Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | February 4, 2016

A Reminder of Why We Homeschool…

bikes

Pretty regularly, I hear myself proclaiming (to myself and anyone who’ll listen), “it’s a great day to be a homeschooler!”.  And I believe this mantra from the bottom of my heart.  Everyday I feel lucky to be able to homeschool my children.  And the two 50 plus degree February days we’ve enjoyed in Boston this week were sweet little reminders of our great fortune!  While most people spent the days at their desks, we basked in the sunshine.  We spent Monday at the park with our homeschool friends and Tuesday the girls rode their bikes through the streets of our (deserted in the daytime) neighborhood.  These two beautiful days we experienced the palpable sweetness of homeschooling.  But I also received a harsh reminder this week of why we chose homeschooling three and half years ago.

Last week was really busy – beginning with a blizzardy weekend in Brooklyn, NY with family and ending with a farewell party for our dear friends who moved to North Carolina.  And then on Monday, we went to a SIXTY DEGREE homeschool park day (which was magical), and then we rushed home to pick up supplies for a 3pm appointment at the Lydian Center (which was wonderful).  And because we’d been out all day, I didn’t have time to make dinner, so we stopped at our favorite taqueria to pick up burriotos (which were delicious).  And since the taqueria is next door to our local used book store, we *had* to pop in there for a book or two (neither of which we’ve had a chance read, yet!).

We didn’t get home ’til after 5.  …And then all hell broke lose.  The little one lost her sh*t in a way that she rarely does.  She was screaming and crying, lamenting, “you wasted my time!  I didn’t get to play all day!”  I mean true, unbridled hysteria.  She crossed the line of sanity screaming things like “I don’t want to take a bath!” (umm…who said anything about a bath?).  And, “you don’t love me!” and “you never snuggle me!” (umm….what?  This kid is on my lap 50% of the day!).

My little girl had soul fever.  Soul Fever is what Kim John Payne describes as “the emotional equivalent of a physical fever.  When small (or large) stresses accumulate, you may find your child with a soul fever…They are ‘out of sorts’,  not at their best (and quite possibly at their worst) – and they may seem stuck in that frustrated state.  Kim suggests that we notice this and take it as seriously as a physical fever – slowing down, drawing the child near, suspending normal routine in order to give the child the calm and safe space to untangle their ’emotional knot’ – to return to their best, most balanced self.”  Simplicity Parenting Website

In hindsight, it’s clear that my big girl had soul fever for about four years (two years of preschool and two years of kindergarten).  And do you know what?  I’m equally sure that I had soul fever, too!  As Payne states, children need a calm and safe space to untangle their emotional knot.  But how can a mother with soul fever create that space?  Simple answer:  she can’t!  And so, soul fever became a way of life for my family.  Unattended, our soul fever grew more and more intense.  And that, my friends is why we homeschool.  We chose homeschooling as the ultimate simplification.  We chose homeschooling in order to slow things down, to draw our children near, and end the race we’d been running – and ultimately to create a calm and safe home in which our children can be their best, most balanced selves.

The other night, during my little girl’s meltdown, I felt that all too familiar knot starting to form in my stomach.  I remembered that when my big girl went to school I used to feel this knot every. single. day.  And I realized that my big girl experienced this same emotional pain and physical discomfort every. single. day.  She exploded daily in an attempt to release the tight knot in her belly.  At the tender age of three…four…five…six, my oldest child suffered from soul fever.  My heart aches at the memory.

And so, I am grateful every. single. day that we opted out of school.  And I’ll continue to shout my truth from the rooftops to anyone who’ll listen, “everyday is a great day to be a homeschooler!”.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | January 9, 2016

Alternative Treatments for Children Exhibiting Violent Behavior

rage free kids

Recently, a friend asked me to do some research on alternative treatments for children exhibiting violent behavior.  And I decided that I should probably post my findings!!  So here ‘ya go…

1. If I were a parent with a child exhibiting violent behavior, I would definitely start with homeopathy.

I would read the book Rage Free Kids.

“Rage-Free Kids describes how homeopathic medicine is effective for the treatment of defiant, violent and aggressive children.  …The book includes information on oppositional defiant disorder, rage and violence, an explanation of homeopathic medicine, and over twenty-five case histories of successful homoepathic treatment.” (Amazon.com)

After reading Rage Free Kids, I would find a homeopath.  You can find recommendations for homeopaths in the Boston area on my Practitioners Page.

