Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Everything Needs a Little Maintenance

That old cliche of "only change is constant" is terrible, ugly and beautiful all at the same time. I wanted to reflect on the fact that whether because of life or the pandemic, most people are not where they want to be this coming January. 

Many people are ambivalent about this new coming year and what it might bring.

I wanted to reflect on the fact that had we had a stellar several years by achieving our goals more, further, and better than before, I would have probably taken on more baggage than I can handle right now. And that is because everything needs a little maintenance. 

That new car requires maintenance. That new wardrobe that I still don't have would have required maintenance. 

Even something quintessential to the ideal suburban life as a house with a yard requires so much maintenance that the house basically owns you and all of your time. And here I am, trying to add whole new rooms to my cleaning routine.

Those new career goals, had I gotten to where I wanted to be this year would have required many sacrificed evenings, weekends, and the worst possible thing in the world to sacrifice, early mornings of lost sleep. 

The new person people constantly want to become is most commonly one with more abundance. This abundance can be in the form of new people in our lives and richer relationships, better jobs, bigger homes, faster cars, more education, more fitness, more intellectual stimulation, more stuff. And all of those things require time and effort that cannot be ignored. 

I wanted to get into the maintenance that everything requires and really celebrate getting to those proverbial goals or "new year, new me" and also not getting that chapter.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Taking Care of Your Kid and Teaching Your Kid are Two Very Different Jobs

We are nannies, teachers, chefs, coaches, doctors, pharmacists, custodians, historians, storytellers, orators, photographers, chauffeurs, craftsmen, seamstresses, and so much more. We are parents of guardians. We have to do a little of everything and some days are filled with more practicing professions than others. We also don't need to be good at all of these things, just good enough, for our time, place, and culture. 

This is how I wanted to start. To me, most of the above tasks have a combination of taking care of children and teaching them how to take care of themselves. Those are very different aspects to full tasks. For example, I am taking care of my child by making him a grilled cheese sandwich, but I am teaching my child when I am instructing him to get two pieces of bread out of the bread bag, and one piece of cheese from the refrigerator.   

And let me tell you, I get so many comments and suggestions that seem to revolve around just teaching. And to be honest, many of the resources that have helped me be a parent are those that are recommended for teachers and produced by experts in the education industry. And I am here to say, that as a parent, most tasks when kids are young include a combination of the two until they kids are fully self-sufficient in something, like eating with a spoon by themselves. Until good spoon to mouth coordination is developed, I am cleaning up spills left and right. 

So if some days momming or parenting seems too hard, it's because it is. You might be doing the same routine, doing the same thing, but one day, your child will be becoming more self-sufficient in something and will require you to be so many different experts in one body, in one parent or guardian.  

Sunday, December 26, 2021

How Gentle Parenting Changed Me

 I am used to critical or malicious interactions being mistaken for “tough love.” 

And at first it seemed like my tough love upbringing paid off. I got awards, scholarships, stayed out of trouble, and was self-motivated and self-reliant. But there was a dark side to all of those “good on paper” achievements. Emotionally unhealthy situations were not a red flag as they should be each and every time. And I did not learn to be assertive until my mid-twenties. 

Now as a parent myself, I dove into gentle parenting methods, different early childhood education techniques, healthy discipline techniques, I must have listened to countless podcasts, read books and articles, and am constantly trying to provide a reality for my family that makes emotionally healthy households. It takes a village and lots of resources, only then does it become a choice. 

And it changed me for the better. In a way that’s better than I ever imagined. I started being gentle on myself. 

I realized my inner voice and inner monologue that I reserved for myself echoed emotional abuse and devaluing. Talk about bad boundaries. 

And that voice was definitely not good enough for my children. I developed a gentle parenting voice, with reason, concrete examples, and logic. This voice breathed in and exhaled slowly instead of getting angry. Is this my permanent voice? No. I sometimes regret speaking with fear instead of the tools above. So it’s a journey, but one that I’m happy with right now. 

This new mom voice is now how I’m starting to talk to myself in the inner monologue too. I’m being gentle because the previous voice wasn’t doing any good for me. This new inner voice reminds me that I shouldn’t waste my time to impress people committed to being disappointed in me. This inner voice has also taught me to value my effort instead of it’s efficiency or results.  


What We Are Teaching About Consent Through the Pandemic

Kids are like sponges and whether we like it or not, they learn so much from ACTUAL EXAMPLES WE GIVE THEM. And I don't want to bring this up, but we need to talk about consent during the pandemic. 

And let me tell you, we have not been doing a very good job with consent and having good, full conversations. We have just been reacting in our home and echoing the CDC recommendations.

And, honestly, how can we not. It's very hard navigating public spaces, updates to our usual routine, and an overwhelmed medical system. We avoided crowded playgrounds, and we sanitized and washed our hands.

We did not talk about consent, although it has been a topic of great importance in the parenting circles that aimed to raise self-aware children. We have not conversations about how our behavior affects other people and how defeating this virus depends on people having many good options to stop the spread.

A big part of consent is saying yes to the conversation and having the conversation with transparent facts, goals, and focus. Will it bring up questions about vaccine mandates if your kids are old enough, yes, as it should. Are kids required to have other vaccines in order to be in public school unless there's a faith based exception, yes. Are kids making these choices about what is going into their bodies? Most often they are not. 

How do you as a human being feel about vaccine mandates for professionals in specific fields or even a blanket mandate? I am all about individuals consenting to what goes into their bodies at their own accord. It seems in line with the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. And while, yes, I do feel that the risk of transmission increases when there are more individuals choosing and consenting to the risks of not getting vaccinated, I don't think anyone should be forced to have any medical procedure against their will. Will I change my mind about this? I am not sure, but I do know that I am trying really hard to teach good consent rules to my kids, and this seems in line with rules of consent. 

Now do I think that masks should be required in some public or private spaces? Yes, yes I do. While they may be uncomfortable, they are also similar to already existing requirements, such as seat belt laws. Did people think that seat belts were uncomfortable? Yes. We also wear a lot more protective equipment than we let on in our society. We constantly choose to wear rubber gloves when we wash our dishes. We choose warm clothes to protect our bodies. We choose to wear sunglasses when it is sunny. These choices can also be required, like when my husband had to wear scrubs to be at the operating room with me. That was not an option. He chose to be in that space, and he chose to wear the scrubs to meet those requirements.   


And Then We All Got COVID

Every day felt like we were just getting the life sucked out of us with no light at the end the tunnel. And then we all got COVID. Cover art...