Sometimes give them a Voluntary WHY

I have made so many mistakes along the way as a mother that there are days I really stop and wonder how it is that I actually have really good kids. Of course, on those days, it’s usually because I am comparing them to someone else’s kids – the ones who are NOT as ‘good’ as mine 😛
And yet, at the same time, I also know that there is NO comparison – my children are individuals in their own right. And in the same way that I lack perfection as a woman, and a mother, they also have areas that need improving. Such is life!

There are also the days where I find myself shaking my head, and wondering, where did I go wrong?
And no one else’s children feature on those days! It’s all about mine! 😛
Yesterday was one of those days.

For those of you who don’t know, I need to clarify : they are my children because I gave birth to them and love them unconditionally – but they are no longer ‘children’. My son will be 23 in two months time (he still lives with us, having completed his university degree at the end of last year). My daughter will be 16 next month! (Oh gosh! My baby girl!!!!)
My son is in that stage of life where he seems to have forgotten how ‘argumentative and silly’ he was as a teen – often asking me, ‘Was I like that?’ and then apologising profusely when I confirm that he was indeed! It always makes me smile. These are usually occasions where my daughter is NOT smiling though, because he has just told her how silly she is being, and that she’s ‘not always right’ etc.
Being an adult has also changed my son’s views somewhat, and I have found that in some areas he has suddenly matured – it still shocks me! 😛 Which means that there is also the need for damage control when he assumes the ‘male adult/father figure’ role in the house – it’s usually done in way of protection of me though… things like : ”Don’t be cheeky to Mommy”, ”Your room is a mess, and those dishes need to come to the sink”, ‘Mommy just cleaned the kitchen, come and wipe your mess off the counter”, ”I don’t think you should be watching that, you’d better check with Mom”, ”You may not watch ‘insert You Tuber’s name here’ latest video – it’s really not for you”!
Teenage girls do not take kindly to authoritative big brothers – I know… because it’s how I grew up! Which unfortunately puts me in a rather difficult position – I appreciate and value my son’s input, but completely identify and feel sympathy for my daughter! I so remember what it was like!

Somehow, we make it through every conflict without too much damage. And I am grateful for that. And most days, I am in awe as to how we all still live together like we do!
What completely boggles my mind is their love for each other – although no one had better ever ask them to use ‘the L word’ when it comes to their sibling! 😛
My jaw ‘drops to the floor’… every day! Because every day there will be some minor infraction from one or the other that causes raised voices and conflict between them. The result is always the same – my daughter will stomp off to her room, muttering under her breath, and I will hear my son exclaiming out loud in the lounge area, ”So freaking dumb”!
And here’s the jaw drop part : within a couple of hours, one of them will approach the other one. Not to apologise though. The approach will be because they have a YouTuber that they both are fond of, and something will have happened, and there is suddenly this need to share.
(Sharing with me is usually a lengthy process, because they first have to remind me why I know the person – what they have told me or shown me in the past etc. 😛 )
And the sharing is often mutual agreement, and some laughter, and it’s like there was no conflict in our house at all prior to ‘this moment’ that they are having. This also always makes me smile.
And every couple of months, there will be a Friday or Saturday night where I find them both in the lounge area, watching movies that they have both seen far too many times from years ago. And my daughter will always say, ”We’re having a sibling bonding night. Don’t get too excited – we still don’t like each other.” To which my son will always have a comedic response, and my daughter will throw a piece of popcorn at him…. and my smile becomes a chuckle as I retreat and allow them to have time ‘alone’. Because I really do feel that, when all jokes are put aside, these occasional evenings matter and are important for the two of them. (Some days there will actually be the threat of murder – I need them to have these moments to hopefully help prevent follow through 😛 )

And now that you have some history about my ‘imperfect children’…. here’s why yesterday had me asking ‘WHERE DID I GO WRONG?’

We all know what ‘positive affirmations’ are, right? They’re pretty much positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self-sabotaging and negative thoughts. They’re to help you create a positive mental attitude to empower you.
About three years ago, I decided I wanted to help my kids a little more than I already was just by being their mom 😛 , and so I started regularly seeking out, and printing out, selected positive quotes and affirmative statements for them. They each have about ten printed pages – my son’s is a collage on his bedroom cupboard, which he sees when he wakes up in the morning; my daughter chose for hers to be behind her bedroom door so that every time she opens and closes it, she sees them.

Yesterday, I was in the kitchen, and my son was in the lounge (it’s open plan), and my daughter came through and announced, ”We all need to start doing positive affirmations every day.”
I don’t know who had the more ‘horrified and shocked’ expression on their face – me, or my son.
He was the first to reply though.
”What do you think Mommy has been doing by sticking up new pages for us every now and then?”
My daughter shrugged her shoulders and replied, ”I thought it was just stuff she wanted us to have.”

And my first reaction (in my head) was, ”How on earth can she think that? Where did I go wrong? How did I fail at this?” And it hit me! I DID GO WRONG! This WAS on me!

The intentions behind what I had done were pretty fantastic, I think 😛 – I had created a ‘visual board’ of positivity for them in an effort to empower and inspire them. When I invaded their space with the first page, I had told them to be sure to read it every day. But I had forgotten to fully explain. To give them a WHY.
A lengthy conversation followed and it was beneficial to us all, in many ways. What surprised me was a statement my daughter made when my son commented that she should have asked why I wanted them to read it every day, because clearly she didn’t understand. She replied, quite confidently, ”I didn’t ask because Mommy usually tells us, in great detail, what we need to know.” And she rolled her eyes. 😛

We all know the infamous ‘Because I said so’. I use it sometimes with my kids, when the situation calls for it and they dare to ask why 😛 (Stop worrying about whether there are vegetables in it, and just eat it! 😛 )
But I remember what that answer was like too.
Eventually, I stopped asking why – and I actually missed out. Because I think I could have learned even more, and saved myself some troubles, if I had just asked the right people ‘why’ growing up.
But I also think that as adults, and as parents, there are times where we should not wait for the why to be asked – perhaps if we would just voluntarily speak out small doses of the wisdom we have, perhaps then our children won’t experience feeling ‘as lost’ as they sometimes do.

I think that like with most things in life, it’s about balance.
We all want our kids to have enquiring minds and look for the answers to the ‘why’s’ and not be afraid to ask – but at the same time, we want them to be informed and equipped enough that in some areas they do not need to ask because the why has already been voluntarily explained ahead of time.

And the parenthood lesson I was forced to learn? I need to stop telling my kids so much in detail, so that they are forced to ask WHY more often 😛
Off to think a little more about how to balance this particular scale 😉

Using My Time

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Last week, I was invited to meet with someone regarding a project they were considering. They wanted me in on it, which made me feel really honoured, and a little afraid, at the same time. It wouldn’t provide any income for me – but there was a possibility of a small percentage after a year, if the project was a success and actually generated income. In the meeting, their enthusiasm and excitement was contagious. Despite me feeling all fired up though, I knew that I needed ‘time to think about it’. We’re meeting again next week.
But I’m going to have to decline.

I’ve always been quite hard on myself with regards to maintaining a ‘work life balance’. I’ve read the articles and jotted down tips regarding this, and even tried to force myself to comply with ‘rules’ set to ‘ensure work life balance’. And I still seem to fail. 
At one stage, about four years ago, I even kept a ‘time journal’ for a month.
I still failed. 
Most days, I was leaning either one way or the other. Most days, I either seemed to favour ‘doing life’, or ‘working’. And I don’t just mean a 60/40 split. I’m talking 80/20 and 90/10. And it made me feel like such a failure. I’d not only beat myself up for having ‘poor time management skills’, but I’d carry the burden of ‘not being able to achieve something that is so simple’. I had all the printouts, and worksheets, and calendars – the ‘tools for time management’, and I still sucked.

So when the new project came along last week, the first thing that jumped to my mind was, ‘You already don’t have enough hours in a day. Say no.’
But instead, my mouth said, ‘Can I have a couple of weeks to just mull it over, please?’

And it’s been a brain battle ever since. I’ve run through every scenario regarding my current commitments in my head for if I take it on – what I would need to restructure, organise, sacrifice. Up until this morning, I didn’t know that I was indeed going to say no.

This morning, we had no power again for three hours. I did the chores and things that I could do without needing electricity, and then settled in my chair with my new Rachel Hollis book. I picked up where I left off two days ago, and began reading. I turned the page, and actually said out loud, ‘You’re kidding me’!

The ‘excuse’ section that I was graduating to? It was entitled, “I don’t have time.”

Then I just chuckled to myself for a few minutes, before I continued reading.
And she posed some interesting concepts. And an example, that was a bit extreme, but drove home the point. (Her example named a famous man.) But basically, if a famous actor/actress who you really admire and have been dreaming of meeting invites you for coffee, you’re going to write it in pen in your diary. And you’ll adjust your schedule accordingly. And if someone calls who ‘needs’ you at that particular time, you’re going to say no to them. It’s that important.

She mentions that the question is never, ‘do you have enough time’? The question is actually, ‘how are you using the time that you have’? 

A little later on, she addresses the thing I always hold over my own head : work life balance. (Although it’s under a different heading in the book, for me it still qualifies as part of my time concerns.)

Here’s where it’s going to ‘get a bit dicey’ – not everyone is going to agree. I’m not even sure if I agree with her fully. But to alter my perspective a little bit (and the limiting belief I have that there should be a perfect work life balance or you are failing) and try and hear what she is saying actually benefited me somewhat. 

She puts it out there that Work Life Balance is a myth. Yes! She said that! She substantiates why she thinks it too – her own personal experiences.
And I like when people share honest accounts of their own battles.

And she pretty much mentioned me! And I don’t even know her personally 😛

How we tend to look around and think that everyone else is achieving this work life balance thing and we’re the only ones who aren’t, and so we assume that it’s yet another thing that we’re failing at.

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Photo credit : vecteezy.com

And then off I went back to the ‘I don’t have time’ section, and started reading again from there. And I stopped again at the end of the work life balance mention.
Then I pulled out both my notebook, and my diary, and got to work in my head and on paper.

I am currently working on a project of my own – and it’s quite a large one. It has required huge effort on my part, and a lot of schedule adjustments, to carve out the time I need to put into it in order to achieve the goal I have for it.
And to be honest, it is my ‘coffee with my favourite actor’ – because none of them have asked yet 😛  I am only prepared to negotiate the time I spend on it if my children have ‘an emergency type need’.

The only other time I could give to this proposed new shared project, without neglecting essential life things, would be my own personal development time. (I know, I know – it’s funny. You can laugh. I actually do allocate myself a certain amount of that type of time. But I have to – or I’d never get to read great books like Rachel Hollis’. 😉 )

If I was to sacrifice some of that personal development time (which already sometimes has to be adjusted because life really does happen while we’re making other plans 😛 )…. IF I took some of that time away to focus on the new project, then unfortunately it would be detrimental to me personally.

Because what is keeping me grounded and at peace, and helping me find stability despite turmoil around me? What is helping me grow and become better and giving me the inspiration to DO better? It’s that personal development time. 

It works for me 😉

And in case you’re wondering… the new Rachel Hollis book that I got is : Girl, Stop Apologizing

Thanks for taking ‘the time’ to read 😉

momentary presence

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Photo credit : thatsundayfeelingblog.com

This morning, as I sipped thoughtfully on my second cup of coffee and watched a YouTube video, something in me seemed to wake up – and it wasn’t just because of my brain’s caffeine ecstasy.

I’m sure that in my archives somewhere I have probably written a post on ‘balance’ – healthy life balance to boost happiness and productivity each day. A part of me still agrees with that because sometimes we have to be careful about what we choose to connect to – we need to balance things out and focus more on priorities, seeking out positive contributions to our lives as opposed to negative ones.

As a single mom, (and dad – because he’s been gone for 12+ years), breadwinner, head of the household, I have a lot that I need to juggle and balance on a daily basis. Throughout the day, I find myself thinking of the next thing that needs to be done on the list and how I am going to accomplish it, or fit it in, while still attending to the things that require my immediate attention.

BUT….

I’m missing out! Sabotaging myself, in a way!

Instead of balancing my need to be balanced, I’ve focused way too much on it! (That makes sense in my head – hope it does in yours too!)

I’ve been so focused on finding balance and accomplishing it, that I have lost sight of being present in the moment. Completely present. Showing up and being there, just in that moment!

And allowing myself to reflect on that, I can actually ‘see’ where I have missed out on so many opportunities to experience so many wonderful things! 

Moments have always been special to me, don’t get me wrong. Being present is something I push for. But if I am entirely honest? As ‘present’ as I am? My mind is still ‘juggling’, at a mile a minute, the next thing that needs to be done.

I am totally missing out on what can be accomplished, enjoyed and celebrated if I just stop and stay in that moment instead of worrying if I’m balancing things correctly!

After all, the present moment is all I have that is guaranteed – so I need to make the most of it! 

 

Wolf Food

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Photo credit : asoundeffect.com

When it comes to music, books, films, series I am a multi-genre kind of girl. But am I really? It’s easy to get confused, because while I enjoy a bit of everything, there are some areas where I can be quite specific. For example, I generally don’t read romance. I can’t say I spent too much time on comedy either, which is strange because I am an always smiling, love to laugh, kind of person. I don’t do horror.

The funny thing is that when I was younger I thoroughly enjoyed all those things. Perhaps I overdid them? Or maybe as I have matured I have simply outgrown them? Whatever the reason, it’s immaterial, so it’s not something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

But if I had to choose my favourite genre – my favourite types of things to read and watch? They’d be murder mysteries, anything to do with crime, thrillers, psychological thrillers etc. My dad was a big influence – and my dear old Granny with whom I spent a lot of time as a child, watching many an episode of Murder, She Wrote.

Last week I got a message from a good friend, telling me that she had finished a really great series that was intriguing, mysterious and exciting – and I just had to watch it too. (She did also mention that her partner had not enjoyed it, and had told her that he didn’t think it would be something I would enjoy either. But, what does he know anyway? 😛 )

Where am I going with this? It’s been a rough seven days. I’ve had a few moments where one could almost say I have behaved a bit out of character – and I have felt unsettled and unusually anxious. I’ve allowed things to bother me that usually wouldn’t, and I have struggled a bit with staying focused. It was almost like the ‘peace’ of my mind had been disturbed.

And you know how ‘you know something‘?
How afterwards you could kick yourself because the answer was so simple and it’s something you know so well, and yet it eluded you? 

At lunchtime yesterday, upon further reflection of the past seven days, it came to me and it all finally made sense.

Let’s go back to the suggested series by my good friend. I am not going to name it, because maybe some of you out there have thoroughly enjoyed it. To name it may cause offence, and that’s not what this post is about.

Needless to say, I didn’t.

Now usually, when someone recommends something to me, I do a little research first. This time I failed miserably. Without giving a thought to first checking it out, I happily settled in last Friday evening to start watching.
I have a very strong stomach, which was something that I actually only fully developed while working for a doctor – you can’t have a queasy stomach and assist with procedures and clean up afterwards.
And I am not a person who is easily affected by a lot of things – which may be due to desensitisation for a variety of reasons.

But those first two episodes literally made me feel ill to my stomach. This was nothing like what I enjoy watching and I almost messaged my good friend to ask if she was sure she had recommended it to the right person. I don’t see how it is as popular as it is because it is just so wrong on every level – but then again, considering the world we live in – that may be the very reason why. (Although a few reviews did say that the individual was disappointed in themselves for wasting their time on it.)

The problem is that on Saturday evening, and every evening thereafter until Wednesday, I watched another two episodes. Because the only kind, decent and beautiful thing about it had captured my attention and I wanted to know more about her. She was scarce though and so I had to sit through all the other rubbish.

If you don’t already know what negative character traits are, you’d be able to find them all in this series. Its filled to capacity with manipulation, dishonesty, disrespect, greediness, evil, aggression, hostility, violence, jealousy – and it throws in gore and disgusting displays of sexual acts just for good (bad) measure.

Now when I say I ”watched”, you need to understand I spent more than half the time only listening. (in the privacy of my bedroom with earphones in – I have an impressionable teenage girl) My son came in once and walked around to pet our dogs and saw the screen. It was during a particularly violent and gruesome part, which I wasn’t watching. I paused it, and his reaction was, “Flip Mom, what the heck are you watching?” To which I replied that I wasn’t going to tell him because it was absolutely awful and I didn’t want him watching it. He’s 21. That should have tipped me off to what I was doing.

So here’s the point : Garbage in, garbage out.

often refer to this story… it needs repeating today….

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

My behaviour, and the unsettling and anxious feelings within me have been my own doing. I have been feeding the wrong wolf. I have been going against the core values I treasure and live by – and allowing the balance in my life to shift in a way that has been detrimental to my person, to my soul.

Sometimes it happens so subtly that it takes deep reflection to find out where we’re going wrong. This was a giant hammer hitting me on the head and it still took me too long to figure it out. I’m just glad I did.

Onward and Upward!

(And I guess my friends partner knows me better than we thought 😛 )