Looks like it's been a year since my last post, even though I had a lovely summer gathering with friends who are similarly motivated by Parenting on Track and travelling through the program once again. That has faded with the busy-ness of the school year (funny, that - seems like with school the house should be quieter), and perhaps the importance of the blog is back!
I love how other people post about things to celebrate, and I like to do that, too. But I also find that writing here helps me focus on the things I want to do when relationships aren't going that well in our house. Like, today I've been noticing how disrespectful I can get towards my 6 year old; now, granted, she can whine like the dickens, but I can also ignore that and see spectacular results often...and when it doesn't work, there's often gluten or dairy involved, so really there's no reason to be pulling my hair out. But when I'm tired, or in pain (which is often), I've realized that it feels like I'm already multitasking to do any simple task (I'm not only doing the task, but also managing the feeling-badness), and having someone (anyone) ask me to do something (especially multiple times) tips me over the edge. But, when I look back on my day, I don't feel like I've lived up to my potential. At the same time, I've gradually learned that I can only push myself so hard before I push myself away from everyone around me. I can't just push myself through this. (But then, I'd never expect pushing to help anyone else connect...to themselves or others.) So I've been befuddled. And then tonight, I think back to the most amazing thing about starting down the Parenting on Track challenge. It was learning to let something feel so reactive, but not react. IT was taking a breath when things felt overwhelming,and then another one. And now I would add, remembering in that moment what I value in my relationships with my children; encouraging myself that I have a place in this relationship, and it's important; allowing myself to have a bad day, but exploring whether that means I have to be reactive, or if I can really let myself feel just as bad as I may feel and not push it away, maybe even have some compassion for myself, but also recognize that taking that moment for myself may be much better than reacting explosively to some beloved small one.
It's encouraging just to write this.
On a practical, detail-oriented level, F is having trouble doing her contributions right now. She has noticed that her 2 year old brother gets the computer sometimes without doing anything. I'm willing to explore whether R can be asked to do something (clean up a little) prior to the computer. But I'm wondering if F really feels like part of our team, she is so terribly resistant to doing contributions. Perhaps for another post.
I love the roadmap to what we want to live as a family, what values we want to highlight in our lives. It makes me feel passionate about this family thing, and this life thing.
It's tough sometimes to read about families where one parent is home full time (though often working) and not envy that consistent time with their kids -- it's tough to read about families in small rural towns with great neighbors and similar aged kids nearby and not envy that sense of community they have, and the ease with which kids can play in the yards and woods. And I have to remind myself in such moments, that envy isn't a "bad" emotion like it's cracked up to be. PoTr has helped me help my daughter embrace whatever feeling is filling her body and heart and move on from there. And thereby teaching me, and my husband, about the possibility of doing the same. I realize my envy stems from a desire to have enough time with my children to have memories get created organically. I realize my envy stems from a desire to have a good community around us, and dinners with friends and kids and sharing food, and kids and dogs playing without risk. When I let myself go this far by embracing that envy, it suddenly makes me feel empowered again. Perhaps I don't know quite how to get these things in my life frequently, but at least I'm starting to realize with more and more clarity what I want in my life, and that feels like a start.
Almost one year to the date since the new little one was born, I finally feel like really tackling Parenting on Track challenges again. Thankfully, we've had some wonderful moments inspired by PoT in the interval. At about 4 and a half, Fi really started doing appreciations, like rich and interesting appreciations - it's amazing, I love hearing what she has to say. Contributions have gone back and forth, were mostly something that had to get done prior to TV/computer on any day, but over the last week or two we've finally gotten into mostly a rhythm that means she's contributing daily. We only once (and recently at that) stuck to our guns about having to do the contribution daily for 4 days prior to starting privileges (TV/computer, and soon playdates). I'm noticing that suddenly she's got real skills, too, and she can even move quickly if she wants to (there's not a lot o inexperience slowing her down) - she's even folding clothes, and I certainly never "taught" her to fold clothes - perhaps at daycare, or perhaps via watching? I've also come to peace with the fact that, for right now, I'm the one who makes family meetings happen. Fi doesn't connect money with power with family meeting yet! And DH is so busy prioritizing other stuff that he comes as close to grumbling as he ever does when I request 5' for family meeting - but he'll always come, for which I'm grateful.
