Parenting is who I am

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On a recent road trip I fired up Shonda Rhymes book the Year of Yes on the stereo. Part way through the book she said something that made me start talking into my own recording device as a jumping off point for an idea that needed a little more of my attention. Her words “parenting is not a job it’s who we are.”  I had referred to parenting as my job on more than on occasion. Her assertion gave me pause for some serious reflection.

For many people a job is something that one regularly wants a break from. It’s laborious. It can suck from time to time. There is compensation for time and effort. Often their are complaints about hours, there can be overtime and maybe even sleepless nights. Co-workers can point out issues, you would rather not deal with. There is a chance for bonuses. There is a certain level of knowledge that is required to succeed in most cases. Writing these examples down I can most certainly drawn some parallels between parenting and the work force. I can understand how we as a world have come to consider parenting a job. However, jobs are often something we have to get through, struggle with, do when we’d rather not.

Alternatively, if I start to ask questions about who I am, the worlds that flow forward have a much more positive spin on them. I am kind, I am thoughtful, I am hard working, I am considerate, I am loving and the list goes on. The energy I bring to considering who I am as opposed to what job I do comes from a place much more grounded in the impact I hope to have in the world around me. It strips me back to my fundamental character and considers the values I hold dear..

When I turn this all around back to parenting I find myself nodding enthusiastically alongside Shonda. Yes, parenting is who I am. It is not what I do. It is who I am because it is wrapped up in my heart. It’s an action and response that comes from my core values. It is how I tend to the most fragile parts of who I am. This is not to say it isn’t challenging or exhausting or frustrating at many moments. It instead defines what I hold onto in those most desperate moments to pick me up again to meet myself with compassion in order to bring my best self forward.

Turning toward parenting as who I am and not a job I do affords me the freedom to be my best self at each turn of the journey. Responding to struggle with love because I want to be known as someone who can do hard things in the face of challenges. Choosing kindness because I want to be a trusted resource to those who are vulnerable. Providing compassion because I know at the heart of who I am that I want to be a hand up not a push down. Applying curiosity to all the situations that arrive because I want to be known as someone who could think way outside of the box to uncover the solution no one else considered that lifts each person to their highest potential. Persevering in the face of adversity over and over again to rise a stronger human being. Honestly, connecting with the humans in front of me to find the space between us that is our shared humanity. This, this list of who I am, is the parent I become when I see this one piece of my journey, as an extension of who I am and not a job I must do.

It’s time to lead

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When Barak Obama was elected President in 2008 I stood in my living room with the boys and watched history being made. And I made the dangerous assumption that this was a signal that clearly racism was no longer a part of the world at all.  It’s also true that in the moment because of where I had lived for my entire lifetime I had no idea about racism to begin with. It’s likely what helped me to make the sort of ignorant leap that I did that day, that things were over with. It was what let me with all my white skin not have to worry about that anymore.

Now after living in California for six years, I have had the wool pulled clear off of my eyes. Through the people I have met, the stories I have heard and what I have witnessed myself I have come to understand a completely different story. Please don’t get me wrong, I am quite juvenile in my understanding at this point. I am still undoing my own misunderstandings, seeing how ignorance has wound it’s way into my own thinking, my own actions and reactions and how privilege can put on some serious blinders. I am no where near expert on this topic, no where near, I have much work to do to learn and grown and understand. I do feel like I am awake now. And I can’t be that woman who stood in her living room that night and believed race issues where behind us. Because I have two human beings watching me closely, for some guidance in how to be in the world.

Two nights ago when a whole different kind of election result rolled in, these two human beings were still watching me.  I had said from the comfort of my privilege more than once that if Donald Trump was elected I would flee the country and head back to my homeland. I said it with the kind of certainty that comes from knowing I would never have to follow through on that action. The media, my husband, all my FB friends convinced me into believing that this would NEVER happen. And so I could toss about threats like that. I could sit back in my comfort zone of “I’m not allowed to vote here,” and hide out waiting for the election to be over already.  But then it began to happen. And while I drove with my youngest son having an anxiety attack in the back seat about Donald Trump becoming president something broke inside of me. I don’t even know if broke is the right word. Something inside of me shattered. And my own ignorance poured out in front of me.  I knew I had to do better by my children. I had to step up and be a leader for them.

