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

 

When Life Gives you Lemons…

toddler hugging tree parenting leilazamoramoreno

Our dog walk this morning took a bit of a rocky start as Cesar was getting a bit emotional when the dogs wanted to go faster to stay with the pack but Cesar couldn’t keep up. He calmed himself down and we finished the rest of the walk at his pace, spotting birds, talking to trees and giving them random hugs.

#toddler #parenthood #continuumconcept #consciousparenting #treehugger #walk #nature #trees

From Frustration to Innovation | Parenting & Emotional Turmoil

frustration innovation parenting emotional turmoil leilazamoramoreno

At some stage my son really disliked having his diaper changed. I changed him on the compactum or on the bed, and the moment he laid down he squirmed, kicked and made a lot of protesting noise. I made sure I was calm and got it done efficiently so he wouldn’t have to lay down for too long. The same scenario would repeat daily, and I started getting frustrated. Then, one day my son was sorting shapes, and he kept insisting to try and fit the square in the triangle shape. He got frustrated and started hitting the shapes together. Seeing how he kept insisting on the same method without a change in result reminded me of the diaper changing times. I could see that his frustration, as well as mine, came down to a very simple explanation: our method was ineffective, and we have to be open to try something else.

I explained to him, that when he gets frustrated like this, he must look for alternative options and if he can’t figure it out by himself he can always come to me to see if we can find a solution together.

Next diaper change around, I decided to put this to the test myself. Instead of insisting he lays down to change his diaper, I looked at other ways of changing his diaper that didn’t require him laying down. We changed his diaper while standing, and all went smoothly.

I started noticing more small moments in my day where I would get slightly frustrated, and I immediately reminded myself that a moment of frustration = requires innovation!

Our behaviour reminded me of Albert Einstein’s quote on insanity: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

As parents in modern society, you’re constantly bombarded with different philosophies, methods and opinions on what it means to be an effective parent. Being a new parent, I drew from a lot of information from different sources to establish a direction for myself. The idea of being a parent and being responsible for another human being scared the hell out of me. I was so afraid of ‘doing things wrong’ that I followed many people and sources’ advice prescriptively. I bumped into frustration many times, because what I had assumed would be an effective method didn’t pan out to be effective in reality. In these circumstances, it can be very valuable to not ignore or disregard your personal frustrations, and to really have a look at whether your approach or the method you’re following is working for you, or whether you need to step into innovation. Frustration then enters the equation, not to ruin your parenting experience, but as a signpost to invite you to expand your perspective and try out something new.

From Anger to Integrity | Parenting & Emotional Turmoil

anger and integrity

Anger is one of the emotions I faced a lot within my personal journey, and one I made a priority to deal with. Becoming angry and acting out in anger – would only lead to guilt and regret. Anger, was a real (d)anger.

Let’s look at a simple scenario to place how anger can play out and what we can learn from it.

———————————————————————————————————————————

Say, you’ve had a long day (as is every day when you are parenting a young baby/toddler) and you’ve finally found a moment to sit down and catch up on your emails. Your baby is crawling around by itself, and you pray to god that he will continue entertaining himself. As you’re clicking and reading away, you realise that your baby found your cell phone and seems quite fascinated by the lights and movements it makes as he swipes on it. You cringe inside yourself, because you know your baby doesn’t have the concept of what a phone is, how easily phones break these days and the type of financial investment they are. You really don’t want him to play with it.

But… on the other hand… you are finally having some sweet time to yourself. If you intervene and remove the phone, baby might get fussy and then it’s bye-bye me time. You weigh your options and decide to take the risk of letting baby play with the phone.

Click, click, click….Scroll, scroll, scroll. You realise how long you’ve been reading your emails and you check up on what your baby’s up to.

Oh My God!!

Did he just SLOBBER all over the phone?? Are those BITEMARKS???

You get up, rip the phone out of baby’s hands and start shouting that he must NOT PLAY WITH THE PHONE!!

Baby started crying the moment you stood up energetically and ripped the phone away. Now he’s REAL FUSSY. You see the devastating look on his face, how he has no idea what just happened. You realise the look on your own face, piercing through his heart. You regret what you did immediately, you soften up and try to comfort him.

———————————————————————————————————————————

So let’s have a look what we can learn from anger in such scenarios.

First thing I realised, is that whenever I get angry at my son, I am not actually angry at him – I’m angry at myself.

