The magic of finding flow and dropping struggle in parenthood

I’m done with pushing. I don’t like it, I don’t want it, you can have it back thank you very much.

I’m talking about the energetic pushing. (Not the physical pushing – though definitely not into that at all!) The powering through, or powering over, a situation. Not my jam anymore. The results of this shift into flow and out of struggle have been pretty awesome too. Like for example, our struggles with THE READING LADY. (YES ALL CAPS.)

The reading lady might as well be THE CHURCH LADY

My daughter recently started seeing a speech therapist for reading challenges. We were referred to a woman by an Occupational Therapist my daughter loved. But from the get-go the speech therapist rubbed me the wrong way. It’s the kind of thing that you can’t exactly pinpoint though now I can see it: she was a pusher! She was someone who embodied powering through and over challenges. (Plus, she just wasn’t nice!)

So of course since I’m working on finding flow and not PUSHING I instantly decided not to see this woman again and found someone else, right? Oh no, of course not.

Yes, for several weeks we got up SUPER early for a butt-crack of dawn appointment with this woman, who pursed her lips when my child dared to let her eyes wander off the written page, and gave warnings when my daughter played with the shaving cream a little too long as they practiced making letters.

It’s no surprise to hear my daughter started to push back against going to these early morning, super-not-fun sessions! I couldn’t blame her. I didn’t like the lady either! So why exactly were we there??

And then I remember I’m done pushing and forcing. As fate would have it our reading lady was gone on vacation for a bit. During that time I found a new therapist. I ignored the part of me that said “oh but why can’t you be grateful for the person you found” or “yes she is grumbly but she knows her stuff!” or “What if you can’t find someone as good? What if you end up with someone worse?” and alllll that nonsense we tell ourselves. As soon as I shifted my focus asking for divine assistance to help me connect with someone who would serve the highest good in this situation, friends provided not one but two recommendations for therapists who were closer, kinder, and weren’t described as being at all like Dana Carvey’s church lady.

Fast forward to today: we LOVE our new therapist. My daughter looks forward to her appointment! And interestingly enough, the new therapist did mention that she observed my daughter doesn’t always keep her eyes on her, but that she also observed that she is retaining the information even though she appears distracted. The therapist was fine with this but wanted to let us know in case a teacher complains that my daughter isn’t paying attention in class. Fascinating difference right?!

OH, and my daughter is soaring with her reading.

No pushing! Finding balance and flow!

Now it’s time to graduate from kindergarten so to speak and apply this concept to the mother of all struggles we’re currently facing: bedtime routine. (DUN DUN DUN!!!)

Have you found the flow and dropped the struggle in any area of your life? How’s it going?

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

Holiday self-care: visions versus reality

Me every year before Christmas season:

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This year I’m going to make healthy choices for myself to stay grounded. Like, stick to my calming decaf teas instead of coffee, which my body tells me feels so much better.

 

Me yesterday:

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GIVE ME ALL THE COFFEEEEEES.

Before the holidays:

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I’m going to buy gifts early and ship in plenty of time to reduce stress!

Me this week:

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OH CRAP OH CRAP WHY DON’T I HAVE PRIORITY MAIL BOXES! I’LL TRADE MY FIRSTBORN AND A COFFEE FOR ONE RIGHT NOW!

 

Me before Christmas:

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We will make homemade hand-crafted thoughtful teacher gifts made of love and unicorns

Me two days before the last day of preschool:

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PEACE OUT, MAKING MY THIRD RUN TO THE STORE TO BUY GIFT CARDS!

 

Merry Christmas everyone. May you stay sane amidst the chaos and find time for self-care. (Real self-care. Like, time to breathe deep and tune out the noise. Coffees are optional. Though I am totally drinking one as I type this.)

 

Florida-girl sees snow for the first time. (Age 5.)

“I bet the lake is frozen and the alligators are all at the bottom wrapped in blankets!”

There aren’t any alligators in Michigan. It’s too cold!

“I bet the alligators all got on a plane and said, let’s go to Florida!”

