"We are all wanderers on this earth...our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams." ~ Gypsy proverb

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New perspectives bring new beginnings

Welcome to the February Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Essentials
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared the parenting essentials that they could not live without. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

"Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to." ~ Unknown

My 6 year old, the human tornado, has a bedroom that often bears the signs of wreckage on a regular basis.  Me? I am the self-appointed street sweeper continuously sweeping up belongings as I breeze by, undoubtedly wearing circles in the carpet.  I like order, things in their proper places, and I like knowing that I can find everything exactly where I left it.  These are things I value, and from my perspective, she was quite the opposite.  I should have known that once again, my assumptions would be challenged.

“You know Maya, we have people coming over and it would be nice if your room was clean.”
“Why?” she asked.
“Well mostly because it will look better, and when your friends come over they can actually walk in here.”
“I don’t care about that.” she says, quite confidently.
“But I do.” I implore.

“Yes Mom, but it’s MY room. When you clean up, I can’t find anything.  I like my room just like it is, I already have everything where I want it.”

Perspective.  More and more, I gain understanding that perspective is not just another way of looking at things, but a powerful skill that can make or break every situation that comes my way.  A year ago, this situation would have ended with her in time out and me cleaning her room again, all the while ignoring what she has so clearly named as valuable to her.  There would have been a time where my values would have trumped hers, resulting in another tear in her precious trust for me.  Slowly but surely, this is changing.  The knee-jerk reactions, the lack of consideration for their feelings, and the assumption that I know best, have all been compromised by a growing ability to find perspective.  It has changed everything in the way I parent my children, and there is no way I can parent without it.

Maya's "Earth"
Perspective now has new meaning for me.  It is a modeling of values, compassion, patience, and respect, as well as letting go of old patterns and thinking.  There was a time when I believed that my kids should always see my perspective first.  I assumed that since I was the adult, my perspective was more important and should demand greater respect, especially because I had experience.  Sounds ridiculous as I say it now, but this is a pervasive thought throughout traditional, mainstream parenting.  Somewhere along the line, adulthood gave me permission to control everything.  Though I preached and demanded respect, disrespect is what I modeled.  Though I pushed principles of kindness and compromise, I had been unkind and used ultimatums.  That is the grand irony of not having perspective---kids will never learn to see ours, if we never learn to see theirs.  What they will learn is that there is only one way, by demanding, commanding, and controlling.  We model, they learn.  I will never forget the day this realization sank into our heads.  We awakened to the fact that parts of our children were true mirror reflections of ourselves, and we definitely did not like what we saw.

Everything changed from that moment on.  We no longer stood above the children talking down.  We stopped demanding and we stopped commanding.  We were making important strides in our parenting and we supported each other as we changed.  It was difficult, as old habits certainly die hard, but the results were almost immediate.  What began to grow after that day was a re-connection with our children that we could have never anticipated.  We still had many assumptions to work through, such as our children would suddenly convert to respecting us as soon as we converted to respecting them.  That was a daydream at best.  It would take time for us to earn their trust back.  This was when maintaining perspective had become our most valuable lesson, remembering that like most foundations, mutual respect was to be built brick by brick from the ground up.  It was a long and patient road to get to where we are today, but well worth the work and wait.

