sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Posts tagged ‘unschooling’

My Journey out of Depression, Rising up:October 15,2017 – February 25, 2018

I have traveled far on my life journey. The past 4 months, since my birthday adventure to the beach, have been life changing.

I don’t even know where to begin to describe the experience.

I am now getting up early every morning excited for the day and ready to have some quiet time to myself. I head to the kitchen and get something to drink and often a cup of tea and maybe a hot pack for my neck or back and sometimes an ice pack for my achey hip. I have a purple bag that holds my iPad, keyboard, gratitude journal, pens, current inspirational book I am reading, and a few other things. I have my Bluetooth ear buds and my iPhone for listening to my music.

I begin sitting in the quiet and writing in my gratitude journal. Grateful for all that has transpired in the past day and also for all that is yet to come.

I then listen to music and write, or sometimes I stretch and exercise first.

Today after writing in my gratitude journal, I decided to take an early morning walk. Today is Sunday and most Sundays I work. Today I was called off work and the weather is beautiful. NC’s early spring with 50+ degree temperatures and sun rising. Years ago, I started many days with a morning walk and stretch, an activity I have been working to get back in the habit of doing. Yet, I have managed to walk on occasion maybe 1 or 2 days in a week but often go weeks without doing so.

Today, I walked for an hour!

It was 7am when I started and then my favorite local radio program, Resurrection Sunday, came on the air, 106.5 the end, at 8am and I enjoyed being outside stretching, walking around my yard, and then walking our dog, Olive while enjoying the retro music.

I started with a sweatshirt when I headed out at 7am but half way through my walk, I had removed it. I have spent much time outside this morning in this wonderful weather knowing that rain is on its way today. I got the brilliant idea to write outside and where better to write than sitting on our trampoline with a husband pillow at my back. Rain spits on me and my screen as I write, hoping to get some writing completed before the sky opens up.

Today is February 25, 2018 and this is how spring begins in NC.

Walking this morning, I enjoyed the Bradford pear trees beginning to bloom along with forsythia, daffodils and other blossoming trees. I took a close up picture of 2 small purple flowers that grow on vines in my front yard. I reminisced looking at my barren back yard, remembering how we used to have a collection of purple flowers that bloomed around April. But 3 years ago when we had to have our septic fields redug, the entire yard was dug up, taking out the giant oak (or was it a maple) tree, it had the helicopter seed pods.

Rain!

I am writing inside now from the top of my daughter’s bunk bed. I call it “my new office”. It’s quiet and I have a view out the big widows in her room and can only see her inspiring wall hangings and not the clutter below. The rain chased me inside today. Yet, I now know I can enjoy sitting outside on the trampoline to write. I enjoyed spending time outside this morning.

Fresh air feeds my soul.

I need to plant more purple flowers to replace the ones we lost in our backyard. I searched for my snow crocuses but couldn’t find them.

We do have daffodils blooming in our yard. When I lived in. Canton, Ohio from 1971 through 1979, we lived on Daffodil Street. I have fond memories of our home in Ohio including our kitchen with giant yellow and orange flowered wall paper that inspired me to paint my current kitchen bright gold. Our home was about the same age as the home I am living in now that was built in 1969. We have the same streets paved with gravel, tar and a steam roller. We have dead end roads that end in woods.

I am finding that as I do the inner work through EFT along with Jan Luther and the amazing groups she has created, that I am bringing to live my inner child. I am enjoying life and easily remembering what I felt like as a child. My inner joy is shining through my 48 year old self and all the trauma and challenges that have been a part of my life.

When I try to remember when I felt this excited and energized by life, I think the honest answer is when I was a child before the age of 13.

I will end with quoting a song that feels so true to the adult life I have lived. Even though it is not easy to be me, I am now happy to be me! And I will retitle the song, Wonder-woman. Thank you Five for Fighting for creating this song.

It is more powerful if you listen to it….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O87shD-FpvU

I can’t stand to fly

I’m not that naïve

I’m just out to find

The better part of me

I’m more than a bird,

I’m more than a plane

I’m more than some pretty face beside a train

It’s not easy to be me

It may sound absurd but don’t be naïve

Even heroes have the right to bleed

I may be disturbed but won’t you concede

Even heroes have the right to dream

And it’s not easy to be me

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March 21, 2016

Writing

Writing is my passion. It is who I am.

