The first day of school is right around the corner for my 2nd grader and my Kindergartener. They are very excited and keep asking how much longer until the first day of school. So, if they are all excited why am I so nervous?
I asked my husband and he just laughed and said it was probably a “mom thing”. And you know what, I think it is. My middle child is off the Kindergarten and I am nervous for him. But I am realizing that I am more nervous for him than I was for his brother. They are both very outgoing so why my concern.
I have even asked other mothers if they know if it is because he is the second child, but they all agree it is just a “mom thing”. But as I sit at work planning my weekly schedule and see that “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL” on my calendar I get a feeling in my stomach and I want to cry.
I asked my son the other day if he was excited or scared about going to the big boy school and he said excited since his brother was going to be there. I mean he is familiar with the school, has met his teacher and does know a kid or two in his class. So, why am I so nervous?
I did some research on the internet to see if there was some disorder that I was experiencing. Of course with the internet I could self-diagnosis myself with about a hundred different things, but the bottom line it looks like I have a “mom thing”
I love my children dearly and want to protect them from all things bad and I cannot do that if they are not under my wings. So, ok I’ll admit it, I have a “mom thing” and I am proud of it. It does not make it any easier and I am sure I will cry as I walk away leaving him at school, but I am hopeful that a smile I will have when I pick him up and hear what a wonderful day he had.
Bettie Bransfield is a working mom with three small children living in Montpelier with her wonderful husband. She has a Masters degree in Business and spends her spare time as a volunteer EMT.
About a dozen years ago, I was teaching at a small progressive independent school. One spring day on the playground I noticed two girls, age six or so, sitting up on those swinging bars that hang from the swing set (you know, the ones with the rings on both sides). As I got closer, I noticed that their boots were down on the muddy ground a few feet below.
Amused, I approached and said something like, “Wow, look where you are!,” listened as they told me how they got up there, and stayed and chatted with them a bit. They were pretty pleased with themselves, and I could appreciate the impulse to let those boots slip to the ground.
“So,” I asked, “How are you planning to get down without getting your socks muddy?” They seemed unconcerned and completely confident that they could figure it out, and I told them how much time was left until we needed to go inside and then left them to it. I glanced over periodically to check on them and then came back over as they were getting down to witness how they solved the problem. I don’t remember exactly how they did it, but it involved cooperation and ingenuity.
This is a pretty good example of how I often strive to support kids, as both a parent and a teacher, when they get themselves into some kind of predicament (be it intellectual, physical, or social/emotional). Somehow though, I find it much harder to maintain that amused and somewhat detached stance with my own child.
When my five-year-old daughter and a friend of hers recently shredded fiberglass insulation (I absolutely hate fiberglass insulation) into a gravel pile by our barn, I did not calmly say, “Hmmm… That stuff can hurt and itch if it gets into your skin. How do your hands feel? Do you have a plan for how to get it out of the gravel pile? Let’s think about a safe way to fix this.” Instead I reacted emotionally, ruled by my thoughts about what I thought she should know, remember, have thought about, etc. and the fear that comes in those moments when I’ve found my daughter doing something that I know we’ve talked about with her as unsafe or unhealthy (such as going in the barn without an adult and handling fiberglass). “What will she do next?” I wonder, and, “Do I have to watch her every minute?”
In her “Parenting on Track” class, Vicky Hoefle talks both about the importance of encouragement and the ways that children develop confidence, independence, and resiliency. There are endless opportunities for us all to get stranded on the swing set of life with our feet dangling and our boots toppled over on the muddy ground below. Sometimes we’re happy to be there swinging in the breeze and don’t really care if wet and dirty socks are the result, other times we may be frightened or distressed because we don’t know how we’re going to get down at all. It’s hard to remember that both children and adults learn best by making mistakes, seeing the results, and figuring out how to fix the situation.
When my daughter gets into her next predicament (and the next, and the one after that), I want to take a deep breath and just notice and reflect back to her what I see going on. I want to connect with her about how she feels about it and ask, “How will you solve this problem? What’s your plan?” I want to let her know that I know how capable she is, witness her efforts, and stay close enough to step in and help if need be with the parts she can’t do on her own (especially if more than muddy socks are at stake). I want to provide encouragement as needed, “It’s okay. You made a mistake. You can fix it. You can try again next time. I know you’re capable of solving this problem. I trust you.”
I look forward to witnessing her pride when she figures out how to hang upside down from her knees, reach down and put her boots back upright, climb back up on the swinging bar, and then lower herself back into her boots just in time to move on to the next adventure. ________________________________________________________________
Rebecca Yahm is the parent of a five-year-old daughter and a homeschool teacher and consultant. She has a background in progressive education and previously taught in public and private schools. She has been providing support services, tutoring, and classes for homeschoolers since 2003, when she started Open Path Homeschooling Resources <http://openpathhomeschooling.com> to support homeschooling as an educational alternative. She also teaches at Pacem School and Homeschool Center <http://pacemschool.org>.
I have a couple “work” bookshelves filled with all manner of yoga, prenatal/postnatal & doula books. There’s a spot on one of those shelves that holds meditation books for kids. They are books I’ve picked up along the way to read in my sons’ classrooms when I go in to share yoga with them. Honestly, they are on this higher shelf so they stay neat and I know where they are when I need them. I guess I have considered them my books.
I do take them down to read to my boys on days when I feel like they – or I – really need some reminders about kindness, compassion and how to be with our emotions. They also get picked up and read on days when there’s a lot of palpable love being shared – in the hopes of keeping the love flowing.
The other day, when my boys were working together building a large airplane out of wood scraps and duct tape – the teamwork started to disintegrate. My oldest, who has always been…shall we say…very passionate, was yelling - tears in his eyes - because things weren’t coming out exactly as he had envisioned. His target…not the wood and duct tape, but his brother.
I watched from afar as things progressed wondering if they were going to figure it out on their own. I noticed my oldest gear up like he was going to take a swing and then resist the temptation. Choosing instead to ramp up the verbal tirade he was having.
Trying my best to be a calm and collected mamma (not letting my son’s reaction trigger the same emotional response from me), I told my oldest to walk away and cool off. My youngest looked so confused…trying hard to help his brother then being blamed for everything that wasn’t working well. I ensured him that he was doing a good job and that he hadn’t done anything wrong. He keeps working on it alone if he wanted to.
Not sure exactly what I was going to say to my oldest – do I go at it with compassion and empathy, sternness or consequences? I turned the corner into the living room, and there he was, climbing down from the desk, Moody Cow Meditates, in hand. I stopped and watched him for a few moments before giving him exactly what I had asked him to take. Some time to cool off.
Since then, on a few occasions, I have found one of these books left on the desk and it makes me smile and feel lighter knowing that my boys had sat down earlier that day and helped himself through a mix of emotions. I thought about moving our books to a lower shelf to have them handier, but my boys like to climb and it’s obvious they are special to them right where they are.
Below is a list of the books, good for various ages. Perhaps you’ll find a couple that speak to you and your children.
* Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean
* Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean
* Anh’s Anger by Gail Silver
* Steps and Stones an Anh’s Anger Story by Gail Silver
* A Pebble for Your Picket:
Mindful Stories for Children and Grown-Ups by Thich Nhat Hanh
* What is a Thought? (A Thought is a Lot) by Jack Pransky and Amy Kahofer
* Peaceful Heroes by Jonah Winter
________________________________________________________________ Amy LePage-Hansen is a certified Kriplau and Prenatal yoga teacher currently pursuing a doula certification. She integrates her movement background, yoga therapy studies & experiences of being a mom to two passionate boys to encourage a keen sense of body awareness and trust in oneself. Especially important during the transformative time of pregnancy, child birth and caring for a new little one.
My grandmother is dying. And it is not at all how I pictured it. She is not incapacitated. She is not hooked up to machines. People are not crying at her bedside.
She is ninety years old and her heart is going to give out. Soon. If she lives three more months she will be beating the odds, so they say. It makes me laugh a little; a morbid little inner laugh, because obviously the statistics have not met my grandmother.
I am thirty two years old and I haven’t lost a grandparent since I was six. I was in first grade and I cried into my yogurt at snack time.
I have lost so many peers. Those are the calls that stop you in your tracks in the middle of a busy street or while you are laughing with your sister. You hold your breath, the world around speeds up, slows down, and you are afraid to move into the next moment.
I am thirty two years old and I don’t know how to lose someone slowly. It makes sense that my ninety year old grandmother would die. It makes sense that everyone breaths normally and sighs and talks about what a rich life she has had. That they smile lovingly when mentioning her nine children and nod in empathy about how she lost her husband so young. It makes sense to feel grateful because she is leaving in this orderly way; before her children, after her husband.
I never knew that thirty two years wouldn’t feel like enough. I never knew the dread I would feel imagining my mother parent-less. It seems impossible to move on without any parents. Who is your anchor? I feel afraid for her, even as she moves through this with grace. She busies around folding clothes and making food as she always has. She says “ok” to herself 50 times a day as she goes through my grandmother’s apartment. She does what she always has.
I think about when my mother is 90. And I have no doubt she will live that long. I imagine doing her laundry and buying her protein drinks. I imagine my kids watching on. What will they think? Will they see me as a lonely boat; parentless? Will they, too, not know what to say?
I think about when I am 90. Will the now feel a different lifetime? I imagine my grandmother; pregnant with children all around. A farm. A store. A Catholic. In the midst of all her life’s moments did she stop to imagine this? I have no idea what to make of the passing of time, the broad unknowing.
When I don’t know what to do I write. Sometimes words. sometimes names. Sometimes sentences. I write until the coming moment doesn’t feel impossible to face. A lifetime of journals, notebooks, lists; they are really just me trying to find bravery moment to moment.
I didn’t know how brave it is to die. I feel adolescent having never considered this. How brave it is to watch a hospice nurse walk into your home. Does it really feel as though every moment could be the last? This is a bravery I have never known. This is bravery so big it seems impossible it fits into such a tiny woman.
Yet there it is-in the blue of her eyes, the edge of her laugh, the huff of her annoyance. I love this about her.
I smile, matching her’s-
“I’ll come back in a few days, okay Grammie? Next time I’ll bring the kids.”
________________________________________________________________Maria Rossi Noyes lives in Montpelier with her husband, two kids, a dog and cat:) Aside from Mamahood her day job is working with transitional age youth at WCMHS. Maria is passionate about learning about all things birth, baby, mothering. She’s an aspiring childbirth educator and post partum doula. Maria is a new Mama Says board member. She also love to garden, cook, and have family dance parties.
My grandmother, my Memere, might be the world's best memory keeper. She has written in a journal her whole life. She saves every newspaper clipping showcasing our family. She has saved a million things! Her house looks like a museum. Recently she has started to worry that her love of preserving the past will be forgotten when she passes away. She has stated to give things away, and looking back in time has been a lot of fun.
I found a journal that had been passed down to my mother. It was a daily journal with something short written on most days. I loved reading about the day my mother was born, and the months right after. It was funny to read about my uncles playing together, and my grandfather's jobs and hobbies.
My grandmother gave me a box of saved items including a quilt that she made in high school while nursing her own sick mother. She had saved every wedding card, napkins, place cards, menu, etc from my (now divorced) parent's wedding. I have boxes filled with things that are too special to throw away, but to odd, old,and fragile to leave out.
I often worry that I am not writing enough down for my own children. They each have a baby book that is updated as needed. They have photo albums and scrapbooks too. Each kid would rather look at their scrapbook before bed than a storybook. When I was pregnant with my first born I started to write to him (even before we knew he was a "he"). I kept a word document called "Dear baby" on my computer and every few days, or after doctor appointments I would write a few paragraphs. I would write about my pregnancy and my family. I wrote about our preparations for his birth and then of course I wrote about his arrival. I have kept that document and still write once a week or so to my son (and now to my daughter too). This is my way of preserving their past and their present. It only takes a few minutes and I have no excuse not to do it when I am sitting at my computer anyway. (I also email this document to myself every few weeks, just in case.) I love looking back and reading about special events, and every day joys. I hope that one day my children, or my grandchildren will also enjoy my writing.
Time flies by. Life is moving very fast. Babies are growing up in the blink of an eye. I want to cherish and remember every moment. I realize that I can't stop time, but hopefully I can record a little bit of our history as well at my grandmother has.
Please comment below, or on the Mama Says Facebook page and let us know how you are preserving the past!
________________________________________________________________Honi Bean Barrett is a local stay at home/work at home mom of two young children. Her background in teaching, love of photography, and general creativity has inspired her to share many things on our new blog! Honi grew up in Vermont and has spent time in many other states and even enjoyed a few months on the beach in Guam. Look for her crafts, fun meals and snacks, and silly stories. Honi recently launched her own blog - www.tryvermontfirst.com. Check it out for local product reviews, giveaways, and more.