But great things have happened, too. I feel like house has been in a constant Do Nothing Say Nothing state lately - I haven't the time to clean up! And Fi's room was likewise. One night, DH mentioned that the mess makes me sad, and perhaps they should team up and clean up - and she totally took the initiative and decided she would clean her room! (And it was a big mess!). I came home and she showed off her work - not a toy on the floor. It was amazing, her discovery of what she could do if she wanted to, and me never having to really fuss about it (fret a bit, yes, but no fussing!). And since then, for almost a week now, she has kept it clean (helps that her contribution this week was bedrooms!), and decided where to hang pictures and how to organize her books - it's so gratifying to see her do it all on her own, and to see her pride in herself. It's like a gift.
Add to that that one morning I was too busy to help her with her contribution when she wanted - she went on her own, found a laundry basket, visited the bedrooms and filled it up, then asked for help to take it all downstairs. The girl is independent!!
That brings me to tonight, though. Tonight, I finally think I can track it back to - I hurt my back trying to clean and hold the baby at the same time. After that, I couldn't do firm and kind. I was kindof lashing out at anything I could perceive as a personal attack - crazy, huh? Was there a button there.... Activating event(s): child who couldn't listen to me, who couldn't sit still at the table, who was using threats to communicate her frustration and discomforts; and me being in pain and wanting to lie down after cleaning all day. Belief(ves): my child doesn't respect all the work I put into our home (and therefore into supporting her). Consequences of that belief: I feel hurt and belittled, and entitled to (stand up or myself) fight. Disputes of that internal story: my child was really tired, and probably having a tough time dealing with the changes that she knows are coming with kindergarten, especially losing all the time she spends with her current friends who won't be in kindergarten with her. Encourage: that story makes me so much more sympathetic, I could DEAL with the D story; I might still feel like I need to set really clear boundaries to help me get through the bedtime routine and dinner, but I'd really rather look for resources within myself to just get through the night, and perhaps even "make memories." in fact, looking back over tonight, there WERE several good moments: I sent Fi away from the table after dropping food on the floor (not dinner time manners) deliberately, then DH told me she dropped it accidentaly - and I went and said I was sorry, told her what I thought and what DH told me, and asked her if she would join us for dinner again; she said no, and I didn't freak, just brought back her plate and let her make her choices; and a few minutes later, she poked her head around the corner and said she'd decided to join us again; even ate all her veggies and had dessert. And at tooth brushing, she wanted me to help her, but found the resources to brush her own teeth, and even insisted on me checking that they looked clean. What a brave and resourceful child - we do pretty well sometimes.
Okay, it's been ages, I want to go visit the other blogs I used to read now!!
It's been a while. I think getting an anonymous poster/comment threw me more than I realized.
Family Meetings: Fiora has just started saying real appreciations! So cool...though I need to restrain myself from offering suggestions when she seems to get lost and stressed about what to say. We're really enjoying using the laminated pictures+words to keep track of our contributions, and putting them on the fridge with magnets. Once Fiora insisted on choosing TWO, which could've been a great time to admire her dedication and verve, but instead dissolved into her choosing which one she wanted to do each day and picking just one. Family meetings now happen much more reliably and with less effort, but are still not regularly weekly. Fiora enjoys spending her allowance - especially at grocery stores!
Contributions: She really knows where the clean dishes go and how to put them away; how to put soap in the dish washer and run it (though not when!); how to wash dishes; she's made dinner once or twice (with her dad's help); she's helping get out utensils and salad dressing and ketchup and the like (doubly useful since it keeps her from asking for snacks before dinner!); she's washing dishes better and better. She knows where to put her different clothes away and just learned how to put shirts and dresses on a hanger; she's learning about the laundry machines. She's getting better (faster) at putting her toys away and identifying what's trash/mess on the floor. She knows how to clean the bathroom sink; toilet; tub; and mirror. Hurrah!
She's really avoided sweeping or mopping....might have to make that happen. And contributions ONLY happen because Fi almost always wants to watch some netflix or do computer time...I feel like I could do better at helping her understand the joys of contributions...especially if I delved into that more myself!!
Roadmap: what roadmap? I'm STILL jonesing for a family roadmap...started my second version months and months ago, would like to set up time to talk it over with DH.
DNSN: it would be fun to do this again. New baby on the way will help facilitate this!
