Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.
I hate change. I really do. I am a creature of habit. But oddly, since the day I discovered I was carrying my daughter, my life has been in constant flux. It seems that change is the new norm.
I won't bore you with all the details. No one wants to spend valuable time reading about the minutia of my life's changes. And honestly, most of it is not uplifting. I am not the kind of person that wants to send negativity your way. So instead of recanting the insanity that has become my life, I'm going to speak about how I have handled it as a mother.
There is a difference between handing change on a personal level and handling change as a mother.
Both intertwine but honestly, I feel it is more important to handle change positively in the role of mother. While I might personally not be dealing with something well, Tiny needs me as her pillar, as her comfort, when there is upheaval.
Tiny is deeply connected to me and to the world around her. She absorbs the energy and emotion of everyone and every situation she is exposed to. It is a heavy thing for a child. Unless your child is highly sensitive and aware like this, it is sort of hard to grasp. All I can say is that any change, no matter how miniscule, hits Tiny like a freight train. It changes who she is, even for just a moment.
If there is a change that I know is coming down the pipeline, the best thing I can do is to start incorporating it into stories. Tiny asks for no less than 100 stories per day (seriously) so there is ample opportunity for me to prepare her through storytelling. (On the flip side, it also allows me to help her process the aftermath of change, especially when it is sudden and unexpected). Through storytelling, I can offer Tiny various scenarios of what might happen, how we can respond, etc… It gives her some roots from which to feel more grounded when the change does come.
As we get closer to the change, I might incorporate it into our play. While I prefer NOT to direct or interfere with Tiny's imaginative storylines, if there is a way to weave it in organically, I will. I also start having candid conversations with Tiny. Nothing elaborate. Nothing fancy. Just the facts, stated calmly and matter-of-factly. Having told story after story with the theme of the change, Tiny will usually have questions but isn't overly concerned or worried.
These methods have always been very successfully is helping Tiny manage change. Yes, she still will lose it and she will still have a lot of emotion around the event but she process it a lot better than she would without this sort of casual build up.
Afterwards, we do a LOT of play with the theme of the change. I let Tiny lead and then play my role in such a way that it opens up a way for Tiny to let go of her built up energy and frustrations with the change. In a few days time, all is well.
What about those situations where the change is sudden and unexpected? Well, nothing can prepare me for Tiny's reaction as it will swing from one end of the spectrum to the other. However, through our previous experiences together with change, Tiny feels confident that I will be there to support her during the change and then allow her the space to process it as she needs to. We still do storytelling and role playing only we are in “aftermath mode” and not preparation mode. The aftermath is more intense for both of us but again, Tiny knows that I am there for her completely, will validate all of her feelings, and help her process that which she cannot control.
Along the way I have also come to realize those things that I do as Jennifer, not as a mother, that greatly impact how Tiny will respond to change. I have learned which reactions cause Tiny distress and which lift her up and give her the security to embrace the change.
Now, I will admit, I am very reactionary. I really do hate change. So I tend to have a freak out moment myself. I can't help it. It just happens. I am also a planner, a researcher, and a worrier. (ahem – anxiety anyone?) So really, I am not the best person for Tiny to be around when change is unexpected and sudden. I also process change through talking and talking and talking about it. I HAVE to talk about it. If I don't my emotions surrounding the change fester.
But all of this is problematic for Tiny. It weighs her down. I see this more and more as she gets older. Now SHE worries. She has anxiety that she doesn't understand. All the preparation in the world will be undone by ONE bad reaction by me.
I have to temper Jennifer. I have to censor what verbal response leaves my lips. I must take great care NOT to allow Tiny to listen in on conversations that she cannot yet rationalize and digest. I must fake it ‘till I make it so-to-speak. While I want Tiny to see me as a human being, ripe with awareness and emotion, I also do not want my feelings to overwhelm and paralyze her. Because when you have a child like Tiny, they will.
I am the person Tiny is most deeply connected to. Everything I feel, think, or say cuts to her core. She often knows how I am feeling before I do. (I know this because of things she can now tell me). So I have to be VERY mindful of myself during times of change.
The past 4 ½ years have been full of growth for me. I am still a mother-in-progress learning how to navigate back and forth between being Jennifer and my authentic self, and being the grounded, balanced mama that Tiny NEEDS and thrives under.
It is like walking a tightrope some days. But the challenge is worth it as I guide Tiny further along into becoming the strong woman I know she will one day become.
Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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:
(This list will be updated by afternoon December 10 with all the carnival links.)
- Mature Student — Amber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she'd left behind – that of being a university student.
- And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
- Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
- Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica at ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
- Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
- Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
- A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
- Junctions — sustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
- Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling's Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she's ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
- Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter's transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
- First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
- Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
- Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
- The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
- Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
- When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She's sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you're interested in following the same path.
- 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
- Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
- Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
- Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
- Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
- Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.