2. In conjunction with the homeopathy, I would start working with healer extraordinaire Joy delGuidice (who practices energy kinesiology among many other healing modalities).  I know that the child is exhibiting the violent behavior, but as I always say, the child is a mirror for the mom and if the mom can clear her old stuff – her parent’s old stuff – her grandparent’s old stuff, that clearing will most likely have a tremendous healing effect on the child exhibiting violent behavior.  Families are systems…moms’ and kids’ energies are so interconnected…and Joy can treat the family unit.  The healing will be much, much faster than trying to resolve the problem only through the child.

If homeopathy and energy kinesiology do not resonate with the parent, a few additional treatments I might investigate include:

3.  Naturopathy (or naturopathic medicine).  Naturopaths focus a lot on nutrition.  They suggest vitamins and supplements and sometimes even homeopathic remedies.  Unfortunately, because naturopathic medicine isn’t covered by insurance in Massachusetts, there don’t appear to be many naturopaths in the area.  In fact, they all seem to move to the more progressive west coast where insurance covers naturopaths!  But NH seems to be getting on the naturopathic train, so you might also consider checking NH.  You can search here for a naturopath.

I also got a very strong recommendation from one of my own practitioners for Dr. Hubbich, a very alternative MD in Watertown.  Like naturopaths, Dr. Hubbich seems to focus a lot on diet, as well as herbs and homeopathy and a wide array of alternative treatments.

4.  Chinese Herbs.  I have no idea how you’d get a kid to choke down Chinese herbs, but there is a practitioner in Cambridge that comes highly recommended by two of my friends (who don’t even know each other!).  His name is Abram Ojure.  He also practices acupuncture.    (As an aside, I personally am more interested in homeopathy than Chinese herbs.  Both can be quite effective, but homeopathy seems much more gentle.)

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | January 2, 2016

The F-ing Holidays

angry-guy

me.

 

I do so much personal work.

I am always trying to figure out my role in situations and how I am contributing to any unhealthy interpersonal dynamics.

I blog about being a conscious parent and how that which upsets me in the world is actually a reflection of my own fears.

If you’d asked me earlier this month, I would have confidently said that things are going pretty well for me.

And then BAM!  The holidays come and knock me right off my pretty little pedestal, and onto my ass.

My peace and calm go out the window.  All my grace is replaced by the trembling, insecure little girl (inside of me who) I try so hard to love into growing up.

My peaceful breathing is replaced by heart palpitations and tears.

I have created a beautiful home, a quiet sanctuary, for myself and my family of four.  And it is here that I’ve been able to do my personal work.

But when I re-enter the stress of the outside world and I experience other people’s palpable feelings of anger and unhappiness, I am overwhelmed to the point of dizziness.  My senses are overloaded and my heart aches.  I am transported back again to my own angry childhood home where hurtful words were thrown like grenades.

So what is the solution?  To move to an island to escape all unpleasantness?  That’d be my first choice!  But unfortunately my husband won’t agree to plan A.  So I’m stuck with Plan B:  to better hold my boundaries and continue to do my personal work in hopes that one day, I’ll be able to stand on the battlefield that is the holidays and hold strong.  As strong as I am in my own home.

Our children are our primary mirrors into our own souls.  And so the fact that my home is (usually) peaceful is a big deal.  I am proud to say that it reflects the massive amount of personal work that I have done over the past nine years.

But there is certainly not peace in the larger world.  And where there is discord, well…I wish to be anywhere but there!  So I suppose this is the next step of my journey.  To figure out how to bring that peace and calm I have created in my own home into the world (as opposed to being swallowed up by others’ anger and unhappiness).

But I can’t lie, I’d really rather just stay home!  I like it here so much.  I am still a mess from this f-ing holiday and so I am not holding the space (the peace and calm) for my family the way that I need to.  I am teary and unhappy and off kilter.  And so, guess what?  Everyone else is a wreck, too!  Especially my two sweet little mirrors who are down and out with colds again (it’s no wonder why…).  Okay, I know I’m a broken record, but I have to repeat my tag line:  when the mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  And this mama ain’t happy at all.  Thank God I have another year ’til I have to try it again…

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | December 13, 2015

Slow Homeschooling

Slow Homeschooling.JPG

During our first year of homeschooling, I made the (what at the time felt bold) proclamation, “We are Unschoolers!“.  But I just don’t feel that same heart connection with the term unschooling anymore.  Not the way that I feel a deep sense of alignment with the slow homeschooling lifestyle.

