Parenting that Works Like Magic

Newsflash:  PARENTING IS NOT EASY!

Some days are better than others, of course, but most of the time we’re left questioning whether we’re doing the right thing, whether we’re setting ourselves and our kids up for years of therapy, or whether it really makes a difference at all what we do.

Fortunately I found a wonderful resource in our town called Pages of Parenting, and the proprietor there is an incredibly knowledgeable woman.  She encourages the 1-2-3-Magic method of discipline, but even more highly recommends Connection Parenting.  She said parents usually move from 1-2-3 to Love and Logic and then to Connection Parenting.  It’s another evolutionary process.  Imagine that.

There are books and self-helps galore, and I value tremendously having experts sort through the rough for me.  I barely have time to feel like a good parent, let alone BE a good parent.  So far the Magic method is working wonders for us.  In a few months we’ll study up on Love and Logic; or maybe we’ll go straight to Connection Parenting.

Either way, I feel we’re evolving as parents, becoming more loving and kind.  There’s a lot less yelling in our house, that’s for sure — at least on the parent side!  Parenting involves discipline, which to me is about setting boundaries for the kids, teaching them what is acceptable and what isn’t.  When they truly think about it (even if that’s not until years from now), the kids will know we are being loving and truthful with them. 

When it comes to making our world a better place, I think being a truly loving parent and person makes all the difference.

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What’s Your Style?

Can your friends and family see you coming from far away just by what you’re wearing?  As soon as you start talking on the phone, does the person on the other end of the line know it’s you?  Do people feel comfortable in your home, if for no other reason than because you are comfortable there?

You can take style surveys all day, but when it comes down to it, only you know what speaks to your soul.  You know what makes you comfortable, what makes you feel like a queen, and only you know what makes you feel like . . . well, what makes you feel really badly.  So, why waste your time?  Rather, let’s take some time to find what echoes the sentiments that is the music of our being.

How?  Here’s an example.  Go through your closet.  Are you really going to lose weight?  Would you even wear that if you did?  When’s the last time you wore it?  If you didn’t wear it last season, you’re not going to wear it this one.  Does it make you feel loved and beautiful?  GIVE IT AWAY!!!  You have to give to receive, and the more you do it, the easier it is.  Now, when blessings and opportunities come your way, fill your closet only with what you truly need and only with items (from undergarments to clothes to shoes) that make your heart sing.  Now, when you wake up in the morning, you’ll have lots to choose from, and you’ll be dressed in a style that suits you . . . if you’re honest with yourself.  No one but you knows if you’re being truly honest, but everyone will know if you’re comfortable and confident.

When I was in high school, I bought Levi’s at a thrift store and packages of white pocket T-shirts.  Jeans and T-shirts and Birkenstocks.  That was my favorite outfit.  Four kids later, I still love jeans and a white T, but jeans right now fit a little too snug at the waist.  I feel more feet_rings_toerings_313512_l.jpgbeautiful in a flowing skirt and pretty shirt, and I have a few other outfits I love.  Comfort for me is key to my style, not fashion.

What about accessories?  For me, I only have a few pairs of earrings, each with their own meaning and an energy they give me for that day.  Every necklace that I’ve had and worn because it meant so much has broken or been broken.  I figured I was too attached, and it was its own lesson.  Everything we wear carries a message with it, offers a window into our being, even if on some days the meaning isn’t very deep (i.e., “these were on sale at the store and match this shirt”).

As for your personal life style, you know your disposition.  Are you optimistic?  Sincere?  A pessimist?  A cynic?  Do you prefer Victorian or contemporary?  Intelligent?  Practical?  A ditz?  (I know, some days vary!)  Do you reflect this in your voice, your expressions?  I don’t have to ask if this plays into your relationships.

I’ve asked a lot of questions, but really there’s only one here.  How well do we know ourselves?  Our true self.  The one that when you come to end of all your days, you know that this is who you are, who you’ve really been in every moment.  May you live fully into that being.  Can we be so honest with ourselves?

