Monday, November 26, 2018

Motherhood, Pre Season Christmas Preparation, About Shopping Online and the Unnecessary Guilt, and Pictures Of a Life Focused on Flexible time and Being.

*I am speaking to mothers in this post specifically because I am one and it's my perspective. Feel free to insert father or care giver if that is what your role is and you find you can also relate.*

When my children were younger, I would hear common complaints from fellow mothers. Most of the laments fell into the category of not feeling "like a full adult person" when with children, or having too many "shoulds" in their day. Often there was this line of "being a mom" and "being oneself." I didn't understand that fully because when I am with my children, I am most myself. This does not mean I am boring, or lack intellectual thought or need "adult conversation" to thrive. Because children can genuinely bring refreshing conversations to the table...and I spoke to them as equals pretty early on in our journey...Yes, there are parts of them that lack maturity for certain topics and those I save for my best friend or husband, but in general, most children have the capacity to entertain thoughts that sometimes are beyond most adult comprehension.

"If you are choosing to be a mother, move beyond playing at it and BE it. For me, this was part of learning to value my work as being a mother. Instead of buying into the conventional idea that parenting is second class work, that I'd be bored with my kids all day if I didn't turn off half my brain and look forward to my time away from myself to replenish the real me, I decided to bring my full self to each day. I found the many reasons I chose to get on the floor and play face to face with my children....to realize I didn't need to be away from my children to be a whole person, or to fully be myself. I started looking for things that brought that person out and nurtured her, while being with my children. "(pg. 159 Pam Laricchia.*)

When I was reading the book "Life Through the Lens of Unschooling" By Pam Laricchia* Click, I felt like it was written by me in another life. I have yet to read a book that fully encompasses my views on family, life, children, personhood and education. For me, it reads like a personal journal that validates who I am. Because I am a full person when I am a mother. I'm not bored with my children and I find my life largely fulfilling. I also know I am making my mark on the world in a life changing, subtle and hard working way. None of Pam's insights were new to me, but when I mention them to others, it seems life changing to them? Maybe it is the INFJ persona? Maybe it's being an Unschooler? But I wonder, if more than that, it is about BEING. BEING in the world is something I strive for, no matter what is going on or what role I am currently playing. I am an observer of those around me, and I am consistently finding that most people struggle with being authentic in their roles of BEING. They feel the need to justify their time away or their time home, their intellectual capacities or their feelings or lack there of.

"None of this is to say that you won't find times when the thing you really want to do is be alone for awhile or to meet up with a friend...but from this new perspective, one where you're not looking for an escape but to live fully, you will understand why it's what you need so you're much less likely to feel like you need to justify yourself with phrases like, "I'm taking time to honour and celebrate me."  Instead you can just say, "I'm going to the coffee shop for some quiet time." (pg 160 Pam Laricchia.*)

Motherhood seems to be especially encompassing pressure -wise around the Christmas season. I hear mom's stressing about their children and consumerism or getting caught up in the stresses while forgetting to pay attention to the mundane beauties. I see a constant pressure to have children who are morally correct, avid readers, showing proper poise and politically correct verse and the pressure to constantly live off devices and be in the "real world." These are all fine goals, as long as they are remembered as such. Children are not meant to be little adults. Yes, they are supposed to grow in all good things ( including previously mentioned states) but that is a lot of pressure to put on little minds that are still developing their pre frontal cortex's. For teenagers, of which I have two, there is also too much pressure to DO instead of BE. They can learn responsibility through natural means. There are ways to incorporate "real life" with virtual life that can enhance the psyche instead of damaging. It's about the approach. Often that approach is modelled by moms.

Another sad statement I hear often is, "Busy," when I ask a friend how they are doing. "Busy" has become a replacement to feelings. Or instead of flexibility I am often met with a list of what a person has to do in the week. I love to do lists as much as any "J" type does, so I do not fault that aspect, but what I do fault is this line of thinking that a busy and productive life equals a GOOD life. That we need to keep children busy to keep them out of trouble. Children learn best through free exploratory time, reading for leisure and outdoor activity (that is not assigned) with imaginative exploration through varied mediums. Adults also learn best through story ( be it oratory, reading or in film form.) Why would we expect otherwise? We ARE stories.