Indeed!

“Are there penguins in Michigan?”

No. It’s cold but not that cold.

Upon seeing snow outside the airport, before grabbing a handful to make a snowball: “Are there any snakes in the snow?”

Thank goodness no! [YOU MIGHT HAVE GROWN UP IN FLORIDA IF YOU CHECK FOR SNAKES BEFORE PLUNGING YOUR HAND IN WATERY SUBSTANCES.]

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p.s. My website was down recently because it is December and my mind is all about making cookies and buying gifts before I have to upgrade to expedited shipping.  Oops. We are now back up at www.mourningdovemotherhood.com 😀 Thanks for your patience!

Now might be a good time for some self-care.

Some lessons are worth learning over and over (and over and over and over) again.

This past weekend I thought, here we go again. It was my semi-annual, perhaps quarterly (at least!) reminder that my essential self-care needs cannot be messed with. To mess with them is to create an imbalance that ripples throughout the whole household. As the saying goes, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 

I’m talking about sleep, time alone, and writing.  My three essential self-care items that keep me from turning into Cruella Deville.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? And yet, there I was again, yelling like a shrew at my family this past weekend. All sleep-deprived and self-righteous. (I always become the self-righteous martyr when I’m parenting from an empty cup…look at me, sacrificing for ALL OF YOU, NONE of you whom seem to appreciate my greatness! LOL. NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU, SARAH.)

After a long and difficult weekend I finally faced the music that I was spent. Done. Overcooked in fact. I needed to fill my cup, and fast. I collapsed and slept. A LOT. So much that I took a day off of work to keep sleeping. (It turns out I was really sleep-deprived from short nights with a sick kid last week. Huh.) I sat and watched some old Will & Grace episodes. (Season two, amazing 90s sweaters and longish boy hair cuts. But I digress.) I felt better. I created some art, something that I hadn’t done a lot of recently, spending most of my energy on administrative tasks for my Etsy shop.  (Note to self: balance those tasks with the actual creating of art!)

I was finally back to the woman I was always meant to be! Rested and replenished and once again liking the people in my household.  How had I let this get away from me, once again? Well, over-dependence on caffeine was most certainly one culprit. (I started weaning off coffee last week and this weekend I felt the full extent of my tiredness, no longer masked by delicious highly caffeinated Cuban coffees.)

Coffee aside, you know what else I blame? The damn patriarchy. This idea that somehow demanding time for myself on the weekend is indulgent or not becoming of a mother who works all week and only has weekends to really hang out with her kid. What, you are paying a sitter to watch your kid on the weekend TOO? What kind of monster are you?!

It’s all rubbish of course. Once again I’m back to reminding myself that not only can I not pour from an empty cup, but little eyes are watching me. What do I teach my daughter about taking care of herself, putting herself first, when I don’t do the same for me? And when I DO take time for myself pursuing my passions, I can show her what it means to be a nuanced, multi-faceted woman. Powerful stuff.

You may have heard other speak of self-care as a radical act, and that it most certainly is. I’m thinking it might be so radical that it goes beyond the idea of mere replenishment and recharging (though it is those things, too). I’m beginning to view it as a form of embracing the divine feminine. JUICY I KNOW!

I don’t have time to dive into those thoughts today, but I will tomorrow. After a full night’s sleep and with time to myself to write. Win-win-win!


What’s on your essential care list? Extroverts, I’d love to hear what your list looks like! 

17 easy steps to sleeping in as a parent!

