A Travellerspoint blog

Helicopter Mom

sunny 80 °F

I find this whole thing baffling: on one side we are supposed to puree, and steam, and stamp little sandwiches into cute shapes, and make our own party invitations; but on the other side, don't be too hands-on, mom. I read an article in a parenting magazine entitled 'micromanaging helicopter moms'. She stated that moms can be too quick to rush in and fix a problem for their kids, or stay too close while they are interacting in playgroups. She stated we moms can be too overprotective of our kids. OK, I confess that according to the article, I fall into this category. I am that mom who climbs the jungle gym after her toddler, to make sure he doesn't fall off. And who helps to fix his train set when he asks me to, even if it is before I have had my morning coffee. I admit it, I hover. But where is the line between 'attentive' and 'overprotective'?

The way I see it, I answer to myself as a parent. It annoys me when anyone else, my husband included, chimes in on my parenting style. I do what I intuitively feel to be best, with regard to park play, sleep habits, even vaccinations. We are our children's advocates and we are their guardians. If I choose to leave the park when a child is there that seems troublesome and throws rocks, that is my choice. Maybe it's overprotective, maybe neurotic, maybe it's instinctual, maybe sensible. I am the one that has to live with my parenting choices, not anyone else. And so is every other parent. Not their doctor, not your friends. I figure, I am the one (or my husband is the one!) who is up at 3 AM consoling our son if he can't sleep due to our travel plans. I am the one dealing with the consequences of my actions as a parent. We are the ones teaching him life lessons and how to feel about the world around him. We are the ones helping him to feel safe, to trust, to be compassionate, to communicate his feelings. When we focus on the attributes we want to reinforce, and we are thoughtful about how we support and display those qualities in our own life, we can easily pattern these attributes of character in everyday life for our children to see. It is important to trust ourselves as parents, to be aware of our own attitudes and behaviors, and to be present in the moment to do the best we can for our kids. If that makes me a little bit of a helicopter mom to someone else, so be it.

Posted by globalmomma 05:30 Archived in USA Tagged quality style helicopter trust parenting protective clingy nurture boundaries compassion Comments (1)

Those people...

sunny 82 °F

Utoh, honey...don't look now but we have turned into those people that we slightly sidestepped while we were a couple without children. Those people who gushed about how their child was a genius, and spent the first half hour of dinner babbling on about the latest news of their child's life...how he is being potty trained, and how amazing it is to watch him swim. Not that we weren't interested in kids, it's just that... Let's be honest - our kids are the most interesting part of our world, but not necessarily in everyone else's lives.

I remember what it was like before I had a child, to not understand why they became the center of a mother's or a father's universe. Yet now here I am knowing this, and meeting up with a couple friend of ours last night, I still could not keep myself from going on and on with stories and revelations about my son. I had no idea how much I would love my son, and I also had no idea how all-consuming it would be for me, even though I saw it become that for so many other women before me. I thought I was different, thought I could relate, thought I would still be trendy and talk about my own interests and ideas like book clubs and running marathons. Little did I know that most moms are just trying to button their jeans properly after a rough night without sleep, or are spending the better part of their days at the park watching their child conquer something new. They ARE the best part of our days, they are the most interesting thing in our lives - THIS is our new frontier, our new hobby, our new obsession: our children.

Posted by globalmomma 15:53 Archived in USA Tagged children park work obsession hobbies conversation Comments (0)

A few small words...

rain 75 °F

Everyday a few small words. Another sound, another light turning on. Our toddler's mind is expanding so quickly, I feel like I can see it moving, like the tectonic plates or water boiling on the stove, it takes on this kinetic energy all its own.

He has taken to now repeating every word I say (Repeat = danger). I say, Bodhi, lets go home. He says, "go home". I say, come here, let's paint. He: "Here" "Paint". You get the picture. The other day I was cooking something on the stove, and forgot it. I said, "shoot!" loudly, and he said, shoot! shoot! Now he regularly says, "no, no, no." just like that, in a sequence of three. I thought that was the oddest thing, until I heard MYSELF yesterday. No, no, no Bodhi, don't touch that. Ohhhh, so that's where he gets that. I also realized an annoying habit I have of saying, "how about?" before I ask him anything. Because the little parrot has been asking me, how bout? how bout?

How about a trip to the park? How 'bout we go to the store? Or if we are out, I ask him, how many steps are there Bodhi? So now, he says, on his own, "how many? One, two, three...how many?"

