I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Letter To A Friend (Re: Child-Rearing/Anxiety)

A friend and I talk often about parenting, and the decisions that are presented to us every day. In response to a thoughtful letter she wrote me, I wrote the following. I'm sharing it because it actually made me feel better to write down my thoughts. I am always open to your responses, whether similar or vastly different. Perhaps journaling (in addition to blogging!) would help me to sort some of this stuff and relieve some of my stress. In my spare time!! =)

Hi (friend),

I have been thinking about how to present my thought on all of this since I read your message yesterday.

Let me start by saying that I have always been of the mind that a child should have an opinion and options in all situations unless unsafe or unrealistic. That being said, I have found many situations where this approach didn't always work. 

How to expand on that? Well, for one, there have been many, many times when my father has made comments to me and (hubby) that "what (DD) wants, (DD) gets." Yes, I have enough self-confidence in my feelings about parenting that I hear him but do what I feel is best. But I HEAR him, and I think about it. 

And there have been situations more recently that have made involving her in every decision a bit of a challenge. She has taken to refusing to go out unless it is to her choice of destination, for example. Adjusting to having to go to school when she didn't want to was almost too high a mountain to climb. 

As much as I, and I believe most, parents would like to have the time and patience to review every situation with our kids and to process with them for as long as it takes for him or her to feel heard and to come to an understanding, it simply isn't possible all of the time. Lord knows I am not the most patient person in the world, and I would feel better about myself if I took more time to review things with my kids. The reality is that I am impatient, get frustrated easily, and expect my kids to accept and move on more than is ideal. 

So! When I am faced with something like the school situation, I am always conflicted!! I HATE that (DD) feels sad and stressed and nervous about going to school. It breaks my heart every day, even all summer! I hate it. At the same time, I NEED a little space from her in order to regroup and recharge. I have learned the hard way that if I don't get any space, I take it out on HER. And then feel horrible, and on and on. 

The answers are never easy! I have and do wonder if homeschooling would be good for us, but I also see how (DD) lights up when she is around other people, both kids and adults, and she just wouldn't get as much of that if she was taught at home. For every day that I took her to school sad and scared, she came home saying she had a good day, and sang songs from school and talked about cool things she did that day. Ak! 

(DD) has transition issues. I have been told again and again that after a few minutes of being upset, MOST of the time (DD) calms down and joins in whatever is going on. She still talks about fun things she did at Tiny Tots camp last summer. She LOVED her pre-k teacher. So what do I do?

I hope and pray that I am doing the right thing by pushing her through the rough spots. I tell myself that I am helping (DD) to live in the "real" world by urging her to face her anxieties a bit, so that larger anxieties later in life won't broad side her. 

Do I hate the idea of leaving her crying? (Friend), it rips my heart out. The stupid school asked me for permission to take her in kicking and screaming. I hate that. But the alternative is to sit in the car with a progressively upset child who becomes more and more unwilling to get out and face her day, has her anxiety relieved by returning home, and an increased belief that school is an impossible hurdle. My daughter needs a push. And I had to learn that the hard way!!!!!!! I don't like being the pusher!!! In pre-k, (Hubby) had to take her to school for a week, as (DD) and I were too intertwined to reach our goal of a successful transition to school. This is hard for me!!!!!!! But having a child who does not have the same kind of anxiety, who walks unafraid into a new situation, actually makes the job a little easier. I can see more clearly that I am not pushing my un-ready child into the fire, I am helping my healthy child with out of control anxiety to pop over the top of the hill, after which she is very likely to coast down the other side. Does that make it easier? Sighs. Only a little. 

The fact is, I am fried. I am TIRED. My body hurts. My relationship is a far distance from what we want it to be. So I'm not doing things in a way that is perfect for me, or her, or the rest of us. I am making decisions on the fly every day. And I go to bed absolutely whipped every night. And wake up tired. I don't know all the answers. And I carry the weight of these things maybe more than most, due to my own anxiety issues. And (Hubby) doesn't deal well with anxiety, either. So we've kind of got the cards stacked against us with this stuff! But we carry on.

And yes, with two parents, you have two opinions, and it is inevitable they will conflict now and then. But perhaps having both helps a child to be more well-rounded. Sounds good, right? ;)

(DD), in some ways, holds me hostage because I am so hesitant to do things she's not comfortable with. That's not healthy for either of us. I rarely go out because she doesn't want to be away from me. (Hubby) and I very rarely go out, because she's anxious about baby sitters. While on our trip, she wouldn't sit at a dinner table while I went to get my food. She had to walk with me every where I went. On one side, I don't want her to be anxious so I tell her where I'm going all the time. On the other hand, I can't do a thing on my own! So where do you draw the line?


(Signed, me)

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