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Thursday, July 28, 2016

thoughts on holding space for our kids... plus volcano pics (!!)

I've been thinking a lot about this concept over the past crazy busy month.

Holding space.

And it has been busy. I've been teaching and attending meetings and skyping in on conference calls. Meanwhile registering my kids for school (what the heck with all the paperwork????) and finishing up karate lessons (Martial Arts MOM!) and trying to keep the house in order, somewhat (mostly thanks to Auntie Molly who has been staying with us for the summer!! YAY AUNTIE!!)

Meanwhile. Meanwhile.

Parenting needs seem to increase exponentially, don't they? Everyone seems to hit peak of "I NEED YOU" at the same time. One getting near 10 years old, and all the complications the pre-teen years bring. Another hitting the mid-7-I-know-everything-and-feel-everything phase. Another heading off into the unknown nethers of kindergarten grown-upedness.

What the heck.


And don't forget the four month sleep regression growth spurt for baby...

All. At. Once.

And everything is so BIG and FEELINGS and IMPOSSIBLE and I CANT DO IT MOM and MORE FEELINGS that are VERY BIG.

And then I am tired. Very oh so very big tired.

But I read this article somewhere about this concept of "holding space" for people, emotionally. With so much going in our country and so many feelings and hurt and social media makes it so easy to react big and violently and not actually have to interact with others who are hurt or who have different opinions than us. Holding space is saying, I see your hurt. I am sorry. I am here for you. And that is all. No judgement. No rushing to condemn or condone. Holding space for other people's sorrow.

And then thinking about what this looks like in parenting.

It is "Calm Wall." One of our favoritest parenting mantras for our BIG FEELINGS kiddos (er, all of them, uh, dont know where they get THAT from). CALM WALL. I chant, as they yell and cry and writhe over small injustices and big.

Calm Wall means this, it isn't our emotion. It is theirs. We dont need to absorb their emotional energy about a problem. Their anger doesnt need to lead to our anger.

CALM WALL. Say it with me, while exhaling through the teeth. I AM A CALM WALL. I swear to you, this works.

But this holding space concept goes beyond.

Because they aren't just small, these feelings. They are big too. Real things. The friend that says the hurtful word, or that doesn't extend a birthday invitation. The group of kids that calls names and convinces my child, my sweet child, that he is fat.The fear of an unknown school that leaves our stomachs in knots at night. The fear of an earache and visit to the doctor.

These are real things. Hurtful, and scary situations for adults too. That medical diagnosis we don't understand. That group of moms that gossips about us at the park. That caring aunt who questions our parenting and leaves us doubtful of ourselves.

All very real.

All very worth feeling. But we have learned to control our emotional responses to this kind of hurt. We have had years to learn to suck in our nasty retorts to our aunt and smile and graciously leave the room. To stop googling a list of symptoms and believe its the worst ailment possible (SARA. STOP GOOGLING) To smile and wave at the moms at the park and let their ugly words slide off us like water off a duck.

What? No?

SEE?? I totally get freaked out and up in my head about all of those situations. I do it all the time. I see myself doing it, but it still happens.

So for our kids, who are still learning to gauge their feelings, who are still asking, what is worth this big response of yelling at crying?? My brother hitting me on the head in the car? Wait, it isnt? Oh. Ok. Sorry.

The need to modulate these responses (yes, I just used the word modulate, PhD program here I come) is what comes with age. With maturity.

This is holding space.

To be a calm wall.

To be a mom who says, I know that you getting a small piece of chocolate seems worth the rage you are throwing. I am here as you sort that out and calm down. To teach appropriate responses.

Or, I know they hurt your feelings with those mean words. I am here for you, as you cry in the bathroom to move back home, that no one likes you, that you have no friends.

Holding space. Like we appreciate from friends around us when we too are sad.

Have you ever had someone say to you, "Calm down!" when you are frustrated about something.? As a BIG feeler of ALL THE EMOTIONS I can tell you I have. Over and over. And its not fun. It says, "your emotions dont count" which is a short path to "you don't count."

Anyway. Its taken me almost a whole week to get out this post. Even now my 9yr old has interrupted me forty bazillion times, I've had to cut out three butterfly wings from felt for the crafting 7 yr old, and I've rescued the baby from getting shaken to death but his enthusiastic little sister ("you are SO CUUUUUUUUTE, arent you???? SO CUUUUUUUUUTE!!!" she squeals in his face.)