The Four C's: I feel pretty good about connection most days (it's such a delight with this verbal playful girl we have now!), and telling her she counts; I'm still a bit of a wimp when it comes to encouraging her to have courage, letting her challenge herself into frustration, but those moments still happen with fair regularity so I'm not preventing them (hardest when I think she's feeling sick but am not sure!!). Am I missing one?
Buttons: have felt great about these, then tonight my back was sore and the dogs were pulling a little on a hot humid night that does NOT deserve any dog or person feeling feisty enough to pull, my expectations flared, and I got cranky in button-style. *sigh* Certainly don't want to be too cocky!!
Hm, should review my PoT book and see what I've remembered and what I've forgotten....
So weird. Sometimes I don't understand this stuff. Today I continued to be edgy-mama - not willing/able to tolerate Fiora's screams about wanting her binky in the car after she dropped it (usually I can talk her down from this stuff of act). Told her I loved her dearly, and somehow really meant it in the moment...then told her I wasn't going to be talking to her while she was screaming. The telling her I loved her seemed to take the edge of her screaming but surely didn't stop it, and I talked to myself about the stuff I was passing to keep my calmness going, which worked surprisingly well, and kept me from getting sucked into the passionate world of the back seat.
This afternoon, it was her naptime and she didn't want to nap, but I NEEDED her to nap desperately. Thank goodness DH stepped in and helped facilitate napping. And I left with the dogs, feeling destined to have a miserable walk with them given the mood I was in, but knowing that they were overdue for a lovely long woodsy ramble.
Couldn't believe my luck when I actually was enjoying the walk, the light snowfall, the dogs' excitement. And then they started pulling me rudely all over the place, and I realized how sore my body was, and I could feel myself getting dark and angry. I did my typical responses: managing the situation by not letting the dogs walk on long leashes but at heel; allowing the dogs to "self-train" by jerking into the end of the leash and holding it firm - the former does help them settle down and remember I'm there, the latter has not seemed to help one of my dogs ever. Getting darker and darker inside. Then, for some reason, I decided to give myself the benefit of the doubt, and perhaps I was right to be upset about this situation. And to acknowledge that what I was doing wasn't working terribly well. And somehow, out of my self-conscious, I chose a different approach: letting the dogs on long leash, but asking them to stop and wait at a point I was choosing. This is fairly intensive: voice command, leash reinforcement, making sure whichever dog was behind is asked to stop at the same place as the first dog, keeping my attention on them so that attempts to break their "wait" position are not allowed and to reinforce my command to wait, breathing well and edging gently through them so I was just a bit ahead of them before releasing them. And that beginner's mind was with me - I didn't expect it to work. But my god, the bigger dog, who always gets overexcited when he's on long leash, started offering me gazes, checking in with me, settling down. Gods, it almost makes me cry, it was so quick, and so long awaited!
Anyways, gotta go shopping, and dreading taking my daughter with me.
Just to finish this off, i did go shopping with Fiora, and it was lovely. DH offered to watch her while I went, but Fi suddenly intensely wanted to go. I countered that it was a quick trip and if she wanted to go she needed her underwear, pants, and shoes on, plus a jacket, or I was going. She sortof freaked out, I gave her a minimum of guidance to those objects she was looking for (and walking around, like her pants on the short table in the living room!), and I kept prepping for the trip, doing something to prep for dinner at the same time, getting DH to find me money - it honestly took me longer than I expected, and Fi managed to get mostly ready on her own without crying, so I helped her at the very end (crooked sock). And off we went. Again, I assumed it would be a mess. Fi wanted a lollipop. I told her she could get a banana and an apple - she got a banana and an old orange, and we really were off. She often likes to play before getting in the car, but I let her know that I wasn't waiting, and she popped right in the carseat and asked for her banana. We got to the store, she wanted to ride the car-cart, but it was wet from the snow - I didn't blow my top for some reason, but found some newspaper-y coupons and dried off the "car", and again, away we went. Found my veg for dinner, Fi saw some cereal she wanted on sale (I completely missed it; sharp eyes, that girl!). I asked if she brought her money for it, and she went sheepish and said no and was ready to move on. I actually bought it anyway, 'cause it was a good deal and we're on vacation (staycation) next week and car-snacks are running low. When we were in line, I told her she could get out of the 'car' to visit the flowers as long as she stayed nearby where I could see her and didn't touch. She did it. She came back into the car. We weren't checked out yet, so she got back out and asked if she could visit the candy/toy machines. I said sure, but I'd be leaving soon. She did not wander. When I was ready to go, she ran in front of me. I don't know why we had such a good time together, maybe I'm figuring out some way to set boundaries better and have higher expectations and the transition is rough for me, but I'm glad to have so many bright moments in a day filled with rabbit hole moments!
