tenderness & evolution @ big table while one teen is studying

I mentioned to David last night that we somehow leveled up in the parenting world. Language has settled in, values have taken root… These things have produced consistent messages to the kids that are starting to see anchors like time around the table and nods of agreement.

There was a while where one of us would process a kid and the other would get defensive. I bet that is common in blending families. If I zoom’d in on one of his biologicals, it would naturally feel like it was in comparison to one of my biologicals. At this point, if I am correct, we have both bitched enough about all five kids and praised enough about each of the five kids to have balanced out and earned each other’s trust that it is not like we were determining who are our “project children”.

Truly – they are all projects.

In my retirement, my bandwidth can get quickly sucked up in the parenting world and what all we need to address. It results, as mentioned before, in a lot of conversation with David about ideas and what we should try and what I envision for us in a year. It also results in a lot of hands on deep diving with each kid. And it is really not efficient to live like that.

Not only do I believe in the fact that at some point you have to stop talking about it and just do the things you think are so important. But it really isn’t practical to coach each kid one on one. Teachers, sports coaches, music teachers and therapists are – for example – great ways to outsource this, even if you don’t have a bajillion kids like we do. Said another way….

I remember thinking I broke Ellen at some point when she was 7 or 8. That somehow my parenting or her dad’s was so screwed up that we had turned this wonderful sweet adventurous girl into a headstrong pain in the ass.

In my regular bemoaning that I ruined my child and now had this selfish, pre-occupied, non-empathetic little girl, I conveniently recognized all of those same traits in myself. :-/

OH. How helpful, I realized in my yoga, we are able to recognize things in others because they are in us.

OH. How helpful, I can’t open Ellen’s brain and re-wire and jump into her memories and change however or wherever she learned this behavior.

I can. I can. I can model and reinforce. Model. Model. Model.

I am going through notebooks (which is literally and figuratively the story of my life) and it has been pretty wild to read entries from 2019: gearing up toward engagement, gearing up toward 2020, so blind to the reality the world can change dramatically. Amongst all the plans and lists and travel notes was this entry of 6 bullet points I had written as advice for myself:

  • Stand openly
  • Hide nothing
  • Refuse to defend oneself
  • Feel their pain
  • Understand needs
  • Vulnerability brings healing

In this season of motherhood, I find this list perfect.

One of the prayers I have for the kids is that they all let down their defenses. Not necessarily with each other as there is not any fighting in the house or anything like that. But there is a general guard up that quickly interprets “direction” into “discipline” or interprets guidance as limitation. It’s kind of interesting. They feel in trouble or stuck and excuse themselves, make shit up and or quickly interject what they want before hearing what they want was already on the way. Like. They are “jumpy”.

I think, for me, I have to remember the change they all went through and the ways they are growing and being stretched academically and socially during the pandemic. That’s hard stuff.

I think, for me, remembering to get on eye level and inquire lovingly to their real need is essential to continually grow the trust we all have in each other. I don’t need to explain they didn’t need to explain it. I just listen, reassure and follow through. Take it on the chin. Let them think it was their idea in a way.

Living with nothing to hide – being an honest, friendly expression – makes us safe as parents. Not explaining things or offering reasons, just “Yes, and I love you” and “No, and I love you” will suffice.

And even “standing openly” is applicable now as I see my motherhood as an act of generosity. Giving and being compassionate and patient and helpful. Letting the “work” of it all be a side note and letting the “service” of it all be a lifestyle and a calling.

And with all of this, like I was saying to a friend today regarding marriage, being subtle and letting body language and tone of voice be warm and safe is clutch. Building people up and encouraging them, knowing what it feels like to not be having a great day and so therefore not being a contributing factor to theirs.

Using a calming touch and stepping aside for time for yourself are as powerful as being the non critical recipient of another’s vulnerability.

“Blessed be the know it all” is not in scripture anywhere. Man, how I hope we all stop having reasons for everything.

I am not going to spend a lot of time proofing or editing this post. I just wanted to offer an entry real quick as I read through this notebook and find this 2019 advice super relevant to my current day.

Every day I remember I am the Queen and that I make the rules for my life, I grow more something (nicer? compassionate? gentler?) towards the grind of the day, towards the expectant demands of children.

It’s not that it is easy and it is not that I have been nailing it. (Hence why I welcomed these 6 bullets into my flow….) But I do recognize a difference in mothering over time and it has something to do with these things. For sure.

one certain thing @ my yoga mat in webster

If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that one of these five kids is going to be talking to their therapist at some point in their twenties and will experience a major break through when their therapist smiles and says, “Honey! YOU *can* get a medium concrete!” all thanks to my sincere commitment to the belief that a small really is enough.

And I do think that. David has ordered mediums for me a couple of times and I never finish them. I have been generous and gone against this belief before to find my daughters’ forgotten half eaten medium concretes and slushies in the freezer “for later”.

Part of the reason they will be in therapy about this is because it is the true battle of what you believe (small is enough) and what you want (a medium).

I believe they will also believe that smalls are enough (on some level) because my belief, in its affliction upon them, has proven itself to be true.

Life updates seem a little mundane these days. I struggle writing about the day to day because I am not really sure how it will translate. I am learning a lot about grace and forgiveness and am back studying some yoga phenomenons that I have been witnessing in my regular-ish restorative practice.

It has been well over a year since I have taught a slow flow as restorative, meditation, yin and gentle yoga have been more of my immediate audiences’ appetite. With that, I woke up on Thursday unable to move my head in a complete circle and have been experiencing major pain for a couple of days.

Part of this is because I have miles on the car and my body is my body and it is crooked in places it used to be straight. But I also am victim (like many) to weakened muscles in the neck and shoulders due to screen time and those weakened muscles, when shocked – jerked – or strained unhinged tend to kink up.