The point is that they mimic back our own habits, our phrases, our mannerisms. This can be good, or it can be bad, but it is always, definitely, enlightening. My awareness has been raised just by his constant mirroring of my actions. I try not to judge myself, or others, too harshly for this. He doesn't, he just calls it like it is. I am amazed by his perceptiveness and his desire to know the world. I am also humbled by my ever-striving desire to do everything right, and to say all of the right things. Impossible, yes, but a goal I cannot help but strive for. It is difficult not to want to be perfect parenting, when it is the most important job you will ever have.

Posted by globalmomma 14:59 Archived in USA Tagged education child perfect repeat learning parent growth words Comments (0)

the thought luau

Ahh, it's been a long time since I wrote anything, and I apologize. I have been hibernating thoughts, slow roasting them like an imu pit, in preparation for the feast that is some enlightened moment of writing.

Pardon me, I just had to pause from my thoughts and have a hissy fit, as a cockroach just tried to climb up my toe. ew. There is really no more despicable creature to me than a cockroach. They make my mind squirm. In fact, they just might be the sole impetus that drives me from the Hawaiian islands someday. They are that horrifying! well, them and the damn bird that whistles me awake at five in the morning...before my own alarm clock two year old sings me awake. I usually love hearing the sound of bird song...but not before the sun is up...and not THIS bird that chirps his little lungs out literally half a centimeter from our windowsill. Him I cannot really stand - in fact, I hear myself mumbling thoughts of violent nastiness while I toss and turn and throw a pillow over my ears. OK, enough about the wild critters that draw me back into my home each night. Back to my thoughts...

Soft rain is falling tonight, as it has for the past seven nights. It is a very comforting and soothing friend, the rain. I haven't really been near her for months. I haven't seen steady rain since leaving Seattle in April, and I am now able to see her strengths. Rain helps us to go inside, to get internal, to get real with facing your life. It is easy to be sunny in the summer, and easy to be outside yourself, enjoying time with other people, lavishing the outdoors, being open and exposed. But when the rain comes, there is no place to hide. We retreat indoors, to ourselves, to our core. So now, I turn to write. And I realize how much of my life is becoming full, with the busy efforts of chasing a toddler filled with energy to the endless attempts to establish myself and my practice here in Kona. I am feeling more and more scheduled, having to check my calendar and make plans weeks in advance. I am starting to live a life that is at least somewhat playing into the future, with a forward momentum that is both intoxicating and exhausting.

I try to stay in the here and now, but there are events and ideas causing me to push my brain ahead in time. It is a nice feeling, nonetheless to have a life rich in possibilities, as long as I continue to keep a portion of those plans in the optional category. It is when they become obligatory that life begins to feel constrained and forced, without the spontaneity of choice and discovery. I choose. Optional, functional, open. I enjoy the rhythm of my days lately, spent with park, pools, and playdates, work in between, and the small moment to ourselves whenever we can.

Posted by globalmomma 08:30 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The YES Word

Today I find myself musing about the deep power that our words have on the lives of others.
How do we approach other people, and how to we speak to those closest to us? Do we shy away, do we connect, or do we use our words to break down, to hurt, to discourage? I am always aware of how I use my words when it comes to my son, but not always how I speak to everyone else around me.

With my son, I intentionally try to be positive, to use encouraging words, to build him up, to encourage him, to guide him. Positive discipline is a subject term I came across just recently, while trying to learn new ways of coping with a toddler and his occasional defiance. At first, it sounded too simple, almost insulting and condescending to me. Positive discipline is about encouraging, not about denying your child something. Don't say 'no', say 'try this instead'. I slammed the book down in irritation. Doesn't this lady understand how frustrating a toddler can be? How you just want them sometimes to DO what you want them to do?! I don't want to redirect and be positive, I want to yell, 'Stop doing that? listen to your mother!' But after I had a few weeks to let the information seep into my psyche, I can tell you that I believe that positive discipline works, and that it is worth doing. And I can also tell you that it takes gallons of patients and likely years of practice.

Redirecting your child to a new toy, instead of asking him NOT to do what he's doing, or to stop what he's doing - it takes a lot more effort, but it seems to achieve the desired effect: child who quits playing with something he's not allowed to play with, mom who is not screaming and pulling her hair out trying to reason with someone who isn't making the connection.