Milva McDonald, in her Examiner article, explains her family’s slow homeschooling experience, “I observed my kids with interest and joy, and provided resources to help feed budding passions. I did my best to act as a guide while trying to stay the heck out of their way. What I did not do when they were very young was sign them up for every math workshop, science club, or whatever activity came on the homeschooling list serve, and I certainly never enrolled them in a learning center. It just wasn’t necessary. Beyond a pottery session here and there, for the most part classes and other structured activities weren’t even a part of my kids’ lives until they hit double digits.  So what did we do?  We spent our time at the park, the library, and in play…”.

Milva describes my kinda homeschooling beautifully.  As she notes in her article, slow schooling has become much less common.  With so many classes and learning centers available to us, homeschoolers often get caught up in the resources of it all.  Many homeschoolers end up cobbling together a homeschool experience that is not all that different from the existing school model.  A literature group on Mondays, a math class on Tuesdays, a Spanish class on Wednesdays, a science class on Thursdays, and a soccer clinic on Fridays.  Is the literature group richer than the Flat Stanley 2nd grade curriculum?  Yes.  Is MIT a more inspiring place to learn about science than a public school classroom?  Yes.  But this type of homeschooling feels like a (better, richer) curriculum that takes place in a (better, richer) environment, in one’s community instead of a school building.  So why call it unschooling (not-school)?

And is this model really child-led?  In many families, I’m sure the parents are offering these classes to the kids and they’re saying, “yeah! sure!”.  But if the family does not have a strong homeschool community and taking classes is the only opportunity for the child to be around other kids, then of course a social four year-old would quickly say “yes!” to a Quantum Physics class.  And then there’s the old TV argument.  Classes (and TV) aren’t necessarily bad.  But the question is what could the child be doing if he weren’t taking so many classes (or watching so much TV)?  My view of the world is that a child would be better served by being allowed to choose one special class.  And then the kid would actually have some time to do some truly self-directed learning, which for children is called PLAY.  Don’t children need time and space and to experience this crazy old fashioned feeling called boredom in order for them to come up with amazing new ideas?!

I just can’t help but wonder if all these better, richer academic programs are really unschooling?  It’s homeschooling for sure (since the kids aren’t going to school).  And the child is saying “yes” to the course offerings and he is able to drop the class at any time, so it’s technically unschooling.  But does this educational model really support a child’s blossoming into her true authentic self?  Does it really foster the child’s understanding of his unique gifts that he is meant to share with the world?  I would argue that these rigorous schedules make homeschoolers well-rounded students, like their schooled age-mates.  But isn’t a main goal of unschooling for children to find what they are truly passionate about?  Doesn’t this process require the time and freedom to explore and participate in the world in authentic ways, not just as students in classrooms?

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do know that if my family had something scheduled everyday, we would never go to park days and we wouldn’t have built a strong community of friends.  Nor would my children spend nearly as much time together.  They wouldn’t need to figure out how to work things out between them and they wouldn’t enjoy such a close sister relationship.  My younger girl would not have enough time to get lost in her imaginative play.  She would miss out on whole days of playing doctor, Calico Critters, and play dough.  And my older daughter wouldn’t have time to read multiple novels a week, to perfect the hands and eyes in her figure drawings, or to write and illustrate her own stories.

Technically we’re still unschoolers, but I don’t feel like the term describes our lifestyle very well.  And so (in the middle of our third year of homeschooling), I’m rebranding.  We are slow homeschoolers!  Learn more by following the Slow Homeschooling Tumblr.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | December 2, 2015

Homeschooling in the Winter

K in snow

As park days come to their natural end for the season, mamas are starting to ask one another anxiously about their plans for the winter.  Homeschool mamas tend to worry about keeping their kids busy in the cold, indoor months to come.  I, too, can fall into this current of worry…in fact I did just the other day.  I joined the what-the-heck-are-we-gonna-do-in-the-winter chatter at the park last week.

