Healing the Micro Wounds

The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi

When my best friend, Katie, came over to hang out with us yesterday morning she asked three-year-old Mr. D how he slept on the night of the time change. He answered, “I slept in Mama’s bed. It was big and hot.

I was aiming for familial warmth but it seems I’ve overshot the target. Ha, ha!

There’s a picture of me as a three-year-old sleeping with my blanket on the wood floor outside my parent’s bedroom in the Philippines. The way I heard the story is that my parents didn’t want me coming in so they locked the door. My mom said my dad was firm about no kids in their bed so he could get his sleep.

I’ve always considered that a cute little story in what I think of as a happy childhood until I had kids and then I wondered how that went down. Did I just encounter a locked door and then lie down quietly? Or was there some kicking and screaming before accepting the fate? Something tells me it wasn’t the first option.

So even though I’m not aware of as any sort of trauma, I have to consider that some things we do as adults are healing the little wounds we got as children. Maybe we all do that a little – even when it’s not conscious.

How I’ve come to choose to let my kids sleep in my bed is the subject of my Heart of the Matter post today: Beds, Boundaries and Beyond. Check it out!

(featured photo from Pexels)

Fresh From the Source

People like you and me never grow. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.” – Albert Einstein

On Tuesday, Mr D wore his construction outfit to school so when I went to pick him up, I called out, “Is there any construction worker available? I have a project at home!”

He took it at face value and then I needed to find something for him to work on at home. Out came the ladder and then Mr D hunted around for all his tools and I helped him get them organized on the ladder.

He still wasn’t tall enough to reach the ceiling so he wanted to step on the last step. When I showed him the sticker that says not to step on that last step, he said, “How about we get a new ladder with no sign on it?

Made me laugh and think of all the times I’ve thought it was the rule that was the problem. And all the times I’ve stepped on that last step on the ladder because I was just sooo close to what I needed to reach.

And I realized that when I wrote the post for Wise & Shine yesterday Things About Parenting I Think I’ve Learned So Far that I forgot one of the most important ones: Write down what your kids say. It’ll make you laugh, wonder, and think because it rings of an authenticity that comes with being fresh from the Source.

Owning This Emotional Ride

Diaper backward spells repaid.” – Marshall McLuhan

I read Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina when I was pregnant with Miss O. It had these great categories for nature versus nurture (which the author re-branded as seed and soil) and what we can do as parents and caregivers to influence and understand both.

It said that as our little ones’ brains developed, it was helpful to help them identify the emotions that they were feeling. And it advised that to do that, we need to own our own emotions.

I remember laughing and thinking there was no way I was doing that. I was going to be the one parent that could help their child be emotionally mature without doing it myself. Ha, ha, ha!

So, add one more thing to the list of things I thought I’d never do that parenting has taught me how to do. Identifying some of my negative emotions is the topic of my Wise & Shine post today: Emotional Literacy

Generationally Speaking

You can never really live anyone else’s life, not even your child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you’ve become yourself.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Back when I was interviewing my dad about his faith, I came across a passage in psychiatrist and author Dr. Scott Peck’s book Further Along the Road Less Traveled that described four stages of faith. He described an experience of what can happen generationally when kids grow up in stable, religious homes:

What happens to a child raised in such a stable, loving home and treated with dignity and importance? That child will absorb his parents’ religious principles – be they Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, or Jewish – like mother’s milk. By the time the child reaches adolescence, these principles will have become virtually engraved on his heart or ”internalized,” to use the psychiatric term. But once this happens, they will no longer need to depend upon an institution for their governance. It is at this time, which in healthy human development is usually at adolescence, that they start saying, “Who needs these silly myths and superstitions and this fuddy-duddy old institution?” They will then begin – often to their parents’ utterly unnecessary horror and chagrin – to fall away from the church, having become doubters or agnostics or atheists. At this point they have begun to convert to Stage Three, which I call “skeptic/individual.”

Further Along the Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck

I’ve heard this progression described in other contexts as well. From social psychologist Jonathan Haidt who described kids who grow up as beneficiaries of capitalist wealth demanding more socially and environmentally responsible policies as they come of age.

And from therapist Jacob Ham who talks about first generation survivors of war being primarily focused on physical and financial security with little capacity to talk about their emotions. It isn’t until the next generation comes along that they start to unpack emotional intelligence.

How life changes between generations is the topic of my latest post on Wise & Shine: Enough is Enough.

Carried by Joy

Keep knocking, and the joy inside will eventually open a window and look out to see who’s there.” – Rumi

The other day I needed a photo of myself. I used the search feature of my phone to find pictures and although I wasn’t entirely shocked, I was a little surprised that it only came up with 3 of me by myself in 7 years. Virtually all of my pictures are with one or both of my children. And a few were with my beloved dog, Biscuit.

What I like to eat, where I want to go on vacation, what I do with my days – all these things have been hijacked in my life as a parent. I wouldn’t name this time as the marker of high personal happiness in my life – but wow, is it filled with joy. And it has been joy that has carried me through times when I’m sleep- deprived, achingly tired and spent. Which is why I wrote about happiness and joy in my Pointless Overthinking post this week: Good Mood of the Soul.

Do One Thing Well

A year from now, what will I wish I had done today?” – unknown

Deep into the section on expectations in Brené Brown’s book Atlas of the Heart, I had a huge a-ha moment. She was talking about a conversation with her husband in which they both confessed to each other that they had an easier time parenting on the weekends they did it solo. Because they set aside their expectations to be able to do anything other than parent for that weekend.

This put a shape to the experience I have had as a single parent. Because I never expect that someone else will take the night shift or be there on the weekend, I have had to set really clear boundaries on the work and hobbies that I do because I know I won’t be able to duck out for a couple of hours.

That means that nights and weekends, I pretty much focus on hanging out with my kids. I do get a few chores around the house done with their “help.” The tradeoff for giving up Saturday morning hiking with my friends has been the gift of not believing I can try to do both things.

I know many of my parenting friends do an incredibly great job of splitting up the parental labor. One person will do the 9am-noon shift on Saturdays so that the other can go swimming and then they switch and the other gets “time off.” I have a pretty good inkling that if I was doing parenting with a partner that I would try for that approach and be a lot more confused about what I could handle.

I don’t know who said “Do one thing at a time and do it well.” My mom? Winnie-the-Pooh? Or maybe it’s not ascribed to a particular person because everyone who has learned the wisdom repeats it. When I wrote the post a couple of weeks ago about being invited to climb a mountain this summer, so many of my dear and wise blogging friends reminded me that parenting goes fast and there will likely be time to return to my hobbies later.

I believe that at some point I will have a partner again and more personal freedom. However, there isn’t anything I would trade for this uncomplicated time where I learned to really spend time with my children and enjoy it. Sometimes not having help forces us to distinctly draw boundaries we wouldn’t know to set otherwise.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Fantasy Climbs

One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art in conducting oneself in lower regions by memory of what one has seen higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.” – Rene Daumal

I felt my phone ping with a message while I was trying to get dinner on the table the other night. At that moment, one little person wanted raw carrots instead of the perfectly grilled carrots and needed more hummus. The other little person was tired and having a moment of personal crisis and didn’t want to eat at all. As I was shuttling between kitchen and table, I snuck a glance at the message. It was my friend inviting me on a mountain climb of Mt. Adams with him and his son this summer.

Oh, it was so easy to envision myself away from that disastrous dinner and instead picture eating instant noodles from a tin cup on the side of a mountain at our base camp at 9,750 feet. I felt like it would be a complete luxury to say “yes” to climbing and trade in the work of parenting for a couple of days of slogging up a mountain with only the sound of our breathing and our footsteps crunching in the snow.

Even though I could rationalize how safe a climb Mt. Adams is with no crevasses or avalanche danger and rest in the reassurance of climbing with a friend that I’ve summitted that mountain twice with, I knew I’d have to say “no.”

Because even a safe mountain climb means being on the side of a 12,281 foot mountain for a couple of days, exposed to weather and human frailty. And in the very slight case that anything happened and I got hurt or dead, I’d be so angry at myself for leaving behind two young kids. Even if I was dead – I’d be dead and angry!

It highlighted for me the wide chasm between who I am now and who I used to be before kids. First of all, I’m entirely flattered that my friend thinks I could make it up Mt. Adams.

Secondly, it was a moment of realization of how completely my priorities have changed thinking about how I use my time, not only for the climb but also the commitment it would take me to get in shape to climb again.

But most of all, it made me feel yet again the wonderful work of our friends as they hold space for us when we are otherwise occupied, off on our quests to find meaning or just not feeling ourselves. Those friends that we can journey through all the phases of life and still find something to talk about with are a sacred gift.

So I told my friend, with a huge heaping of gratitude, that I’d have to take a rain check until I get my kids in shape and we can all climb together. In lieu of me going, his son is going to borrow my backpack and ice axe so a little bit of me is going by proxy instead. Maybe I’ll get to send my tin cup also so it can have dinner on the mountain too!

(photo is mine – of sunset from base camp on Mt. Adams)


When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” – Buddha

Potty training is really getting my goat. A month in and we mostly have successes but the failures are memorable! It’s unpredictable, impossible for me to control (which seems to be most of the battle) and creates a lot of laundry.

I catch myself thinking, “Pretty soon we are going to be through this and then life will be great.”

Which I think will be true. Especially if I remember how to savor today.

Because I think is how we wish our lives away and as a parent, how I could wish my kids’ childhood away. Waiting for the thing we don’t like to stop and THEN we’ll be good. Or waiting to lose 10 pounds, reach a milestone or be better at meditating – anything I reflexively put between myself and my experience.

Returning to today – we still laugh and learn every day, and I still love my kids to pieces every day. Yep, every time I leave, I just need to come back from my visit to the future and love today. And also I need to buy more laundry detergent.

Not Love Actually

Don’t be afraid of the solitude that comes from raising your standards.” – Ebonee Davis

Driving in the car the other day with Miss O, I checked in with her on her playground crush. This was the young man, Will, that I wrote about in the COVID crush post, who lines up on an adjacent heart, 6-feet-apart on the playground to go into a different 1st grade classroom.

When he initially told her that he had a crush on her back in October, Miss O said she had one on him too. But when I checked back in the other day, she told me,  “the interest had gone away.”

I asked what happened. She explained he started hanging around another kid, a kid she thinks is a bully because he yells “SORRY” when he apologizes. And she changed her attitude because the playground supervisor, Mr. C, is handing out awards for being good in line and Will is always messing around.

She stopped finding him attractive because she doesn’t like his friends and he wasn’t a good influence?? My job as a parent is done…. 😊

(featured photo from Pexels)

Why Wine?

Longer-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.” – Bruce Lee

I can still remember being at an 8th grade party when a boy from school, Corey, came up to me and told me he had a crush on me. He had been drinking and was acting all goofy. Because none of the rest of us were drinking (or ever had), it was my friend that took me aside to explain that alcohol made people reveal their true feelings.

Which is something that I hadn’t updated until I recently heard a Super Soul Sunday with Oprah and Malcom Gladwell. In the podcast, there were discussing his book Talking to Strangers and revealed “Many of those who study alcohol no longer consider it an agent of disinhibition. Instead they think of it as an agent of myopia.”

According to this Psychology Today article, myopia in the context of alcohol means short-sightedness. It means we lose perspective, our ability to place our actions in the context of anything other than the current moment and consider the long-term consequences.

Which explains my recent response when a friend came over to dinner and asked if I wanted a glass of red wine. I said, “No, it makes me a crappy parent.” It makes me feel tired. This is surprising because I love red wine and used to drink copious amounts of it. But now, it not only means I will not sleep well but it also creates an impatience in me that feels uncomfortable.

Putting this feeling together with the research, I think I rely a great deal on perspective to be an understanding and supportive parent. I need the long view to energize me. When I see my kids’ actions in the context of learning the overall lessons in life, I feel an expansiveness to give them room to grow. When I’m feeling myopic, I am feel hemmed in by the mess and chaos of now.

Corey and I never talked about his crush once he sobered up. While I felt that giddy attention for the night he said it, the light of day squashed it. It’s a little like how I feel about wine now – I like the idea of it far more than I like the actual experience of it. It seems that perspective, in love and in parenting, is a very good thing.

(featured photo from Pexels)