Anyway, back to word power, here's what happened today. I brought my son Bodhi to the park around 8:30 this morning. We were the only ones there, so he had full run of the whole area. In typical fashion he set his mind to one particular section - this plastic climbing wall. For one hour, he climbed up the wall, and then back down - beaming at his success. But the BEST PART was when he climbed to the top... He turned around and looked at me, standing as a spotter below, and screamed, "YES!". First time, I laughed out loud. "Yes! Good for you, Bodhi, you did it!" I said in return. After the third or fourth time though, I recognized the power of these words. "YES", he said, again and again. An affirmation. Yes, I can. Yes, I did. Yes, I will.

Many toddlers begin to say "No", as a way of using their power, and defining their wills. I am sure my son will say No many times in his life, but I am so happy that he has first learned the word Yes. Hopefully it is because I tell him Yes to the things he wishes more than I tell him, No, he can't. Our words have power, and that power ripples through all areas of our life.

Yes is empowering, it is optimism, it is encouragement to explore, to create, to act. It is connection and support. No is separating, it is discouraging, it is inhibiting. It can tear down and disappoint.

In my opinion, one of the blessings to being a parent is the ability to partake in molding a young person, being able to support and nurture a new mind, a new soul, and give them the basis for a wonderful life. In this way, quite possibly the most important thing we can do as parents is to nurture and develop our children's self-esteem. Helping them to be independent, intelligent, kind, successful, wholesome, whatever else we hope for, it all seems to flow from this basic skill of having a good solid foundation of self-worth.

I try every day to build my son's esteem, but not always to positively affect others, or even my own. I have decided that in seeing everyone else with the same compassion and mothering instinct as I see my own child, I can begin to relate to other people as I hope others relate to my son. With kindness, and support. With words of positivity. Giving everyone the benefit of the doubt that I hope comes back to me. It is sometimes the hardest to react with loving kindness toward the ones we are closest to, because they get the heaps of our own stresses and anxieties poured out to them. It is a force of will to choose to stay positive, and to try to uplift, even when we ourselves do not feel uplifted. It is difficult to give and to support when we feel depleted, but this giving and doing for others, this outflow of our love and kindness is the fastest way to feel love and support in return. Raising the happiness quotient of all people is a desire that I find I have to recommit to each and every day. But most importantly, I can affect those closest to me by being more patient, reacting with kindness, and saying the yes word more than I say no.

Posted by globalmomma 05:36 Archived in USA Tagged park yes hope exploration kindness Comments (0)

To monitor or not to monitor...

That is the question we are currently asking ourselves. Whether we still need to listen in to our child sleeping, just in case he wakes in the middle of the night. Do we still need to use it? Do we still want it?

We have a baby monitor that is the basest of technology. Half the time we are not entirely sure that it works. We listen to the sound thinking it is either monitoring our son's room and the sound of his wave machine, or it is simply the blank noise of static. When our son was first born, we had a video monitor that was honestly the most important and the best spent $ of everything on our registry. I cannot tell you how many times in those first weeks I woke in a start, only to hear the reassuring sound of his breathing, or to watch his little belly rising and falling from the little camera view I had of his crib. Now that he is a big boy, sleeping in his very own bed, and capable of sleeping through the night, I wonder why we continue to listen to his sounds through the night as we sleep. It is reassuring to know he is OK. But when do you decide it is OK to stop listening? Tonight was I was laying in bed, I pondered this. The arguments are that I want to know he is safe. I want to know he is sleeping and healthy and not in need. When do those needs as a mother end? at what point do you decide that it is OK to let your child begin to fend for themselves? I think even in when your child goes away to college you will want these same feedback mechanisms, to know they are OK, to know they are sleeping, to know they are well. I kept waiting for a sign to know I could let go of the monitor, but now I realize it is a wait for something that will not come. A wait for a moment that never arrives, no matter how grown-up they become...

As mothers, we always, always want the best for our children. We want to keep them safe, we want to meet their needs. They may need us less, but we never stop wanting to care for them and make everything OK.

I sat there tonight in bed thinking about how my son now wakes up in the morning, comfortable and well-rested. He sleeps through the night, he can soothe himself to sleep. He, most of the time,no longer needs us during the middle of the night at all (thank goodness!) He plays in his room until the sun comes up and we go into his room to meet him. He is blissfully unaware that we watch over him, that we hear him. Yet, I think that he knows it all the same. And that it helps him to feel safe and secure, I know that it helps me feel secure, when I wake in the middle of the night. To be able to hear my son breathing and dreaming. It gives me peace. So I guess I will continue with this unnecessary practice, at least for now. Until I decide I am ready to move on, and to let go of this attachment of closeness. For raising a child is a constant meditation of letting go, a continual balance of holding close, being fully invested, and yet being able to separate and release. The baby monitor is my nightly reminder of this ritual and this balance of closeness and separation that evolves and yet defines this relationship of parent and child.

