In Gratitude

I couldn’t have done this without you.  Thank you, readers, contributors, and friends.  Here’s to another year of changing the world!

 

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

The Thankful Tree

Teaching Gratitude

 

Teach kids Gratitude

Is not in my experience an easy and graceful task.  At least not for my girlies.

But I know that by training our minds to look for gratitude, to look for the good things in life, we can, in fact, train our mind to keep looking for them, and this, this is something that is important to teach my girls, for me and my husband.

So back in 2014 the girls and I made the above gratitude tree as part of our November celebration and part of getting ready for the holiday season and Thanksgiving.  The girls helped me color in the tree and then they each helped write what was on each of the leaves and we added to it as the month went on.

And for the ages of my girls this perfect for their attention span, their need to do everything with their hands, and lots of color and texture.

We didn’t do it this year though, partially because I didn’t think of it, and also because we have a new piece of furniture on that wall.  But we do have a daily practice around gratitude.

Every night as we all sit down for our evening meal everyone is says something they are grateful for.  Preferably something from that day if it is time specific, so this time of year you can’t simply say that it is one day closer to Christmas, you have to also say something else.

Small or big, it’s all good.  Just the other day my youngest actually said she was grateful for one of her sisters, which is a big first for her, and considering how she has been treating them lately, really good to hear.

It is a nice ritual to set the tone of the meal, calm everyone down, take turns listening because we can’t hear if we all go at once, and let everyone have a chance to say something, which in a family of six can be a small miracle in itself at times.

How do you teach gratitude to your kids?  How do you practice it yourself, and is it something you model?

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

When Popularity Really Matters

Sometimes kids swear.  Instead of being appalled, Michelle Thompson, Ph.D., JDsuggests we listen and by doing so we just might get more of an answer to how our teenagers are doing than simply “fine.”

 

I just spent the week away from my family and all went well.

For Veteran’s Day, my 13-year-old son had some friends over to play games with him and alleviate the loneliness of being an only child. And come over they did, some friends from his school soccer team.

My partner removed herself from the room to give them space to play.

What a great thing!

And she was appalled at the language they used. Yep, his friends are swearing (lest she thinks any foul language is my fault . . .), and they’re not interested in anything else aside from video games and their phones. No discussion of girls, pornography, or drugs.

We’re safe for the next 5 minutes. Then again, most of them are still pre-pubescent.

My partner was a little upset though because she chafes at foul language.

I LOVED using foul language the minute I could when away from home when I was 12.

But that’s not the point. No matter how difficult it seems to have these young people over, it is critical. For a family who has not the patience to homeschool, this is the only way we get a more unvarnished window into their lives. What matters to them? Why does it matter? What are the challenges? What are the joys?

I know that I can’t get answers to these questions asking “how was school,” as the proverbial “fine” gets me NOTHING. He won’t swear like a sailor when checking in!

But hearing how they play with language, what they are focused on, what they love, and what they hate matters.

Right now, they love foul language.

We get to debrief with James about what they’re saying and hear what he’s thinking.

I told my partner to think of this as a big old research project. She’s an academic. We love research. Let’s do it!

The window is closing in terms of us getting to have James and his friends with us. I want to keep it open as long as possible. I want our house to be where the kids hang out. I want to listen in on what they’re doing and saying. This could be the key to heading off any future difficulties.

Michelle Dionne Thompson, Ph.D., JD is the Founder and CEO of Michelle Dionne Thompson Coaching and Consulting, a primarily coaching business that works with women in law and academia to set and meet aligned goals sanely in the midst of insane industries. A recovering lawyer and a historian, she also teaches college and is writing her first book, Jamaica’s Accompong Maroons (1838 – 1905): Retooled Resistance for Continued Existence.

Pubescent

A poem for my eldest daughter.

 

Pubescent
on the brink
not knowing where you are
body changing
rearranging
from one day to the next
hormones raging
who asked them?
I was doing fine before you arrived
moods shifting
like bumps on my face
Somedays I am so full of hate
of all the change
all the angst
all the rearranging in my brain
thinking
sleeping
where did happy thoughts go?
Sleeping
thinking
always dreaming of life
I do not know
what I want
or who I am
or how this new story
is suppose to go
One moment up
the next down in despair
this emotional roller coaster
has got to go
when will it end
this trying on hats
When will I know
where I am at?
When will life slow down again
when can I become a caterpillar
in my chrysalis?
Can you wake me up
When it’s all done?
Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Going on Retreat

Leaving my kids to go to a retreat.

 

Twice a year I leave my girls.

I go to a business retreat that in the beginning lasted two days and now lasts three days, so I am gone for two nights.

And I do this about every six months.

The first time I went to retreat which is usually about an hour and a half from my house I actually drove home for the night between the two days.  It was exhausting since I needed to be there at 9 am.

Ever since then I have stayed either with friends or sharing hotel rooms with other people at my retreat.

This week I leave again, and my parents have come to town to stay home with the kids.  Instead of my husband having to take time off of work.

And while my youngest is now four and no longer a nursling anymore, it is still bittersweet to walk away from my kids for three days.  They always grow up while I am away and vocabularies get bigger (I swear) and they have so very much to say and….