But I am really hoping to get more into this practice. It takes practice, for sure. Your emotions aren't mine. But I can stand here, with you, as you work them out. And I love you.

Here's hoping we get a bit more of this in the upcoming political race too. We sure need it. LORD HAVE MERCY and OY VEY.

Hugs mamas.

Three days until we start school. I am going to go drink more coffee and try not to throw up. We are doing a mini "staycation week" this week. A few days ago we went, finally, to Volcano National Park. It was magical. Otherwordly. The kind of place you expect to see fairies popping out of the many orchids scattered around the rainforest or dinosaurs trekking across the vast landscape dotted with steam vents. Here are some photos.

mom. i can see LAVA.

photographer mama. i swear i was there too.

yes, i totally had a heart attack as the kids peeked over a huge cliff trying to get a first glimpse of the caldera and the volcano

auntie molly studies geology (headed to grad school in a month!) she was KINDA excited by the steam vents

the kids hiked more than two miles!!

except this one strolled. Little Green style.

the lava was seriously bubbling up. so cool

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

the thing about us and homeschooling...or, my incredible guilt and simultaneous elation about next year

So I have been meaning to write this post for awhile, but I wasn't quite sure what to say, or how to say it. So I guess I just have to give it to you straight


About the school thing.

I'm tired?

Not tired.

That isn't right.

I'm not like, give me another cup of coffee and I'll make it fine, tired.

I am weary.

Like, carrying too much, too many things to do, too many lists in my head, too much of everything, infant and kindergartener and big kid coffee wont touch it weary.

But here is the thing. That is just half of it. This isnt about me feeling "burnt out" I wont even use that phrase. Because we are doing this for them too. I want them to have the good stuff. The field trips and extra classes. Friends. Teachers who invest in them. They know how much we love and value them. I want them to feel this from other adults too. To have this input into their lives. To be around other kids who are different than them.

But it will be hard.

Because I love being by my kids, I will miss the daily of our old routine so so much. I will cry about it, I am sure. I will miss knowing every detail of their day (but also NOT miss it. HAHA)

But that is just the thing. That was our old routine.

It isn't where we are now.

I have meetings and conference calls, conferences even, and I am trying to do all these "good things" and I feel like, well, I wasnt giving my best to our homeschool. I know I could do better and every day, when I didn't do "the best" I knew I could do, I felt horrendously crabby. And then I snapped, taking my guilt out my kids.

Here is the thing a very smart mentor lady here told me. I want to be a parent to my kids, not their teacher.

I can do both roles, I mean, I could. but now, all my best highest intentions have devolved into two roles, mediocre teacher, and crabby mom. And if I can be one I choose mom. Fun, happy, crafting, cookie-baking, project-doing, trip-taking mom. And yes, we will learn together and we will discover things, but I can do that as fun mom role, not cracking the books teacher role.

We will come back to our home schooling journey, definitely. We love the ease of it, the flow of it, the togetherness of it. We will pack up our books, load up the kindles, probably just next year, and hit the road with four kids. Mexico! Then England! Who knows...

But for this year, we need more structure. I need more support. Our kids also need it too, for a year, I think. Friends. Activities. A connection to this very different place we now call home. Our new school teaches ukulele (!) hula (!) Hawaiian (!) and sustainable agriculture! And it is Waldorf-y!

So I am going to do this teaching, book writing, baby tending, mommying year. Just not the homeschooler part. (Though you can bet your bottom dollar I am going to end up on the PTA by the end of the year HAHAHA)

I have many more things to say about this transition coming up but its all too swirly right now.

So I am trying to get this vision of our new normal into my head. Packing lunches. Out the door by 7:45am (literally one of the most stressful things to think about!) Dropping the kids off at school. Going to my office. Writing on my book. Working on my teaching materials. Baby in the play pen next to me. Sipping iced coffee. Pick up Little Green at noon, go to lunch, run errands together, home for a bit, then pick up the big kids. Homework (!!??) play time, dinner out of the crock pot (or take out!?) Play outside. Books. Bed

Stay tuned for a variety of whirlwind emotions. HA HA.

not sure how this relates except perhaps...the sun is setting on my homeschool days...

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