let it be

I read a quote recently that I thought was so beautiful – “Linger for a few minutes after lights are out – that’s when you see children’s souls”Rabbi Sandy Sasso.

I think all parents have experienced this moment of bliss as they peek in on their sleeping child and are filled with their child’s beauty and innocence.  And their own love for their child is so powerfully strong – yet often their guilt as well.

For how could I have been so impatient, so cranky, so disconnected – to this beautiful child that I love so so much?

Because parents aren’t perfect, life is complicated, and some days are harder than others.

And sometimes we need to dial back on our activities, our demands, our expectations of ourselves and our children.

And let it be.

Let lists be;  let mussed-up hair be;  let pajamas, still on, be;   let sitting together, just looking at books, be; let dust  be; let a simple meal be; let a wandering walk in the neighborhood, just because, be;  let sitting on the stoop watching the leaves fall and the cars go by,be; let noticing the bright eyes, the quirky expressions, the hint of the person- to- be, be.

Let breathing everything in – be.  Let exhaling – be.

Let love – be.

Maybe that’s when our children see our souls.

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technicolor

Its hard not to notice – whether you’re taking a ride out in the Coulees, walking in the marsh, hiking in the woods, driving down Losey Blvd. with the bluffs right there, or even as I arrive home, driving into my own driveway, the color of the leaves on the trees are just magnificent.

I even caught myself bragging to a relative in New England, where leaf viewing is rated so highly.  “You should see the leaves here this year!”

But, of course , what can you expect from me?  As quite a few people know, I am a genuine tree lover.  I love bark, sticks, branches, logs, and often find a “gift” of an interesting stick or branch left on my desk at work, with a note -
“thought you might appreciate this”, and I always do.

We had a very tall, wide, shady tree in our side yard when I was growing up.  It had huge roots that spread above ground all around it.  It was the perfect place to play – to make little pretend worlds and villages and drive toy cars around. I think that was probably where my tree affection began.  I can still imagine the way the bark felt – rough yet warm to the touch – a tree hugger in the making was I.

Early experiences with the natural world are so significant for children.  We live in nature’s paradise here – every season offering special effects – at our doorsteps – for free.  It is up to us as parents to open those doors and our eyes and observe and share with our children, these gifts of awe and wonder.

Thank you, October for this technicolor display!

 

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Happy

Last week talking with a group of parents, the subject turned to – what parents sometimes do just because they need to.

One mom shared a darling story of her little boy called to come to story time at the group he was with, told his caregiver, “I’ll be there – as soon as I finish my cup of coffee!”  Perfect response – one his mom admitted to saying often to this little guy.

Another mom talked about her occasional “I need this” solution with her two young girls under three years.  Pack them in their car seats, hand them back some cherrios and drive – an afternoon ride through the coulees – some time to think and to own.

A parent told us  ” I know I need to emotionally connect with my child who is having a difficult morning – but sometimes I just want to go drink my coffee by myself instead.”

And sometimes that’s the right thing to do for everyone involved.  There is a happy medium in all of our interactions with our children – a balance.  Once a parent begins to feel a twinge of resentment toward a behavior or a child’s need, it often means – perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what is actually happening.

Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept says repeated annoying behavior from a child is often that very child just begging the parent to take a stand, be the adult -“ I need you to tell me what I need to do”. She says often a child’s purpose is to get the parent to go about her own business with confidence and without seeming to ask his permission.

And the parent can do this – for her child and herself – and the emotional connection can still be strong.

Another mom I talked to at the Costume Swap shared that she was working part-time now after having been at home with her children and was pleased with this new arrangement for herself and her family.  “I feel I am a better mom because I am doing what I needed.”  This mom had attended The Parenting Place’s recent Mom’s Night Out this summer where we had watched, listened, sang and even danced to Pharrel Williams’ video HAPPY .

She shared that night and that song confirmed for her what she needed – wanted – and now feels more relaxed and open to her children’s and family’s needs while meeting her own.

So ..  take a listen for yourself – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM -

“Clap along – If you know what happiness is to you –

“Clap along – If you feel like that’s what you want to do!

Anyone who would like some help sorting out ways to manage meeting their children’s emotional needs and that delicate balance of meeting their own also, give me a call and we can talk.  The Parenting Place – 784-8125.

 

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security

At the end of Main Street on the harbor bay in the small town of Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, sits a windmill used now as a Visitors Information Center. This is where my brother George worked part-time.