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  1. Wake up to child staring you in the face.
  2. Curse as you realize your spouse is fleeing to the spare bedroom.
  3. Cajole child into chasing down other parent.
  4. Hide under covers.
  5. Yell across house to “remind” spouse he has dodged early wake-up approximately 1,572 times this week.
  6. Cheer for joy as spouse gets up with child.
  7. Run to spare bedroom.
  8. Wake up to see child staring at you while holding a toilet bowl brush.
  9. Reassure your child that yes, they can clean the toilet this morning as promised last night. (WEIRDO CHILD.)
  10. Yell across house to tell spouse to help child clean toilet.
  11. Wait for it. . . spouse can’t find the toilet bowl cleaner. Yell the location of the cleaner.
  12. Discover a dog has joined you in the bed. Realize soon it will be a child.
  13. Get up and lock door.
  14. Wait for it. . .child wails upon discovering door is locked.
  15. Wait two additional minutes for child to return to tell you “Daddy is making you coffee!” A SNEAKY PLOY TO GET YOU UP.
  16. Lie in bed wide awake smelling coffee.
  17. Admit defeat. 

 

Happy Saturday morning! At least I have a clean toilet AND coffee! 

Did I miss any steps? Share your own. Solidarity sisters.

Inquiring minds want to know

Just a few of the questions being asked lately by the resident 4-year old :

  1. Do grasshoppers have ears? (Yes, on their legs apparently, according to my husband-scientist)

  2. Why don’t they play more Queen Beyoncé on the radio? (I hear you and I have no answers to this)

  3. What is God? (WHERE DID THIS COME FROM…ASK ME ABOUT GRASSHOPPERS)giphy1

  4. How do my eyes see you? (Ask daddy-scientist)

  5. Does the brain tell me to eat (yes)

And then my one question to her, after ranting for ten minutes straight about Trump:

Me: Do you think I like or don’t like President Trump?

4-year-old: You like him!

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(Uh huh. . .sure I do. At least she won’t be reporting me to dear leader and sending me to a re-education camp!)

How to Plan a Party for your dad (according to the 4-year old)

  1. Rush home from pre-school, grab your mother and pull her into her bedroom. Dogs are allowed to stay. Dads are not!
  2. Get on the bed and lay down on a pillow, telling your mother in a conspiring tone, “we need to lay here to talk about SURPRISING* DADDY!” Cross your adorable little feet. Watch your mom’s heart melt.
  3. Ask your mom to purchase a “pinn-atta” and declare that you will fill it with “all the candy!” Decide that purchasing two pinn-attas might be a good idea. (More candy, which you will eat! Cackle with delight.)giphy3
  4. Remind your mother approximately 1,546 times that you need to make a cake. Offer to help blow out candles. Decide that chocolate ice cream must be purchased.
  5. In hushed tones, tell your mother to hide your rainbow drawings from preschool. They are a surprise for daddy’s birthday!
  6. Repeat daily until your father’s birthday. (Currently twelve days away.)

*There is no surprise party, but don’t let this detail derail any and all plans for surprises. The more surprises the better! Same goes for pinn-attas. And candy. And cake. Speaking of cake, did you remind your mom to make a cake??! 

Full Monty Moana (A show-and-tell cautionary tale)

 

Remember naked Moana from yesterday? I’d be failing you if I didn’t tell you the whole naked Moana story. But first, some background. 

It turns out that every Friday is show-and-tell day in my 4-year-old’s preschool room. I didn’t know and I was intrigued. What exactly had my kid bringing to class show-and-tell these last few weeks?

A recent Friday I asked if she shared anything. “Yes, mommy of course! I brought a chip clip!”

A chip-clip?

“Yes, a chip-clip!” 

(That’s right, my four-year-old brought to school a bag-clip thing you use to keep your bag of Lays closed.) I was a little worried.

“Oh wow a chip clip, huh? So what did your classmates say when you showed them the clip?”

“They said it was red!”

It was indeed.

This is where I should’ve known better and stayed out of my daughter’s affairs. Let the child bring whatever object she likes! Stop worrying about the potential frowns of her peers who perhaps don’t appreciate the fine spring mechanisms of the chip clip. My commitment to raising a resilient child rather than a child protected from every hurt was suddenly thrown out the window. Buh-bye!

 

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Good-bye good intentions!

After that Friday I started reminding her that Friday was show-and-tell day.  Which brings us to naked Moana. 

We were running late that particular Friday. I reminded my daughter it was show-and-tell day and I started suggesting toys within my sight: how about curious George? Or her toy camera?

