Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love

Welcome to the December 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Childhood Memories
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about memories of growing up — their own or the ones they’re helping their children create. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
***
I told my children the other day that we were going to go hiking in an area that we had been over a year before. As I described the creek, the trail, and the cave, the Oldest One (age 6) said, "Oh, yah! I remember that place. I found a rock shaped like an apple slice and one shaped like a flame. And I wrote my name in the sand in the cave...I wonder if it is still there?" The details that he remembered from such a long time ago surprised me. If he can remember things from previous years, what will he remember when he is an adult from this time?
Creek crossing while exploring nature together

I have vivid memories from when I was their age, some amazing and some devastating. Although I know that I cannot control all of their experiences as they grow, I want to make sure the majority of the memories that my children have as a part of our family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults. When they think back to their childhoods, I want them to feel peaceful. I want them to know that their interests were enthusiastically supported. I want them to feel joy and remember laughter. I want them to know beyond all doubt that they were unconditionally loved.

I grew up in a house that struggled to maintain the peace. There was a lot of yelling and I was 'in trouble' more times than I can count. Although my parents did the best they could with what they knew, there was anger and fear that was underlying many of our interactions. I didn't want to spend my days as a parent frustrated, raging, and feeling overwhelmed over my children's behavior. I didn't want my boys to feel misunderstood, angry, and battling against their parents just because they wanted to be themselves and were trying to make sense of the world the way they knew how. So, I have been on a quest to not only learn positive parenting methods for interacting with my children, but I have also made it my personal mission to learn ways to find my own inner calm. Now, instead of yelling, bribing, threatening, and overpowering my children to get them to do what I want, I am able to request, hear their point of view, and also share my point of view and set expectations, limits, and boundaries in a loving, peaceful manner. I don't take things as personally. I forgive myself for those times that I slip and raise my voice, and I also apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness as well. Most mornings, my children awake and find me on my yoga mat doing asana poses, breathing, or meditating. Their first glimpse of their mother in the morning is one of practicing peace. Sitting in my lap in meditation...THAT is the memory that I want them to recall of their childhoods.

Early morning snuggle after sitting with mom in meditation.

Another memory I want them to have is that of being supported to be who they are. To explore their own interests. To express their ideas and to pursue their goals. This has lead me to places that aren't the societal norm, but is the norm for our family. I recently made a tutu for the Youngest One (age 4). He loves dressing up and pretending. He directs me or his dad to say certain lines and act out ideas that he comes up with. He develops a story line and enjoys pretending it over and over. "Let's play ballerina fire fighter again!" he has requested lately. In this play, I am the ballerina in the studio and he plays both the "fire breath" dragon who accidentally starts the fire while playing the drums, as well as the fire fighter who comes and saves the day. I could give many excuses on why I don't want to play. That I have too much to do, that he could play by himself, that he is a boy and shouldn't wear a tutu. (Although there is no way I would ever limit what he plays with or wears based on gender stereotypes. And have passionately defended his choices and interests with certainty when other family members question him.) What I see is a child who has a huge imagination and a lot of potential to creatively write plays, novels, or become an actor or director. If I blow him off to do the dishes each time or limit how he can express himself, I would be stifling his creativity and potential. No matter what passion my children end up following in life, I want for them to look back and know they were enthusiastically encouraged to be themselves and explore what they were interested in. My hope is that they take that love of life into their adult years as well.

Look out! A bearded pirate has invaded Hobby Lobby!

One of our favorite family activities is taking silly pictures and videos with my phone. I have videos of my boys chasing each other through the house yelling, "Poop monster coming to get you!!!!" while the one being pursued is laughing hysterically. From my childhood, I remember laughing so hard with my sisters and mom that we all cried and couldn't breathe. Life is so short...it doesn't have to be serious all of the time. In fact, laughing is a stress reliever, a bonding activity, and is good for your health. Many times when my children are in a grumpy mood, a silly face or overly dramatic reaction like pretending to trip over something and slowly falling to the ground does the trick. They start giggling and we carry on with our day after a good laugh and hug. When my children think about their childhood, I want a smile to come to their lips and a chuckle escape as they remember the silliness and joy that surrounded us.

"Mommy...you have a beard!"

Lastly, and most importantly, I want my children to know beyond all doubt that they were and are loved. No matter what they do, what they say, where they go, or who they are. There are no conditions in which our love will be taken away or limited. I try to instill this knowing in them by how I approach discipline, how I spend my time with them, and how we talk to one another. I do not spank or practice punitive punishments like time out, grounding, yelling, threatening or bribing. Although I might suggest that they go to their room or take some time away from an area to calm down, it is done in a loving manner which lets them know that I am right there for them, I care for them, and I know that they are a good person...they just need some space to find their calm again. I do not place any limits on my affection towards them based on their age or what they "should" be able to do on their own. We love reading books together before bedtime and I lay with them until they fall asleep by their request. They are welcome to come sleep in bed with me, and I often wake up to find both of them snuggled up against me under the covers. I strive to speak to them with respect. Although I am bigger and their mother, they are not going to learn respect towards others unless someone models it for them. I try to speak to each of them as if they were my best friend or my most cherished person in the world...because they are. This doesn't mean that I have no boundaries. They still constantly jump on the couch even though I remind them it isn't okay for them to do this. After once or twice reminding them, they are told they will not be allowed to be on that furniture if they jump again since they are having trouble remembering the rules. Usually if I haven't done so before that point, I get out the mini trampoline or we go play outside to give them an outlet for that energy. I want for them to remember the feeling of love, not striving for acceptance and affection or avoiding consequences or punishments. If this means I have to be more creative, forgiving, and deal with my own reactions to their behavior more often...this is a good thing!

A big cardboard box, some markers, and sunshine...these are from what childhood memories are made.

Childhood is such a short period of time, but it makes the biggest impact for the rest of our life. For my children, I hope that the memories that they we are making now will serve them to be peaceful, confident, joyful and loving towards themselves and others. As I do the work of learning to parent, I wish for those feelings within myself as well. For as we nurture our children, we also nurture ourselves. And at the end of our lives, we can look back at our time with our children and say, "All is well."

Namaste~
Amber
***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
  • Childhood Memories of Peace, Support, Joy, and Love — Amber at Heart Wanderings wants to make sure the majority of the memories that her children have as a part of their family are ones that are positive and help support the amazing people that they are now and will become as adults.
  • Hand Made Baby Books — Destany at They Are All of Me talks about why baby books are important to her for preserving memories of her childrens first years, and shows how she made one by hand for each child.
  • Can your childhood memories help you keep your cool?Here's To A Boring Year uses memories of being a child to keep her on the path to peaceful parenting.
  • Inter-Generational Memories {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs at A New Day talks about her own childhood memories, and what she hopes her daughter will remember in the future.
  • Snapshots — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings reflects on the ways our childhood memories appear to us, and hopes her own daughter's childhood will be one she remembers as being happy and fulfilled.
  • What makes the perfect parent? — In a guest post on Natural Parents Network, Mrs Green from Little Green Blog reflects on camp follow and camp no-follow...
  • In My Own Handwriting — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen talks about her journals and the hope that they will be able to keep her stories alive even if she isn't able to.
  • Candlelight, fairylight, firelight — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud re-discovers the ingredients for bringing magic to life, especially at Christmas.
  • Making Memories (or) How We Celebrate Christmas — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis talks about creating new memories at Christmas, and the joy their adventures bring to her whole family.
  • The Importance of Recording Feelings and Emotions and Not Just the Experience — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares why she puts pen to paper every day to record more than just her experiences as a mother and her daughter's experiences as a child. Jennifer looks at the importance of capturing feelings and emotions that accompany the experience.
  • Dredged up — Kenna at Million Tiny Things has been forced to recount childhood memories at bedtime, due to the failure of her middle-aged imagination. She resists, of course.
  • Crafting Memories — Handmade is what makes the holidays special for Christy at Eco Journey In the Burbs, and she wants to create the same connection with her daughters that she remembers with her mother and grandmother.
  • My Childhood Memories; beacons of light in the darkness Stone Age Parent shares the impact of her childhood memories on her life as a parent today, listing some of her many rich childhood memories and how they now act as beacons of light helping her in the complex, often confusing world of child-rearing.
  • 10 Ways I Preserve Memories for My Children — From video interviews to time capsules, Dionna at Code Name: Mama wants to make sure her children have many different ways to cherish their childhood memories. Dionna's carnival post features ten of the ways she preserves memories; check out her Pinterest board for more ideas.
  • Memories of my mother — Luschka at Diary of a First Child remembers her mother and the fondest moments of her childhood, especially poignant as she sits by her mother's sickbed writing.
  • Creating Happy Childhood Memories through Family Traditions — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells why family traditions are so important to her and her family and shares how she’s worked to create traditions for her children.
  • Traditional Christmas Tree — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep remembers the great times spent with her family driving for the Christmas Tree and the lessons learned.
  • Wet Socks and Presents — Kat at MomeeeZen writes about her favorite Christmas childhood memory and why it's so special. And she hopes one day her kids will also have a feel-good memory of their own to look back on.
  • Stuff does not equal memories — Lauren at Hobo Mama learns that letting go does not mean failing to remember.
  • A Child's Loss- Will They Remember Dad? — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about their family's loss of their husband and father. She trys to find answers to the question: Will they remember their Dad?
  • Childhood Memories - Hers and Mine — Jorje of Momma Jorje wished for her daughter the same passions and experiences she loved as a child, but learns the hard way to accept whatever passions strike in her child.
  • Holiday Non-TraditionsErika Gebhardt enjoys her family's tradition of not having traditions for the holidays.

12 comments:

  1. I could have written so much of your post. I was also raised in a home much different than the one we are creating for our family, and I do wonder whether that is part of the reason that I am unable to remember much of my childhood. Wishing your family many, many happy memories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I have a similar experience with having gaps in my memories of childhood. Luckily I have sisters who have helped me work through some of my past and have had a few meaningful conversations with my parents about their point of view during that time. Such big work, but so worth it!

      Delete
  2. What a wonderful post. I felt like crying right at the end. Your children are lucky to have such a person in their life. :)

    aNonyMous @ Radical Ramblings

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And I am so very lucky to have them!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!

      Delete
  4. This is very similar to my own feelings. I also hope that by being a calm and peaceful presence (hey, I'm workin on it!) my children will be able to remember a calm and peaceful environment which they will automatically maintain as adults. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Aren't we all "working on it"? Some days are easier than others... :)

      Delete
  5. This is beautiful! I'm so glad you joined us this month. It really can be a struggle (for me, definitely) to parent in a way that creates overall good memories. I feel like I still fail so often, but the power of laughter and a recentering on my goals can really help — like reading posts like this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I am so honored to be in a list with so many wonderful writers and Mamas! Having "special time" with each of the boys has dramatically helped our family as well. Big laughter and connection when we can focus on our children one-on-one for short periods of time each day without any distractions. Thanks again for reading!

      Delete
  6. I love the idea of your boys waking to find you practsing yoga. What a great way to start your day! I'm really looking forward to a time when Monkey is old enough and might like to do yoga with me!

    Or you know, just when he sleeps reliably enough that I could get up before him and fit it in before he wakes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I teach Mommy/Baby Yoga classes and what I tell the mamas in my class is to aim for 5 Sun Salutations and 5 minutes of meditation each day, but don't stress if you don't make it some days. That and you can do a lot of poses randomly throughout the day while sitting on the floor playing or wearing your baby. Warrior 2 with a sling on, bridge pose with him sitting on you (just throw in "London Bridges" song and pulse up and down giving him a ride), sitting forward bend while next to him playing, you can do downward facing dog while he crawls under you and you are barking... yoga can be play as well. :) Enjoy!

      Delete