So much I was going to write about tonight: Child deciding not to eat veggies, child facing natural consequence of no dessert without good nutrition to counterbalance it --> meltdown later Child faced parent-set consequence of getting down from dinner table - no conversation, no being picked up until parents done eating, no 2nd chance to eat, no computer time until dinner is over --> nagging parents at table and being almost completely ignored (huzzah! Even had to pick her up and move her twice.) Child wanted computer time after dinner, but it was too late - must teach her to check a clock, and do so myself so I don't set her up for getting computer time after dinner and then put myself in the position of 'taking it away' Child did not want to go bed (tired? She didn't sleep until 10:30pm in her room last night...), avoiding brusing teeth (first part of bedtime ritual), so i said, "Great, let's find some pajamas!" But then Fi decided she did want to brush teeth (she knows the natural consequence there: no sugar the next day if she can't show that she can protect her teeth from sugar - and i'm ready to do it. We even have unsweetened soy milk we can open up, and i can make oatmeal without honey, and snackbox with just nuts and chips, and no fruit - though really honey and fruit may be okay) So proud of her choice! And her pulling it together. Child didn't like her pj's, so I offered to go get the clean laundry (learned from another post!) - child insisted on puling the basket of laundry to her room 'by herself!" She then put clean clothes all over the room, BUT also found pajamas to wear and put them on. A win. Child did not want to go to bed, hence did not want to read a book, so I told her okay and I'd see her in the orning but she didn't have to sleep. Child threw fit and said wanted to read a book. I didn't shut door, came back in. Child threw fit and didn't want to go to bed. Repeat above. Child picked out book and we read it. And here I get hazy. She wanted me to read it a 2nd time, which i don't usually do, but I said I'd read it really fast. and the it was a flap book and she insisted on doing the flaps, which meant I couldn't read it fast. So I said okay, but I'd be done reading at "x" time on the clock. But for some reason, I felt like I hadn't honored myself like I'd managed to do all night - can't quite pin it down - started getting kidnof pissed off. At "x" o'clock, I got up and Fi went to the bathroom. Lately she's been playing while on the toilet, so I made sure the bathroom toys were all put away (not quite, oops!) and let her do her business on her own. Then I had to put a dog tick in the toilet, and Fi confessed that she was done. Then a toy got dropped in a poopy toilet. Uck! Fi took it out, and then i was insistent that she wash her hand and that the toy get washed. When I gave her a rag to dry her hands, she had a meltdown that she wanted her pink rag. Which was in the dirty laundry. But she thought the pink glass-rag or whatever those microfiber rags are that don't dry off hands well was hers. And I kindof went down the rabbit hole. Dried her hands. Picked her up with her pjs. Put her on her bed, put on her pj's. She wanted to be put in her old crib, and I told her she could take the pillows and blankets herself if she wanted to do that. She said they were too heavy, and DH took over from me. When I came back from the dog walk, DH reported that she got in the bed without pillow or blanket. (It's cold in the crib room) And was sortof asleep. We decided to give her a blanket, not the big blanket but a small blanket that she would realize she COULD carry to the crib if she wanted to. She had, in fact, found a blanket in the crib and was using it, too. i told her I loved her, she smiled at me, and that's been it. i found I really enjoyed holding the line, and NOT being angry but being sure about what i found acceptable and what I didn't. I did NOT like being angry. We have decided that she can do potty breaks after bedtime, but that we'll put the bathroom toys away and stuff on the sink away, and that one of us will stay in the bathroom but not talk to her. This is something we'll explain to her tomorrow. She can use the crib, but if she changes her mind about where she wants to sleep after lights are out, she needs to carry stuff there on her own. If she drops her water before she falls asleep, she needs to get it on her own. She's been putting off sleeping later and later, and tonight's multiple meltdowns suggest to me that she's not getting enough sleep again. I really wish we could use a time on the clock for bedtime, but we cook from scratch and end up eating later than we want to almost every work night. Maybe we can talk about ways to help ourselves with that. My crock pot exploration has been a disaster. DH hasn't liked having help in the kitchen...though tonight he broke that rule, and Fi's old enough that we CAN help each other in the kitchen if we want to. Maybe next month I'll try to find quick recipes - it's taken so long for me to find recipes any of us want to eat, that's been my first priority! ;)
Yeah, it's repetitive; and yeah, it's worth it. Though maybe I'll start adding it all to one big humongous post so the posts don't get too dreary for others.