I remember getting my first diary. It was a gift from my sister for my 10th birthday.  I remember because I have this diary and every diary and journal after that first one. When I have read through the entries of my childhood diaries, I have realized that I remember the events described in the pages because I wrote them down.

Parenting and Work

When my oldest son was born, November 10, 1997, we had a plan in place.  I would return to work full-time after a 12 week maternity leave and my husband would stay at home with him while he grew his business.  I was able to return to work at 32 hours a week and remain fulltime.  Before my son was born, this plan sounded great.  I remember telling my co-workers that the father could be the primary caregiver as well as the mother.  My plan was that once my husband’s business grew enough,  I would reduce to part-time hours.  In 1997, I could work “prn” and earn double my full-time hourly rate. It sounded so easy, I could work 20 hours per week (without benefits) and make same amount of money as I did working 40 hours. 

Birth and Bonding

I had hoped for a natural birth but only took the hospital birth class and one offered by my NP at my OB-GYN office.  I wound up being induced with an epidural but was so glad he was born without a c-section.  I intended to nurse for 6 months because that was what was recommended by the AAP at the time.  I was very happy to have a healthy baby boy yet boding with him took time.  Parenting was a whole new experience for me. When he was 12 weeks old, I had to return to work. It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. 

Motherhood and Parenting

Going back to work was so difficult for me. I was glad he was home with my husband when I went to work and I don’t think I could have left him otherwise.   I wanted to be home full-time with my baby!  Don, my husband, told me he would get a job so I could stay home. We had a plan. He had quit his job to be in business full-time for several reasons but a big one was because he wanted to be involved in his child’s life and be there. His previous job required regular travel.  We both knew we wanted to raise our child and not have the child in day care. We shared the parenting experience and he worked when I was home.  Yet, from that moment when I returned to work, my goal became to find a way to work from home. 

Employment and Working from home

I remember researching working at home opportunities. All I remember about that is ordering some ribbons to make some bows for a company, but the ribbon was tiny and I never made any of those bows.  It was 1997 when my first child was born and we had the internet because my husband wanted it for his business but I did very little on the computer back then.

My job changed dramatically in 1999 with the many healthcare changes that happened. I no longer had a job 4 miles from home working 3 full days and 2 half days.  I had to drive to two different nursing homes, one 45 minute drive and the other a 90 minute drive and work in both each day to keep my job. My salary was cut by 15% and my benefits changed including less paid time off and higher healthcare costs.    I did that for 9 months and managed to change my hours to working just 4 days per week and remained full-time but started job hunting.  Because of the changes in healthcare, there were not many jobs to be found at the time. 

In 2000, I found a new part-time job in home health care. I had more flexible hours and could do my paperwork from home.  Moving from full-time work to part-time was a big jump. Also, having to manage my own schedule was a significant and challenging change for me.   My income was half that year being part-time compared to full-time.  (as a side note: when my husband quit his job to go full-time into his own business, ( because  I pushed him to do so saying I could support us) our combined $100,000 income went to $50,000 that was 1996.  When I returned to work in 1998 at only 32 hours per week, my income was $42,000).  I share all these figures to truly paint the picture for you.  We choose to live on less because being home with our child was more important to us than having a bigger house and a newer car. We were looking at moving to a new home in 2000 but because  our lower-income, we had to suspend that plan.  My husband’s business was slowly growing but I remained the primary breadwinner for some time.

An Idea Is Born

I attended my first LLL meeting when my oldest was 3 weeks old.  I was looking for support with breastfeeding with returning to work.  Being in the room surrounded by moms and babies and children, even nursing toddlers, was an eye-opener to me!  I swore I would never nurse my baby past age one. Yet, being surrounding by attachment parenting moms was a new world for me. I can remember  talking to a mom of a 3 month old. She worked as a nurse and worked nigh shift so she was home with her baby in the day.  I can hear here saying something to the effect of, “aren’t they wonderful “(meaning the babys).  I was still bonding with my baby and adjusting to motherhood at that stage.  I know deep inside of me, my soul knew that this was the life for me. 

My oldest, Harrison, developed a love for road signs at an early age.  You can read more about this here.  I became more involved in the attachment parenting world and learning from my son how to be a mother.  From these two aspects, an idea was born.  I envisioned a conscious parenting website and called it, “Mommy, Daddy, STOP”.  My meaning in this name was “Mommy, Daddy, stop what you are doing and pay attention to me because I will be a baby and a child for a short period of time and spending quality time and quantity time with me is important.  And stop reacting and just parenting the way you were parented, but consciously choose your words, actions and your method of parenting.” By this time, my husband’s business had morphed into a website business and he secured the domain name for me even before I started the website.  I spend time writing about parenting and created a notebook full of ideas for my website.  As I write this, I am picturing my notebook with colored pen marks and realize that I need to find this notebook!

Flash Foward to 2008

I finally created the site on the Ning platform with the help of my now 10-year-old son. And I created a homeschooling website on Ning as well.  I was motivated to finally jump in and do this  because my husband had lost his job August of 2008 when I was three months pregnant with our third child. Backing up…My husband sold his website business in summer of 2007 and then went to work full-time for the man/company he sold his business too.  This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. We had regular income for the first time in years and I was able to not work outside the home for the first time in years.  And it was what I was waiting for to even attempt to have a third child.  I had my second child in 2002 after a year of attempting and one early miscarriage.  I was working in home health care and was able to very slowly return to work when she was 8 weeks old. Literally working just 3 hours per week for several weeks before increasing to about 6 hours per week and slowly increased to an average of about 15 hours per week.

Ning Websites

In 2008, creating a website on the Ning platform was free of charge.  Ning is a platform for creating a social media website which was new and fresh at the time with the growing popularity of that big social media website, you know, Facebook.  I also found work again, prn work as an OT at a local nursing home that summer without telling them I was pregnant.  I needed to bring in some income while my husband rebuilt his business and before my new baby was born! I also poured my time into primarily my homeschool website thinking it would be the one to first bring in income, eventually.  I had no initial plans for making money, I just knew the site would benefit the homeschooling community at a time when it was difficult to find out about homeschool support groups and area resources.  I trusted in the universe that somehow over time, this pursuit would bring me income in order to be home full-time with my children.  And I began posting articles on my Parenting site; the tag line for Mommy, Daddy, Stop was : consciously parenting our children, our parents, and ourselves. 

Baby number three is born in 2009

I worked until mid December of 2008 and then went on unpaid leave. When you work prn, you don’t really “go on leave” you just don’t sign up to work any hours.    He was due January 4 but my other two children were born before their due dates: 12 days prior and 4 days prior. Jason was born on January 8, 2009 in our kitchen, an elective home birth with a lay-midwife.Yes, that story is for another post. I remember getting called from a co-worker after a few months asking if I would be coming back to work.  I told them I wasn’t ready to come back to work yet.  We managed to live from savings and eventually credit because I wanted to be home full-time with my baby for at least a year.  And I did not return to work until after he was  a year old but our financial situation was demanding it and it was a crazy hard decision for me. 

Making the Difference in the Life of a Child

I have been part of an on-line journaling community and here is this week’s writing prompt:

“There’s a wonderful quote that says when we die, it doesn’t matter how many things we have in our possession; what matters most is the differences we made in the life of a child.  There is so much wisdom and power in this statement.  Imagine if we lived our lives with only this intention?  To make a positive difference in the life of a child.  All of our fears, inadequacies, and self-doubt would disappear.”

And then….

“This week, write about the most important things you would teach a child.  Even if you’re already a parent or grandparent or great grandparent – start from a blank slate.  What are the most important lessons you would teach him or her?  Why are they important?  Do these lessons move us towards peace, love and joy?  Speak from your heart.”

  • I see a big difference in these two paragraphs:
  • “To make a difference in the life of a child”
  • “start from a blank slate– What are the most important lessons you would teach (a child)”

Children are not blank slates. Even if that was not what was intended by this statement, I think it implies that we must teach children everything.  I disagree with this idea.  Yes, we do “teach” children. We teach them all the time in our actions.  They learn from watching us.  Just like they learn to crawl and to walk and talk, they learn how to act and respond based on what they observe.  We need to be the change that we want to see in our children.  Not in a “hey look at me, I am doing it this way and so should you” form of  modeling but in our everyday words and actions.

I see this all the time just by watching my children.  With three children, I see how the youngest, who is 3 years old, copies the actions of his older brother and sister as well as how the older children copy each other as well as me and my husband.

When I think about “making a difference” in the life of a child, I think of stopping and listening to a child. I think about loving a child, meeting his needsjoining her in her world, spending time with him, connecting with her, being there for him.

My mind goes to the birth of my children and all my choices prior to their birth,  during and after.  I recall how I began to really think about what I was putting into my body and how my diet evolved and changed over time -which has been good for my health too!  My birthing choices, the classes I took and how much I learned after my first was born and the changes I made for my second child’s birth as well the changes I made for  my third child”s birth.  My decision to breastfeed my baby and attending La Leche League meetings and learning more and more about nursing my child and mothering.  Learning about attachment parenting and child-led weaning.  For me, these are very powerful ways I have made a difference for my children’s lives.

Here I am, almost 15 years after I gave birth to my first child remembering those early days.  How can I continue to make a difference?

I read books, educate myself and reach out to like-minded communities to connectshare information, resources and support. It doesn’t matter how long we have been a parent, it is a continual learning process.  I can improve my communication skills and modify my “parenting method” as I grow and evolve as a mother.  Our children are all unique and have their own strengths, weaknesses, gifts and talents.  I see my role as nurturing, supporting, empowering, and maybe at times guiding them.

But even as a homeschooling parent, I do not feel I am here  to “teach them”.   I believe that my children have far more to teach me than I could possibly teach them.  

The Gift of Life: Reflected in My Children

Happy Birthday to me!

I prepared for today’s post by reflecting  on my entry from last year: My 42 Year Journey

This year we celebrated at home the day before my birthday.  My husband and three children shared their cards with me as we enjoyed homemade gluten-free and egg-free chocolate cake with coconut milk ice-cream   And my amazing 10 year old daughter wrote this story for me.  She has been doing a lot of writing and I really enjoy hearing her stories and poems. She has also been collaborating with her PA cousin via Skype to write stories.   All of this has been her idea and her initiative– aka- unschooling at it’s best.  It is exciting to watch my children develop their interests and really take off with something that they enjoy doing.  It is also a great reminder to me that my actions do affect my children and one of the best things I can do for their “education” is to show them in my actions that I am pursuing my interests and following my passion!  

This has been very clear with my oldest child, Harrison as his personality is one of concentrated persistence.  Many of his interests have been easy to nurture with trips to the library and home made items.  His focus on achieving what he sets out to do has enabled him to find a way to build a computer and obtain software as well as purchase a digital camera.  It was really cool to get a handmade -with paper and crayons- card from him this year.   A pleasant variation on his recent 

computer generated  cards and picture compilations.  It helped me to remember that despite having an “old soul” beyond his years persona and the fact that he will soon have a driving  learner’s permit, he is still in his  childhood and his younger self is so much very alive in him in a new teenage form.  I can see similarities in my youngest and oldest. Maybe having a three year old and a fourteen year old simultaneously is the key to seeing the similarities between teens and toddlers as well as being able to appreciate that they are their own person at every age.

We think of our youngest as the busy, full of energy, and action kid, yet I keep getting reminders how much he loves to sit with art supplies.  We spent time together last night coloring with markers in a coloring book and also with blank paper and he said to me, “I’m good at drawing. I’m supposed to be an artist”.  One of those moments when you feel like you are getting a big glimpse into their soul.  He has also made a similar comment to me some time ago about sailing.  I have to wonder if these thoughtful responses are coming from a deeper place than just his physical three-year-old self.

I hope I am able to nurture all of my children’s passions.  I know I began my parenting journey with that focus and see it clearly with my oldest child who was an only child for four years.  I feel like my daughter has been given more and more opportunities to pursue her passion since we adopted our dog and now that she is  able to act more independently with pursuing her interests.  Jason’s future remains a mystery and their is something exciting about that.  Sure, I don’t know exactly what paths any of my children will take in their adult lives but I have a much clearer picture with the older two who are almost 15 and 10.  At three and a half years of age, Jason’s future has yet to unfold.  He loves food and helping to prepare food.  He is also very nurturing and I could see him in a helping profession and he has a very physically engaged side and does love fire trucks.  It is possible that having had the experience of fireman coming to the rescue of his dad while he suffered a heart attack, might influence his future career path.  He also has a very imaginative and creative side and loves taking pictures and videos, an activity likely inspired by his big brother.  And I aim to not put any expectations on who he will become but rather spend time nurturing who his is now.  Who knows how these early years of his life could shape his future.

I decided to homeschool my children because I wanted to nurture their love of learning and empower them to nurture their interests.   I have chosen to work less hours in order to be there for them and with them in the process and my husband choose to leave his former work which involved regular travel and too many hours away from home.  Making that choice has involved financial challenges (Note to Universe: I am open to abundance and  moving away from that experience! ).   I would like to believe that despite our limited resources,  my husband and I have been able to at least expose our children to different experiences and help them to further their interests.  Maybe the fact that we have limited financial means will only further their passion to pursue their interests.  There are times when I doubt this.  Yet, I am very aware that childhood is a short period of time.  I am happy to celebrate another year of my life knowing that I am giving my children something more valuable than anything money can buy, my time.   Being a mother is the greatest gift of my life.  I know I have made mistakes, more than I would like to admit, yet, I can be an example to my children in my failures as well as my successes.

I look forward to another year with a renewed focus of being not only with them but present in their lives and available for them emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

 

 

 

Choosing my life… the life I am living

I can’t believe my last post was January 5…so much time has passed since then, nearly 2 months.

Life happens

I’ve been slowly getting over reoccurring Bronchitis since November.

My youngest child turned 3 and we enrolled him at Romp N Roll again, for a gymnastics class with mom.

My daughter turned 10, fell in love with a rescue dog who lived a short time, and recently began ERP therapy.

I have been exercising 2 or 3 times a week with my oldest son and helping him with pre- Algebra, at his request.

Time spent with my children is always time well spent.  They come first in my life. Sure, I need to meet my basic needs, put my oxygen masc on first, yet, I enjoy life most when the larger chunks of my time are spent with them.  I chose to have children and to be there with them as they grow and figure out living in this world.    I sometimes forget this, but when I look at how I am spending my time, I always desire to have more time with my children.  The reason that I do not want to work away from the home is to be with them.  Sure I have writing dreams that I want to pursue and I make time for this as life allows, but my real frustration is being there consistently for my children because I have needed to work outside the home.

I have three children, spread 11 years apart.  The biggest reason for the age spread is because after I had my first son and had to return to work full time when he was 12 weeks old, I wanted to wait until I could be working less from home before I had another child.  The third one came about only after my husband sold his business and went to work for the person he sold it to- full time job.  It was the first time I felt like I didn’t “have” to work.  It was a great feeling.

Unfortunately, it took time to conceive and then my husband lost his full time job when I was 3 months pregnant.  I worked during my pregnancy but then held out going back for an entire year, even though, financially, we really needed me to go back much sooner.  We have lived off savings, and now have some debt beyond our mortgage that we are not happy about and never had before and are even dipping into our IRA funds now.  But you know what, when I think about how I worked hard for the money in my IRA accounts (401K rollovers), I feel blessed to have that money there to use now when we really need it and so that I do not have to find full time work.   I can always work more when my children are older.  But right now they are 14, 10 and 3 and we homeschool/ unschool and they need me and I need them.

They need my support, my time, my love, compassion and assistance in various ways. Of course the 3 year old, just wants mom around.  He played happily by himself for about 3 hours at my sister’s house this past weekend  because I was resting on the bed in the same room.  He did not “need me” until I got up and went down the hall to the bathroom, “Mom, where are you?”  He went searching for me, not realizing where I had went as he was absorbed in his play.  My husband and I were surprised at how long he was content in the room with me sleeping on and off but not really talking to him.  Of course, when I thought about it, I wasn’t really that surprised.  Toddlers need to know mom is near by even if they can play on their own and not need mom to interact with them.  Attachment parenting in action.  He also needs mom to listen to him and pay attention to his endless conversations and imaginary play. And to answer his questions about everything in his world and all those things that fascinate him.  He needs me to engage with him, to get his needs met including his needs for physical activity and mental stimulation.  He needs me to pay attention to his behavior and how it varies with  foods and when needs are not met.   He needs me to play with him, to read to him, to take him new places and engage in life with him.  Exploring the world with a toddler is so fun and exciting and brings out the child in me and it is also mentally and physically exhausting!  I feel my age, being 42 now as opposed to 31 when my oldest was 3.

My daughter needs me because she is 10 and generally an extrovert and because she has been dealing with an anxiety disorder for the past 2 years.  She is limited with making food for herself and needs help to put on her shoes because of the anxiety.  She is by nature a very compassionate, kindhearted and generous child.  Yet, when her anxiety overwhelms her, her behavior looks very different, nearly the opposite of her personality.  She has needed our help in understanding and dealing with her issues, supporting her, as we figured out by trial and error, what to do and not to do.  She has needed us, her parents,  as advocates, researchers and encouragement to deal with her anxiety and be able to live her life.   She also needs me to help her find the resources and materials to pursue her interests and to keep her mind busy and engaged.  She is a very intelligent child and her anxiety is noticeably less when she is engaged in pursuits she enjoys and most especially with her passions.   And she needed us to say “Yes” when our neighbors who moved suddenly asked us if we wanted to take their dog who had become my daughter’s  best friend” -her words.  I am a cat person, and her dad is someone who enjoys pets, when they live outside or at least that was how he was raised.  She needs us to help her find and participate in dog related activities because this is her passion.  Loving animals and dogs is who she is.

My oldest child, my 14 year old son, needs me because for at least 2 years, if not 3, he has not gotten as much attention as he needs and especially now as he experiences puberty and all the changes that are happening within his body.  He likes structure and plans despite our unschooling life.  He has many interests and pursues them independently.  I don’t think that he has ever uttered the words “I am bored”, or at least rarely.  Yet, he needs help organizing his time and getting things done that he wants to do.  He has been very interested in pursuing computer science for some time and knows he needs math and so we are now using a curriculum for the first time (in our own way) because of his desire to advance with higher level math.  He needs 1:1 time with me, as all my other children do, and even more so now than he did a few years ago.  He needs to be able to vent and talk freely with one of his parents and share his life and experiences with mom and dad.  He needs us to help him with getting together with his friends and to transport him to all his social gatherings and and all his other activities.   He is an introvert, yet, an outgoing introvert, and a calm, quiet- natured person,  yet, he has had a growing need to get together with his friends.  Sometimes, I think and he admits, he needs to just get out of the house and away from his high energy- physically active younger siblings.

They all need me and in different ways.  I enjoy having children of different ages and I know that I appreciate my toddler much more because my older two children are long past the toddler years.  Sure, it has its challenges having 3 children all in different stages of life.  We join up for the summer reading program at the library and join all three age-group programs, one with each child.   My son is in a middle and high school only co-op where nearly everything is only for him.  It took many years before my oldest two could participate in an activity together due to the 4- year age spread.  Now, my 3 year old, who tells us he wants to “stay wittle” and  “not get big”, strives to do all the things his older siblings do.  He gets things out of the refrigerator himself and wants to make his own sandwich and help mom in the kitchen.

I understand why years ago, people told me to have my children close together in age.

But, I wouldn’t change anything.  I always wanted 4 children or at least 4.  If I had had another, I would have liked to have one between my 10 year old and 3 year old.  Yet, this is the life I have and the children who are in my life and my care.  I need to make the most of it and appreciate them for who they are and their special gifts and spend my time seeing the beauty in their souls and empower and affirm them as they are.

If you read what I write and think that I live a blissful life enjoying every moment of my children’s lives…..

….Don’t kid yourself!

I am living a human life with all my human traits, my own past experiences, fears and doubts.  I  strive to be the best parent that I can be.  Far more often than I like, I fail to follow my own basic principles and beliefs as a parent.  I believe that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience but  I need to write about this in order to remember it and to truly live it!

Jumping with Jason,right here and now while he is 2

Before the holidays, my friends on my Facebook Homeschool Group shared information about a Groupon for a new Jump place that was opening and they planned to attend the first week of January.  I went to the site and saw pictures of giant padded sided trampolines and learned there was a separate area for younger kids.  I knew my younger two would like it and maybe my oldest.  I bought three Groupons.

My daughter came down with the coughing crud I had before Christmas and wasn’t up to jumping today and my oldest wasn’t interested, he is a jump alone kind of guy.

And so, Jason, my almost three-year old (his birthday is 4 days from today), and I headed out alone to drive across town to go jumping.  Well, I had a ticket for him and not me, hadn’t even thought about if I could get a ticket but had assumed his sister would be jumping with him when I got the Groupons.

As usual he was slow to warm up and despite being only one of two kids- the other was my friend’s son that he knows even though they don’t interact much yet- and it took him time before he would try.  I sat on the edge and even walked on the trampoline surface with him- as you can walk right up to it at the same level, but was told by the nice attending employee that due to liability, I wasn’t allowed on the trampoline surface but she got her manager and they had me sign a waiver and get a red arm band and I then got to join him (at no charge- shh,not sure if that is the policy)!

He still didn’t like the girl who was working there and wanted her to leave which he expresses well for a 2-year-old and then other kids came to the area and he doesn’t like people he doesn’t know.

Then we jumped into the foam pit and luckily there was no one else around at first because he got to stay in the foam pit which he loved.  He was sad when we had to get out of the foam pit to let others jump into it but I convinced him to go to the other area that was just trampoline space and we began jumping!

It was frustrating when we were there with just my friend and her son and he wouldn’t try it, yet all my children have been “slow to warm up” kids.  Sometimes with Jason, it takes him until it is time to go home.   That is always sad and challenging to have him riding in the car home saying “I want to swim” or “I want to get my hair cut”.

It was so great that I got to join him today.  It was fun and took his mind off all the other people, who he usually calls “evil” and describes how he will knock them down or put fire on them.   The only other kids about his age were also jumping with a parent which was good to see.

I think we push kids away from us before they are ready and miss opportunities to spend time with them when they are small and want to be with us.  Trust me, it doesn’t last.  Sure, I am very close to my older two children and we spent a lot of time together but there is nothing like the love of a toddler who wants to marry you and live with you forever.  I guess I like my kids when they are in the “need mommy” stages.  It seams simpler to help them when they are young or even ill and just want to sit with mom.  I know I appreciate my youngest as a toddler more than my older two because my older two are 9 and 14.  Even though, he is my most challenging toddler!

He used to want to be big like his sister and brother but lately has been telling me he wants to stay “wittle” and stay with me.  I am happy to hear this.  I tell him he can live with me forever and he will be little for a long time.  It is good to enjoy being little and each and every age of our children because it all passes….and too quickly.

A good reminder to me for sure because I have my days when I wonder why I had more than one child or long for the day when they are all out of the house.  But not really.  Life can be crazy and noisy and out-of-order at my house, but I do like having children and three of them.  I still wish I had four because it would be more even but that didn’t happen and instead  we somehow  have a dog instead (I am so very much a cat person) and so she is number four.

Now,I need to find a way to remind myself of this every day and especially during the really challenging times.  This makes for a good New Year’s Resolution.  To remember how much I love having kids and to remember that they will soon be 3, 10 and 15……and then 18, 25 and 30!  Enjoy them for who they are right here and now.

Words can’t possibly describe….

I am grateful for our dog, Olive.

Olive came to live in our home one year ago.  She was our neighbor’s dog and I remember when I first met her, she was a small, adorable puppy.   A few years later, Olive became my daughter’s best friend.  Abby would go to visit Olive and we would take her for walks together and sometimes Abby would just bring Olive to our yard to play.

And then Olive became our magic angel who helped my daughter out of her fear and rage that went along with the severe anxiety that began to overtake my daughter’s  life when she was 8 years old.  We would sometimes bring Olive into Abby’s bedroom when she awoke in a rage.  Like magic, seeing Olive could help her calm down and begin to move out of  fear and be able to engage in life, to eat a meal or stop her aggressive behavior.

And so when our neighbors told us they were moving in a few weeks and the house they were renting did not allow all three of their dogs and asked us if we wanted to have Olive, what else could we have said?  Sure, my husband and I thought about it and discussed it privately for a few days.  We were already considering getting our daughter a dog in the future, possibly in a few months.

So Olive came to live in our home, first temporarily but knowing it could be permanent.

Olive more than tolerated our exuberant and energetic youngest child, Jason who was not yet 2 when she came to live with us.  We watched the two of them very closely in the beginning and had some couch “resource guarding behavior” to deal with initially but Olive otherwise had nothing but kisses and love for our toddler.  I am sure it helped that he gave her treats whenever he could get a hold of them and often as many treats as he could give her.

I am even more grateful for my daughter, Abby, thanking me for Olive. 

I am happy to say that one year later, and much time and effort helping my daughter with her anxiety disordrer (OCD), she spontaneously thanked me for her dog, Olive.  It is exciting to see her running up to Olive and saying “I love my puppy!”

Abby, gave me a Thank You card the other day. She thanked me for giving her:  life, love, giving to her, our cat, Peanut and Olive.  It was one of those miraculous moments of motherhood that you cherish forever.  One that erases hours, days and years of challenges.  For my daughter, it was also a monumental point for her given her experiences over the past year or so.  An expression of her new ability to write and express herself on her own and an amazing turning point in her life with severe anxiety- a sign of the “real Abby” the beautiful soul who is without fear and is pure love and joy. A reminder to the rest of us as to who she really is.

Today Abby asked me, “Why is Olive always already outside when I wake up?”

I resisted the urge to say, ‘Because you wake up so late and often don’t get out of bed until 9:30 or later’.  Instead, I saw her need and interest in spending time with her dog (something to be celebrated!)  in the morning and told her that I could bring Olive inside for her.  And I joyfully, brought Olive back in the house.

I realize that there are not words to describe or  fully express the magnificence of these small but huge leaps for my daughter.  She has always loved Olive and continued to when Olive came to live with us.  Yet, within days of Olive moving into our home, Olive became part of my daughter’s anxiety disorder.  She could not touch Olive for some time, maybe with her arm or the back of her hand and then later only if she had washed her hands for a certain length of time (read: a very long time).  She quickly grew unable to feed Olive- she couldn’t touch the container that held her food, and for some time, she couldn’t hold her leash.

At the beginning of this year, my sister, an animal love, dog behaviorist and kindred spirit with my daughter,   began coming to visit monthly, and spend time with Abby and Olive.  With those visits combined with Abby and Olive  taking a local dog training class, we have seen  improvements with my daughter being able to do more with Olive and improvements with her anxiety.   I used to have to bring Olive to Abby when she was in a “stuck place” and I would say, “Her’s your dog, Abby.  Olive loves you no matter what.”

Take all that I have described and multiply it in your mind by 1000 and now you have a glimmer of understanding of her life over the past year.

Abby may have a long way to go with her anxiety and maybe a lifetime of managing OCD, yet, to see her enjoying her dog brings us hope.  We want our children to be happy. When a child has had an experience of pure hell;  an experience that takes away her childhood  innocence , as her parent, you just want to take it all away and make it all better.    As much as I have wanted to take away her pain,  I have always known that I can’t do that.   It is her life to live and my job is to love her  and provide support and encouragement for her.  I can comfort her, but I can not take away the ‘bad’stuff, nor can I always make it better.

So to hear Abby thank me for her dog and to see her joyfully and spontaneously run  up to Olive and hug her and spend time with her is truly an amazing and beautiful sight to behold.  Our daughter is coming back.  She is showing wonderful moments of her true self, without the fear and anxiety and it fills my heart with joy and gratitude.