On the flip side there is a real part of this season that involves shopping and spending. Too often this is viewed in black and white...either as a MUST or MUST NOT, or "this is wrong to be spending and focusing on money and presents" to "this is divine and I must get more deals and spend more." There is a place in between, and it is different for all folks, that is the gray. In the gray there are statements like, "I enjoy giving and on my list there are presents that would be great to get at discount on Cyber Monday (or Black Friday) so I can allocate spending elsewhere. This is not mismanaged finances. As long as I stick to my list and not get sidetracked this can be wise spending. This may mean I spend more time looking for my deals. Time equals money. If I want to spend my time this way for more money to be used elsewhere, I won't feel guilty about that. Later in the week I will simply give more time outside of the screen. No biggie. It's not bad. It's the Season. In other Seasons of weeks, days or months, I may need more screen time to write, budget, email ect because I have spent more than enough time outside the screen. In the end, it's not just about WHAT I do, but HOW I do it and the mentality behind that."

Every year, I know that on Black Friday and Cyber Monday I will spend more time Online shopping. I buy the bulk of my Christmas needs on this weekend and go into it with a large plan. Some years I can not afford it, but most years I save a little for specific items. Sometimes I get side tracked. But most of the time I spend what is on the Need and Want list. Needs also include new underwear, pants that are outgrown for the kids, and other items that are cheaper than my typical thrift store finds on this weekend. I am sharing this not to justify, but to show the other mother's who read this out there, that just because time is spent feeling consumerist, does not mean you ARE a massive consumer. Sure, for one weekend maybe you are? But is that a bad attribute if you are teaching values such as planning and finding deals for current needs? If you are aware, there IS time between this major shopping time and Christmas to get your Spirit into the relaxation mode. There is a time for everything.

Usually, for myself, I make it a goal to have all my gifts wrapped and bought by December 1st. If I am being honest, half of my Christmas presents are done in September but the other half I try for December. That leaves an entire month for the beauty of relaxing, planning the occasional festive activity and baking when the mood hits. I have heard many religious folk complain about the gift giving aspect. Honestly, this fluctuates for me year to year. Some years I give a lot because I want to, other years I can't give much at all, and sometimes I don't give even though I can because there is a different focus. Again, it is seasonal. The main component I always aim for is PRESENCE in the presents. I do love to give to my children, and most people who would walk into our house would say they have a lot...because they do...many grandparents and loved ones have contributed to that state. We are lucky/ active in what we have. Yet, most who know my children make comments that they are self aware, giving, conscientious, respectful and helpful. Having does not equal being takers.

What I am trying to say, in short,  to Mamma's ( or insert title here) everywhere is to RELAX. There are Seasons. There are times when our children learn different lessons...just like we do as adults. Have you stopped learning? I certainly hope not...and this will be the same for them. Learning does not need to be packed into childhood and stand only on your shoulders. Being active and aware of yourself will help them be active and aware of themselves. Installing the love of play, magic in the ordinary, and joy coupled with virtues like gratitude and responsibility will go far. And many of these can be implemented in the daily. (Read Pam's book referenced below for more on that. You don't have to be a homeschooler or unschooler to glean many life lessons and attitudes from the book.)