I’m upset with myself without even realising it, and instead of listening to myself and directing myself – I project the issue unto my son as if he is to blame for my experience.

Second thing I realised, is that when I get angry, it’s already too late. Why is that? Anger in itself, is a statement of ‘this is unacceptable’ – a boundary or line has been crossed. In the example above, we can see that the boundary or line was crossed the moment we decided to forgo our own common sense. The common sense being: I don’t want, and can’t afford to get my phone ruined – baby should not have access to my phone.  Instead, we decided to *hope* that by some miracle the phone would be alright (which who knows, could have happened – but you don’t have any control over that) and so gave away our power to direct the situation from the get to and leave the outcome up to ‘fate’.

Then, when fate turns against us – now we get emotionally charged and angry at our baby. But why? Didn’t we make the decision to not intervene? Didn’t we leave the outcome up to chance? And now suddenly the baby has to pay for it?

This brings me to the solution of dealing with anger, which is Integrity.

What does integrity mean? Integrity means to live and uphold your principles. As within, so without.
Furthermore, integrity is linked to wholeness through its root in the word ‘intact’. Within being whole with yourself, you are living and standing undivided. Yet, the moment you uphold principles within yourself but not live/act upon them – you stand divided within yourself and so ‘cross your own boundary’. You get angry, at yourself.

Within this I realised, that the essence of anger is essentially hypocrisy, something I didn’t like seeing or realising – but cut straight to the point, and allowed me to see my adult tantrums for what they were.

So whenever I get angry or get the slightest irritation or frustration boil up inside me – I stop – and I ask myself: where am I not being true to myself? Where did I make a decision to ‘slack’ and not live up to my principles, and my utmost potential that I know I can live by? Where, and how could I have done something differently? Where am I being divided, split inside myself?

Through working and developing your own personal integrity, we can avoid these situation where we burst out and have an outcome we regret. These rash emotions and feelings which rise up, they are not here to be ‘acted out’ – they are part of our biofeedback system, pointing at a message we have yet to embrace.

Whenever you get angry, remind yourself of the word Integrity. There are two sides of the same coin, we just need the courage the flip the coin over and hear the message we require to learn.

Utter Dependence & Access to Life – Part 2

baby sleeping closeness leilazamoramoreno

Cesar – 1,5 months young

This is a continuation to Utter Dependence & Access to Life | Part 1

In my previous blogpost I mentioned how the first three months were the hardest, as my baby needed my constant availability to meet his needs.

Here, I faced an interesting point, because even though no-one can deny that it is physically intensive to tend to another being 24/7 for three months, it wasn’t the physical ‘toughness’ which hit me the most – but the mental wall I hit.

I was in a constant friction between meeting my baby’s needs and meeting my own ‘needs’.

Practically speaking, all my needs were actually taken care of. I had a comfortable room, I got access to plenty of food and water, I was able to rest for moments and tend to my hygiene.

The ‘needs’ which weren’t getting met where my mental needs. These were the collective of all the things I believed I ‘should be doing’ and ‘should be getting’. I thought it was wrong to spend every moment of every day tending to my baby. I needed to ‘do something’, I needed to ‘be productive’. In how I was raised, much emphasis was given to the value of achievement and producing tangible results. Not only at home or in school, but also in the general system/society we’ve set up. Unless you’re doing something productive, unless you are contributing (in the sense of how ‘productivity’ and ‘contribution’ are defined within material accumulation) – you are useless and you must be lazy/evil/selfish. We see this in the way the labour system is set up – unless you are working and you are employed and functioning as a ‘human resource’, you will not receive (sufficient) income to live a dignified life.

I was restless, I shouldn’t have to be taking care of this ‘needy’ being. I should be doing things, making things. I honestly believed that these ‘urges’ were a reflection of positive ambitions within myself, that I was ‘wanting to be a good person’ and ‘contribute to the whole’. But then why was I stressing out so much about it, why was this restlessness almost painful?

As I looked deeper into my ambitions, I noticed they were not in fact ‘positive reflections’ of who I am, but were actually stemming from deeply negative fears and feelings inside myself. I wasn’t truly interested in being ambitious and being productive, I was driving myself to be so in order to get away from the dark nagging feeling inside myself, that if I were not to pursue these ambitions, that if I were not to be ‘productive’ = that I will be rejected, that I will be ostracized, that I will be excluded from the community, from society and be left to fend for myself. I was afraid that ‘Who I Am’ as a being is not enough, and that it is all about ‘what I do’.

