From Stress to Peace | Parenting & Emotional Turmoil

stress peace

Being a first time mother was definitely an overwhelming experience from time to time. It was something way out of my comfort zone, something I had never done before. Even when I was pregnant, just ‘thinking’ of all the things I would have to do and change would send shivers down my spine. Will I do good enough? What if I make a mistake? What if there’s not enough time?

I experienced my childhood as being somewhat traumatic. I was very fearful and anything ‘new’ or ‘out of my comfort zone’ would set me off into fear, anxiety. Overtime, this accumulated into a general experience of myself as being inadequate and a victim. When I had my son and saw all the things that needed to be done, I would stress out in anticipation that things wouldn’t go smoothly, that it’d be difficult, that I’d do a bad job, etc. In a way, this seemed normal. Like, stress is a normal experience in life and is actually a good sign because it means you’re being ‘busy’ and ‘productive’.

In the end, I’d still get to everything I wanted or needed to get to. I’d even get to a point where I was no longer stressed out. But then…this just felt ‘off’. I must be missing something? I must be doing something wrong? This absence of stress must mean I am being soft on myself and slacking!!

When I looked at all the points that triggered a stress response, I saw that I accessed a belief that I wasn’t capable and adequate to direct what needed to be done. That things were just ‘too hard’ and ‘too much’ for me. Yet living in constant and continuous stress, well – then things really get hard and too much because the body just can’t keep up.

So what to do?

Every point of stress is actually an opportunity for myself to investigate my relationship towards that which I am experiencing stress towards. I can use these moments to specify myself. If I stress out about a particular task, I gift myself the opportunity to unconditionally carry it out and do the best I can. To gift myself to check whether my belief of inadequacy actually holds truth, and if I see that there is room for improvement, to set myself up to equip myself to be able to direct it better next time around.

How does this bring me to peace?

Well, in every factor of stress, there is something to learn about myself. That I can direct myself, that I can move myself to direct my world and reality effectively. And so piece by piece, I piece myself back together. And it that wholeness is peace – within bringing all the pieces that were missing – back together.

Do you Enjoy Motherhood?

Somewhere, in the first two years of Cesar’s life (and my new life as a mother) – I had a dream where Bernard visited me.

While he was there, from the get go I had placed myself in an experience of dissatisfaction, where my whole body language was clearly conveying that ‘I wasn’t enjoying myself’. Then suddenly he asked ‘So Leila, how are you enjoying motherhood?’

I was with my body turned away from him, making a pouty mouth – ready to make a complaining comment. But – there was something about Bernard asking you a question, which made the truth of you ring just a bit clearer for you to not be able to deny it.

As I wanted to open my mouth and speak – my whole demeanour dropped and softened. And I looked at him and said: I’m enjoying it. And he responded with that big grin smile of his.

And that was it.

What stood out for me in this dream, is how I have the tendency to want to complain, pity myself and seek ‘empathy’ from others – while if I look at my actual experience of myself: I am fine – and I am not just fine, but I am actually enjoying myself. This especially so for things that are challenging and trying – which the first two years of walking with Cesar definitely was.

Where, it’s almost as if just because things are hard and challenging, that I have the right to, and deserve to complain. That I should complain. That it’s expected of me to complain.

And the funny thing is – is that when I keep reacting this way, and keep playing out this pattern, then soon enough – the burden becomes real. It’s no longer just something I am playing out, pretending to be – I become it.

For myself, it was quite something to acknowledge, accept and embrace what I enjoy. That I, ‘out of all people’ was the one to have a child. That I, ‘out of all people’ really enjoyed walking with a child.

To stop fighting myself, where instead of keeping up with the idea of myself, to simply embrace and acknowledge that I do enjoy this. That if this experience is here and it is real – well, then it must be me! Lol.

Fire Season

firebreaks toddler fire season parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar decided to hitchhike along in the Bakkie while many were busy doing firebreaks in what we dub “the big field”. Every year during winter time which is our dry, and so also our fire season – we burn the edges of the farm in the case of fire breakouts, so that the fires can’t travel from field to field, farm to farm – which can happen quick when it’s dry and windy. The whole process took a bit more than two hours, which we observed mostly from inside the bakkie, watching what everyone is doing, explaining what each person’s role is. Oh, and fitting on sunglasses he found in the bakkie, insisting that ‘upside down’ is really the right way one should wear sunglasses.

