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.

Faeries and Monsters

I used to believe in faeries. At least, I think I did. I know I wanted to.

I haven’t told my daughters that faeries are real, yet. I don’t want them to think that the monsters they imagine are real, too. Like I used to.

I remember hearing tales of pixies in the tree leaves, and of hell hounds in the forest at night.

I spent a lot of time dreaming, playing, enjoying, but I remember a lot of time spent worrying and wondering, too.

And some things don’t really change. Maybe they concentrate with age. I see a lot of fear in myself, still.

And I haven’t been believing quite so much, and I haven’t been playing quite enough.

I’ve been worrying and wondering about the monsters.

About the ache in the space where I used to be connected to my magical family tree.

About the time with them I missed that left me hardening my shell for the sake of survival.

About the anger that rises up inside of me when I don’t feel like I have everything figured out and running predictably.

About the fear of not measuring up and the difficulty in admitting that by asking for support.

And mostly, so often, I am worrying and wondering about my kids.

Why they are suddenly whiny, why they are annoying each other, why they can’t just share, why my oldest panics when things don’t go her way, why my youngest can’t just leave some things alone, why they both want my attention when I seem least able to give it, why they drag their feet getting ready, why they run away when I try to talk to them….

And I think, well, it must be that I have left the TV on a little too much, and I condemn myself a little.

It must be because this place is so cluttered, they can’t relax, and I feel frustrated with my inability to get on top of the never-ending mess.

I think, it must be because of all that junk food, maybe I should have made lunch a little earlier, they haven’t been eating enough greens… and I wish I had more talent and passion for food, that I could prioritize it.

It must be because they lack consistency, they went to bed too late, and I struggle to force us into a rhythm only to fall back out, again and again and again…

And when I blame the TV, I turn it off suddenly and in anger, in a great big huff.

And when I blame the mess, I rant angrily about how they have contributed to it, how they can’t seem to help enough.

And no matter what external condition I try to point the finger at, my discomfort is coming from deep inside. A pile of crumbs, a junk food lunch, those are not monsters. And what I am really lashing out at when I try to fight those things is my kids. And they are not monsters…

It’s been really hard grieving and doing this healing work while being a mother to young children.

And I catch myself feeling like I need to work so hard, strain, live up to these expectations to insulate us from harm, from fear, from uncertainty.

But the monsters still come.

The only thing making my kids act out is me. My disconnection, my anger, my impatience. My monsters.

And they don’t really need a beautifully orchestrated daily rhythm, the greatest of all foods made from scratch all the time, a tidy minimalist sanctuary, or a world completely free from media to feel content and happy.

They need me. They need me to be present with them. To accept them, to accept their feelings. To accept the ways that they show me what they need, however messy. To care for them. To stand firm in the centre of the bad days and bad feelings, and to play and to laugh with them, without fear.

My children need me to show them all about the faeries.

And I need for my children to help me remember that they exist.

Pendulum Swings in Perfectionist Parenting

I’ve been reflecting a lot on what seems to be a boom and bust cycle I have been going through, in terms of parenting and households ambitions.

There are a lot of ideals I hold. I have been wanting to practice more discipline with myself, more regular cleaning, more rhythm and schedule to our days that we can feel more confident and content within. And I had so many ideas about what I should be doing – what kind of food I should be cooking, how present I should be, what kind of days I should be guiding the kids through.

And I have been having so much trouble pushing myself to be more productive in so many different areas at once. I would get some motivation, have some days without TV, wake up a bit earlier, get more time outside, have more regular meals. But I would burn out very quickly, feel like I was pushing just a little bit too hard. And instead of easing off into moderation, I would just slack off completely and we would have times of too much indulgence, too much distraction, too much mess. And any relief I might feel from giving up on trying so hard to live up to those expectations would soon be replaced by frustration about clutter, sticky floors, kids acting out after too much media, days gone by feeling like I hadn’t really done enough.

I still can’t be sure if my discomforts at those times of rest and leisure are because I really want and need more structure to function, or just because I feel like I am not good enough when we are eating commercial food, don’t have everything organized and cleaned, and aren’t having Pinterest-worthy days full of crafts and love and magic.

Since I got past my initial parenting phase of being way too tuned into my child and not having any interests or projects outside of her, I have felt bursting with ambition and creativity to work on my own things again. And that seems to be where I have the most trouble balancing my parenting goals with my personal ones – if I want to have adequate time and opportunity for self-care as well as creative expression and to pay attention to my own interests, it seems that I need to sometimes leave the tv on, or let the kids make a mess, or let my high standard of routine and cleanliness slide. But sometimes I let it slide just a little too far, finding I want to lose myself in my own work like I could before I had kids.

This brings me to notice the divide that still exists in me, between what I think of myself as an individual, and how I see myself as a parent. I would love to work to bridge those two aspects of myself, and find ways to live a magical and creative life as a parent, instead of feeling like I need to compartmentalize everything, and totally shirk off my responsibilities to do things that make me feel good.

I am working on finding a balance, here. I am trying to be more honest and more realistic with myself about what I really need to do, what I can do. And looking more at my particular skills. I really believe that I can have a lush creative life and be more present with my kids. As long as I am not spreading myself too thin in other areas, too!

So I’ve been easing off on the push to perfect all the crunchy, connected, spiritual parent things. Trying to worry less about accomplishing the external things that I have convinced myself that I need to do to be doing a good job at this. And I have let things slide just a bit too much into indulgence, it seems, but even though I would like to do just a little better than I seem to be right now, I have been open to having a lot more fun with my kids. I have been managing to keep the house and my kids from falling apart, and I’ve still been able to get involved with a lot of crafts, writing projects and social collaborations.

I am learning to trust that movements towards healthier eating and better schedules can happen for me, without me trying to work them all out and force them to happen. But for now, I am learning to be content with my own gifts, and my own challenges, and am noticing the ways in which I am still appreciated and valued. And the ways that I appreciate and value myself! As a creative, mindful parent. As a sort of philosophical writer. As a friend, a partner, a family member.

I’ll be sharing a lot more of this journey as it develops. It is still hard for me to feel like I don’t seem to have things under control. But trying to act as if I do, to put on that show is a lot harder. And I much prefer being in the swing of things. I am really excited to see how this might work for us!