Twenty Minutes

I’m giving a talk tomorrow on Gentle Parenting. I’ve been doing so much research over the past few weeks so that I can cover a wide array of topics but also so I don’t sound like a total ass! When I was going over my research I came across a little piece I wrote 2 years ago (let me wipe the tears now). It encompasses my relationship with Adeline in just a few words, and I love it. After an entire day of insanity, as a mother, all I needed was Twenty Minutes of her to erase all of the bad!

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Twenty-Minutes – 2013

My youngest is three and at her most challenging age thus far. Most days are spent wheeling and dealing, compromising, crying, splitting up fights, yelling, threatening and at some point one of us (usually me) in a room thinking up our next move. Not all days are this intense but it seems more and more lately. I have been through the 3s before with my oldest and I remember feeling discouraged, angry, guilty and frustrated but either my patience has diminished or this child is part devil!

I hate fighting with her but there are times when we need to leave the house, wear clothes, eat food, not spit on the carpet, not rip drawings off the wall, not punch her sister, stay out of traffic and keep her screaming to a low roar. I try communicating with her; help her understand her frustration but some days we just go to proverbial blows. I put in the time with parenting books and philosophies, which are valuable and have helped with so many problems but what they do not supply me with is the ability to not lose my shit after the four-thousandth loogie she has hawked on the floor. So, I just try and remember she is three, she will not always be three and things will get better (even though some days feel like eternity).

The other thing I rely on is bedtime; sometimes I count down the hours until I can finally have a moment of silence and sanity. Bedtime of course is no easy task. It is so bittersweet with the refusal to brush teeth, her refusal to stop screaming or jumping on the bed but the moment she finally gives in is heavenly! The twenty-minutes it takes for her to fall into a deep sleep feels like the most rejuvenating twenty-minutes of life and I live for it. She crawls into bed, rolls over and says “mommy hold me.” I curl up next to her tiny, warm, silent body and take it all in. Those twenty-minutes are magic for our relationship. She has the comfort and security of her mother and I get to recharge and remind myself that these days are fleeting, and to try and enjoy them. No matter how hard the day has been, those twenty-minutes make it all ok, make each day worth it and nothing heals my broken day like those minutes right before she falls asleep!

Gentle Parenting Talk, Friday, November 6, 9-10

A wonderful business that helps provide childcare and workspace, is having a series of talks, one in which I’m involved in. The Workaround will be hosting me and a discussion on gentle parenting. I would not call myself the master of gentle parenting and positive discipline but I’ve had my hands in many groups/organizations that focus on just that thing. The focus of the talk will be to help parents understand behavior and how better to guide children and help with frustrations. These are lasting techniques that can help create an environment of communication that will have long term results!

Come by and check it out!talkabout!

Let Them Dream…

A few years ago, Jason and I had this wacky idea to move from New York City to Santa Cruz, CA. We lived there for 2.6 years and realized that we didn’t really fit in. However, I managed to meet some amazing people and connect with a great organization, The Resource Center for Nonviolence. There, I met Jacqueline Seydel. I instantly liked her because of her infectious personality and intelligence. She was really strong in her political beliefs about women’s issues and appeared fearless! She is a young, adventurous woman who loves to read, ride her bike, and spend time having fun. She is the daughter of a woman who was once described by her children’s soccer coach as a ball of fire. I am very happy to have her write a piece here, especially about her relationship with her mother! Thanks Jacqueline!

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Traveling became a real thing that I dreamt about when I was 12 or 13. A few friends and I would spin a globe around with our eyes closed and let our finger drop somewhere. We held so much excitement and would soon discuss everything we knew or what we wondered about this place. I used to drag my finger until I felt the subtle, braille like ridges of mountains. At the time, we committed to starting a band “The Melancholy Meltdown” – that’s how we would get to these places, meet new faces, and escape the dark places in our head.