In hindsight, I think that I joined the conversation out of my need to remain connected with my beloved homeschool mama friends, rather than as a result of any actual worry about the winter.  Because, in fact, I am not nervous about the upcoming season at all.  I honestly LOVE homeschooling in the winter!  I love the excuse of the wintry weather to stay home and read and bake all day.  Just me and my two favorite girls.  And if the weather is bad enough, that means the daddy can join us, too!

The creeping pace of the winter is actually when our family is the happiest.  We hunker down and without the stress of the outside world, winter is when our family life is most idyllic.  Pace is our main thing and mother nature ensures that we keep our pace oh, so, slow all winter.

We, of course, still play with friends in the winter!  But the playdates are more occasional and as a result, when we do spend time with friends, it is so special!  We savor every minute of our time together.  And having friends at our house (as opposed to the playground) creates an opportunity for us to get to know one another in a much deeper way.  A way that is well-aligned with my temperament and my children’s temperaments.

I’m hearing lots of talk about this winter being worse than last year.  And well…sounds good to me!  I’m grateful for the upcoming slower pace of winter…for days of snuggling on the couch with a good book…for the smell of sugar cookies filling the house…for cozy nights by the fire.  I love homeschooling in the winter.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | November 23, 2015

Staying Put.

k and l at the park.JPGIn some ways, it’s been a tough fall.  Our two original homeschool family friends have announced their decisions to move.  One family’s headed home to North Carolina at the end of the year.  And the other is planning their adventures in Vermont.

I wouldn’t trade one second of my friendships with either of these mamas.  Every minute of the past two(ish) years in their company has been a gift.  They taught me so much about parenting and how to better care for my family.  They were my ambassadors to homeschooling.  I am so grateful.  Though I am so happy for them and the dreams that they’re following, their leaving is difficult.  Because of all the joy they’ve brought into my life, I am so sad to say goodbye.

But while these friendships change shape…and become more long-distance than daily…something wonderful has also happened this fall.  We’ve made lots of new, wonderful homeschool friends.  Some families are new to homeschooling and some are just “new to us”!  My healer extraordinaire is always saying that we just need to trust that the universe will provide exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.  And this fall, for the very first time, I’m starting to believe it.

The other HUGE (certainly related) lesson I’m learning this fall is the power of staying.  Staying as opposed to leaving.  Staying put – exactly where I am.  Staying is not my strong suit.  I dream about moving all the time.  I dream about new and improved lifestyles.  A move to Cambridge to live the urban life.  We’d all wear black and be super-hip.  We’d ditch our cars and walk everywhere.  We’d just call (these new fangled!) Ubers whenever necessary.  Other times I dream about moving to Montague and living this hippie-homesteader kinda existence.  But here’s the thing.  Wherever we move, I’ll still be me.  I won’t change.  My new surrounding won’t make me different.  To quote Jon Kabat-Zinn, “Wherever You Go, There You Are”.  I only read about 25% of the book and although it’s not a page turner, I do think the title sums up one my major life lessons perfectly.

And actually…things are really good right exactly where I am!  I’m happy.  Happier than I’ve ever been before.

And we already did this whole move in search of a new lifestyle thing.  We moved much closer to the city, much closer to the action.  We left Sharon to go to the Waldorf School, but also because I just did not feel like we fit in there.  And while it was true that we didn’t match the larger Sharon demographic, we had carved out a beautiful little cozy community for ourselves.  We had made wonderful friends there.  Friends with whom we will remain in touch forever.  But I was so focused on what I didn’t like…on what made me uncomfortable…that I couldn’t fully receive that amazing gift that was being offered to me.  The universe was giving me exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  But I couldn’t receive it.  I couldn’t even see it.  Instead, I searched for something new, hoping that the perfect place would fill me up.

And ‘ya know what the irony is?  We don’t really fit into Arlington either!  Arlington is much less diverse than Sharon, so we actually fit in even more poorly here!  So what am I going to do?  Take my family on a moving tour of New England in search of some mystical needle in a haystack town that will be so perfect that it will solve all our problems?