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A Selfish Mother

She looks like an ordinary woman, except maybe her quick smile and honest eyes.  Before long you notice her children, the whole lot of them.  Now she’s a mother, and from the looks of it, she has her hands full; she has your sympathy.  Then you start to talk to her.  She’s kind and smart.  The more you talk, though, you notice that you start to hear some of her interests but the list keeps going.  Wait a minute.  She’s a mom, right?  She doesn’t have time to be doing all that stuff.  What about being a mom, being there for the kids?

This might be how I describe a selfish mom.  At least, it’s how I might, hypothetically speaking, describe myself if I were to meet her for the first time.  How should I feel about this?  How do you feel when you realize that your commitments in the day take the focus off of the kids?  Maybe this doesn’t happen to you, but you’ve probably met women like this.

Are mothers so stereotyped that we have a guilt complex if we don’t fit the bill?  Isn’t that why working mothers often experience or receive so much grief?

I know mothers who seem like the “perfect” mom.  They have lots of kids, homeschool all of them (though some send them to school), and every moment of their life seems to be for and with their kids or the family as a whole.  I admire that . . . because that’s not something I can do.

First, I was a young woman.  Then I became a wife and mother.  Always, I will be a woman through it all.  I cannot imagine my life when I forget that I have my own being to nurture, too.  The wife and mother that I am suffers when the woman that I am is not loved, supported, growing.  Can you relate to that?

Rather than calling ourselves selfish, why don’t we just say that we’re wonderful women, and as such, we make better mothers.  Maybe then the “perfect” moms can pause and take a breath for themselves.  Or maybe they are so perfect because they already know how to do so in each breath, and I just didn’t notice, being too busy judging and all.

Let’s sit back and enjoy the day, our kids, all the shtuff we do for everything and everybody.  While you’re at it, mark a day in your calendar for a date with yourself.  Do something nice for you.  I plan to go to a writing workshop on Sunday, that will make my second one.  Indulgent?  Perhaps.  Necessary?  Absolutely.

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Maternal Lit.

Obviously writing is one of those things I just do, but this craft/trade/hobby/talent is not mine alone.  For those of you who share my passion or maybe are just venturing into the realm, I thought on this craf-t day I would provide some links to some literary mags specifically designed and provided for moms like us.

  • Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine (not a terribly original name, but self-explanatory!)
  • Literary Mama — I subscribe to their e-zine and have for years now
  • HipMama
  • Brain, Child — They’ve redesigned their site since last I went there.  Probably a great zine for my fellow brilliant mamas
  • TheMomCrowd posted about literary magazines, too.  I thought the site was nice, so take a visit to see her comments about a couple of other sites I’ve not listed here.

Now, to actually submit some work to them.

* * *

Pick me!  I took a bold step and have my site up for nominations under Best Parenting and Hottest Mommy  Blogger for a Blogger’s Choice award.  The more votes I have, the closer my site is to page 1, and the more likely I am to reach other women who might have something to share.  Pass along my site to your friends, and we’ll see what happens!

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Tell Us About Your Birth Experience — Launch of The Birth Survey

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Today CIMS (Coalition for Improving Maternity Services) nationally releases The Birth Survey.  The major effort to make maternity care transparent is underway, and your story makes a difference.

Why?

  • Pregnancy, a naturally occurring part of a woman’s life, is treated like a medical condition.  The baby is a human, not a tumor, and in a majority of pregnancies, there are few risk factors.  Many of the obstetrical interventions, however, increase the likelihood that a woman will have complications from her pregnancy/birth.

  • The rate of interventions is more determined by the facility or provider than the woman herself.

  • In places where statistics for interventions and quality of care have been made publicly available, maternity care has been highly receptive to quality improvement, most likely because there were so many simple improvements to make.

CIMS, Lamaze International, Citizens for Midwifery and other birth advocacy organizations strive to improve the quality of maternity care — to make it truly mother-friendly — and believe that through transparency, the change will come.

How?