Posted by globalmomma 11:22 Comments (0)

Gonna Love the Life I Live and Live the Life I Love

I saw this on the back bumper of a truck today, and smiled like the cheshire cat. I am sure I have read similar phrases before, but this time, it hit me straight to the heart like an arrow.

I have been realizing just how much energy and awareness it takes to be fully present in the moment. Not only to be in the moment, but to be enjoying the moment too. I sometimes start my day like a sequence of events - coffee, check, read books, breakfast, park, nap. Last night I thought to myself, after a very fun bath time and good half-hour of cuddling and reading books: wow, I am REALLY enjoying this. This moment, this time with my son, it's where I want to be. I was savoring it, and I wondered why it does not always feel this way. Sometimes I go about the motions of reading books with my son, but it isn't particularly where my attention is... I am thinking about dinner, or tomorrow's tasks. And I don't just soak it up.

Sometimes the days can get repetitive with a young child, because hey, it's what they like. And they know what they like. I tell my son all the time how easy he is to please. Good food, running and playing at the park, and it is the BEST DAY EVER for him. Even if we go to the same two parks everyday. He doesn't mind, he likes it. He knows just what things he likes at each park, and goes to each one in turn. He is super content with his routine and the basics of his life. I however, find the routine occasionally tedious. The park...again. Sometimes I want something new, something different, some other experience.

But today I am reminded of what a beautiful life I have, how lucky I am to be IN it, day in and day out, able to soak in my life and appreciate the fleeting moments. I try to hold him a little tighter, try to open the windows a little wider, try to take just a second to embrace where I am this instant. Because I chose this life that I have, from my family to my home, to the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the minutes I spend. I chose this life based on what I love, and when I look at it that way, I am happy and lucky to live this life. Life is too precious to just go through each day to get through it. If you aren't enjoying it, what's the point? When you can consciously look at your children, look at your house, and say, "I CHOSE THIS", it makes you realize what a blessing it can be to experience the life that you love.

Posted by globalmomma 14:08 Comments (0)

The Amazing Brain of a Two Year Old

semi-overcast 81 °F

I am watching my almost two year old with awe. He is putting magnetic letters on the refrigerator as he names each one in turn: R, M, Q, D. We just bought these magnets last week to encourage his rising fascination with letters and numbers. He has spent a little over a month reading books, looking at cards, pointing at signs, absolutely enthralled with LETTERS. We will be at the beach, and he will run over to the sign that says, "PLEASE KOKUA KEEP OUR BEACH CLEAN" and point to each letter. He asks, Momma? I tell him each letter, again and again until he is satisfied he comprehends.

I am not entirely sure how extraordinary this is, but to me, it is possibly the most extraordinary thing I have ever witnessed, watching an individual gain a grasp of a language. I knew he was interested in letters, and I knew he was starting to get some of them and recognize the patterns, but I tested the extent of his knowledge last week. I asked him, where is the B? He points right to it. Hmm, that may have been a lucky guess. Where is the Z? Points right again. And makes the sign for Z. OK, how about N? Points. N, he says. I went through each letter of the alphabet, and he did not make a single error. He recognizes them all.
By this week, not only does he understand them, he can say all but 4 of the letters, and he can sign all of them in ASL (American sign language)
People stop me and ask me, did you do that program, your baby can read? no, I tell them, I didn't do anything special. This is all him. This is his self-directed learning. In fact, I wish he wouldn't push himself so hard. I don't entirely understand this desire he has to know, know, conquer.

I wish I had read more books about childhood development. I wish I had more of a concept of how their brains soak up information and integrate it into their awareness. I know my son has a somewhat one-track mind when it comes to learning. If he has an interest, he will focus on something until he gets it. Already at 22 months, he can count and sign to ten, say and sign his letters, and is starting to read and recognize words. I do not know how this kid does it, or even what to do to encourage it. He does it on his own, I just follow along. I bought him an etch-a-sketch for a plane trip in February. While trying to come up with a game, I started drawing things, like a square, or a letter, and he would name it. Now, he wants to do this game everyday.