Here’s the thing.  What if it’s not about fitting in, but rather it’s about being comfortable in my own skin?  Being my true, authentic self.  I am not my most authentic self all of the time.  I try to be!  But sometimes I lose my confidence and fall back into my “smaller to fit-in self”.  That’s my challenge:  to be my authentic self all the time.  Not to find this perfect place that will make me feel so comfortable that I’ll become a happier, more complete person.  And so, I am making the commitment to stay.  To stay put in Arlington.  And to love the hell out of my wonderfully imperfect town!  I am going to appreciate my beautiful neighborhood full of some of the most sincerely kind and generous people I’ve ever met.  I’m going to notice every day all the ways my home is charming and sanctuary-like and appreciate its proximity to the library, awesome restaurants, and the 77 bus to Harvard Square!

The reality is that we have to drive to find our homeschool community.  And the reality appears to be that there is a lot of turnover in the homeschool community.  Those are two really hard things.  But at the end of the day, we love homeschooling way too much to even consider a more mainstream path.  And instead of searching for a fictitious town where all the families are Pagan homeschoolers, we’ll stay here.  And we won’t be the same as all our neighbors.  Instead we’ll focus on being our most authentic selves, as that appears to be a far more direct path to happiness than moving.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | November 20, 2015

What if they spend their whole childhood playing?

happiness is here

Oh dear, sweet Happiness is Here blog.  Thank you so much for this post…I needed it!

I ran into a neighbor today and her son is struggling in full-day kindergarten.  Not so much in the classroom…he holds it together all day and then comes home and tantrums.  The usual stuff:  screaming, hitting and kicking.  Just like my big girl did when she got home from kindergarten.  My neighbor explained how she knows it’s too much for her little boy.  But he’s thriving in the classroom.  The tantrums are the price to be paid at the end of the day.

But wait.  The price to be paid for what?  For being trapped in a classroom on a 60 degree mid-November day (instead of running and jumping and climbing trees)?  The price to be paid for being forced to learn letters and numbers at a developmentally inappropriate age (instead of simply being surrounded by books and magazines and maps; instead of being allowed free choice in reading materials; instead of simply being read to)?  The price to be paid for doing pointless things like worksheets?  And growing to dislike “subjects” like reading or math (subjects that cannot exist on their own in the real, interconnected world).

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that some lucky kids come out of school unscathed.  These super-kids go to school and still come home and read for pleasure.  They still even like to learn about new things that interest them (just for fun).  Even those “success story” school children are at a minimum missing out on unstructured play, downtime and daydreaming.  Free-time and free-play enable children to really get to know themselves and who they are.  The luxury of time allows children’s own unique talents to naturally unfold.  Freedom is required to discover one’s interests and passions.  Isn’t childhood the time to nurture our children’s innate gifts that they are meant to share with the world?  What could be more important than a happy, unhurried childhood?

So thank you Happiness is Here for taking a much better approach.  The higher road.  And focusing on the positives of homeschooling and the incredible power of play.  What could children be doing if they weren’t in school all day?  What great things might they be experiencing, creating, doing if their childhoods were no longer defined by school?

Here is that beautiful post:  What if they spend their whole childhoods playing?

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | November 14, 2015

Holistic Practitioners We LOVE!: Diane Iuliano

diane[1]

Diane Iuliano

I haven’t done a Holistic Practitioners we LOVE! profile in a long time.  And I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist who I LOVE! for a while now…so this post is overdue!

I’m pleased to introduce my acupuncturist, Diane Iuliano.  Diane is on the faculty at New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) and practices Japanese acupuncture at her private practice in Cambridge:  Acupuncture Therapy.

WHAT IS JAPANESE ACUPUNCTURE?

I’ll include the lovely explanation of Japanese Acupuncture from Diane’s site, but here’s what you really want to know:  Japanese Acupuncture uses smaller needles than Chinese Acupuncture!

Japanese Acupuncture is a system of health care that has developed over the past 1800 years. The foundation on which it is set is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced chee). Qi is the life force that circulates though all parts of the body via energy channels, called meridians. These meridians may be thought of as similar to the lymphatic or vascular system in the body. Each meridian is responsible for the physical and emotional balance in the body.

There are points located along the meridians that have specific actions and effects. These points are where the acupuncturist will gather the Qi. Hair-fine, sterile, acupuncture needles are inserted into points along the meridians. This helps smooth the flow of Qi and restore balance, allowing the body to work at an optimal level of health.

WHAT TO EXPECT

The treatment begins with a complete intake of information regarding current and past health conditions, allergies, medication taken, diet, work, and exercise and lifestyle habits.

Next, the acupuncturist will palpate the pulse at the wrists and abdomen.