My journey as a mother has been committed to being the parent they need me to be. Looking to them for guidance as to what stories I need to rewrite so I can continue to show up with love and connection. For building them up so that they have the tools to go out into the world and make it a better place. I have used a lot of words along the way and some action for sure but in this moment of election results that shook a nation to it’s core, I realized I had a lot more work to do. It was time for my actions to speak louder than my words. So when my son asked me “are we moving back to Canada mom?” with both worry and confusion in his voice I explained, “I never should have said that. It was a selfish thing to say. I think the best thing we can do is stay here and work hard to help our friends who have ever right to be afraid. We are safe. We will continue to be safe under this new leadership. But I’m not confidant that is true for all the people we live alongside. So let’s find out how we can help.” I will be honest, I was surprised by how relieved he was with this answer.

In this unthinkable moment, I knew I had to step up and be a leader for my children.  At a time when a country was electing someone who had, in the kindest description, been a bully and rewarded for it, I needed to show them a different sort of leadership.  If my hope was for them to stand up for their friends in the face of adversity I was going to have to give them some examples of what that looked like. If I was going to hope that they would use their privilege to help others in life, I was going to have give them some concrete examples of what that looked like. Because it is true that my sons see what is wrong with the election results. They understand how woman have to work harder in this world. They have a solid knowledge base but I’m not sure they know what to do with all of that.

This was my lesson. To see that my words to date have served well but they are no longer enough. My sons are getting older. They need me to show them how to stand strong in the face of adversity. They need to know what action looks like when you stand up and use your voice to help those who have lost their’s. And that doesn’t come from packing up all your belongings and running  away to keep your own self righteousness intact. It means standing boots on the ground and saying “I will fight for your rights, with all the privilege I have.” I don’t think there has been a moment in my life where I have felt so called to action, to be the leader for my children, in how to make the world a safe place for all the people. I know things now that I can’t un-know. And turning away feels like the action of a coward. I want courage for my children, for all the life ahead of them. So I put that courage in my own hands right now and lead them.

I am far from having all the answers of what that will look like in the coming weeks, months and years. I do know it starts now with small acts, each day, that they can witness in me. Yesterday, it looked like walking to neighbors homes who we had not spoken to in the three years of living here, with a bag of cookies and saying “Hi, I’m your neighbor and today felt like a good day to share a little kindness.” And you know what. My son who says “I don’t talk to strangers ever mom.” stood by my side at each of those houses, by choice. Today and for all the tomorrows, it will look like similar acts of small kindness, eye to eye contact, a smile, holding the door open, buying a stranger a cup of coffee. As well, I will continue to learn what is broken in a system that does not support all the people and use what I know to lead these young men forward. I will examine my own privilege and the shelter it has given me and how best to use that to insist on shelter for everyone.  To show in actions, these young men, that courage beats fear every time and that LOVE aways wins over hate.

Holding on and letting go

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My oldest son is away from home again. I would like to say I am handling it will all the grace and composure I imagined I would back when he was here with me all the time. I was certain I would fill my time up with all those activities I dreamed of doing back when he was younger and my days were filled up primarily with meeting his needs. I visualized myself sending him off with a hearty hug and a “have fun out there”.  Rejoicing in the fact that his roots were solid enough in us that he had the courage to fly away confidently exploring the person he is outside of us. That’s not what’s really happening. Evidenced by the stranger knocking on my van window yesterday to see if I was okay since she had witnessed me sobbing alone in my car for the past few minutes. It wasn’t the first time that day that feelings of grief had crippled me to the point of uncontrollable tears.

I made a decision back when I first met this human being to do all the work necessary to show up as my best self as often as I possibly could for him and his brother. I put on my mom hat and wore it with pride and commitment every single day. There were other hats I  put on throughout this time of mothering but always to the side of or underneath my mom hat. It was my priority. And now things are shifting. I thought way back when that these would be the days that were full of me chasing down my own desires and passions. The ones I imagined in the beginning of mothering that I was missing out on. I thought this would feel exciting.