#toddler #farmlife #farmliving #southafrica #firebreaks #winter #fireseason #unschooling #livingislearning #parenting #motherhood

From Jealous to Zealous | Parenting & Emotional Turmoil

jealous zealous parenting emotional turmoil leilazamoramoreno

Within wondering whether I am doing ‘the right thing’ and ‘providing the best’ for my son, I can easily find myself wondering off in my mind comparing myself, my life with that of others. Whether it’s people in my life, strangers I meet or people on social media. I start to wonder whether ‘their life is easier’, ‘how can they be so confident in what they’re doing’, ‘I wonder if that lifestyle would be better for my son’,… This goes on for a little bit and then I find myself in a dark space where I am jealous of other people and the lives they live in the belief that ‘it might be better’ than what I am currently living and providing for my son. Within that, I find myself accessing a more and more passive zone – where instead of actively moving, creating and participating in my environment and reality, I kind of sit back more and simply observe everything that is ‘wrong’ and ‘unfair’.

The one day I found myself scrolling through my Instagram feed where I was subconsciously comparing my life to what other people were sharing their life to be. And I could sense myself sinking inside myself as if I was becoming smaller, smaller and smaller. So then I stopped and looked up from my phone going ‘Hey, what’s going on here’. Because one moment ago I was fine – and suddenly I find myself in this dragging experience where everything is just wrong and unfair. Where’s all this coming from?

I looked back at my phone to ‘replay’ what I just went through when I saw the subtle comparison and insecurity playing out in the background. How my mind just automatically wondered off imagining what it would be like to ‘live their life’. I decided to play a bit with that notion. So what if I was living say, this random person’s life? If I was living their life I’d still be looking at everyone else’s lives, including mine currently, and believe that ‘maybe the grass is greener on the other side’ still. I could place myself in different scenarios and see that the fear of possibly missing out would still be something that existed. I went through more people and noted what I saw as pros and cons in their lives, and how no matter what life you envision – you always have a selection of cons and pros at play (say if you live in the city you have easy access to things but then you miss out on a more calmer lifestyle – if you live in the countryside you have a calmer lifestyle but things are not as easily accessible). So I concluded that in the end, you’re always going to end up with some pros and cons – and that at the end of the day, you have YOUR life, the life YOU’RE living. One life, one path, one scenario of many. There could have been so many ways that my life could have turned out differently, but my life is where it is. This is the path I have created, this is the life I have chosen for myself.

I can either sit back passively in a sense of superiority and entitlement that I deserve ‘better’ and whine about everything that’s wrong and unfair – waiting for reality to change and adapt to my whims and wishes — OR – I can move myself with what I have available, and zealously move MYSELF to change and adapt to the reality that’s at hand. Instead of allowing my environment and my perceptions of my environment to dictate who I am and how I experience myself; I can reverse the roles through inspiring myself instead of waiting for my environment to inspire me. (Funny note here, to inspire also means to breathe – and breath is what gives us life. Where either I give myself life or place myself as dependent on my environment to breathe life into me)

In the end, no one parent or family finds themselves in the exact same situation as another. We all have different lives, different struggles and blessings. What defines us is not our situation, but who we are within it and ultimately, what we make of it.

The Unknown Possibilities

toddler deck south africa tools boys parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar enjoys being around when Gian is working on the little viewing/picnick deck that’s in the process of creation. He’ll try and put nails into the slats, or find a rock to imitate the work being done on the structure. Cesar enjoys putting things together, seeing what he can create from different elements, seeing how they can fit together. In a way, the structure being built is of a similar nature, and when you hear the men on the farm discuss these type of projects, can see that childlike expression bubble up as they discuss and explore the possibilities and take pride in the progression and creation of whatever they are working on. In those moments where Cesar is intently focused on putting something together and seeing those moments where Gian is intently focused on a project, can see that this drive to create, to explore, to expand is naturally inherent in us all. Exploring the yet unknown “possibilities”. It would be great to have this natural drive nurtured and fostered, instead of beaten out of us in the quest to survive and comply to some narrow and limited view of “how things are done”. How things have been done and are done = we have the result before us today, a bleak picture. Let’s explore the possibilities!

