Even though my first post was just a few months ago, I began the process of writing this blog five years ago. Truly. Since becoming a mom I’ve pondered sharing how my professional training in speech-language pathology has enhanced my experience of motherhood. I’ve probably drafted fifty posts in my brain. I’ve discussed it a bazillion times (I think my oldest considers this a real number) with my very patient husband and close friends. It just took me ridiculously long to get over my hurdles of perfectionism, anxiety and self-doubt and take the giant leap.
My primary hope for this blog is that it brings anyone who interacts with children on a regular basis more pleasure in that experience, as well as helping build a better relationship for the dyad through opening up the communication pathways. I hope to relieve some of the stress by providing a few strategies that help with communication struggles. I’d be thrilled if storytimes transformed from a struggle to a joy. Same with mealtimes. Basically, it boils down to this: I know how incredibly hard caring for children day in and day out can be and I am hoping to lighten the load.
My goal is to post weekly but I don’t want to be a slave to the blog and start posting inane contributions just to keep it going. I value your time. I value my time. But, I do feel that pressure. So, the fact that I haven’t posted in several weeks stresses me out a bit.
It’s not that I haven’t written. I have actually spent hours writing. Most of that time was spent angrily venting my thoughts after the Aurora shooting. Coming so close on the heels of the Seattle shootings (Cafe Racer is close to our house and the other spot downtown was close to where Miles and I were at the time), and being in my homestate near the homes of several college friends’ parents, I felt this deeply. I dropped more than a few f-bombs and sat on it for a week, realizing this is not the place for that. There are many excellent journalists who have shared my viewpoint far more articulately with much better research. So, I took action instead- signed a few petitions and emailed legislators.
But even prior to the shootings I was questioning aspects of this blog and feeling hesitant to write. A friend of mine, whom I deeply care about and respect, wrote this about parenting advice. I completely agree with her point about grieving and it was something I needed to read at just that time. I was wrapping up several weeks of dealing with increased anger and impatience towards the boys and Harry, unable to pinpoint why. Her post encouraged me to sit with it a bit and I ended up balling in Harry’s arms a few days later, crying about a variety of things I’d bottled up for far too long. But I needed to think awhile about the rest of her post and why I was hit so hard by it that I didn’t want to post here.
Basically, the last thing I want to do is make “parents everywhere feel like shit.” I know the judgment facing parents.I have sat in that boat, wondering why someone would act a certain way or horrified by a parents’ harsh words towards their kid, and considered that adult less because of it. Now, on my better days, I still think those thoughts but it’s tempered with more grace, compassion and understanding. I realize that I have no idea why someone might be acting that way. Given how much privilege I’ve experienced, chances are their life is much, much harder than mine. I also know that I don’t even come close to knowing it all. There are so many aspects of parenthood that are so ridiculously hard, to think that we have all the answers would be idiotic. Lastly, I am deeply aware of how lost sleep can turn a well-meaning loving mom into a mean ogre. After having Miles, particularly in the first year(s) when we were incredibly sleep deprived, I became the craziest looney on the block. Dr. Harvey did not help me. I was losing my marbles. I was really quick to anger with Charlie, who was at that lovely irrational age of 3.5. I was haunted by all the advice against letting younger babies cry but knew how desperately we needed to be sane. But I could only talk with a few very trusted people about it because of fear of judgment.
So, today’s post is simply to ask that you help keep me in line. If you’re feeling judged or inadequate because of something I write, please let me know. I do not want to go there. My desire is to be a place of inspiration. If you need encouragement in communicating with your little one in a certain way, please let me know. I might have some ideas that may help. This is not to say that I don’t have strong opinions about issues. I do. Oh, yes I do. But, my hope is that you’ll know when my opinions and advice are perfect for you and when you can leave them behind. Or maybe you just need to chew on things for a little bit and re-evaluate later.
In the meantime, I am taking my friend’s advice (I see the irony) to continue grieving while disregarding her advice to not take advice (and in my case, share it). My comment on her blog included this:
I really agree with the spirit of this- a parent’s healing needs to be a progression and grieving happens as a life-long process. One thing I notice about parenthood is that my grief, as it comes in waves, absolutely (deeply!) impacts my parenting style. My anger can surprise me with how quickly it will swell and then be directed at my kids. This shock sends me reeling to my books or favorite articles for reminders and ideas that get me through until I’ve had the time and space to properly understand the trigger. Parenthood just doesn’t allow the luxury to reflect during a moment. Those tips can help buy time.
I feel like I am a pretty good judge of what to take or leave. Some of it is crap. Some is fantastic. Some is neither here nor there. As far as development stuff goes (like language), I love learning about child development. My degree in speech-language pathology has made parenting much more FUN. Understanding development better has made my experience much richer. I know how to meet my boys at their level. I can connect much better with them. I wouldn’t have this without a stronger knowledge base. It’s 100% enrichment.
There’s definitely a difference between knowledge and advice. Knowledge allows a place of empowerment from which one can grow and flex along with the relationship’s journey. Advice will sometimes be more rigid and wrong for some, and sometimes be just fine.
I am remembering my own issues and talking more about them, instead of shoving them aside. I am taking steps to care for myself better. I am reading the stories about the theatre victims with amazement at those people who acted out of tremendous love and courage that night. I am reading the stories about Seattle’s Cafe Racer reopening, with the owner embracing a commitment to continued community for that spot. I am smiling and saying hi to the people I pass because it’s a lonely, lonely world sometimes. I am chasing my children around the house while wearing a colander on my head because we all need a laugh. I am letting Miles harvest carrots that are one inch long because he thinks it’s fun and it helps me hold my garden more open-handedly. I am inviting people into my home even though the toilets might be gross and the kitchen floor hasn’t been mopped since June. I am going to keep writing. I don’t want my anxiety of potentially offending someone to stop me from sparking any good that might come from sharing ideas. And I’m thinking about the next nugget of knowledge I’ll share with you.