If you are a follower of my writing, you know I struggle with a lot of daily things, from health to occasional depression to dyspraxia to accomplishing certain feats. I am weak in areas and strong in others. I am strong in insight, BEING, and intuitiveness. I listen and trust my gut. I know I make mistakes but I choose to look at them as growth opportunities. I do have a new schedule for my children thanks to a wise friend and fellow INFJ Marissa (She can be found on Instagram under the heading barefootwonder.ca click. ) It recently has been a season where I had to ask for a fresh perspective and aid in my schooling approach due to low energy with a Ferritin of 2 on it's way to 1 again. When this happens there is less oxygen going to my brain and I am unable to accomplish the tasks I am usually strong in without a bit of help. Tis' a season. Yes, I was depressed about it at first, but then I realized, I have been here before and will be again. I rise, I fall, I learn, I break, I cry, I laugh, I create, I destroy...there are times for all that is, was and what is to be.
It is what it is.
I take steps like paying for new functional health tests with my family doctor and following results, eating well and forcing myself to walk the treadmill even though it currently feels like death. But then I take the time to breathe. Breathe and Be.

I think there is beauty to be found there. Because in Breathing and Being there are many moments like these (and none are professional photos which have their place but many are simply blurry moments of meaning quickly captured for posterity - but luckily they still paint a picture.):



*Decorating my Sister's apartment with her because her back requires surgery. We had an absolute blast. It was a last minute trip in and we had a list of stuff to accomplish that day, and at first we were reluctant to travel into the city, but the fun, festive joy that we had completing her chore list, eating a meal my mother prepared, and decorating her little basement suite was worth the choice. Sometimes the to do list can wait when an opportunity comes to be with others.

*My grandmother and mother baked us gluten free sugar cookies to decorate. Recipe HERE. We found them more delicious than the old gluten counterparts! Usually I don't allow sugar in any form except maple syrup or honey but I made an exception. Worth it.

 *Art time in the morning sun of the Library. Every member of the family either draws or reads.

 * We added more shelving and cute back drops to my son's Lego Table. This was a weekend job while our kids were away. My husband stained and created, installed upper ceiling lighting and lower shelve lighting, while I cleaned, set up lego, took down lego, cleaned lego, cut pictures from picture books ( I have two copies of Lewis Blackwell's for the Love and Life of Trees  Click* for such occasions.) We installed shelving underneath his main space with lights and a few extra shelves above plus a side bookshelf. It was one of the best weekends I have had in months. So fun. I love, love, love home Renos...much to my husband's chagrin but this time he also joined in with glee so overall it was a blast. We had been planning to do it for a few years and I knew he was getting more Lego for Christmas. (Lego is all he asks for and he saves for his own sets with varied jobs plus 3 sets of grandparents, aunts and us all have given throughout the years so thus the insane amount he owns...) So on a Thursday afternoon I texted my husband, "Get ready to build shelves and install lighting this weekend! Kids are going to mothers. I am excited and I want you to BRING THE JOY. I mean it. These moments are also part of living and I love them. I will work beside you and we will take fun breaks and enjoy it cuz it needs to be done before Christmas. Looking forward to this weekend with you. Pick up materials on your way home." Yes, I am a bit demanding and probably high maintenance. But I would say that if you don't state what you want sometimes, you will never get it. Part of creating is planning. Part of planning is attitude and asking the others involved to also bring their bests.




*Cheesy Christmas Family PJs for when we decorated the tree.

 *I put the living room fireplace in the kitchen and I LOVE it! ( I painted the ceilings and walls in early fall because I needed more colour. I also painted the living room ceiling ...twice...Another great week!) Decorating for Christmas and taking time to soak it up is one of my favourite pastimes...

 *Halloween home made costumes.
 *Hallowed Eve photo Guardians/ pretty in pink Style. ( Thanks Ranae for the amazing picture!)


 *Soul sigh. I spend loads of time in my living room at Christmas. It's when it truly comes into itself in all it's colourful beauty.

*My beautiful gal making Christmas cards for Aunties. We also have been watching a lot of Cheesy Hallmark movies together. Some better ones have been; "Rocky Mountain Christmas," "Romance at Reindeer Lodge," "Road to Christmas," "Secret Santa," "Dashing Through the Snow," "Merry Kissmas," "With Love, Christmas," "Christmas at Graceland," and Netflix's The Holiday/Christmas Calendar."

 *Library Window Magic.