Often on summer days, another brother would stop by the windmill with his young grandchildren to say hi to Uncle George.  Thus, when these same grandchildren were told about Uncle George’s death, their first response was “Who will take care of the windmill?

Who will take care of the windmill?”  What a common reaction from children wanting to be reassured that the things in their life will go on.  As parents, this is a message for all of us to remember.

In today’s world of hyper information, warnings, and constantly breaking news, our children are more privy to over-hearing details about stressful events – the latest disease affecting young children, the disastrous storms, the raging fires, the military fighting overseas, kidnappings, shootings in our own country.

Subjects such as these can bring high anxiety to adults let alone children.

So it is good to listen well to what it is our children want and need to hear from us.   And even if it’s as simple a change as an after school pick-up, a parent leaving for an overnight business trip, a mom going to the hospital to deliver the new sibling, moving to a new house, changing schools – children always want to know, first and foremost, what does that mean to me – who will take care of me?

Security – freedom from fear, anxiety, danger, doubt – a sense of safety and certainty.

So yes - “Who will take care of the windmill?” – a perfect question from little ones wanting to feel that certainty in their lives – wanting to be sure that their lives would go on – and all would be well.

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a life

“Let your life speak

I love this old Quaker quote.  For me it says it all – simply and beautifully. I like to think that is what I try to do as imperfect and clumsy as my attempts often may be.

But my brother, George – he was a different story.  He truly did let his life speak.

It was a life of courage and perseverance, hard work, generosity, abundant love and caring, a  very funny sense of humor, humility, kindness and acceptance even in times of great personal loss and pain.  He was a devoted dad and grandpa, husband and brother.  He really was special.

My brother George died on Friday and a hole has been left in our family of six siblings.

But as has been my way whenever I’ve needed to take a deep breath and be brave, face the unknown, accept life’s twists and turns, challenging that they may be, I always think of my brother George.

His life reflected the true miracle of the human spirit – and so he will live on.

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new beginnings

This past week was a week of new beginnings.

At the open house at the brand new Northside Elementary and Coulee Montessori School, I walked behind a little girl of about 6-years-old who was leading her grandparents on their own private tour of the school.  “You need to follow me and listen.  This is a very, very beautiful school, a very beautiful school”, this young student exclaimed with great elation.

And from what I gathered on my wanderings in and out of the bright classrooms and open spaces, this little girl was right.  And the most significant emotion that flowed throughout the halls – on every face from elderly north side residents to young families checking out their child’s first classroom, to a teacher I spoke with in his brand new classroom after teaching in the old north side schools for twenty years, to a passionate parent I admire whose children attend this school, and who labored so hard to help get the referendum passed – the most significant emotion was pride and hope.

A new school, a bright spot, for all the community to shine.

A new beginning.

Meeting our grandson for the first time this past week was all that I thought it would be – joyful, loving, fascinating.  Holding him, speaking to him, singing to him – with our eyes connected – enchanting!  Such a beautiful baby and such beautiful moments.

What I could hardly have imagined, however, was the thrill of seeing our grown-up son, hands-on, nurturing, so naturally attending to and adoring his own son.  It was like experiencing the passing of the parenting torch.  I had witnessed so many new stages of young adulthood as our son matured over these past ten years, including marriage.

But this one – this one was different.

Seeing both our son and his wife joined so powerfully in love with their first child and so supportive of each other was over the top for me.

It is truly a new beginning.

 

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Braver

“I think I’m feeling much braver now”, a five-year-old little guy told his mom before leaving for his first day of kindergarten, after quite a teary morning at home.

As distressing as it might seem to a parent who is ever hopeful that their child will glide through this separation with ease, what a positive stress reducer it was for this young boy to let his “feelings” be known, face them and find his courage.

For stress can come out in so many other different  and often negative ways – misbehavior, aggression, physical ailments to name a few.   How perfect for this little guy that he knew he could share his emotions with his mom, making their relationship that much more trusting and secure.

The honesty that comes out in moments like these can be so revealing and so poignant.  “I just want to stay here with you like I’m supposed to “, this 5-year-old told his mom.

So many new things to face – one foot in the safe, cozy nurture of family and the other foot stepping into the big world out there.  But this special boy took a giant leap, worked through his stress to discover his bravery and a wonderful first day of school as well.

It’s a lesson for all of us.  Pay attention to our strong emotions, share them, talk about them, cry if we have to, work them out.

We’ll all feel a little braver then.

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