Today, I'm grateful that we got through all our shopping I'm grateful that I remembered my new client's name when we saw her in the store! I'm grateful that DH gave me time/space to walk the dogs before bitter nighttime today I'm grateful that DH and I found a movie we both wanted to watch, and that we got to watch a movie together I'm grateful that our new ice cream maker worked...even if the ice cream makes my stomach feel sick! I'm grateful that the dogs like to eat our food when it's not quite good enough to eat! I'm grateful that I'm the only one who ate the smoked salmon, which I then decided might be off....(maybe it's not the ice cream...) I'm grateful to DH for shovelling the rest of the icy snow away from our mail box I'm grateful to the powers that be for melting some of this snow away without any ice dams or leaks I'm grateful that the snow was just high enough to make it easy for me to step over our gate to find nimbus' toy after I threw it over the fence I'm grateful that I got to see the beautiful crescent moon in the early evening tonight i'm grateful yet again for my YakTraks keeping me safe on our hilly, slightly icy walk tonight I'm grateful to the sun for making my car so cozy and warm today... And grateful to my husband for not complaining when I needed the icy cold wind on my wrist out the open window of our car I'm grateful to Sequoia for lovely snuggles during movie watching tonight I'm grateful to Fi for being my gelato-eating companion at Whole foods (another reason for sick stomach?) I'm grateful to Fi for being so brave so many times today, when DH and I were feeling rather dictatorish about reinforcing rules about binkies only out for sleep (in the car, naptime, bedtime) I'm grateful to Fi for her utterly charming dances, and for being pulled out onto the dance floor by the silliest of tunes! I'm grateful to Fi for enjoying "Larryboy" with the same silly gusto that I do I'm grateful to the icicles for falling in lazy straight pieces onto the snow, and being a different color, and just being lovely on the earth which I didn't expect I'm grateful for dry, safe roads I'm grateful to our amyryllis for it's beautiful, startling red blossoms that opened today I'm grateful to my vision boards I'm grateful to Jinxy for being almost a friend to Fiora today and yesterday
And then, for Feb 12th: I'm grateful Fiora's cough hasn't gotten worse! (It's bad enough) I'm grateful that I can feel enjoyment in my dogs, and am glad t make time for my cat - not sure where that priority had slipped away to, or why it had become work, but I am grateful to find my joy again I'm grateful that there were other really interesting Parenting on Track posts to read tonight! I'm grateful that my appetite seems better, and that DH made a non-greasy, yummy eggplant parm tonight I'm so grateful that DH made brownies for the Valentine Ball, and even though he was sick! I'm grateful that DH got up before Fiora and I got the sleep in - such luxury! I'm grateful that DH is feeling better, well enough to eat dinner I'm grateful that I can run past the 4 houses on the hill without getting out of breath again I'm grateful that I feel anxious to get back to yoga after 3 weeks of "sick leave" I'm grateful that we kept our rhythm at work today, despite all the complex cases we were seeing on a 2 person day I'm grateful that, though it's hard to say goodbye to our patients and see their owners suffer grief, all the deaths recently have been good ones, at the right time, with loved ones to support them I'm grateful that my staff is so much fun, and so supportive I'm grateful that I thought of checking out the magnet school sites before applications closed I'm grateful that Debby's comments on FCL made me look into what classes Fi can start if she's interested, and summer camps I'm grateful that my dogs are snuggled up to me right now like they've never done before, one on each side I'm grateful that I've gotten to hear Jinxy purr almost every day for 5 days now - happy sound I'm grateful that the mess in my house does not depress me! I'm grateful that the FCL community has parties and welcomes me and mine and that I got to see friends today!