Archive for December, 2010

New Year Vow

A new year. A new blog. A new vow. A full-hearted attempt to put into practice what I’ve been believing for several years.

It feels easier with the toddlers. They’re still young enough that their world revolves around me. They don’t often sass back and when they do its kind of cute. Its easy to say, “Those girls are strong willed and they know what they like!” When they inconvenience me its acceptable because they can’t do much for themselves. When they are in need of comfort they let me comfort them with cuddles or breast. When they fight with each other I can calmly intervene with a peaceful solution like playing  with them separately. We still have some issues to work through which I’ll save for another time because this post is about my oldest and my promise to her.

She’s only a twelve year old girl. She’s a child still. But she’s also becoming a young lady. She’s had a few years experience of a variety of things, yet she’s still innocent. She’s figured a lot of stuff out but she still has many many things to learn about herself and the world around her. She’s opinionated. She’s helpful when I ask her to be but she’s not a people pleaser. She’s compassionate toward animals but can sometimes barely tolerate her siblings. She doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up but she’s willing to try her hand at a lot of things. She can follow her friends’ lead in the games they want to play but has a hard time coming up with ideas to entertain her friends who need to be entertained. She can entertain herself though. In many ways she’s so very much herself. In many ways she’s like me.

She is self-conscious about her body, her face, her hair, and her mannerisms. She’s even self-conscious about how she sounds, what she thinks, and what she feels. I recognize her defensive posturing and her veiled demeanor.  I know what’s behind her blunt tone of voice, her choice of words, and her stance because I was a twelve year old girl. Sometimes I still feel like I am.

Not only do I often fear that the things I say sound stupid to the others but I feel like I look stupid saying them. I learned early to not smile, to keep my head lowered. and avoid eye contact so I couldn’t see the look of disgust when people would notice my crowded teeth. I decided at a pretty young age that what I said went against what the majority of the people in my world believed so I kept quiet. I knew I wasn’t cool enough for the popular kids, smart enough for the nerds, eccentric enough for the drama geeks, sporty enough for the athletes, talented enough for the choir kids, or bad enough for the outcasts. I thought more forearms were too manly and my boobs too big. Attention in any form embarrassed me. As an adult I have, for the most part, overcome a concern about what others think. I can like myself and look beyond myself. One of the things I can see is my daughter dealing with some of the same issues that probably every kid has to encounter at some time (schooled or not). I see her hiding from whatever shame she feels is screaming from her body.

And she does feel shame. Part of it is my fault. I didn’t start out being entirely a peaceful parent. There were aspects about me that were considered more attachment then most but I still had a lot to learn about being peaceful. As soon as she was born I began a slow shift toward the me I am today but not until a few years ago was the change drastic. Bad habits were already inscribed into the way we communicated. Over the past couple years I’ve slowly worked to polish those out and even more so in the past few months. I’m ready to quit polishing and just forge a whole new relationship.

Even after discovering a more peaceful way to parent, her step-dad and I have struggled to translate those beliefs into real practice. Part of it is the aforementioned bad habits mixed in with laziness. Its also a bit of misunderstanding and unreasonable expectations. I haven’t always stood up for her and I haven’t been so good at boosting her confidence. What I see as gentle teasing has probably built up to a layer of self-hatred. We may think we’re imparting our great wisdoms onto her when we tell her to think positive or point out the silver linings. But really we’re just blasting her to pieces and enforcing her doubt in her self . We’re shaming. Harping on her for harping on the babies is no better than spanking a crying a child so it’ll be quiet. I know it the minute it falls out of my face. I know too, how I sound. When I’m tired or irritated or needing my space and I take it out on others-I know she’s just reflecting me. I need to change my behavior not hers. Instead of guiding her to a path of a peaceful inner self we’re breaking down the trust she needs to have in us. We don’t need to steer her perspectives-at least not in the moment when she just needs to share. She is silent so often because she’s afraid of being defeated. But we shouldn’t be putting her in a win or lose situation when it comes to expressing herself.  We’ve had years to better ourselves and change our perspective. She can learn to live peacefully from our example We can TALK to her about those things and share our joyousness of life once the vibration of the moment is itself joyous.

I’ve always had a problem expecting what I have no right to expect. She is a wonderful person with thoughts and feelings of her own. She deserves to be heard, to be listened to, and to be treated with respect. And she needs to be given a little lee-way  because we are the adults. We’ve had the experiences that have shaped us and made us better people. She’s just starting out and deserves the opportunity to learn the lessons on her own while witnessing the people she is supposed to trust living the joyful life she wants to have.

So I for one vow to be better for her and to her. I know trust won’t be built overnight.She can be confident, she can be curious, she can be silly, she can be sad and mad and ungrateful at times. She can be a delight to converse with. Hopefully once again she can still be comfortable enough to be comforted with cuddles if she needs it. She can be all she wants to be and I can allow her the freedom to be.