I am also extremely tight in my shoulders and back. I would say this probably is related to two years of lots of cross country travel, airplane rides and road trips as well as day to day life stressors relative to change, automatic bill pay and working for the man.

Yoga Nidra teaches there are the “threefold tensions”: muscular tension, emotional tension and mental tension. As forementioned, I have (although less now than 5 days ago) all three in my body. Likely, so do you.

Normal relaxation is understood to be closing the eyes, resting back and taking a break from the things you are plugged into. However, yoga nidra (yoga sleep) goes a little beyond this. Google it. It’s a life changing experience using revolving awareness of 61 points of the body to basically rock your consciousness to sleep while your awareness transitions to your subconsciousness and (if you’re lucky) your unconsciousness. AKA your motherboard where all your wiring and habits and beliefs (like how a small concrete is enough) live.

The first successful (although any yogic sleep is successful in that you will at least play with the consciousness) experience I had, I woke up to the image *and sensation* of a skeleton becoming dislodged from the center of my chest and relieving my body of its stagnant bony complex.

Incredible. I was hooked.

I started up nidra again last night, with my neck in shooting throbbing pain supported by a sandbag. Yes. A sandbag. Although I am pretty sure my attention got off at the exit before entering my subconsciousness, my body relaxed and I fell asleep. I woke up with full movement and a little cold nerve hangover.

I am committed to resurrecting a slow flow practice at home, even if I am not teaching. Today I got into an inversion – though shaky – and I played a lot with shifting my weight into my arms. I also heard that pulling your head back so you have triple chins for 20 seconds ever hour or so during the day is super good for you. I am hoping my slow flow practice builds up some strength and evens me out a bit. I am hoping my nidra continues to release the tension in threefold manner.

I am studying nidra again to go a little deeper into sankalpas. Rumor has it that use of sankalpas in your yoga nidra practice can actually re-wire some of that motherboard program… call it karma… archetypes… religious beliefs that won’t go away…

And I need that right now. I am getting quiet in my days and – though nothing is wrong – my heart is aching a little bit. I am thinking the shedding of the muscular tension is letting me get into some emotional tension that can be released. I want this to transform my generosity and my service towards others. AH! OMG – honestly? I’m flow of consciousness here… that may just be my sankalpa. (They say it is usually a courser, broader, directional thing than a “quit smoking” thing.)

Ok. WISH ME LUCK. Anybody out there tried yoga nidra with sankalpas??

Fly in the Mouth @ The Intersection of Relaxation and You Gotta Be Kidding Me – Webster

Hold on – I need to brush my teeth with Listerine and fire…

k, back..

I finally did a last round through the ole inboxes: making sure I knew my work calendar (blocking myself with tentative forewarning from 8a – 9a “I’ll accept your meeting but may be troubleshooting zoom”) and making sure I knew just what a 2nd grader should be doing during “independent work”.

I truly can’t imagine being a teacher. I had a nice, healthy – helpful response from Maddox’s teacher and I just felt like “man”. She taught these kids all day and is responding to me, on behalf of my kid, in depth. I am just absolutely amazed by their stamina.

I yelled at the girls last night. First time laying into the quad of teens – a signature mom move “I don’t care who, I don’t care when, I don’t want to hear why, I don’t need to know what – all I need is to tell each of you this one time and one time only: go. to. bed.”

Period.

Thing is – I don’t do well on little sleep. Any spat David and I have can for sure be assumed to have some degree of “Erin needs to go to bed” at play. My mind gets overwhelmed, I can’t spit words out, I just need people to understand and all I want to do is close my eyes.

So, naturally, when back to school hits and your job as parent becomes: Tech Support, Task Manager, Snack Guardian, Waitress, Secretary, and Accountability Partner (all which are going on my LinkedIn) on top of Cook, Household Operations Manager, General Keeper Upper of Things and Loving Devoted Wife *on top of* a 40 hr week full time job supporting four priority efforts on a team that is new and requiring massive change management communication and your teenagers wake you up at midnight laughing about the internet? Yeah. You take them to task.

If I were a teacher, I think it’s possible I would yell at my students if I was tired.

The one thing I am being careful about is not feeling sorry for myself. I can feel the tendency and I can even, sometimes, feel David’s expectation that maybe I’m in a funk. But even when I am doing something that is not, technically, “my task” – I am doing it not to be proud but because it’s when I need the task done, so I will do it, reminding myself that I am choosing to do it.

I also feel that it is an honor to be trusted with people. Kind of a slap in the face to be be trusted with 3 cats but 6 people? That’s kind of amazing.

And that isn’t me being sunshine and rainbows. I like them feeling both guided towards expectations (really with the Ritz cracker crumbs on the floor? You didn’t see that and clean up after yourself?) as well as cared for and allowed to focus on the things they need to. I care about these things as much as I value a well run house, finished laundry and stocked toilet paper.

I love the feeling of accomplishment, certainty and seeming control that fresh towels in all the bathrooms provides; especially during a global pandemic. During a time where so much is just, well, chaotic; a perfectly folded stack of towels and reliable source of washcloths – inclusive for everybody – is a really meaningful thing to be able to provide.

In a time where I am not “doing my best” only “doing”, towels cleaned and available is my bar.

Ok, my friends. It’s 7:15 and the taste of the fly that drowned in my strawberry, lemon & basil seltzer is finally out of my mouth. The weird “is that taco or is that a fly” sensation still looms a little on my tongue, but it is nothing a four click user path to get to a zoom call link and passcode can’t top as the worst thing ever.

To all the parents out their distant learning, I hope you don’t also have flies in your house.

Honestly? Where did they come from…