Truthfully though, this may possibly be scarier then becoming a mother. And that transition took me out at the knees. That place where I lost who I had been in order to become a mother was scary. I had wobbly feet underneath my unstable legs and I was so very uncertain as to how I would ever know what to do with this human being who’s life I had been entrusted with. But there was some guidance. This tiny bundle of love looking up at me wanting to be filled with love. Guiding me to the things he would need in order to thrive. I had an blank map for sure but it came with the most adorable tour guide. It also felt like a beginning.

Here now I stand before a map that is blank indeed and my tour guides appear to be heading off in opposite directions. Leaving me behind to find my own way. It also feels, in this right now moment, more like an ending than a beginning. Though I know it is both because I know that is how life works. Somehow though this knowledge feels much farther away from truth than it has to me before. Cause it’s on me now. I mean it really has been on me all along. But for some reason I found it much easier to step up to the plate and come up with a plan when these four adorable eyes were looking at my for confidence, patience and a sense of direction. Now that I am looking with just my own eyes, I can’t see much through the tears.

I’ll be honest some days I don’t know who I am outside of being their mother. The task of figuring that out is some seriously scary shit. It is way easier to scurry back in to a place of mothering, finding a spare sock who’s partner desperately needs to be located RIGHT NOW, or preparing for future meals seems easier then untangling the dreams that have been waiting their turn and deciding how to take a minuscule step toward one of them. Won’t I loose my kick ass mom status if I look at something else for a moment? Do I really have what it takes to be more than that? These questions make me tremble with fear. Because once again, my son being away, like this entire parenting journey, is way more about me than it is about him. It’s on me again. I still haven’t got used to swallowing that pill.

There are tiny comforts are making their way in though. I suspect they will be the lifeboats in my personal storm. I am still mom. No matter how far away they drift, I get to wear the mom hat for the rest of my life. Even if I decide to put another hat over top of it to chase down something my heart desires, I can easily remove it to show up as I always have. The love, we have been banking up for all these years, is right there with the touch of a button to rush in and remind me that everything is exactly how it should be. The date on the calendar that reminds me when my son will arrive home is in the grand scheme  a short distance away and then the balance will reshuffle. Our days together still do out number our days apart. The truth, that we have held on to all these years, that together we can do hard things, is underlying all of this. The place where we are connected doesn’t disappear with distance, or new roles, or the chasing of any dreams, it is the foundation that has been lovingly tended to year after year that will stretch into our forevers.

So as I said to the lady at my window yesterday, who asked if there was anything she could do to help, “thank you for noticing me in my sadness.” It is the releasing of it that I have to trust is the way through to embracing all the many more moments of joy that are waiting to unfold.This parenting journey is one of simultaneous joy and grief, the feeling of both is what allows us to show up with all the love we have for these human beings.

The art of feeding

When I was growing up my mom would get up early every morning to make my dad his breakfast and his lunch for the day. She would also make our lunches and dinner for everyone. She took on the roll of being the feeder of us all. This is how I learned it was my “job” to feed my family. It was what good moms and wives did to ensure the health of their family. So this is how I started out with my own family. But overtime I needed to step back and take a look at a few things to make sure I was feeding the people in front of me and not the stories running behind the scenes.

I did not get up to make my husband breakfast because I was feeding babies all night long and if they were sleeping I was sleeping. Plus this was not an expectation he had of me, it was an arbitrary rule I had placed upon myself.

When my husband worked outside of the home, I did make his lunch for him on a pretty regular basis. Then I would fight with him when he didn’t eat it. “What do you mean you went out for lunch? I took time out of my day to make this for you and you didn’t even eat it.” We had that fight many many times before I caught up and realized he didn’t expect me to make his lunch. He was fully capable of feeding himself. So I stopped making his lunch in the name of peace and a healthy marriage.

My husband is great at many things. Cooking is not one of them. He has tried a number of times to prepare meals for the family. The tirade of frustration,cursing and declaration that dinner was inedible, stopped us from trying to strike the sort of balance where we take turns with that job. Because the truth is, most of the time, I love to cook for my family.  I didn’t always know this about myself because I had been stuck under a rock of obligation for while.

