Tag Archives: parenting

This village is real.

Women can be rude, sarcastic, manipulative, cruel and ill intentioned. Actually, people can be all of these things, beyond imagining. Our world is full of horror stories.

But, where there is dark, there is light. Light always overpowers dark and this is one example of how this happens. 

I have a girlfriend group that I seemingly stumbled into. These three women all have different histories,  professional skillsets, mothering styles, ages, upbringings. Somehow we all fit like a group of pieces from different puzzels that magically come together. Our individual patterns match. We fit.

It’s a remarkable, lucky thing to be able to recognise the village. The village may be scattered but come together for a single reason. Our children. Every one of us has multiple challenges ongoing at any time. Some more immenent and urgent than the others.

Light prevails where love prevails. But what is love in a friendship circle? To me, love in our friendship circle is where we can all care for each other, express ourselves, our concerns, even when as a collective we are helping sort major, urgent issues (in hospital for how long with no childcare). 

It isn’t tidy. It’s messy. Even when we are laughing at the everyday (how is running naked through the house with a toilet paper tail supposed to be funny gawd), groaning at the ridiculous (those aren’t “balloons…”), snorting at the humorous  (refused dinner but drank half a bottle of tomato ketchup instead). 

The village is a collective. This collective is grounded in respect and love. 

Even if this is a fleeting village, one that isn’t so close throughout my entire life, I know it’s value.  These women are immensely amazing. Their good deeds, even if seen as minor are immense in their magnitude because kindness spreads kindness. 

One of these earthlings says one thing, that she is hard,  tough and unreachable; but her actions override her words. She is kind and generous and makes people matter. She builds them up. When you see her she lights up like she’s truly happy to see and be with you. Like a light. Her smile is just magic. You have to see it to understand how beautiful it is. 

This other woman. What do i say? She is so laid back in conversation. So easy to talk to that speaking with her feels like you’ve been blessed with a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. Some people could walk past her in the street and not realise the gift to our world they have not rejoiced. She is just a joy, anytime.

This third lady. She is beautiful, powerful, she inspires other women to be better. She loves and gives so much, but doesn’t save any for herself. She doesn’t see her value, doesn’t understand just how much SHE MATTERS. Every time I see her, she somehow in a blink can spread warmth in my heartspace. She is a sweet woman who swears like a sailor and makes me laugh.

So to my village, I adore this time we have. I treasure you all. You are the example of what is good in our world.  Each of you in your own way will have a legacy of good in your own way. Collectively you are a beautiful power that can change the world, at least in our own lunchboxes xx.

You know who you are xx

Autism and society- is this as good as it gets?

What does it say about our society when a little boy has to wear a tshirt that pronounces he is autistic and asks for strangers to be kind to him? What treatment has this small person endured from adults in his world that has driven his parents to dress him this way?

I was in the carpark of a shopping centre with my children when I saw a little boy standing next to my car. We said hello and he smiled back at us. His mother raced up to catch him with her arms full of parcels, obviously worried. We said smiled hello and greeted each other. The tension shifted from her and her shoulders visibly dropped. It wasn’t until I was reversing from my spot that I noticed his shirt.

On the front said in bold print “I’m autistic”. On the back said “I’m autistic. Please be kind to me”. I wanted to jump out of my car and hug this woman (alas, not appropriate).  How stressed must she feel leaving the house to enjoy the sunshine? We live in a modern age, full of opportunity and information. How could our society arrive here? Is this as good as it gets? Please no. Let this be a message and a journey of repair.

This might sound like common sense, but I will continue anyhow:

  • Everyone has their own path and their own story,
  • Judgement breeds insecurity, resentfulness and sadness,
  • Kindness is the basis of everything- when stripped bare, all we really want is kindness,
  • Children learn from modelled behaviour,
  • Words hurt,
  • Love heals,
  • It is our communal responsibility to care for the children in our area,
  • People who complain about the state of our society’s problems better back themselves with direct action,
  • Small acts of kindness on a regular basis make us better people,
  • Better people make better communities,
  • Better communities make better societies,
  • Better societies make a better world.

I pledge to this little boy and his family. I will be kind. Thanks for the reminder.

A Christmas message: love thy neighbours and their children.

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A hard heart makes for a hard life

Squishy heart image

My babies are both crying. One is having a meltdown and one is crying in sympathy and hunger.

It seems trivial to me that coming inside from the deck could cause such a stir but here we are living the disappointment and emotion of it. My natural instinct would be to tell my toddler to calm down and just do as I ask while I go pick up my infant for a calming cuddle.

What I actually do is crouch down and offer my arms to my toddler. My embrace is refused. Okay then. I stay down and empathise, “Yes I know it’s hard to come inside with me when you want to be on the deck. It makes you upset hey”. I look into her eyes and see a little child having a big problem. “I love you bubba”. All attempts at nose wiping would be futile at this point so I stay still and wait. She runs around the kitchen. I wait, while offering words of reassurance. I go back onto the deck and retrieve three toys and deliver them. No? Alright then. After a fair bit of hoo ha, there is an opportunity for connection. I pick up my toddler and give a cuddle. There is a fair bit of wriggling involved, then my darling comes good. The little face is wiped. I put some music on, cuddle and breastfeed my infant. The storm is over and we are back on track. Phew.