She grabbed Moana. Moana was missing her skirt. Are you sure you want to bring Moana? Yes, she was sure.

(I don’t need to tell you that Moana’s skirt was nowhere in sight.)

I made a split-second decision–we would take (half-naked) Moana to school. I mean, all kids play with half-naked dolls, right?

When we arrived to preschool the other kids greeted my kid. . .by lifting their shirts and exclaiming LOOK AT MY SWIMSUIT! Friday also happened to be “water day” where they could wear a swimsuit and play in sprinklers and kiddie pools. My kid lifted her dress and showed her suit to her teacher, Miss M. Miss M. looked slightly horrified and said, they are always such exhibitionists on swim day!

Before I continue, let me tell you about Miss M. She is a grandmother of two. She loves to tell stories and teases the children about how all birthdays are going to be cancelled except hers, which is met with roars of laughter and NO MISS M!! At a recent school event with parents Miss M. read aloud a book about a bunny and when finished said in a conspiring tone to the parents, “I have another story about a bunny–how my father once held a party for his friends and had someone dress up as a bunny to convince the drunk guests they were REALLY losing it, but that is a story for another day!”

So when I casually mentioned to Miss M that speaking of exhibitionists, “Oh hey, Z. brought a half-naked Moana doll for show and tell, aren’t kids hilarious?” I was not expecting her to freak out.

But freak out she did.

To make matters worse, somewhere between home and school, Moana’s bikini top flittered away and Moana went from being half-naked Moana to becoming Full Monty Moana.

I’ve never seen Miss M look so appalled.

I was squirming now.

Oh, well all kids end up playing with these dolls naked, right? I bet the kids won’t even notice, I laughed nervously.

Miss M’s face: still horrified.

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Say what.

“Oh, well you just don’t know what they will grab to bring for show and tell do you! I didn’t even realize she grabbed the naked doll, silly me!” (YES I TOTALLY THREW MY KID UNDER THE BUS.)

I just kept talking and talking as one tends to do when situations are awkward. I finally realized maybe it hadn’t been entirely appropriate to bring this doll to show-and-tell. I asked Miss M if she wanted me to take it home with me– because really, I could, no problem!

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OOPS. me channeling Jennifer Lawrence but with less awesome hair. (Giphy image)

No, no, it was fine, she assured me, still with her deer-in-headlights look. 

This is the story of how I learned to BUTT-OUT OF SHOW-AND-TELL.  Don’t ask, don’t tell. Sure, kiddo, bring more chip clips!

(And hey, do you have an extra one? Maybe I’ll use one to keep my mouth shut.)

Epilogue

After all this transpired I ran into another parent and mentioned the Moana incident. The parent laughed and said, yeah, one day their daughter brought a zippered jacket to class show-and-tell. Huh.

Turns out that four-year-olds know exactly what they are doing thank-you-very-much. Chip clips welcome. Naked Moanas, not so much.

 

 

 

I’ve got (pancake) skills

I made the mistake a few weeks ago of making bunny-shaped pancakes at Easter and now my four-year-old thinks I’m capable of great pancake feats. Hence her request today for a “horse-shaped” pancake. She even wanted it to have “nooves” (she was struggling to remember the word hooves.) 

Hooves?!

Well, my lil’ cowgirl running around naked in her red cowboy boots was too hard to say no to. I cautioned that the hooves might be a level of detail not capable with the pancake medium. She shrugged and was like, ok but please still make a horse pancake?

You all, this might be stating the obvious but it’s hard to make pancakes look like horses. 

Me to kid: here is your horse pancake! Just know that it kind of sort of looks like a horsey.

Kid: I see it!

Me (not believing her): yeah!?Where do you think the tail is?

Listen you guys, she found the “tail”!


I have officially won motherhood today.

UPDATE: I forgot to add that after she ate her pancake she brought over a plastic toy horse and said, “Mommy, this is what a horse looks like!” Like I didn’t know. Like my pancake didn’t look like a horse or something.