  • When you go to buy a new camera, you read the reviews, check the sites rating the hundreds of cameras you have to choose from and talk to your friends to see what they’ve had the best experience with.  Is choosing your maternity care provider any different?

  • But when you go to look for a doctor or midwife, apart from checking the listings and talking to your friends, you’re not going to find which one has the best rates, provides the features that are most important to you — whether that be in natural pain management, low episiotomy rates or successful cesareans.

  • So, The Birth Survey aims to list the providers and facilities.  We’re collecting data so you can have a “features” list, the statistics for interventions.  And, we’re hoping you will share your experience so that others can learn from you, even outside your immediate circle of friends or those who bump into you at the grocery store.  (We know you’ll tell your story to anyone who will listen!)

Take a step toward making mother-friendly care a reality for all.  Take the survey (if you’ve given birth within the past three years).  Tell your friends.  Let’s paint the picture of what maternity care is really like so we know how to keep it good but to make it even better.

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Share a Story . . . Yours

These past few weeks I’ve spent more time thinking . . . and reading . . . rather than writing.  I wouldn’t say that my well was dry or that I’ve spent time filling it.  I’d say I’ve been listening, which is the largest component in discernment.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be working on a new site design, or branding, if you will.  I’m going to come up with a more consistent schedule of topics to reflect what is most dear to our hearts.  And probably most importantly, I want to work on building our community, sharing our stories so that we encourage each other along our journey, provide a little direction, maybe, if we need assistance.  Whether you’re a maid, matron or crone, you are welcome here, and I’m sure you have inspiring stories to share.  Contact me, and we’ll see how and if it fits.  Communication is what it’s all about.  Either leave comments or e-mail me — sara at everydaysimple dot org.  (trying to prevent spam!)

Together our stories weave a beautiful tapestry.  Collectively our creativity fluorishes.  Journeying together, the Divine is ever-present.  That is what being a woman is all about.

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Domestic Goddess or CEO?

A little more matriarchy is what the world needs, and I know it.
                                              — Dorothy Thompson

My dearest husband, upon feeling better (from pneumonia this winter) and getting back in his groove, stated that he wanted a “flow” to the house.  He wanted aCompass_north_wooden_266943_tn.jpg system.  My bursts of energy come and go with the moon, understandably, and I, too, get the feeling that we’re going to have to take an active role in channeling the energy in and around our home and affairs.  Great.  We have a heading.  We know what we want, but how to get there?

I’m sure we’re not the only ones who want to save money but not sacrifice quality.  We want to eat well but not blow the budget.  We want to practice right livelihood, but we want to get out of debt.  We want to trust the Universe to provide, and we want to know what’s going to happen when, where and now.  Like nearly everyone else I know, we want it all.  Pass the cake.

As the maternal head of household, largely in charge of maintaining course, what I want to know is:  do I follow the stars, trust my instincts and ride the waves, or do I chart the course, follow advice and charge ahead?  Am I a goddess or a chief officer?  Is my home my dominion or my business?

I believe the delightfully frustrating answer is yes.  Both.  I am living the new age now, and I have made my life my business.  The truth that pains us is that we want to draw these definitive lines, build these boxes around what we claim to understand.  Do we really want to set ourselves up for disappointment?  I admit, I want to get it right.  I want to do what’s best for me, for my family.  I want the “rules” so as to make it easy, clear-cut and simple to follow.  I want to succeed.  However, I’ve got to put my over-achiever ego in the backseat and let the goddess take the helm.  Everything these days points to going with the flow.  I’ll know when it’s time to chart a plan of action.

Maybe I should call myself a CDEG (chief domestic executive goddess).  If my kids start singing their ABC’s, at least I’ll know they’re learning something, and maybe it will point out for me the absurdity of titles anyway.  In the end, I’ll still be a MOM, no matter which course we take or what the ledger says. 

We’re still sailing now.  Let the wind blow.

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Baby the Mother

I confess.  I spent most of the day in my pajamas, reading a book.  I managed a shower before my hubby came home, but barely.  I left the kids to their own devices, though I remained in the living room where I could see and hear all.  We ate our meals; thank God for cereal and leftovers!  Why am I sharing this on a craf-T day?

Because we have to take creative risks when we need some time off.

I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday fully committed.  Not that I don’t love that.  I love doing what I do and doing it well.  It’s just that it consumes my finite amount of energy, which in turn drains my creative energy or allows it to get stagnant.  I have huge fever blisters telling me I’m not treating myself well.  Thus, a day off to recharge.  Plus, we got the next Alvin Maker book.  I started it a couple of days ago, reading the first four chapters or so, but you bet I finished it today.  Now I’m waist deep in the story and have to keep reading so as to know that the series ends well.  I also had to finish it today so that I could limit my day of near-neglect of children to only a single day.

Am I recharged?  I have to think so because there is much creative energy ready to burst at the seams.  Do I have time to do it all?  Maybe instead of reading I should have been writing or sewing.  But a good foray into a fantasy is nearly as good as any movie, and I haven’t been watching much t.v. lately.

I’ll just chalk today up as a day I babied myself, nursed myself, gave myself permission to do nothing strenuous.  As a mother of four, that takes a lot of creativity.  Now to look forward to Monday’s massage.

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‘Tis the Season for Women

No, it’s not the holidays when the women in my family extend themselves further than Gumby would have dreamed to get all the decorating, cooking and shopping done.  Rather, to me it seems women are finding what it is they enjoy, what they feel passionately about, and are doing their best to follow their heart.

My mother no doubt feels a connection to her Native Indian roots as she searched for crystals and arrowheads in the earth.  A dear friend searches for how she can best satisfy her inner child while using her creativity to help others use theirs.  One of my childbirth students realized a scheduled cesarean section wasn’t aligned with her natural lifestyle.  Instead, she learned all she could, kept up her physical fitness and had a wonderful waterbirth.  We all have the capacity to listen to our hearts, our inner voice that speaks to us the truth of our desires.

Whether it be a hobby, career choice or important decision, now is the time to listen and find your strength.  The Universe is as supportive as ever, and may we all delight in our sisters finding their universal strength.

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Interdependent Independence

The time is ripe for a reflection on our independence.  In the States, it’s a big deal to be independent, as a nation and as an individual.  We’ll take care of ourselves, and better yet, I’ll do it on my own.  This philosophy works to an extent, but I think we all know that anyone with this sole mentality is destined to break at some point.

Rather than going full speed ahead till we crash and burn, let’s look at our saving grace.  Politician I am not, so I won’t pretend to understand the complexities of our global situation.  Furthermore, I’m not a historian to put our past and present in perspective, learn from mistakes and go forward in good conscious. What I know about independence, I’ve learned from being myself, especially a mother.

I’ve learned there’s no such thing as true independence because undoubtedly we’re dependent upon others in some way.  I depended on my parents and grandparents to provide my needs growing up, and they depended upon their financial resources, food suppliers, the economy, our government (state and federal), etc., etc.  In college I depended on financial aid and my friends for emotional, social and moral support.  My husband and I depended (and still do) on each other to uphold our responsibilities in our relationship.

And then we had a child.  Now we have four children.  Now we have people depending on us.  Day in, day out, four faces look to me for guidance, four bodies trust that I will provide food and shelter and four beings are in my complete care.

Suddenly I realized all my parents ever did for me, why my mom would get so upset when my brother and I fought or were ungrateful.  I consider myself lucky not to take my parents and grandparents for granted, even though I know I don’t extend my gratitude and love often enough.  however, I also realize that neither they, nor I, go it alone.  We are all in this together, whether we want to admit it or not.  I think it’s best taken as assurance, the saving grace.

So as I grow older it seems I learn daily how we rely on each other and work together, directly or indirectly.  It comforts me to think that we’re all part of an intricate web, despite the oft-used cliche.  And as much as I like to think “I’ll just do it myself,”  I need to get over myself and remember I do nothing solo.  I need to walk daily in gratitude, and it would be nice to think of every day as a happy interdependence day.

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