pretty.
Instead, evidently, I stand on pretty solid ground and let him choose for himself the Me he wants to be. Such an understanding gives me hope and encouragement... that I might be a better, more supportive, and much more loving mother than I had supposed.
Something that isn't such a surprise to me, but comforting nonetheless, is that thinking like an unschooling Mama doesn't always -or maybe even usually- mean just hoping for the best. I do a lot of that, for sure, but I figure it's certainly no more than every other parent since the beginning of time.
I've learned that when I'm questioning, or nervous, or fearful about something to just address it. If I'm wondering about thoughts or things about my children - I just ask. Or I just find out. I can trust myself to pay attention to things, and to step up -with love- when necessary.
A few weeks ago as I was watching Maddie write, I was pondering the fact that Trev doesn't. I wasn't getting weird about it, and I wasn't thinking labels and that there was something wrong with him, I was just thinking about it.
I did a bit of research about it online, brain development, and that sort of thing, and started questioning if there was just something different about his mind, and he just wasn't developmentally ready for fine-tuned hand skills.
Uh - this would be the same child who can do six things while he wins video games. But whatever. I told you I worry about odd things sometimes.
So I brought him to me, and just put it to him. "I've been thinking about this, and want to check on some things. It's not a big deal, but I have some skill things that I'd like for you to do real quick for me, if you would..." I was honest with him, but didn't say "I'm worried about you," probably mainly because I really wasn't worried, just curious. (I figure everyone comes to things in their own time.)
I don't even remember the little tests, now. Something I got at some 'fine motor skills' development website.
It was clear within less than a minute that there was no problem. After a couple of minutes, I kissed him and thanked him and we both went back to what we were doing before I started thinkin'.
I'm learning to trust myself to not get freaky, and that if I have questions, I can just ask them. So I find myself again standing upon firm and pleasant ground.
I mentioned that Madd has been fascinated with poo and bodily functions. (Thus the Baby Alive for Christmas.)
She did some things that I deemed very odd and didn't know how to interpret, which I'll not be mentioning specifically here because I don't want her to be embarrassed or ashamed now or later. (Nothing to truly disturb or scare a Mama, just "What in the world?!?" type things.)
We had some issues over it. Some things were funny, but some were rather disturbing to me, as I can get freaky over Mess.
She would do something, and there'd be a big hullabaloo, and she'd say "I promise to never do it again."
And then something very similar would happen again a few days or a week or so later, and she'd promise to "never do it again".
And then it happened again.
And then the last time was a baby with poo on it, under her bed. Real poo, mind you.
We went around and around. Me feeling like (and possibly acting like) the world's most horrible mother, and her crying and promising she'd never do it again.
I tried my best to get to "why", but we never really resolved that.
This can't happen again, I kept thinking.
She can't be trusted.
How can I make this never happen again?
My reactions and and all of my words were coming from this unenviable place.
Finally I was able to stop, and just Stop.
What's the most loving thing to do?
The most loving thing to do is to hug her close, tell her I am very sorry for being so unkind, to tell her we'll just start over, and that I completely trust her.
So that's what happened.
And I truly believe that it's been resolved - that by giving Maddie my absolute trust and faith, she trusts me also, and will come to me with her questions and curiosities should she have them again.
Firm ground, you see.
Last night I looked around, after having been preoccupied for a couple of days.
Our home was a mess!
I had a flash of panic and mania - yet again I come from a place of imperfection.
And then I gathered myself together, and just said "Tomorrow. I'll be able to clean this all up tomorrow." And my panic and worry left.
So I've found myself to be standing firmly in a place where I'm much more capable and loving than I have ever believed of myself.
While I think that operating from a sense of love will do that to (and for) you, I also think that living with openness and mindfulness allows all of us to better see what's really going on.
By questioning what's happening, our usual reactions, and whether or not we are operating out of a full sense of love, we eventually find our centers -including our reactions and our automatic responses- to be increasingly more demonstrative of our most loving selves.
We find that we can love others better and more willingly, and we can finally be open to the idea that we can be trusted to be so, even when we're coming from a place of Imperfection.
So after all of this we make the amazing discovery that we, ourselves, are worthy of trust, and worthy of love.
Much more worthy than we ever thought ourselves to be.