Finally, the acupuncturist will place or insert needles or other tools at specific points. This should not be painful at any time. Most patients feel deeply relaxed and may fall asleep during a treatment. The treatment time is approximately 45 minutes.

COST

The cost is $85.00 per treatment. Some private insurance companies cover acupuncture. Some HMOs offer a discount for acupuncture treatments. Please check with your individual insurance company for information.

WHY WE LOVE! DIANE IULIANO

I love Diane’s sense of humor and she is incredibly responsive to appointment requests.  And, in addition to being a joy to work with, Diane has done something truly miraculous.  She’s helped with my head aches!  I’ve been on a twenty year journey to cure my headaches.  I used to have headaches five to seven days a week (it was truly awful).  And while I still sometimes get head aches these days, they are occasional.  Head aches are no loner my lifestyle!  And I attribute much of my relief to Diane.  Her work, in conjunction with my ongoing work with Joy delGiudice, has been life-changing!  And I am so incredibly grateful.

I’ve worked with many holistic healers in search of headache relief.  And while (before Diane), I’d never found any relief, I did always receive some unexpected gift from each healing modality that I tried.  But acupuncture has been the jackpot!  In addition to relieving my headaches, I’ve also received another unexpected gift.  A bonus gift, if you will!  Sessions with Diane greatly decrease my PMS and menstrual symptoms.  Yippee!!  I now see Diane a few days before my period starts and those five to seven days of my life each month are a completely different experience.  Just so toned down.  It’s truly amazing.

I LOVE! Diane and cannot recommend her highly enough.

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 24, 2015

Celebrating Samhain

celebrating the great mother

Last fall, as a result of some divine intervention (and a little research!), I found the wonderful book Celebrating the Great Mother: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children.  In the beginning, when I started reading it, I felt as if I couldn’t look directly at it!  Like it was too perfect.  The book was exactly what I’d been looking for!  A blueprint to re-focus our lives around the seasons and to live closer to the earth.  This is no easy task living in our hurried culture.  And in an urban area, no less!  But, I’ve been taking baby-steps.  I’m trying to loosely follow the seasonal festival schedule and put a little magic in our lives!

The next Pagan holiday is called Samhain…and it happens on October 31st.  “Our cultural Halloween still has the shreds of this ancient festival of the dead clinging to it…  Samhain teaches us to make death less terrifying:  we prepare special foods and set a place at our table for dead loved ones, remembering them with reverence.  Our ancestors knew that on Samhain the veil separating this world and the next is thin, making communication between the worlds a real possibility.  …Samhain encourages us to listen to the wise voice within, to trust our own ability to see into, and shape, our futures.”  (Celebrating the Great Mother, p. 7)

Both of my husband’s parents and my mother have passed away.  So, Samhain is a really lovely way for us to remember them and for our daughters to hear some of our fond memories of our parents (and our childhoods).  We remember my mother’s mother as there is something powerful about the matrilineal line.  And it is especially joyful for me to tell the girls stories about my father’s parents and how my beloved grandparents used to shower my sisters and me with love and attention (and sweets!).  Celebrating Samhain has been a lovely gift to my family, and so I share our Samhain altar with you…

altar

OFF KLTR Samhain Altar

Posted by: Tracy Barsamian Ventola | October 9, 2015

DON’T spend all the money on the kids!

Lauren

My Grown-Up and Five-Year-Old Healers Hard at Work!

Back in February, I wrote about being a selfish mother and how the patriarchal tenet that mothers must be selfless hurts women and damages families.  I talked about how, by taking time for myself and filling up my own cup,  I am a better mother.  With a full cup, I am better able to love and nurture my children.

And today I’d like to broaden my selfish statement.  In addition to needing to take time for myself, I also focus on my own emotional and spiritual healing before my children’s.  Yup.  You read that right.  If the household is a wreck, I get myself back on track first, then I deal the rest of the lot.  Selfish?  Yup.  Best thing that I could do for my children?  Double yup.  These statements go against the cultural norm.  Mothers are still expected to sacrifice themselves for the “benefit” of their families (their children most certainly, but often their husbands and parents as well).