I tried to push for being productive, for engaging in ‘work’ – to show my value, to show that ‘I am needed’ and not completely useless. But for me to pursue this, I had to compromise my baby’s needs. I had to ignore him to ‘get to my own things’. And he grew increasingly unhappier and unhappier. Inside myself, I was feeling more comfortable, because I was engaging myself, the fear of being useless wasn’t so prominent – but now I am in a situation with a deeply unhappy baby; and so inner conflict and turmoil still remained, they just shifted sides. I managed to appease my inner reality, but now my external reality was in distress.

So, tired of all the conflict, friction and turmoil – I took a moment to stop, to pause and re-evaluate everything which I was doing and how what I was participating within was affecting my child.

My inherent fear that who I am as Life is not good enough, was a belief so entrenched within myself that I felt the need to constantly prove my worth. In doing so, I was consequently no longer meeting my child’s needs in order to appease my own fears and self-worth insecurities. But within doing so, I was creating an environment for my child where HIS worth, HIS value was being undermined. He was in agony, his needs are not being met – are his needs not worth of being met? Is his Life not valuable enough to be completely secured?

Unintentionally, by wanting to avoid my own sense of worthlessness, this was exactly what I was creating for my child.

Problem.

I was (and still am) in a unique situation. I live with a group of people who can support me and the livelihood of my child and myself where my financial stability remained the same whether I was being ‘productive’ or not. I had a choice. I did not have to insist on working, I had in fact the choice to dedicate myself to taking care of my baby completely and absolutely, without this compromising my livelihood.

So I made a decision. I will be there for my baby, absolutely.

Obviously this is easier said than done. As I was living the decision to dedicate myself to my baby absolutely, many fears, insecurities, frictions and doubts would still rise up. These were deeply ingrained within my unconscious mind from my own upbringing. The only way I could stand by and live my decision, was to investigate all the thoughts, emotions and feelings which would come up, to forgive myself for them and let them go. The only way I could state and secure my child’s worth in this world, was by stating and securing mine (which honestly, would have been a lot more difficult, if not impossible had it not been for the supportive environment I live in).

I had to redefine worth and value for myself, to see, recognize, realise and live the worth and value of taking care of another being, another life – who as a baby was completely helpless, dependent and physically incapable of any ‘productive input’. Yet when you look into a baby’s eyes – you know, you see that they have the right to life, you know they have the right to be here and live a fulfilling life. Yet despite this knowledge, we’ve somehow still managed to create a world system and environment which constantly pushes people to the brink of survival, constantly pushing people to compromise on living for the sake of acquiring just the necessary resources to ‘make it another day’. A system that insists you are not good enough and need to constantly prove your worth, where you need to compete because if you’re not up for the job – well, you can simply be replaced.

For several months – I was no-one, I was nothing, I was just darkness. Who I was as the person I used to be and live, the personality I had accustomed to identify myself with as ‘who I am’ as all my hopes, dreams, fears and desires – was non-existent. There was a complete silence within myself. All I did was serve. I served my baby and his life in every moment of every day, and in doing so I served my own.

Is this the perfect way to come into being into this world? I would say no.

Looking at my son, he hated being completely helpless and dependent. He hated that his every need was dependent on a responsiveness of my own.

Is it necessary? At the moment I would say yes.

The manifestation of a baby as a completely helpless and dependent being – forces us to push to the absolute extreme realisation that we are in fact interdependent. That ‘no-one’ is an island. That every individual person’s actions affects the whole.

That for a child to come into this world and realise its utmost potential, we have to stand as the living example. If we want the child to grow up accepting and realising its self-worth, we must stand as an environment which resonates this. If a child comes into the world in an environment of compromise, of conditionality – then that is what the child will integrate and become. We can’t have one without the other. We can’t bring children into this world, seeing them as a fresh new start and believing it is ‘all up to them’ to make a brighter future. It is for us to set the foundation in place.

Does that mean that I will keep tending to my child’s every need into eternity and protect him from the outside dysfunctional world into eternity? No

The transition of the child to move from helplessness and complete dependence to one of being capable and independent (in so far that we can, really be ‘independent’) is a process. As he moves and grows, my services, my ‘interventions’ become less and less. My availability remains constant, but the frequency that this availability is being called upon diminishes and diminished overtime.