I was at a conference once and witnessed this exchange between the presenter and an attendee.  A mom in the audience was adamant that she had things she had to do that meant her child had to be otherwise entertained so she the mom could be left to do what had to be done.  “I have to make dinner,” she said. The speaker turned to her and said “No you don’t. Order a pizza or put a frozen one in the oven.” That was a cold hard truth  that lead me to uncover my own feelings of obligation and shine a new light on my role as feeder of the family, to see if it was true that I had to or if there was room for a shift to find a place of want to.

It is super easy for me as a mom to get all caught up in “have tos” and the even nastier “should”. When I can take a wider look at things I can see, that in fact, it is a story I am telling myself and not a truth. I find my choice in being able to rewrite the story from “I have to make dinner” to “I look forward to making dinner,”  or “there are other ways to feed my family tonight.”

It is with this re-writing and a little bit of out of the box thinking that I have a beautiful opportunity to help feed my youngest son. We are sleeping at quite different times right now which can be challenging. He has, from as young as I can remember, asked for what he calls “surprise snacks.” Which means a collection of foods he likes showing up on a plate without him knowing what it will be. This is pretty hard to pull off when you are the only guy awake. When you are the one feeding yourself. He was sharing with me how he misses his surprise snacks when he is awake alone.

He also remembers loving lunchables back when he was still eating gluten. There are not a lot of gluten free nut free pre-made lunch kits out in the world that meet his specific needs. With these two nuggets of information and his pleas for food that was not just chips for him to grab and eat, I found the perfect containers, added a little creativity and filled the fridge with these grab and go individual surprise snacks. I tell you the joy the boy has over all of this pays me for every last second I spent making them with a little extra for the love bank. I mean look at these beauties.

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I share these stories as a reminder, that food is meant to nourish. It is what we all need to sustain life. I as the self assigned feeder of the family, have a lot of choice around how I do that. I can drop the parts that don’t resonate with me. I can re-write the stories I have been telling for years. I can feed my family fast food meals as regularly as needed to keep the peace. I can think outside of the box to find unique solutions to the feeding of all the belies and hearts in the family, mine included.

When I create food from a place of choice and serve it with that same attitude, it tastes a lot better than the bitter taste of obligation with a side of resentment. Because for me, the important ingredients in nourishing my family are connection, joy, choice and buckets full of unconditional love. All of that is at my finger tips when I am rooted in my own truth, telling stories I have written and mothering from a place of intention.

Love Must Win

For as long as I can remember I have been genuinely confused by how any one person can think another is worth less then they themselves are. As I child I wanted to know what it was the grown ups had that I didn’t, that gave them power over me. I think I see it now and it has to do with all the people who held power over them when they were younger. And I did try it out when I reached that imaginary age that gave me power to use against those younger than me but it never felt right in my heart of hearts. I could recognize in them that same feeling I felt of being powerless.

I am a white girl so I never experienced having the color of my skin held against. Except for the brief moments in Japan when locals would point at me and exclaim “gaijin” which some believed to mean foreigner with some negativity. Also there were the humbling moments of standing in the street as the only one with white skin who couldn’t understand a lick of the langue around me. It gave me a much deeper understanding of the line some folks like to toss to those struggling with a new language “if you’re gonna live her learn the language.” Trust me, it’s not that easy to learn a language even when you are living immersed in it. Sometimes you find yourself moved somewhere quickly just trying to find a way to get a loaf of bread without the language skills to communicate that.

Growing up my dad would always say, “I’m not a racist, expect when it comes to those damn Indians.” Which confused me. I didn’t know what they had done wrong. My dad did come around in his later years to the error of his thinking with new found wisdom, an opening of his heart. He understand one uncomfortable feeling can not be used to explain or judge or treat differently an entire race of people. That his uncomfortable feelings were his to figure out and not something to be used against another human being.

I am also heterosexual so haven’t ever had to explain or combat my right to love who I wanted to because it tucked nicely into the mainstream idea of who I as a woman “should” love. Growing up I had an Uncle who’s lack of wife was explained away by a story of being left at the alter. Though there were quiet whispers and hushed conversations about his potential relationship with a man. I never understood why I we couldn’t just ask him and talk about it all out in the open.