 *Making Personal Christmas Trees with Nanna and the cousin.


 *Best friends and brothers. Caught in a moment of Being.

 *Pictures snapped by my hubby and used for his iPhone screen which I thought was wonderfully flattering. I adore him.


*Early Christmas with my far away cousin at my Grandmothers. She gave me ear muffs. She told me later that she predicted that I would hold them and say, "So fluffy." Which I totally did...

 *Landscape of home. I need wide open spaces.

*Birthday bliss with my Best friend from High School. We still see each other a few times a year for movies ect. We both are Celiac but she surpasses me in the gluten free baking department. My husband paid her to make a cake. She joined us and as we were eating she turned to my mom and said, "I am so grateful for  K, she feels like Home. We can always pick up where we left off and I never feel pressure to be anyone else but myself. It's comfortable. She is home. I wanted to make a cake for her that resembled her. At first I thought some sort of kissy face lips but then I wanted to do something that encompasses more of her essence so I decided to make it look like the light catchers she loves in her living room window. Delicate, sharp and icy but beautiful and reflective." Yes, I teared up. The biggest compliment anyone could ever give me is that I feel like Home. Even typing that gets me teary. Sometimes I look at the blessings in my life and am in absolute awe at each beautiful soul that walks into my heart and makes themselves part of my soul home.

*I had to go to the hospital because my heart was being weird. My son insisted on coming. He grabbed a book and refused to stay home. He stayed with me the entire four hours of x rays, heart monitors, bloodwork and diagnosis. He read for part of it, climbed on the bed when I was done with the monitor to lay beside me for a bit ( and then I had to snap the picture because I was so touched and wished to remember the moment forever), and followed me to x rays. This was a moment when I knew my children would be fine in the future as responsible, caring and aware adults. (Oh and for anyone curious it was complications and pain from Lyme disease coupled with a flu bug, pinched nerve and a massive anxiety attack due to outside stressors all culminating in some lovely heart pain. Most of the time I can tell when it's Lyme related and wait out the pain but this time I couldn't...grrrrr...but it made for some beautiful moments with my son.) I felt stupid later but I think it was meant to be, what it was, for a reason. Plus, I had a blood work nurse who remembered me and said, "Oh I have been wondering about you, I haven't seen you in awhile and I'm impressed at how you are managing your symptoms. Also, you do so well now. I can't get over how far you have come in getting blood work and I'm so happy that you are finding ways to cope with your disease." And I was so flustered in the moment that I forgot to ask for the butterfly because I am a bleeder otherwise and I don't do well in that regard...but she did it without me asking. My son noticed and told me later. She was so caring and gentle. Actually, all the staff were and my son remarked, "Mom, to some people you are a pain, but I find it interesting how many people- even almost strangers, really like you and almost protect you. It's interesting to watch. Even the X ray girl seemed to want your attention and kept complimenting you on everything." It's true. She made me laugh because she first complimented my Mukluk boots, then my moonstone ring, and then my hair colour. By the third compliment in a row I guess I looked bemused, because the string of compliments while she was poking around my bare breast, struck me as funny. My son was on the other side of the curtain for that part...)


 *Doesn't he look delighted by our adoring love?:)

*My daughter, her bestie and my best friend getting ready to entertain Kindergartners for a Halloween party. So grateful for friends like these.

 *Sometimes for a treat in the city I will get a decaf latte made with coconut milk from Second Cup and I end up drinking a larger size then my hubby. Lol. It's one of my favourite things.

 *Physiotherapy with the son. We ended up side by side. I had heat packs on while he was being worked on and vice versa. He said later that it was a lot of fun and way better with me there. "Mom, you are really cute. Kind of like a grown up teenager and you make everything better." Heart melt. The doctors couldn't figure out why he was having extreme pain in his knee...and so I asked my physiotherapist if I could register him for her attention...and she figured out that he has a rotating hip cuff that is putting too much pressure on his knee cap and needs to be subconsciously corrected through physiotherapy. She is amazing! Half of my issues are often solved with my physiotherapist. She keeps me active and cuts down my pain by at least half most of the time. So grateful.

