Thursday, December 10, 2009

Meeting our Own Needs

When you fly on an airplane, and the plane is getting ready to take off, the fight attendant goes through the myriad of instructions on what to do in case of emergency. When they show the oxygen mask, they tell you to place the mask on yourself before your child, if you have one. Why? So you are better able to meet the needs of your child.

This is vital requirements for parents in our every day lives, and many of us just don't. We give and give to our kids, and they happily take. Often, I will feel like I am sacrificing everything to be a parent, like I am losing myself to be the best parent I can be because you know, they NEED every ounce of us. After all, it's an 18 year full time job. We invest ourselves in learning how to parent, and often times can become consumed by it.

What I am realizing that if I don't meet my own needs, if I don't mentally give myself a time out every day, then I find myself not as patient, or exasperated with my teens/tween. Joseph Chilton Pearce said "What we are teaches the child far more than what we say, so we must be what we want our children to become." In other words, we need to learn how to balance our lives in a way where our needs are being met, and we are thriving, so that we can then show our children that it is possible.

I have been watching my hubby lately with his full, fast and frenzied schedule, who isn't getting enough rest, regular meals, and choosing not to give himself time to relax. He then isn't able to really respond enthusiastically or well to the needs of the kids, OR me. So many parents do this. They eliminate making time for fun in their lives, and then get edgy with the kids who want so much of your time. It's overwhelming, dealing with the challenges of simply listening to our kids sometimes.

I have been there.. I am often there all the time, and it's simply a lose/lose with my kids. I will find myself nagging, threatening, yelling, making demands, and doling out rewards and punishments... until I come to point of total exhaustion. Does any of this sound familiar?

When I was growing up, my mom allowed her own needs to go unmet for so long that she became resentful. As a child, I realized rather quickly her "sacrifices" and felt guilty about receiving from her. I only wanted to please her. After I grew up, she still had my sisters to raise, as well as step children, and she was completely burned out with parenting. She came to a sputtering stop, and began taking care of her own needs, but dropping the ball on being there for her family. She wasn't able to balance herself, so then her children became resentful of Her. They saw her as being selfish, and it has caused a negative snowball reaction of estranged family. I watched it all unfold from a distance because by then, I was busy creating my own family.

I did not/ DO not want this to happen to me. So I have given myself a task of learning my own warning signs that I am not taking care of myself. It's a challenge! It means I have to make a commitment and be determined to set aside my old habits of self-denial and self sacrifice. I am learning slowly to create new habits of self acceptance and self respect. Where I am failing, is that I wait until my tank is on empty, and then it's hard to get motivated to get back up to where I need to be. The book I am reading "Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict Into Co-operation" gives this advice for when this happens :#1. Notice the warning signs that you are run down or about to do/say something you will regret. #2. Pause and take a few deep breaths, and #3, take time IN to connect with yourself.

Carl Jung says "If there is anything that we wish to change in our children, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves."

So that is what I am focusing on right now as a parent. I would love to hear from other parents how they are managing to balance themselves so that they don't burn out. I welcome new ideas that may help me! :)

Monday, December 7, 2009


Thankful heart Pictures, Images and PhotosToday is an emotional one for me. I need to tune into my inner guidance this morning, and listen to my intuitiveness. I wonder how much of our emotional state is given to us from our parents? I mean in a hereditary way? Both of my biological parents are incredibly sensitive. They have such deep feelings, both passionately believe in their own belief systems. Both of them are serious natured, most of the time. Deeply philosophical. Did I get it from them? OR was it learned over my lifetime? They both also have gigantic love in their hearts. They each express their love in their own ways, but let me tell you, you can feel it.
Did I get that from them? mmm Maybe partly.

I learned compassion and empathy from my mother. I learned the deep love of Jesus from my father. They might not like the choices I have made in regards to not following their religious paths, but they did give me this, and I honor their beliefs, and I will carry it happily.

I have another father, my dad, who raised me since I was 6, and I received the MOST incredible life lessons from him. Patience, love for our earth, and a light heartedness that I am the most thankful for.
So I pass it down.

It's amazing to witness all of this in my children, but what is even more amazing is watching them learn to push through their own fears. Something I didn't learn from my parents. It is so easy to get caught up in the fear of our everyday lives, of money, of relationship, of parenting, of work. We forget to be Thankful. When you live in fear, you forget how good you actually have it. It's easy to get caught up in the drama, it takes a strong person to push through that fear, and find your own light in the darkness. If you don't push through it, your fear builds, and creates havoc on your immune system, emotional state, and crawls into every area of your life. So If there is one thing I am proud of, it is giving my children the tools to persevere.

I am curious as to how my newest little child will learn and grow from us, from a mom and a dad that are united in love and KNOW how blessed we are. Who share the same beliefs, who share the same beliefs. I can't wait to see who she will be. I didn't have that growing up, so it can only get better.

So right now, I am Thankful. I am blessed. I know this.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


The wind is howling outside. It makes an eery sound, whistling through the screens on our windows, shaking the chimes hanging on our porch violently. The air bites my face, almost burning it. The sky is ominous, with black and gray clouds moving steadily all together in one direction, swiftly. So cold. A good day to be inside.

As I am finally sitting in my warm car listening to Sarah McLachlan's Drawn to the Rhythm on my way to an appointment, I spot him. Standing there on a corner holding a cardboard sign, wrapped in an old thin coat, and shivering. His face inscrutable, but the eyes, those eyes tell another story. Of longing, of sadness, of despair, of desperation. People honk at him, and he willingly obeys, walking over to the vehicles, taking handouts from the drivers. He smiles and thanks each person, without looking at what he is handed, stuffing the bills into his pocket.
I feel a heaviness come over my heart. Here I am sitting toasty and warm in my car, and I am watching a man beg in the biting, freezing winter's wind. I take out the only bill in my wallet, a $10.00 and I wonder for a moment, if it will help him in some small way. Will he use it to feed himself, or a potential family? Will he buy drugs or alcohol?
Does it matter? Really? I am blessed with food, shelter, and love. I rolled down my window and beckoned him over, and he nodded at me. He took the money I offered him, and instead of stuffing it in his pocket, he looked at it, which I wasn't expecting. He jerked his eyes up to find mine, and surprise registered on his face. He quickly grabbed my hand, and took my warm fingers into his icy hand, and thanked me, blessed me, and said to have a blessed holidays. A tear formed in his eye, and he brushed it away, as I smiled and drove away. Looking in the rear view mirror, I see him watching me drive away, before he turned back to his task of begging the drivers behind me.
Did I make a difference? Will he be OK? I don't know.
I wish I had had something tangible to give. Such as a bowl of soup, or a sandwich. But I didn't. I don't.
I can only hope he will find somewhere warm to go to, and someday soon he will not have to stand on the corner,with a shabby piece of cardboard stating that he is homeless, in the biting angry wind and beg for money from drivers driving by. That is my wish for him. My wish for all the people like him.
May I be reminded of how blessed I am. May we all be reminded.

(Picture from Portland Rescue Mission)