My dad stood up in his newly adopted church against marriage equality. His argument was taken out at the knees. And I will never forget that Sunday when he called tears in his throat and said “Shan, it’s about love. How could I have ever been against something that was about love. He gave me hope, at 60 years old, for a world where closed minds could be cracked open when infused with the reality of loves power.

I am also a woman. And have carried some scars from being a gender that in our history has been seen both less than and weaker. I have had to speak louder. I’ve been propositioned at work by a person of power. Encouraged to where mini skirts even though shorts were not allowed. Been touched against my will. Hooted and hollered at. All because I was born with a vagina. I still don’t understand how that makes me less than.

None of what I have written here is evidence of anything horrific to overcome. Yet, still there were these moment when fear could have turned a piece of my heart cold. I think of the people, in my community, who have faced, on a daily basis, hatred for being who they are that still wake up every morning and choose love. Who have all the reasons in the world to walk around hurting others for the pain that has been their’s to carry for a lifetime, but still choose love. And I see how easy my work is.

Because now I am a mother. In a position of power, some could say,  over two young minds and the only thing I can think to do is to keep them as wide open, curious and accepting as they were the day they arrived in my arms, knowing nothing but unconditional love. It’s that raw beauty, pure freshness that I am in charge of protecting against fear and the confused messages that a hurting world might want them to believe. To carry forward their grandfather’s words “It’s about the love.” This whole entire business of living is about love. Choosing love. Letting love win. Showing up with love even when hate and fear threatens to beat you down. Rising up again on the strength of love when you would rather curl up in despair. Giving love to the wounded souls around you who need it the most. Being the helpers on the sidelines that rush in with love when the rest of the bystanders can’t find the courage to do so. Because I’ve promised to do better by these precious souls and handing them a world broken by fear and hatred breaks that promise.

Consent

Yesterday at the grocery store I heard the young man about to bag my groceries exclaim “I hate it when you do that.” He was visibly upset as a female cashier walked away laughing.

The male cashier running my groceries through turned to him and said “what’s that all about?”

The exasperated young fellow said “they grab my side fat all the time. I already know it’s there I don’t need them to tell me.”

The cashier overcome said “I hate that shit,” quickly turning to me to apologize for his language.

I said “You know they aren’t allowed to touch you right? Just like you can’t put your hands on their bodies.”

Both men were quiet for a moment. Then the cashier turned to me and said ” but can a man say something about that?” He was ernest and sincere in his question.

I miss heard him and thought he was asking me if I could say something to management about the incident. I replied in the affirmative. “Really we can?” he asked.

I may have then slipped into a bit of a rant. Explaining to both of these men that it was not okay for anyone to put hands on their bodies without their permission. Just as they were well aware they could not touch the female staff. Consent, I explained, works both ways and is for EVERY BODY! I quickly ended my rant explaining I was raising two young boys and consent was a topic we covered a great deal.

The young bagger was replaced so he could take his break. He walked away and then turned back to thank me and wish me a good evening. I could feel his gratitude for this new information and I was hopeful it would make his work environment a little less hostile in the future.

All of this reminded me quickly why from the very beginning we have worked to keep our boys in charge of who can touch their bodies. This covers every thing from well meaning relatives, hugs from us, to kisses and tickling.  They have known for years what consent is and that it is required by anyone who wants to touch their body.  As well, that they must gain consent before touching a body that is not their own. And they now, remind me, when I reach in for a tickle, forgetting my own intentions, by saying “consent mom!”

I did not grow up with this strong message. I could tell tales of the how and the why because I’ve been working to untangle all the stuff so I don’t pass it along to my boys but I’m not looking to toss around any blame here. I am healing through giving something different to my own children. Because I do have scars and regrets for the moments when I was silenced by fear or didn’t believe I had the right to or  know how to say no. I want that voice to be strong in my boys as they step out into the wider world, for their own protection as well as the protection of those they may encounter.