Changing perspective continually takes courage, patience, and endless humility, but when parenting begins to shift from a place of control to a place of peace, then a new understanding for living in the present takes hold. Perspective has given me the impetus to search for the difference between joy and humdrum, patience and perfection, unconditional love and denial, flow and stagnation, abundance and scarcity, compassion and judgment.  There is no doubt that our children have been our greatest teachers on perspective. They have taught us that we have to kneel down in order to *see*.  They have taught us that their thoughts do not flow like ours and that our words and actions are colored with perceptions of the past.  They have taught us that despite our “wise” experiences and mistakes, they still deserve to have and make their own.  They have taught us that respect and trust have always been a two way street, and that being an adult does not exempt anyone from the same path. They have taught us that everything is a matter of perspective.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Not Without Him — The love Starr at Taking Time shares with her husband is the foundation of her parenting.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without B(.)(.)bs — From an uneducated dreamer to a breastfeeding mother of a toddler, nursing has forever changed Kristy at Strings to Things's relationship with her daughter and her outlook on life.
  • Raising a Child in the Internet Village — When Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction has a question or concern about parenting, she turns to the Internet. What did parents do before Google?
  • Partner in Crime and ParentingBethy at Bounce Me to the Moon can't imagine parenting without her husband's sense of humor - he brings her laughter and love every day.)
  • I Make MilkPatti at Jazzy Mama can't imagine trying to mother her babies without her breasts, but she could do it if she had to.
  • New Perspectives Bring New BeginningsMJ at Wander Wonder Discover, who is a former authoritarian mamma, has gained perspective via parenting.
  • Time Out!Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog explores how time apart can increase your capacity to give unconditionally.
  • Unimaginable Without HimKristina at heyred designs is celebrating her amazing partner, without whom none of her parenting experience would be possible.
  • My Parenting NecessityClaire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl needs "me time" in order to be the Mama she wants to be.
  • Babywearing As a Way of LifeDarcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the benefits of babywearing in everyday life.
  • Parenting Partnership — Sometimes Abbie at Farmer's Daughter doesn't appreciate her husband enough, but she definitely couldn't imagine parenting without his help.
  • Parenting EssentialsMomma Jorje loves her parenting products, but she needs you even more.
  • My Parenting Must-Have: SupportJoella at Fine and Fair wrote a letter to her daughter about the role that support from friends and family plays in her mothering.
  • It's More Than Just Hair — Think doing hair is full of fluff? Too girly? Useless? Karli from Curly Hairdo Ideas used to think so too.
  • The Minimalist Parent — The parents at Living Peacefully with Children embrace a minimalist perspective when it comes to baby gear. A good sling is all they need.
  • Without My BreastsCharise at I Thought I Knew Mama can't imagine parenting without her breasts; here's why.
  • Loves Books, Loves PeopleSeonaid at the Practical Dilettante discovers that the library is a perfect fit for her family's needs.
  • An Ode to the Maya WrapRevMama's next child might be named Maya, because of her fondness for the sling.
  • Avoiding the Padded RoomPecky at Benny and Bex is here to testify that it takes a village to raise a child.
  • My parenting essentials, from Tivo to battery-operated monstrositiesLauren at Hobo Mama presents a list of parenting essentials you didn't even know you needed (and probably don't…).
  • Attachment Parenting Through Separation: It Makes It a Little BetterJessica at This Is Worthwhile talks about how she couldn't survive her separation without attachment parenting and the bond it's afforded her with her 3 year old son.
  • Parenting EssentialsDeb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the principles she used to parent her children from infants to adults.
  • My Parenting Essentials — The things that are truly essential to Kim at In Desperate Need of Entertainment aren't things at all.
  • I'm No One Without My Sling — How baby carrying is essential to the parenting of Jessica Claire at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without...Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about what she needs to raise her children.
  • February Carnival of Natural Parenting — Through her experiences over the last five and a half years, Casey at Love What Is has discovered her most important tool for parenting is using her instincts.
  • CNP: I Cannot Imagine Parenting Without __________.The Artsymama discloses the one thing that gave her back control of herself as a parent.
  • Laugh Until I Cry — Laughing with her sons keeps Acacia at Fingerpaint & Superheroes connected and grounded.
  • I Cannot Imagine Parenting WithoutLuschka at Diary of a First Child realizes what the one thing she can't imagine parenting without is, and it turns out it's not a thing after all.
  • It Takes Two — Here are a few of the reasons why Jenn at Adventures Down Under cannot imagine parenting without her fabulous husband.
  • Stopping to Listen — Though it wasn't easy at first, Knocked Up - Knocked Over cannot imagine parenting her daughter without listening first to what she is telling her.
  • The Essence of Parenting — There are many wonderful resources that make life easier for Michelle at the Parent Vortex to parent, but the essence is the relationship between parent and child.
  • What I Cannot Live WithoutSybil at Musings of a Milk Maker considers her computer to be a parenting lifeline.
  • True Blessings: White Noise and GrandparentsKat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment can't live without her white noise machine and the support of her parents.
  • The Necessities! — What "stuff" does a natural parent like Lily, aka Witch Mom really need? Not much, it turns out.
  • Mama Showed MeMama Mo at Attached at the Nip writes about how parenting wisdom is passed on by example.
  • Ode to the Loo — For Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch, the bathroom is her safe place, where she can take a minute to calm down if she is feeling touched out.
  • Go, Mama. Go!Andrea!!! at Ella-Bean & Co. has been able to integrate her many roles through her get-up-and-go parenting essential, exercise!
  • My Other HalfBecky at Old New Legacy realizes what a relief it is to have her husband parent alongside her.
  • Grace, Love, and CoffeeMrsH at Fleeting Moments realizes that lifelines can take the form of the profound, or the mundane. Both are ok.
  • Supportive Spouse, Check! — There are so many parenting tools and gadgets that are superfluous, but the one essential, for Danielle at born.in.japan, has been her supportive spouse.
  • Why I'm a BabywearerMeredith at Becoming Mamas reflects on the ways babywearing has enhanced her mama baby relationship...and made life easier to boot.
  • It's Marvelous Out Here, Kiddo!Rachael at The Variegated Life can't imagine parenting in the big city without the marvels of Prospect Park to share with her Critter.
  • Yes, Thank YouAmy at Anktangle offers tips on how to ask for and accept help, an essential for successful parenting.
  • Parenting Essentials Checklist: Mom’s Inner Rebel and Her Kids’ VoicesOlivia at Write About Birth reflects on raising global citizens and saying no to societal norms.
  • Eco-Mama Online! — An Eco-Mama living in the mountains of a nature island, Terri at Child of the Nature Isle finds it essential to connect to nature and to connect online.
  • Sorry, We Just Sold the Last OneNev at The Adventures of Lime confesses she missed out the day they handed out patience.
  • LaughTashmica at The Mother Flippin' Blog reveals her super power, her talisman agains mean mommy.
  • My Priceless Parenting Resource — What do books, a magazine community, my mother and the local playgroup have in common? Lucy at Dreaming Aloud tells us...
  • The Gift of Shared TimeTree at Mom Grooves strives to experience the world from her daughter's perspective.
  • Follow the GigglesDionna at Code Name: Mama can’t live without the sound of her child’s giggles - come watch her video and you’ll agree!
  • Can I Mommy Without Boob?Emily at Crunchy(ish) Mama shares her fears about weaning and losing part of that the mother/child bond.