#toddler #building #creating #farmlife #farmliving #parenting #Toddlerhood #motherhood #fatherhood #possibilities #drive #curiosity #unschooling #couragetolive #teamlife #equality

A Moment of Connection

bird feeder seed rolls craft young old parenting leilazamoramoreno

When we were done with the seed rolls, Cesar excitedly ran to give them to Francois, who was just as excited to receive them – and placed them on the birdfeeder. It was such a cute moment – seeing Cesar the youngest on the farm – run to, and connect with Francois, the elder on the farm – over a shared passion, a common interest as the birds on the farm. We’ve been seeing a lot more bird activity around the main house garden, most noticed by the trampoline as it’s next to a big tree for shade, which is also the station for birds to gather and go to and fro the birdfeeder, with the result of quite a bit of birdpoo on the trampoline. On the otherhand, Cesar enjoys laying on the trampoline and seeing the birds fly around the tree and spotting them in-between the many leaves.

#birds #birdfeeder #toddler #nature #passion #connect #community #relationships #custodians #life

Considering the Birds

bird seeds craft toilet roll toddler parenting unschooling leilazamoramoreno

Making seedrolls for the birds using toilet rolls, peanut butter and wild bird seed. These will go to the birdfeeder in front of the mainhouse. Earlier he picked berries from our bush and went to place them for the birds. When he is eating fruit and doesn’t finish it, he’ll ask to give it to the birds or chickens. I enjoy doing these little activities with him where he can practice different skills and have an outcome that has application to our living environment. In school we learn so much knowledge and information that has little to no relevance to our every day, all of which is soon forgotten once we’ve passed our tests. Education and learning, should be a natural extension of living, a source of enhancement for our personal development and mastering the art of living a life that is best for self and all.

#craft #birds #unschooling #knowledge #information #practicalapplication #farmlife #farmliving


Animated Story Book

laptop movie good dinosaur vocabulary screen time leilazamoramoreno

When we watch a movie, we treat it like an animated story book. As each scene passes by, I describe to him what’s happening and place things into context/perspective. This gives us an opportunity to expand his vocabulary as we can show him things he hasn’t seen before, and when we do eventually get to see them, we can reference it back to the movie, so that a link gets created to physical reality (or show him it doesn’t work that way in reality!).

Through speaking and interacting with the movie, we assist each other in remaining grounded in our bodies and remain aware of our environment, instead of slowly slipping into a ‘zoning out’ mode.

#movies #storybook #vocabulary #speaking #learning #screentime #unschooling #toddler #parenting

Learning Happens Everywhere


toddler tractor farm learning unschooling parenting leilazamoramoreno

Cesar totally loves the tractor. He has a few tractor toys of his own he likes to play with – but nothing beats the real deal. Whenever we go about walking around on the farm, he keeps his eyes open for any bakkie or tractor action he can get into. When he was more of a baby, he didn’t like car rides, now he can’t get enough going places by car and pointing out every single truck and bakkie. We make a game out of it to catch and count the trucks and to name the colours. Learning happens everywhere!

#tractor #toddler #farmlife #farmliving #lifeislearning #naturallearningability #parenting #unschooling #wheels #cars

Parenting through Thick and Thin

toddler tantrum crying parenting terrible twos leilazamoramoreno

Toddler and motherhood is not always sunshine and butterflies (although yes, the sun still shines when all hell breaks loose, as in this case on the trampoline). Whenever a tantrum happens, we always check ourselves as parents first – did we do or say anything where we did not consider him fully which may have thrown him off balance? If we did, we apologise, ask him to forgive us, explain what happened and how we will do things differently in the future.

Other times he throws himself off balance.

In this moment, he got really upset when I started going around the trampoline in a different direction . He often goes into a controlling state when he is in an experience he doesn’t like and/or understands. Where instead of focusing on his internal reality and grounding himself, he gets obsessive in arranging things in his environment to be a certain way – whether it’s objects, animals or people. If he doesn’t get the desired result he explodes. If he does he get the result, he goes unto controlling the next thing, and the next – until he still inevitably collapses as he realises that re-arranging his external reality doesn’t re-areange his internal reality. When he goes into this, we take him to a quite space, remove distractions, relax and sit down. Saying is name in a low, grounded voice. Guiding him to calm down and let go of his experience. Showing him that through fixating, we only hurt ourselves more, as anything but our way then becomes ‘wrong’ – instead of moving, embracing and flowing WITH life, rather than resisting and being against the currents life takes us. As he goes on and expels all his excess energy, he starts grounding himself. Once he has centered himself we move on with our activities and embrace the new moment.
Toddlerhood is definitely not easy as he is able to explore, interact and do more – yet is still lacking vocabulary in so many ways causing frustrations. Imagine having so many questions about yourself and the world around you, yet having no way of asking them.

#toddlerhood #terribletwos #parenting #tantrums #cries #control #frustration #development #motherhood #consciousparenting #zen #candidchildhood #gowiththeflow #embrace