So we have all sorts of uncomfortable conversations as different ages and stages pass through our journey together. We cover the what if’s and the how to’s so they are prepared in the heat of the moment with some partial rehearsed scripts that can help them speak their truth.  So they know the sound of their own voice and how to use it to protect themselves, their friends and even strangers being treated wrongfully. I ask what would you do if the …… and off I go to the bar where a girl’s had too much to drink, or the friend of color being harassed by the police, the man trying to lure them into a vehicle etc. We talk about the their white skin, their gender and how it comes with advantages and privileges other folks have to fight for. And how to be an ally over and over and over again to anyone who is being treated unfairly. But wider than that, at this stage in their life , we do the hard work of healing our own wounds so the boys can witness us out in the world standing up for others who are trying to find their own voice, those being mistreated constantly seeking out the shared humanity with in each one of us. Because, we have to start somewhere, in healing this broken world, with allies instead of enemies, with similarities instead of differences.

Trust and food choices

My son ate egg whites and raisin bran for breakfast this morning. And it is really tempting for my to use this as an example of how children who are left to make their own food choices end up making “healthy” choices eventually. But the cautionary tale here is that that statement is coming from my diet mind that still wants to label foods good and bad and has nothing to do with my son.

He chose egg whites because he has never liked the yolk part. And raisin bran tastes good to him and dad loves it and sometimes loving what your dad loves is a way to find connection. His younger brother will be happy to wake up and discover their are extra yolks for him to add to his egg plate. Because for as long as they have been eating eggs one eats around the yolks and the other the whites. I have tried to get them to share an egg before but they have preferred the whole egg eat around method. Lucky me that now their is not any egg left on the plates to clean up.

By providing a pantry full of a variety of foods throughout their growing up I have created opportunities for the boys to explore plenty of foods. By biting my tongue, most of the time, when they made the choices they did I have created a judgement free zone for them to find those foods that nourish their individual bodies. But greater than that I have facilitated an environment where the boys have been able to listen to and trust their own bodies. I am not living in those bodies. I can not know what does or does not feel good inside of them. This sort of autonomy over their bodies begins with me trusting them, to trust their bodies. I don’t have the ability to truly hear my body most of the time. Witnessing my boys use language that explains how they are feeling inside of their bodies is healing for me and a celebratory for them.

My youngest son has food allergies. I suspected early on what foods were the culprit. I offered my insights. And then I stood back and supported my son as he made food choices. I did not police what he ate. I did not claim to know more than he did about what was going on inside his body. I watched as he discovered on his own. He ate the offending foods and I held his hand while he was uncomfortable. One day, July 21st 2013 to be exact, he made the mind body connection and decided to stop eating all of the offending foods. He has been temped at birthday parties, favorite restaurants and potluck gatherings, every time he has chosen to keep his body feeling good and avoid the offending foods. Because he wants to feel good inside of his body and has discovered through is own trial and error just how to do this.

Supporting our children in exploring all of their food desires while simultaneously untangling our own hang ups around food is a beautiful gift we hand our children. It goes a long way in supporting a trusting, connected relationship while also helping them to discover how to care for their own bodies. Because the truth is one day they are going to be out in the world without me and I want them to know how to have full authority over all the parts of their bodies.

Friday Round Up

I love finding cool things spread out on the internet to share with the boys and to inspire my own self. Here a few directions the world took us in this week.

There are many messages out there in the world that shame woman and blame woman and I am inspired by people who are putting a whole different message out to their daughters. Even, without daughters of my own, I want the all the females in my life to feel this support. Read here for inspiration.

With the loss of the iconic pop singer Prince this week the boys and I spent some time searching out his songs. Me sharing bits of my own childhood the role his music played. This tribute is breathtaking.

While making my way in the world this week I was invited to consider the topic of boredom. And I really like this piece that talks about what it can really mean when your child says “I’m bored” along with super helpful ways to show up for them.

For those of us on the journey without school here is a fabulous collection of grown homeschoolers sharing a look into their experience.

In the mail this week we received our first installment of the Creation Crate which has minds being pushed and challenged in new directions. And we were breathlessly waiting for today’s arrival of the Loot Crate. What I love most about these subscriptions is that we don’t know what will show up on our doorstep and take us on new adventures we might have otherwise not gone on. I highly recommend both of these.

So there ya have it a few things that sparked some interest throughout the week. I would love to hear what is sparking the hearts of the people you share the world with!

