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strain

Three years old. So emotional for the children and the parents. I’m sitting outside the bedroom while T does bedtime, listening to one tearful reaction after another. His voice is tense, wanting to guide the child through, showing him the straightest path, offering the solution he perceives to be best… The boy, though, just wants to work with things as he sees them, to try it his way. The adult who doesn’t want to spill medicine or clean up a mess is beside the little one who is making sense out of the whole thing, his instincts pushing him to do it himself.

All day long we have these encounters: parent to parent, parent with children, children with each other. The screaming anger from M, the tears from S. Slamming doors, walking away in anger, pushing, grabbing, shouting… the parents struggle to slow down, to let go, to allow them space to work out their frustration, satisfy curiosity. Our voices strain, our hands grab things away from them when we tire of guiding. We end up acting in ways we discourage sternly in the children. It’s a constant paradox of wanting a certain kind of home culture and experience of peace for the children, but churning in our own dissatisfaction, impatience, exhaustion, and really, sometimes boredom.

Each adult (there are three, with me, my sister, and my fiancĂ©) has their own experience. Right now, I sit outside the door, my child cries for me, wails that he wants time with his mama. The door won’t be opened, though… We have all agreed that he needs to learn to be comforted by each of us. Except that I am not comforted, the child isn’t appeased, and the other parent is stressed. We feel the pull, my child and I. I feel his longing, and even though I know that he might be just as tearful and whiny with me in the room, I want to answer. I sit, I wait, my stomach in knots, my shoulders tight, my breath shallow and fast. I am resisting the urge to protect my child from the frustration that may or may not be bubbling in my partner. Then the parent begins to read, the tears somehow subside. The child is quiet, leaning his stressed, tired body on the solid body of his new father… a chord emerges from the dissonance between them, without me.

This is our path, to push, to question, to wait through our discomfort, to go through the thorny underbrush and persist in our determination to serve our children for where they are. We give each other space to grow, both through their childhoods and through our parenting. Sometimes the way is clear, and other times we all come through bruised and hurting. The gift is, that either way, we seem to find our way back to each other, embracing and finding delight through fault and perfection, through chaos and ease.

 

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mishmash

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Friday. The boys and Ted and I, all home. Tired in the morning. M, still in his very sensitive place of refusal to comply with any suggestion, guidance, or pleading from parents or brother. Readjusting to being all home together, as we do every weekend. Mama’s brain not yet tuned in enough to make any real plans for the day.
As it turns out, we did pretty well. Managed to get a good mix of being out (breakfast at diner, pm haircut for m), active (neighborhood walk, hot tub time, raking and playing in leaves), and creative (fingerpaint, imaginative play involving pretending sleeping bags were whales eating them, and making collage pictures). We are tired, especially after pushing bedtime late in anticipation of time change, but it was a pretty good day. I even managed to sit and do some enso with the leftover tempera from fingerprinting. Photo forthcoming.
Tomorrow – family portraits in the morn, and I’m getting a tattoo in the afternoon in my brother’s memory.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in balance, loss, parenting

 

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old silver enso

old silver beach

 

We’ve been on the East Coast since early August, enjoying and enduring in equal measure lots of unstructured time. The past year has been like that for me – being happy, content, and engaged in the present moment has been deeply challenging. Is it ADD? Perpetual exhaustion? Personal failure? It seems like it’s just this unending struggle I’ve entrenched myself into. I cut out more and more – trying to do less multi-tasking has been the main thing I’ve focused on, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging, and have spent much less time staring at facebook to name just a couple of things. It’s been freeing, but it has cost me a lot of communication with friends and family. In this world of increased demand on packing every minute with multiple actions and priorities, my decision (which wasn’t even really a conscious one) to just do one thing at a time has been quite impactful in both positive and negative ways. It’s also been harder than I imagined before becoming a parent to be consistently and joyfully and imaginatively engaged with my young children.

Anyway, the enjoyment of our vacation here on Cape Cod has been abundant. My boys – just newly three years old – are so full of vitality, curiosity, questions, repetition, imagination, driven exploration… it’s so much fun to get out of the daily grind at home and spend hours and hours outside.

In general, we try to keep things simple and cheap. We stick to the little woodsy lake beach a mile from my childhood home rather than pay $20 a day (which for us ends up being more like 2 hours) for ocean beach parking. This one day, however, we decided to spring for the parking, and let me say it was well worth it. Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth is a delight with small children, particularly at low tide. The shallow water was peaceful and lots of fun, and sand structures left over from other beach-goers provided so much fun to the boys – what looked like a giant hole surrounded by castles became a nest for my two nature lovers. Tidal pools filled with rocks didn’t attract the attention of other kids, so it gave my two firecrackers a place to throw rocks to their hearts content.

After tracing an enso in the sand at Old Silver, I thought I’d use this time without inks, desk space, or special papers to simply observe and create enso in my environment.

 

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2011 in artistic expression, balance, daily enso, parenting

 

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