He learns that he is not dependent on myself as the mother with the breasts and the breastmilk to fill his tummy. There are other resources available. He learns that I am there when I need him which translates into self-confidence and self-reliance. He learns that he can give himself direction, but that I will be there when he finds himself in an unknown situation. From this unknown situation and my presence, his learns and integrates new perspectives which he next time can apply on his own.

Securing and dignifying his being, his presence and life – he learns that others deserve the same treatment. He learns to look at situations within the consideration of not only what is best for him but what is best for everyone.

There’s often a fear that gets expressed when seeing someone take care of a baby’s every need that he will become dependent, immature – emotionally attached forevermore. That we need to show the child that the world is ‘a hard place’, ‘that nothing comes easy’ and that ‘they better get used to it’.

This is a false dilemma – as if there is no other way than preparing your child for the harsh reality we live him by deliberately instilling a sense of insecurity inside themselves. We can in fact, provide a sound foundation in the child’s life – where his self-worth and self-appreciation is so absolute that no matter the challenges he or she will face in life, he or she will not doubt one’s ability to respond to these challenges – and to look, see and analyse any and all situations from a practical common sense perspective; rather than coming from a fear of losing its self-worth and seeing that self-worth being entirely dependent on how their external environment treats them.

Dependency, immaturity and emotional attachment come about when one’s self-worth is NOT secured, when one’s self-value is NOT dignified – and forevermore seek out confirmation from our environment that we are allowed to be here, that we are allowed to express ourselves. Every action, experience and move we make – is fear driven, driven by the belief that we are not worthy and dependent on others to give it to us.

(Funny enough, before I was cooking up this post I was reading a book about horses and the human-horse relationship, where their ‘fight or flight’ stress response was compared to that of a child where many similarities were found. Here a little snippet on the research done around this subject:
“Biological psychology researcher Megan Gunnar and her colleagues did infant studies that confirmed animal research findings. In their work, infants three months of age who received consistent responsive care produced less cortisol. Also, eighteen-month-olds classified as insecurely attached (who had received lower levels of responsiveness) revealed elevated levels of stress hormone.7 These same children at age two continued to show elevated levels of cortisol and appeared more fearful and inhibited. Again, these children were those who had been classified as having lower levels of maternal responsiveness.8 Other investigations have confirmed these findings.9 Dr. Gunnar reports that the level of stress experienced in infancy permanently shapes the stress responses in the brain, which then affect memory, attention, and emotion.10”
http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/linda_folden_palmer2.html

The horse book (Tao of Equus) also made reference to the work of Dianna Hine)

 

 

 

The Burden of Parenting

toddler sleeping parenting burden leilazamoramoreno

Here Cesar is peacefully asleep, taking his midday nap.

He wasn’t this peaceful when he was awake before, he was actually pretty frustrated. Seeing Cesar go through a lot of frustration really hits me, some days more than others. He goes through so many experiences, he sees so much, he has so much to share – but limited tools to convey them to the rest of the world. It’s almost like a perfect trap. While they are still young and untainted by all the bias of the world – they see it all and they have so much to say, yet they are trapped within a body still growing lots, going through lots of pain and haven’t acquired the skill of language. By the time they’re grown up and have acquired all the tools to communicate — they’ve already been ‘converted’ from their world of innocence to our world of systems, rules and limitations — and all they once had to share is lost.

If you look at animals, most of them are pretty capable from day one, being able to walk with their parents through their world and not requiring language to communicate. Only our children need to be ‘raised’ and ‘schooled’ before they can join in and participate in our reality – where when they are young, they are often compared to being ‘wild animals’ who need to be tamed and civilised.

While all the while – the children hold all the keys. They can see it all, but it is not in their power to use it. On top of that, they have the greatest #trust in us parents, adults to show them the way — and everyday I am reminded that I am undeserving of his trust, that I am not yet standing as the living example he deserves. Yet, I cannot allow myself to let my current limitations hold me back — and every day, despite all the evidence showing me that I am ‘not there yet’; that I am lacking in so many ways: I have to push myself to do the best I can with the moments that I have available; overcoming one limitation at a time – at what seems snail speed – so that I can one day stand equal to him and be deserving of his trust. There is no easy fix or quick way to get out, regardless of our best intentions.That is the burden of #parenting and the consequence we all have to face and walk.