If I had gone with my first reaction, I could have ended up rousing on an upset toddler who has to calm down by herself while she watches her mother rock and nurse her sibling. She would receive no understanding for her big feelings or problems. They would essentially be dismissed, even though they are big issues in her world. She would then be taken to play school where she has a big day, most likely without any sleep. She would come home tired, needing connection at a time when infants are renowned for needing a fair amount of mummy time and physical affection. You can picture the rest. Sure, my infant would have had her immediate needs met, but there are two babies in my house.

A soft heart creates a safety net for the people around me, especially the little ones. Being a gentle place to fall, having a ready embrace and offering tenderness is my key to a happy life. Oh, it’s not all beach balls and sunshine all the time at our place, but practice makes perfect. The more moments where we choose a soft heart builds a better way of being. A hard heart makes for a hard life, for everyone.

So this is my commitment to myself. Offer myself a soft heart. Then everyone else  in this crazy web of life with me will feel the love and be better off for it.

Turning parenting blunders into personal successes

Parenting blunders need not be obstacles, they can be opportunities for personal growth
Parenting blunders need not be obstacles, they can be opportunities for personal growth

As Captain Obvious would say, I am an imperfect person. There have times when I haven’t kept my cool and got shrill. It all came from fear. I find that I act out most when something is lacking (usually sleep) or I have overloaded myself (a tendency).

My children are little and deserve a peaceful mother. Raising my voice makes everyone feel crappy. Feeling remorseful about losing my cool is useless if I can’t back myself with more than just good intentions. This is personal work. It isn’t easy to share this with you, but maybe you can relate to my experience?

This is how I have turned parenting blunders into a plan for personal growth. My steps to becoming a better, more worry-free, peaceful human being are listed. It’s been working wonders.

  1. Let go. Will this matter in a year? Most of the time, my answer is no.
  2. Be honest with myself about why something is bothering me. What is the actual cause of my worry?
  3. Do something silly with my babies every day and have a giggle.
  4. Take care of myself better.
  5. Prioritize for a peaceful night. This means having dinner prepared so there’s no rush and bath my children early. If they are tired there is no need to race the clock if I am organized.
  6. Feel good so I’m nice to come home to. For me, this could just be a walk in the garden for 10 minutes with the children to brighten up before bath time.
  7. Have a cause. It’s amazing how little everyday worries seem to matter when I have an ear to the outside world. Personally, I care about animal welfare so am abreast of issues related to live animal export and factory farming.

    Having a cause is good for the soul.
    Having a cause is good for the soul.
  8. Do something I love most days. I love to play with my babies, cook, bushwalk and sew. Throughout the week, I usually do all of this. Here’s my quick sew for today. Pants for my little girl. I even put my Whistling Kite Collective label on the inside for her. I have a feeling these will be Christened her “bird pants” and there may be a special song involved when she wears them!

    Making a gift for someone special is fun
    Making a gift for someone special is fun and makes them feel important
  9. Don’t try to be an overachiever. Something has to give and it’s usually my sanity.
  10. Remember that I am exactly what my children need. By just being me, loving and respecting them as the individuals they are, they will thrive.
  11. Reward myself.

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All you need is love, really?

Is love all we need?
Is love all we need?

Can you relate to this? I have been up for what feels like days. I am covered in milky vomit, there is a persistent smell of poo and I simply cannot find the source (maybe it’s up my nose), the house is in disarray, dinner is half cooked, both little people are asking for me to fulfil their needs, I haven’t showered today. There are dust bunnies against the walls that I will soon have to name if they don’t meet the vacuum.

Then my toddler starts “acting out”. I know it’s to get my undivided attention. I know she has big feelings and needs connection. My infant needs some mummy love. I feel upset, overwrought and frustrated. All I feel like doing is opening the nearest door and running up the street like a screaming banshee.

I went to a parenting seminar that basically instructed me to use a naughty spot, followed by a time out if my child didn’t comply with my requests. This didn’t work for me. What works for me is love, just love. I know it sounds unbelievably simplistic. When I want to run, or cry, or get angry, I am teaching myself to take a deep breath and give love. My goal in the moment is to get through it with empathy and love. My goal for each day is to go to bed with a happy heart.

You know what? I can see the difference my unconditional love makes to my children. They open up, relax, share more of themselves with me, tell me things, “act out” less, want to make me happy and sleep better.  When a moment gets a bit too tense the following is working for us at the moment:

  1. We breathe like Puff the Magic Dragon. Big breathe in through the nose and a slow exhale out through the mouth. In the early days we practiced this when we were all happy and relaxed. I have noticed that my toddler is now doing this herself without my prompting. It works for me too and we all feel better.
  2. I get down to their height and tell my children I love them.
  3. I offer some physical affection. I say “Can I please cuddle you?” Note the language of me giving love, not requesting it…
  4. I take it easy on myself and prioritise for a better moment. I have been known to call their father at this time and say “What would you like for dinner, thai or fish and chips?”

Not all my parenting challenges can be solved with a cuddle and a chat, but genuine interest and love gets me most of the way there. The only way I can give unconditional love to my children is to give it to myself. Being a parent is challenging. Some days I approach it with zen-like mastery, others I have to remind myself to breathe. Yes, I am flawed, but I try to remind myself that my family deserves the best of me. I must love myself (more on how I am trying to achieve this in the Journey of Wellness series- stay tuned). So really, I think maybe yes, all you need is love…