Recipe For A Happy Childhood

Happy Childhood

Ingredients

abundance of love                          sprinkle of magic

on demand cuddles                       hours of play

2 ears for listening                        time, uninterrupted

buckets of patience                     overflowing understanding

Directions

  1. Apply overabundance of love to all children involved.
  2. When, asked and based on skill observation of needs, apply cuddles. The heart to heart, eye to eye ones.
  3. Have two ears ready at all times to listen. This step also requires the closing of the mouth and opening of the heart.
  4. Patience will be what binds the entire recipe together. It will be required at all times especially when it appears to have run out for the person following the recipe. Dig deep there’s always a little left at the bottom of the barrel.
  5. Sprinkle magic regularly, when moods are darkening, with bubbles and dancing.
  6. To succeed you will need to play. A lot. Together. And alone. Just play and play and play. This is essential for success.
  7. Time, you will need uninterrupted time for the smelling of roses and the chasing of tales.
  8. And finally, understanding will overflow throughout the entire recipe in order for happiness to be true. Make sure your understanding is based on the child’s view and not cluttered with the business of adulting.

Noticing

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Lately I have been noticing the things that stay the same in my children. It is true that at this stage in their growing up everything appears to be moving at lightening speed and the changes on their bodies are evident everyday. I am certain that my oldest son is an inch taller every morning that he comes out of his room. And that my youngest is gearing up to do the very same thing. It can be easy for me to get all caught up in what is changing and long for the days when they were little boys. To see the ending coming faster than I want it to. But when I can take in that extra deep breath and pay good attention to what is actually going on around me I come to see all the places that we are marching along just as we always have.

The beach is my most favorite place to visit for the simple fact that is slows me right now. As well, the beach has been a constant in our lives and is a super great place to see how little truly has changed. When the boys were little we lived moments from the beach and always went there. Especially when the world was topsy turvy and there was energy to be released. We went when it was warm, we went when it was cold, we went in the rain and windstorms were a most favorite. So heading to the beach on an overcast drizzly day also brought a familiarity with it.

My youngest standing in the photo above has always been called to by the ocean. For as long as he has stepped to the shores edge the waves have called to him. He calls back and 99 percent of the time ends up with some portion on the ocean on his clothing. He never changes into shorts, or swim gear as he assures me he will not be getting wet. I smile with the knowledge that he will. And that he prefers the challenge of driving home without his wet clothing on and that having a change of clothing available for him isn’t a necessity. But feeling the ocean on his body is.

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Here my oldest, pants rolled up knows what it feels like to be wet. The first time he went to the ocean and was able to walk, he stepped straight into the water. And then immediately needed the wet things removed from his body. He has learned some caution around water, ways to enjoy and stay dry but not with the sort of pause that ever gets in the way of letting the pure joy of outdoor ocean air sweep him up into the magic.

And then this happens. The recreating of photos they took years ago at the same spot. Their bodies bigger, their enthusiasm for jumping just the same. I see all of them, all the ages, the stages, the preferences in the stillness of being fully present right here.

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Sometimes because we are spending most of our days side by side I can loose sight of what is really going on. I can see the teenaged brother frustrated with the pre-teens desire to turn inward more often then outward. I can see the pre-teens sadness as not being where he can find his way into connection with is role model. But the wide angle shots always look more like this.

Two brothers, skilled in conversing with one another, even when they are on different sides of an opinion.

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Taking on projects that to others may seem impossible but through their eyes, side by side, they can do it. And really anything the world wants to through their way.  (pictured here they are using sand in water to build me a bridge to cross over to where they are and they believe it is fully possible).

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Always ready and willing to help each other. To grab on, hold tight and lift the other out of harms ways.

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I take this day, this simple trip to the beach and hold it tight, for the lessons. The lessons that at the heart of who we are as a family, we are always the same. We are connected, we are supportive, we are unconditionally loving one another in order to lift each person up to grab hold of every dream they choose to chase.  My hope, is to keep noticing, cause I know time is only going to keep moving faster and faster, and I want to anchor to the constants. To embrace the chaos because that anchor is holding our hearts to the intention we laid out way back when we began this journey together. I will notice it all, because I have on good authority from those who have gone before me, that these noticing’s will meld in to the sort of memories that will buoy my spirit when these amazing young men launch out into the wider world.