Those years will be some of the darkest in our lives, I am sure. The desire to leave our surroundings was real and rooted in our realities as young girls who all had experiences we couldn’t understand at that time. Traveling, getting away, was our manifestation to believe in something else. We needed that faith. We needed a path to transcend our pain. We needed each other to share stories and dreams.

Overtime I let that dream go – well, not the traveling but the band. At that point, I could barely play the recorder and had a few years of flute in school. Jayme could plan shocking stage stunts and create some thought provoking artwork for our publicity. Siera sung briefly in her church choir and years later picked up a guitar. Eventually, she played in a band in Chicago during college. She has a beautiful voice, is a poet, an artist, a world traveler. More importantly, she is an inspiring, badass, breastfeeding Mama.

I eventually found my way to Costa Rica, Peru, and Mexico. It feels incredible to have reached one of my childhood dreams. Many factors played a role – but a significant factor was my mother. A strong woman who worked, cooked, cleaned, drove, helped, gifted and did so many unnoticed things for my siblings and I. And you know what? We gave her hell. But that did not matter. My dreams, my thirst for travel, would not have been possible without her. The fact that I am 25 and still dreaming is proof of her support, sometimes harsh and hard to hear.

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I am not yet a mother. I have not birthed a child or powerfully shot another human through my cervix. However, I am a daughter of an incredible mother. I am a curious traveler, a cyclist, a feminist, an avid book reader, a poet, and a compassionate human being. My mother has pushed me to me. During my childhood I can remember things that helped me, hurt me, and that I slowly grew to be grateful for. It took a lot of time. Yet, I can look at myself now and know that as my relationship with my mother grows, it is her constant belief and encouragement that has given me my strength to keep achieving my dreams. It is her worried concern that guided my forward thinking. It is her values that laid the path of my actions. It is her quick-witted sense that gave me the skills to problem solve in tricky situations.

When I think about what I can offer to the mothers of this blog it’s this. Let them dream – big, weird, funky, unearthly dreams until they choose one or a few or many to work towards. Then, love them even if you don’t understand or agree yet. Work harder than ever to let them know you’re there. Even if you waiver, express your hesitations, and let go. Mend them when they fall. Soothe their sores, aches, and pains. Believe in them when they doubt themselves.  Let them dream.

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Partying like children, like adults, like children, like…

This weekend we had a father’s day fete. It was originally meant to be held at the park, but inclement weather moved the party indoors. I knew this would be a problem because having a 4 year old and a 6 year old means not wanting to keep them trapped indoors for too long (especially in a non-kid apartment). The party was adult-centric and therefore not fun for children. There was a small outdoor space, books, coloring and a few things to do, but mostly it was my kids sitting around bored. I had a realization at this party that this may have been the first time I ignored their boredom and conversed with adults. It sounds like a normal enough thing, but for their entire lives I have catered to their needs/wants/desires over my own. It’s not that I haven’t had adult time or partied, but almost every plan we make includes a kids’ clause. We go places that are fun for kids, we party with parents of other kids, and at home we watch kid shows and cook kid-friendly meals. Our lives seem to revolve around children, instead of our lives revolving together.

In a way I feel like I’ve ignored an important part of parenting, which is to show the girls how to adult. They need to see their parents conversing, exploring ideas and making/keeping friends. Besides, my kidless friends have a lot to offer my children. They have different careers, they view the world differently than me, they are young, they are old, they are creative, they are fun, they are smart and they aren’t parents. My children need to know how to be good parents and to feel loved by their parents, but they are going to spend many years being humans who do not have kids.

After the party, my youngest said “that party was no fun, the adults were ignoring the kids and talking to each other.” This was a great opportunity to talk about how adults need to be adults sometimes and not just parents. I explained to her that I am a mom,but I’m also a woman, a friend and an adult who likes to do things that are not always for kids. I told her that we do things for the kids every day and rarely do things that are just for adults. After we left the party I took them to the playground, we ate pizza for dinner, watched kid shows and went off to bed. We compromised in our excursions yesterday and, despite their protests, I’m feeling like this should be a more regular thing!

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