His language skills are exponentially growing each week,and I find it difficult to keep up with his growth, but find it so incredibly inspiring and miraculous, how much he is able now to communicate and how much more he can understand. It somewhat parallels my experience with the German language. I studied German for 10 years, throughout high school and majoring in college. I studied abroad in Vienna Austria and gained a confidence with the language and my ability to communicate. I was like a child with the language, not getting deeper concepts, but able to get my point across with growing ease. Now that the past 10-15 years I have only had fleeting yearly visits to Europe and short conversations with people in German, my ability to speak has declined markedly. When people hear me speak, they do not guess that I am fluent. Yet, I still understand almost every word, and definitely can understand a movie or a conversation in German. I use this to understand that although my son cannot always tell me things, he knows far more than I am aware he knows. When I take time to test that knowledge, each time, I am shocked that he knows it all. If I ask him to bring me the letter H, he does. If I ask him to pick out 3 books, he does. Ask him to choose an outfit to wear, and he emerges from his room with a shirt and shorts. Wow. When we take the time to really think about what is happening with a toddler, and appreciate what they are doing everyday, there is no doubt in my mind that all of my time spent with him is the most important part of my day.

Posted by globalmomma 02:41 Archived in USA Tagged language development toddler brain intelligence learning growth fluent Comments (1)

Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy:

Lately, I have been consumed with the idea of buying a small place to call home on this beautiful island of Hawaii. I would love a place of my own to decorate, to paint, to landscape, to rent out or dwell...BUT I recently had a realization that there are plenty of reasons also NOT to buy a home.

Here are the reasons I am satisfied not to be a homeowner:
(1) No expenses for extra maintenance, like when our dishwasher broke last week or the plants needed a new irrigation system
(2) No concern over condo fees or upkeep
(3) No stress over rentals and reviews from renters
(4) No need to hold down a steady salaried job to get loan approval
(5) Not having to clean everything perfectly...I subscribe to a 'good enough' policy with a rental that wouldn't be so lenient if I owned
(6) Not having to stress about it if your child steps on a plant or breaks the window blinds, because hey, it's a rental
(7) Not being 'under water' on a mortgage
(8) No late night worries about the worth of your investment
(9) Flexibility to move anytime, go anywhere
(10) Freedom

Posted by globalmomma 12:28 Archived in USA Tagged home rental mortgage ownership advantages Comments (1)

The 99% of self

semi-overcast 81 °F

To be a mother requires a great deal of patience. Patience not only for when your child wants to stop and pick flowers on your way to the parking lot, or when they ask you for the thousandth time to read the one book that drives you insane, or when you have to pause and let them put the dishes back in the dishwasher, while you are trying to clear it out. Those things all take a level of tolerance and patience. They take an understanding of the child's need to grow and experience. But there is a bigger, more global sense of patience required as well. A patience that means not getting your own needs met, because there was not enough time for both. The patience of accepting that there are goals that you have for yourself, that there are aspirations and motivations that must go unanswered while your children are young. There are classes you wish to attend, career advancements that you do not take, desires that you put aside. This selflessness of motherhood is a deep, sometimes painful type of patience that I never knew I had. There is a perseverance there, a true pacing of the self that requires an insistent recommitment to the highest priority of parenthood, and the noblest good of raising children right.

When I sit and think about the things that I want to accomplish, I realize that if I am being honest with myself, there is no way I can contribute myself to those things and still keep to the vision of my life as a mom. I am the type of person that does things 100%. I don't settle for B's or C's, I am an A student type of over-achiever. I have always given my all to various pursuits. But now I am struck with the shocking awareness that I no longer have 100% to give. As a mother, possibly forevermore, I only have most of myself to offer. Part of me already has a steady constant focus on my family.

Maybe I had some inkling of a hint that this was how it would play out for me once I had children. For some reason, I told myself to wait until later in my thirties before having children - there were places I wanted to travel, there were goals I had for myself - like finishing medical school - that I felt I had to do before I had kids. Now I see the wisdom in those choices because for me, my ambition and my ability to focus on career or even personal hobbies is some percentage less than full. Sometimes there is a frustration with having to choose, with having to wait, with having to tell yourself you just cannot do it all. Most of the time though, it is a reality that I accept.

If I were a pie graph, there is a slice now that is permanently dedicated to my son. This is not a bad thing. This is not a chosen thing. It is simply a biologic and emotional truth. I have to begin to adjust to this portion of the pie that I have to give to myself, and to reach a peace with the percentage that is left.

Posted by globalmomma 05:55 Comments (1)

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