Meanwhile, at my retreat we do a lot of inner and outer work, understanding why we do what we do, making deep and meaningful connections, laughing, crying, sharing hugs and so I am usually emotionally wrung out by the time I get home.  And the girls are ready to be all over me, and I am ready for hugs from them.

But there is something special about coming home that first night, after all the hugs and stories, and we have finally gotten the kids sent off to sleep.

When the world feels right, and all I want to do is curl up with my partner

and go to sleep.

Chase Young is the founder of The Mommy Rebellion a place for judgment-free parenting.  She’s created a place to get tips, tools and support for what it is truly like to be a mother, stories from the trenches that show you you’re not alone.  Tips that real mothers use.  Tools to give to yourself and to your parenting friends to feel more focused, have more patience and energy, and feel less tired and snappy .  
You can follow Chase here on this blog, sign up for her newsletter here and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

You Can’t Pour From An Empty Cup

If the saying “you have to put your oxygen mask on first” drives you crazy then read on as  Jodie Thornton shares some of her parenting experience from life as an Australian.

 

I really do worry that my eyes might roll right outta my head when I hear “you can’t pour from an empty cup”.

As if I don’t realise that having a full cup is more fun than being exhausted and exasperated.

Or perhaps that the sleep deprivation or parenting overwhelm might have wiped the very idea of self-care from my memory.

And I’m sure as hell it implies that I’m just not using my time well enough to make space for meditation or massage or manicures.

The phrase leaves me silently screaming over the web to the Super Judgey Parenting Expert that while you don’t know me buddy, I can assure you that I actually do like to look after myself.

These neat little servings of guilt in the “fill your cup” advice sneak their way into nearly every parenting resource.

Every time I came across it, I would search for a way to squeeze some more time to do the things that fill my cup.

But so often when I took time out it made things harder.

I would spend time with a girlfriend and then not have the laundry done and someone’s clothes for school or work weren’t clean or dry.

Or I’d take a long bath and fill that needy ol’ cup all the way to overflowing.

Then somewhere between leaving the peaceful bath and being greeted with yoghurt handprints on my beautiful pyjamas my cup was back to empty.

Again.

Like some kind of torturous Groundhog Day.

I couldn’t escape this crap-nugget of advice.

Even when I was looking for parenting advice that was completely unrelated, there’d be an article or paragraph about how you just needed to make the time to fill your cup by letting your partner do more, accepting that it’s not going to be done the way you like it, blah blah blah.

But you see, addressing my perfectionism and managing my anxiety through control is a big ass project and I’m not sure if you’re picking up on a theme here but…

I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT RIGHT NOW.

Never wanting to let an expectation go unmet, I focused on making the cup bigger, so I could last longer between refills. In theory.

I took up meditation, read all the advice about how it was so unnecessary to have a short temper with small children because the behaviour is developmentally appropriate, made daily mindset commitments – it’s exhausting just remembering it all.

Everywhere I turned, there was a list that went on and on about how the problem was always me.

That my kids could never be fulfilled if I wasn’t.

It was my inability to stay calm or my inability to make time for massages or my lack of knowledge about normal childhood behaviour, that my mindset was off, that I wasn’t grateful enough.

I realised the truth eventually.

There isn’t a finite amount of water for everyone’s cup.

It isn’t a zero-sum game.

Our cups aren’t filled by someone else’s cup being emptied.

Best of all, the fullness of my cup – or stark emptiness, as the case may be – did not make a single iota of difference to my ability to raise my kids with full cups.

I fill my kids’ cups by meeting their needs.

And empowering them to meet their own needs.

And supporting relationships with their siblings and relations and friends – all fantastic cup-fillers.

I finally learned that the choice isn’t limited to either their cup or my cup.

Sadly, it can also be neither.

And thank fuck it can also be both.

So many parenting experts implied or stated outright that parents simply must learn how to help themselves first.

And yet, I found that sometimes when I was profoundly sad that I had no freaking idea what I needed – just for me – that I STILL had the power to see what they needed, provide it for them and watch their cups fill alllll the way up.

Sometimes my cup is filled from seeing theirs fill. And sometimes it isn’t.

I am keenly aware that the more I learn to deeply know myself that I have more and more ability to help my kids to deeply know themselves.

At the same time, I also see that my kids aren’t as dependent on me modelling self-connection as it might be assumed.

Because I do a fucking good job of protecting their self-connection in the first place.

We’ve grown up in different times, with different attitudes to emotional awareness.

I have better parenting advice at hand than my parents did.

Their self-connection isn’t waiting for mine to be healed because it was never broken in the same way that mine is.

I sure am on my way to knowing who I am, what I need, how to serve myself and how to openly receive support.

My kids aren’t waiting for me to get there.

They’re further up the road, walking their own paths, at their own pace, in their own way.

And we’re cheering each other on.

Jodie Thornton is the Founder of Through It All. Her work is focused on connecting people to their power to change the world by knowing who they are, what they want from life and how to make it happen. Jodie works with parents and young people to provide them with the self-connection, communication skills and support they need to lead potent lives.

 

Jodie lives in Canberra, Australia with the love of her life and her four children, who are 18, 15, 3 and 1.