Friday, February 05, 2016

room for a soul–leaving space for our kids to fill up

(I wrote this mid-Christmas season, but never published it.  So here are these thoughts, for the record).IMG_2077
Christmas is coming, too fast.
We watched Charlie Brown Christmas and I could totally relate with Charlie.  It’s supposed to be such a happy time of year, but as a mom it’s hard for me to stop all the craziness and just slow down and enjoy the magic of it all.  I’m trying hard to, but find myself in kind of a bad mood a lot of the time. 
I am finding that we are all much happier when I let go and just let things happen, let the holidays unfold. Yes, do my work, make my way through the never ending to do list, but stop and just let things unfold.  Even unravel sometimes. 
Hazel taught me this lesson.  She started teaching it to me last year at Christmas by pushing hard against the plans I had made.  It irked me to no end.   I kept feeling so mad that this daughter of mine was getting in the way of me raising her how I always dreamed I’d raise a child!  I had so many great ideas, so many memories to create, so many concepts teach, so many things to experience together all stored up in a mothering file I started as a kid.   And darn this pre-pubescent girl who kept getting in my way, resisting my direction, derailing my plans, storming off.  It’s kind of been a war with her all year.  But slowly I’m seeing why she is fighting.  She has a lot of her own plans and they’re really remarkably good. She’s transitioning from being a small person who follows her mom around to having her own brain and heart and ideas and will (well, she’s kind of always had that).  
The point is, Hazel has fight inside of her and if I keep squelching it with my own ideas and plans one of two things could happen.  Her fight could go out.  Extinguished by my unrelenting desire to make things go according to my plans.  She could acquiesce so much that that drive inside to assert and create and become slowly wither way, buried deep beneath feelings of self doubt and insecurities.  But, lets be real here, anyone who knows Hazel knows that’s not going to happen.  She’s a fighter.  So, the more likely scenario is this, she’s gonna just keep fighting me.  And all that struggle is going to make it harder and harder for her to distinguish between what fights are worth fighting.  Everything will become a battle.  A way to assert who she is, to express her soul.
Isn’t adolescence all about figuring out who you are?  How can you do that when someone so close to you has filled every inch of the space around you?
So I’m trying to step back.  Trying to let her fill in more space in our lives.  Expand who she is and what she controls.  Boy is it hard.  And I’m really not getting it right most of the time, but I’m trying.
I did get it right decorating the Christmas tree this year.  Last year our family ornament hanging turned disastrous as I tried to do things according to my vision and Hazel resisted.   Hazel ended up storming away to her room and in a rage started a book called, “Faults of my Mom.”  Here is the first chapter:
Decorating Christmas tree:
The thing that makes me most mad is when my mom TRIES to make a happy peaceful setting in our house.  for example: we were decorating our Christmas tree and mom takes out ornaments one at a time, talking about each one as if it were really the most pretty, beautiful or interesting thing in the world.
MOM: This ornament I bought at Market Basket because I felt like it
MOM: This is another nylon reindeer we had on our tree when I was little. (weird!!)
in a HOME just
you can't make
That is the thing I try to explain to my mom. I mean, thinking back, "organized moments" mom tried to make never worked.  Kids didn't want to take pictures, we argued, stuff like that. The only way to make Moments memorable is to not try so hard to make your self happy. Also CRUSH the plans that you might have made and trust them,  play along with you kids it will make the moments last any way.
Sighing off,
(I mean that)
This year as we pulled out the ornament box and got ready to adorn that tree I decided to turn the whole process over to Hazel.  She did a fantastic job and I just got to sit back and watch as she merged both the order and sentimentality that she knew was important to me with the free flow sort of chaos that was important to her.  She even made a joke at the beginning by being sure to pick out the nylon reindeer and reminisce on it’s beauty and sentimental importance. 
She’s a good girl, that Hazel.  A deep, wise soul.  She just needs me to give her a little more space for her soul to expand.   


  1. Wow! You are awesome and so is Hazel.

  2. Wow! I'm incredibly impressed with you and Hazel! It's really remarkable how well she was able to identify and articulate exactly what was bothering her; a skill many adults don't have. And it's equally remarkable that you were able to take her feedback seriously instead of just dismissing it and think carefully about how to address her distress. On top of all that you were also able to generously share the experience with all of us. I hope you know what a precious and unusual thing that is. Many moms (especially bloggers, I think) try to "keep it real" by saying stuff like "my kids were bickering tons today" or "I need to get better organized" but to truly expose the hardest emotional parts of being a mom is a rare gift. well done.

    This post made me thing about something that has been a challenge in my marriage (not saying it is the same for you, of course!) I findit's hard to challenge the assumptions I inherited from my family of origin of how things are or should be. Some of the assumptions are do deep and unchallenged that I didn't even recognize them as assumptions! (much to my husband's dismay!)

    Well done.

  3. Thanks for sharing this! It takes real humility to talk about (perceived) "faults" in parenting in public. I love this whole encounter. I wrote a book (illustrated, as well!) similar to Hazel's--not nearly so articulate--when I was about nine. My mom did what you're doing now, though of course I didn't know it at the time. I now look back, and reminisce with her about how she handled things. I do remember her giving up a lot of the power and control (within reason) to me and my siblings and I especially remember how much we loved it. I loved having special charge. Like Hazel seemed to this year, more and more I felt the good weight of stewardship and respect for my parent's special things and traditions. I was invested too. I hope I can give my kids more meaningful jobs as they need them. My oldest and I butt heads often, so I will be thinking more how to give space for him to fill.

  4. How did you teach her to not only recognise the problem she had, but to articulate it so clearly?! Even as an adult I don't think I'm that good at pinpointing problems origins so well! Can I ask in what ways you model writing to your children? Other than blogging (do your children read this?), do you write in a journal that you share with them or that they see you writing in? I feel like this is an area in parenthood that my husband and I aren't so diligent in.



Related Posts with Thumbnails