I have heard so many friends say that they don’t do much healing work on themselves, preferring to spend all the money on their children’s therapies.  This is a selfless act.  As little girls, we are taught to grow up to be selfless mothers.  We are taught that by ignoring our own needs and focusing on our children’s needs that we will raise happy and healthy children.  But this selfless strategy always backfires because our children’s issues are a reflection of our own issues.  Until we do our own personal work, our children’s happiness and freedom remain an unattainable dream.

“Our children are responding to us all the time and are often demonstrating to us what we are not dealing with. When we work on ourselves as mothers and fathers, we allow our children to shift to a new position. We are constantly teaching our children what the world is like. We must clear our own fearful responses so that our children have an opportunity to live a different world.  And more importantly, we need to honor them for showing us our own blind spot.”  –Joy delGiudice

When mothers heal themselves first – often without even directly treating the children! – our own wholeness heals our children.  This is because our children serve as our mirrors, and they are quite literally mirroring our own traumas and our greatest fears.  As adults we have buried these traumas and fears deep in our subconscious, but while they are out of our minds, they are most certainly in our energetic fields.  And to our children, our energy speaks much more loudly than our words.

When we see unsavory behaviors in our children, we want to pour all of our time, energy, and resources into healing our children.  We know this pain.  We are actually feeling (what we believe to be) their pain.  But it is not necessarily their pain.  It is most likely just a mirror of our own pain.

As I’ve explained in the past, when my big girl is most out of her body – when her behavior most dizzies me – it is because she is mirroring a trauma or a wound in my energetic field.  In these instances, she is clearly not happy and her behavior is making the rest of us very unhappy.  In an effort to stop the behavior, I could fill her day with therapies.  I could spend half of my family’s income at the Lydian Center – chiropractic, homeopathy, kinesiology, acupuncture, cranio-sacral, brain gym.  In fact, I have done all these therapies for my big girl in an effort to heal her.  But time and again, we see the biggest, most life-changing results when I spend the money on my own therapies.  In fact, I rarely schedule any appointments for my children these days.  If they take a nasty fall off the jungle gym, I do get them right into the chiropractor for an adjustment.  If they are physically sick, I take them to our MD/homeopath.  But, when their behavior is out of whack, I schedule an appointment with Joy delGiudice FOR MYSELF and we clear MY issue that the girls are mirroring for me.  And by clearing my wounds, I free my children from having to carry these burdens (on my behalf).

I’d like to share another example – this time of my fears affecting my little girl.  If you know me personally, you know that my little girl is attached at my hip.  She is five years old and at park days she can always be found with me (most likely snacking!).  She rarely plays with the other children at the park, preferring to spend the whole time by my side.  She is an incredibly capable five year old.  She plays independently better than any other child I’ve ever met.  But she never chooses to play with the other kids at the park.  I kept thinking that she’d grow out of it…but she hasn’t…and so recently, I marched into my healer’s office, ready to treat the five year old and resolve this situation once and for all!  Well…guess what we found out?  I am scared sh*tless that my sweet little girl with poor vision is going to get hurt at the park.  Park days can be really busy.  There can be lots of kids running around, playing tag, climbing and bumping into one another.  What if my little girl gets hurt in the midst of all this commotion?  What if she gets pushed off the jungle gym?  I’m scared that it’s not safe.  I NEVER SAY it’s not safe for her or insist that she sit by my side where I can keep an eye on her.  But in my energetic body, I am scared for her safety and she reads my unspoken fear-based message loud and clear.  She obeys my unspoken warnings and stays close to me.

So what can my healer really accomplish by working on my daughter?  Not much since MY fear is causing her behavior.  But if I resolve MY fears, I can free her of my baggage.  I had one session on this issue, but there’s more work to be done.  Only by clearing my own fears can I free my daughter – so she can run, jump, skip, and play tag with her big sister and all the other kids at park day.  But I’m not gonna lie, it’s hard for me.  The charge is huge.  It’s gonna take a lot of work on my part.  And in the meantime, I have to really be careful not to take out my frustration on my little mirror when she is trying to crawl into my womb at the park.  She and I are stuck in my energetic muck.  She is my mirror.  And, it’s my job to work through this fear in order to set us both free.

I share this story in hopes that my experience might help other mamas working tirelessly to help their children who are suffering.  It is tempting to funnel all your time and resources into your children’s therapies.  I know that you just love them so much.  But don’t do it.  Spend the money on yourself – on your own healing – and your children will be healed as result.

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