Asilomar Beach , Pacific Grove, Ca.
I've been silent from this space for a long time , mostly because I have so much to say and am not sure how to say it. This happens sometimes when I am shifting and growing a lot. I get lost in my head and have to talk things through to figure them out.
I have been wanting to share on the blog my thoughts and aha's from our recent big adventure but I guess aha's sometimes come over time not all at once. You see, last month I was blessed enough to take my girls on a 21 day road trip. It had started off as a simple enough vacation with a friend and her boys and before you knew it we had this grand adventure planned. I was thrilled. I have been feeling that ever present heaviness that comes from knowing my oldest is going off to college in one year and I want to soak up every last bit of connection and memories with her that I can and boy did we!
The thing was that I had not been on a trip this long since I was 16 years old so this was a big deal. Over the weeks leading up to our roadtrip I felt my excitement rising. Trips to REI were filled with a sense of wonder and enthusiasm I have not felt in a very long time. I am pretty sure my kids thought I was nuts to get so revved up about new camping utensils and collapsible pots and pans but I have to admit even in those early weeks I could feel the magic brewing.
After all our dreaming, weeks of packing and careful planning, the trip did not disappoint.
I recall sitting on the beach the first morning with my coffee for a few minutes of alone time and feeling this enormous amount of peace wash over me. In that moment I realized that over the years since becoming a mama , I had lost my inner adventurer - and now she was back!! She had been such a strong presence in my life when I was younger from the time I was 16 and went on a 3 week Outward Bound White Water Rafting/ Mountaineering Trip, to my time at UC Santa Barbara as a Adventure Staff Volunteer leading canoe trips on the Colorado River, and even into the beginnings of my relationship with my husband on our many camping trips and hikes. My inner adventurer was about more than being active though, it was an overall mental state, a feeling of wonder and excitement about life and the world. Anything was possible and I was filled with hope and wonder. The world was my oyster and I wanted to explore it all.
Then I had kids and as those of you with gifted munchkins ( and teens!!) know, raising intense, out of the box, beyond mainstream kids can probably relate: life suddenly got very very hard. We don't just learn differently, we are wired differently and experience the world differently .
Looking back now I realize that we had been in a state of crisis for so very long that I had completely lost any sense of fun. Everything was about managing my kids. In the beginning I became focused on just getting through the day because of course my kids didn't just magically sleep through the night. Later my relationships were strained ( or at least I felt they were) because my kids didn't fit in socially and sometimes didn't behave in public the way they were supposed to. The stories are many but I can remember one occasion when my now 9 year old started preschool that she kept running out of the classroom.and crying at drop off. Every time I drove away I felt awful but this was what was expected right? Of course, they had no idea what to do and would call me daily to report her "misbehavior". All the other kids. weren't crying and carrying on for week and weeks. I must be a bad parent. I must be doing something terribly wrong. How could I share this with friends and expect any support? They weren't dealing with this. They would look at me sympathetically but beyond that, couldn't relate.
Yes, in those early years my days were filled with managing problems at school, trying to force kids to "comply" at home", and trying to fit in when we so clearly did not. I had friends through my kids girlscout troop or sports team but I really had no tribe. I had friends but felt outside the circle even though I probably was not.
So, it is no wonder that I lost my way. I have been slowly making my way back over the past years since I started homeschooling and it feels so so good.
Meadow House, Willow Witt Ranch Oregon
I have been home from the 21 day Road Trip for a little over a month now and the aha's keep coming in. I have ideas to share and inspiration and hope to spread. For all parents but especially those of you raising unique, spirited kids I know one thing for sure: life doesn't have to be so hard...
We spend so much time focusing on our kids problems. This comes from a place of fear and worry. We want so badly for them to be successful in life, to have opportunities available to them so we think this is what we need to do in order to make sure that happens. Don't get me wrong, I understand that some kids need scaffolding or professional help when the challenges they experience make it difficult to manage life in a joyful way. I've been there too. But I believe we are taking it too far. I think as a community we spend too much time looking at what's wrong instead of looking for what is right.
I wonder what if we focus more on our own joy, our own happiness and peace. What if we look within to how we can be more organized, more inspired, more alive. What would happen if we rediscover our inner adventurer? How would our kids react? Our spouses, our friends? I think something amazing would occur in our children and our families.
I have been reading this book and the author shares this new way of looking at parenting that I have been feeling for so long. She says that our job as parents is to support our kids in becoming more of who they really are instead of focusing on what we feel are their faults or flaws.
She says... " I know how extremely difficult it is for parents to trust that if we simply usher our children into their own self realization, rather than pressuring them to comply with our idea of who they should be , they will flourish, " " We feel that if we aren't trying to control or effect a desired outcome , we are not doing what we are supposed to do. Parents become obsessed with activity as an imagined antidote to fear. We treat our children like chattel , pushing them toward a future we imagine for them. Only when we stop listening to the voice in our head and stop obsessing and regard our children as sovereign beings who are fully capable of rising to the challenge of becoming the author of their own life will they embody the vigor and courage that is their natural state. " - Shefali Tsabary
I have noticed a trend on gifted and parenting blogs and groups of focusing on everything that is going wrong. We look for the problems and want support with that. I understand it because some days are really really hard. What I wonder though is what would happen if we took Shefali's approach and worked instead on finding our own inner adventurer, looked into ourselves for how we need to evolve and be better human beings for our children, what would happen?
For me, I know this is what I need. I want to create a childhood filled with wonder and curiosity. I wish for a peace filled home with connection and strong relationships. I want a circle of friends and a tribe of women who believe this to be true. This conscious parenting approach is going to require awareness and thoughtfulness because it is not how most of us were raised but for asynchronous kids and mamas- it may just the thing that saves us all.