 *Decorating my grandparents ( Kids great grandparents) tree for the Holidays. They were too tired and were not going to put up their tree because they lost their daughter to cancer this year. So our family came and hauled everything out and decorated their house and tree for them. It was fun and a lot of hard work on a day we were already exhausted...but it was something we could do for them. I am not good at crying with people...a unfortunate aspect of my personality to some but it's simply who I am, but I am good at decorating...and I hope that it conveyed our solidarity in their suffering as much as a listening ear would in a different way. We give what we can in whom we are. As I was putting up the little snowman my auntie made for her mom last Christmas I did get a little teary...looking at the cloth snowman with a hat similar to a cancer cap, knowing it was all she could afford in her last year of life, and picturing her lovely slender hands crafting her last gift to her mom like she would often do when she was a child. That kind of broke me. I could picture her hands in detail from the many times she would gently put make up on my face as a child. I could see her oval shaped nails as they shaped the fabric...and I felt the loss her now...but I also felt the beauty of what she gave and her 80 plus mom's grief and proud display of her daughter's work at Christmas. There is no age that it is easy to lose a child. A reminder to me that Christmas can be the toughest time of year for some, but intentional new beauty can occasionally be made too within the grief.


*Library decorating. On the same weekend we did my son's room we switched fireplaces and put the small one in the upper corner which I love and then filled in the old longer spot with bookshelves (Which I also adore. Sometimes the small changes make the biggest difference!)


*Hubby hanging white Christmas lights. My daughter was setting up a doll scape under the tree. I was watching Hallmark and suddenly I looked outside to my husband putting up the lights and my boys playing outside. It was pure magic. I could hear laughter carried by the cold air into our home and my husband chiming into the joy on occasion. I find my husband incredibly hot when he is doing outdoor work or creating for our home. Sizzling. He thinks I am crazy. I tell him it's his form of lingerie. Ha ha.

Later on I happened to look over at the tree and watched my daughter setting up her doll home. I  snapped a picture and she said, "Mom most people think I would be too old to play with dolls...but I am younger in spirit you know? I enjoy it. I am older in other aspects. I just think the Christmas tree is so magical for a tiny home..." And my soul sighed again.



* In this video I was laughing ( I have a loud laugh when I am very happy) because I was videoing my sister's apartment for some friends and had walked into her room thinking she was in the bathroom, asking if I could video, and suddenly I hear a voice in my ear...she was hiding from me and my camera in her closet. She looked so sheepish and cute - I just kept seeing her at three when I came in and she was in her exer saucer with a package of red Twizzers opened and her fists full of bitten off tops...and she looked up at me with the same expression...still cracks me up...(I am ten years older.) My son was embarrassed because he was stacking toilet paper for her and it also looks like he is giving me the finger when he just pushed up his glasses and had plastic in his fist...but later he told me I could share it so it is used with permission:)

These are THE moments, many of them happened because we were flexible in our daily lists of accomplishing. Many of them were enabled because we have the life we choose with few commitments but an ability to serve when we are called in the ways we can. Ask anyone who knows us and you will find that we also avidly protect our time as a family. We make sure there is plenty of down time, home time, reading and school time ect. We have many regular appointments ( Physio, Therapy, Dentists ect.) but within that, there is time to BE. Remember to take time to BE this season...and it's ok if that means while shopping, purchasing or being caught up in too many Hallmarks. Remember the Seasons. Be. Change. Grow. Become. Allow.

Merry Christmas Season to all;



*https://www.amazon.com/Life-through-Lens-Unschooling-Companion/dp/0987733370

*Song Choice:
Turn Turn Turn- The Byrds (Thanks to my Bestie for writing this on my birthday card recently:) Here are the lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/byrds/turnturnturn.html



*Present without a Bow- Kacey Musgraves and John Legend: