The Value of Inner-Child Work

As I have been a mother to my children,

I’ve been mothering myself.

As they grow and change and change again,

I’m changing shape as well.

 

There have been times that I’ve resisted,

That I’ve fought against the flow.

There were times that I could not hang on,

Times that I could not let go…

 

Through all of this exploring,

And the challenges and growth,

I’ve felt I was missing something

To help with keeping me afloat.

 

As I have found my inner child

And all the fears she keeps

I’ve done my best to tend to her

Healing whatever I could reach.

 

But even making space for her,

And trying to bridge that gap

Left me feeling a little stuck,

Like I was still holding something back.

 

And I guess that the time must have been right,

Maybe I could not have done it before,

But something has clicked into place

And now I see what I’ve been yearning for.

 

It is well and good to help that child

Living deep inside of me,

But to my surprise I’ve found, instead,

It is she who is saving me!

 

For as I became an adult,

And as I had my own kids too,

I left behind something important,

That’s kept me from living my truth.

 

All the striving to comfort and soothe myself,

And to be the best parent I can,

I had forgotten how to play! Have fun!

To be wild, full of wonder, joy in hand!

 

Now I see the secret ingredient here

To the mix that I’ve struggled to brew

I need to remember to do what I love

And to love what I have to do, too.

 

All the roles that I play these days,

All the different aspects I can be,

They all jumble together in a beautiful mess

When I remember to be wild, and playful and me.

Understand

I think at some point, everyone in the world will have that feeling –

Wondering why everyone else can’t just be more like them. Why they can’t just get it, just do it, just see what we see or feel what we feel.

Because it’s so obvious to us. We see the world so clearly in our own way. At times the picture might be a little blurry, things may change, but what we make of the world is so clear to us.

And sometimes it’s easy to wonder why others don’t see it that way, too. That even among like minded folk, we can feel misunderstood, we can feel like we must have it all wrong, or that we are the only ones that have it right.

But no one else can really understand. Not really. No one can make themselves into someone else, and we can imagine – we can open our minds, open our hearts. We can empathise, we can listen, we can reason. But we can’t see the world quite the way anyone else does, we will never draw the same conclusions.

We find different problems. Even among those who see the same problems, we’ll see different causes and different solutions.

What you are doing is really great. It is so important, and I am so glad that you do all the things you do. I’m so glad that you are making those plans, I’m so glad that you are focusing where you are. I am so glad for your talents, your passion, for the direction in which you flex your will.

And I’m glad for my focus, for my plans, for my own kind of magic. I’m glad for everything that I do, too.

And that is exactly how I fit here, it’s why I am here if you prefer to think of it that way. Because I am perfectly suited to see and to do whatever it is that I see and do.

And I probably won’t be able to do the work just as you imagine it should be done.

Then, it is a good thing that the world has you, too.

The Rut

Just after my dad died, I was out for a smoke and started walking a sort of labyrinth pattern into the snow, making a path in a spiral and back out through the center again. I walked it over and over and ended up taking a shovel and digging it deep into the snow, and it became a place for my daughter to run around and play. But I would pace around it when I went out for smokes by myself all the time.

We made it outside today! After being reminded by a few people, I finally remembered to actually make use of my wrap and the baby slept while I was wearing her, when I couldn’t have otherwise put her down… Derp. So she stayed sleeping while I helped the girls get dressed and took them outside. And while we walked a circle into the snow, and started pushing the snow around to shape the beginning of walls because they wanted to make a snow fort.

She stayed sleeping while we came inside, while I made them lunch and cleaned up lots of our main living area. I got so much done!

We had a lot of company today. My mom came to visit, and some friends with their kids. The girls got so much attention and got to play, and I got to catch up a bit and have some company, and someone around to hold the baby and help her stay sleeping.

It was a little hectic but so nice, and most of the mess we made was clean (cleaned by my friends son mostly!) by the time everyone left.

But as soon as everyone had gone, and the sun began to set, it was mayhem all over again, just like last night. I guess I expected it this time, but I didn’t handle it very well.

My baby started fussing instead of just nursing and sleeping, and my toddler dumped all of our vanilla extract out on the counter.

Then she spilled yogurt drink all over herself, then after I cleaned her up she spilled more on the couch and on the floor.

And after I had cleaned that up (while the fussy baby is crying, waiting for me) my toddler wandered off without her pull up since she’d slipped it off with her yogurt splattered pants.

She snatched a toy from her big sister enough times that my oldest freaked out so much that she hit herself in the head with a little mirror somehow. And shrieked in my ear, while the baby was still fussing.

And a little while later the toddler came back to let me know that she pooped in the other room.

So again, I had to leave the fussy baby crying out to clean her up. And there were bits of poop across the floor. I yelled at her to not clean it up herself, multiple times, because I didn’t feel like I could get to it and she kept trying to go towards it with some wipes… Ugh.

So somehow after all of that we all managed to calm down. I didn’t manage to get supper started, but the poop got cleaned up, and I picked up all the clothes we’d been looking through earlier.

We had a sort of lazy supper when Drew got home and took the girls outside a bit longer afterwards, so at least we all got some air and they got a bit more exercise and space to play.

Bedtime is late again here but the girls helped us clean up toys and things this evening and they’ve been quiet and calm as they settled down.

I’m thinking about help, feeling provided for. Part of me still feels like I should be doing more now, exchanging directly, giving more back. But I am so grateful to everyone that listens to me, reassures me, everyone who has brought me things, taken me places, come over and tried to help me manage the house, and sent needful things from afar.

It feels nice to know so much is taken care of when I can’t stay on top of everything myself, or between Drew and I. It still feels strange though, lots of questions of deserving are coming up for me. I feel pretty loved anyway… I still feel anxious and get mad at times, sunset especially apparently, but I feel like I can actually enjoy our little family and the people we know and love more again. I don’t feel so stuck in my ruts.

Out of Control

So, I’m about 37 and a half weeks pregnant. Third child… So this is not completely new to me, but since I first learned I was pregnant I’ve been worried about stacking more and more on top of the struggles I’m still having in adjustment to becoming a parent to each of my first two children.

I have learned a lot. So much. And that list is growing all the time, still. My first opened up a lot of lessons about trust – in myself, in her, in the world around us. My second has compounded that with lessons in patience. Both of them together teach me so much about surrender and initiative, communication and support.

And there is still so much I don’t know, so much I don’t have figured out. And I expect that is the way it is meant to be,  in parenting and in life. It just seems the lessons and the challenges come packed so much closer together in the early childhood years, with so much on the line and so little time to adapt.

But I have grown a lot, too. I think the greatest thing I’ve noticed lately is that I am growing into the uncertainty and lack of control that I must allow at times. And I don’t welcome it very often still, but I’m learning to recognize that it’s unavoidable, and I’m learning more about all the parts of myself that still want to resist. And one at a time or sometimes in many ways at once I am learning to heal, to tame and to teach those parts how to deal.

But here I am, nearing the end of my third pregnancy. Thought I had finally reached the plateau after a long climb towards discipline in routines and housekeeping, clearing space so that I could do the work required each day to keep from drowning under half finished chores, neglected personal projects and plentiful requests for help and attention.

But now I’m tired. And just today, I feel my body has stretched past it’s threshold for this extra weight and the work I was trying to do with it. And my back is starting to hurt, and my legs and my feet have been so stiff and my body doesn’t want to do the work anymore.

And this could mean that labor is imminent.  I feared it was coming last week, but I’ve been hoping for it any day now. Or it could mean that I have a few weeks to spend not being able to bend over to pick up the toys and the clutter, or load the dishwasher, or pick up little bodies wanting to feel close…

And if that is the case, I’ll be in for many days of watching rather helplessly as all the work I’ve put in to make my house feel tidy enough for my mental well being is undone. Watching things pile up again, falling behind after finally crawling out of that place of feeling like I was perpetually catching up, but never quite getting there.

And there is something poetic about that for me, that as I grew more worried about how I was going to physically keep up with the tangible work that needed to be done, that I will be forced to surrender to complete inaction and just have to deal with it that way. That makes sense. I know that’s one way that I can be forced to make peace when I’ve been fighting with myself.

But it doesn’t seem fair, at all. Because I do think I was stressing just a bit too much, but I’ve really needed the discipline and the results that I was pushing for. I really needed to know that I could keep things up. I really needed that much clear space and order to make myself feel like I could handle this, like I am indeed cut out for the life that I have taken on.

I really need the energy and drive to get my kids to bed at a decent time when I start to burn out at the end of the day. I really need to know that I can have some time to reconnect and decompress at the end of the day, without staying up into the wee hours of the morning and wearing myself down.

I really need the ability and the will to finish things that I start, to clear things up when I am done with them to avoid intimidating, stress triggering piles of “how will I ever get through that?” so I don’t have to worry so much about the necessary messes of play and of life.

And I really need the patience and the presence of mind to clear up the extra at the end of the day so we can have a fresh start each morning. To notice what is working and what isn’t so I can respond accordingly and keep everyone’s needs met and everyone feeling taken care of and loved.

I didn’t really know how to achieve all of that without pushing so hard.

And all the things I now suspect I am being asked to let go of, are all things I thought were really important to help me get through this next challenge of keeping on top of everything I was before with yet another little person in the mix.

And it just doesn’t seem fair.

And now I wonder just what lessons this little one will lead me to, as I think of all I’ve learned and worked on in preparation for her arrival already.

This next part might be very hard, before she even comes. Her early days might be a relief or they might be the thing that breaks me right down. I’m not so sure those hard breaks are such a bad thing, now…

Because apparently I don’t really know yet how to pace myself, when to let go and how to prioritize. I know I’ve made leaps and bounds with that just recently, but…

Here I am now, very pregnant, tired and sore and feeling quite helpless and frustrated. And life just goes along anyway. Somehow we eat and play and fight and make up and love and go to sleep anyway.

I guess I can relax into that for now, but I really hope that I have truly learned from the work I’ve been recently practicing, and that it won’t be that hard to pick up again once my body and my mind have recovered.

And I hope that letting things spiral just a little out of control in the meantime won’t make me feel like a failure anymore.