  1. Another beautiful, insightful post. At this stage in my parenting, I'm only beginning to learn how valuable perspective is, but already I know how much wisdom there is in your words. Thank you!

  2. that is a wonderful post. I so love your example of your daughter's bedroom, largely because it is just the same situation here with my son - I love to have everything neat and tidy and know where my things are, and strive for non-clutter. Him - the more cluttered the better, he likes to have all his bits (and that's a lot) out where he can see them. And no carpet! But, it's his room - we have to compromise in the communal areas, but my room is a shrine to zen, and tidiness, his room, well, kinda whatever the polar opposite of that is. But, it's clean, hygienic and how he wants it, so that has to be good enough for me.

    It does take a big shift in thinking though, a continual awareness, to stop from slipping back, and is also a challenge if (as we are) you are surrounded by conventional parenting friends and very traditional thinking family. But with a bit of bloggy encouragement, we'll continue on.

  3. Well said! I am in a constant state of wonder at my thirteen month old son as I see discoveries through his eyes and I begin to appreciate things in ways that wouldn't have occurred to me before parenthood. The way that an empty container sounds when you thump it with your hand, the satisfying 'clang' that you can make by dropping a pot lid onto the floor - the way that the whole world in all its simplicity can become a vast playground if only we take the time to see things in a new way.
    Parenthood is such an amazing journey, and your post captures one of the most wonderful and nearly intangible aspects of it.

  4. I am in love with the first picture. So lovely. And the picture of your stairs!

    As I watch my son grow I often have to remind myself of the very lesson you mentioned. I need to understand things from his side and not command. I need to get on the ground and see everything from his view and not stand over him and make him feel vulnerable.

    Plus your daughter speaks the truth, when someone cleans my mess suddenly things are missing!

    Lovely post and well written at that! I think I will bookmark it to reread when Blip gets older!

  5. Your post rings so true to me - I crave order, the mess makes my head hurt. But I am learning to let go a little bit at a time, I only wish I'd been able to do it prior to Kieran's messy toddler years (because now I think he's picked up on my need for neatness to his detriment). That being said, I LOVE this post, what an incredible testimony to the power of gentle, peaceful, respect-filled parenting. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us!!

  6. wow wow wow... I had to take a few moments to ponder all that I just learned from this post. It's so amazing how much we have to unteach ourselves just so that we can learn. And that these beautiful little people we bring into the world are usually the ones who teach us the most. Taking a step back and realizing that we don't have all the answers, and we shouldn't pretend we do is such a liberating experience. What you wrote about you and your hubby supporting one another through this transition in parenting is probably what touches me the most. It can only strengthen your bond and help you gain a whole new respect for one another as people, as parents, as partners, as friends. Your journey is inspiring.

  7. Two great posts in a row! Truly grateful to have found your blog. Thanks for the encouragement!

  8. Great post! Some people wonder why I talk with my kids so much, or they see it as them running over us. We are learning to listen and value what they value. It's so important. Like you said if I want my kids to respect me and listen to what I have to say, I need to model that for them. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. wow! well said, mama. :) i remember being that daughter whose room was "a pigsty" and craving for my mom to see it from my perspective... great post.

  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your post is great. It's so obvious, but so hard to actually put into practice. It is so easy, with a high-speed toddler karooming around the house, to fall back on controlling, limiting, "no-ing", but so vital to just let her be herself (which is not an extension of me), to encourage and share in her joy and engagement. Thank you for the reminder :)

  11. I really really love this post. I think it's one of those pieces of writing I could read once a week for a reminder of what we're striving for in our home. Thank you so much for sharing!

  12. I think I'm going to print this post and hang some of it up - the whole paragraph on the behaviors and values we strive to teach our children, all the while acting in a way completely opposite...wow. You've given me a lot to think about and strive for, especially as Ella gets older and more independent. Well done!!

  13. It never ceases to amaze me how programmed we are from our parents and so on. When we stop for a minute to analyze how we feel and how we make our children feel, it can be life awakening as you describe here. Realizing is the first step, then undoing ourselves and rebuilding follow.


  14. Wonderful post. I love these lines....

    Though I preached and demanded respect, disrespect is what I modeled. Though I pushed principles of kindness and compromise, I had been unkind and used ultimatums.

    It seems so obvious when you say it like that but these ideas are so pervasive in mainstream parenting - I'm sure it's hard to not fall into that trap. I'll keep this in mind as my little one grows up!

  15. WOnderful post; so honest and thought provoking too. I could see a lot of me in your words and we are only the products of our upbringing. But I love how you are growing and sharing with us as well as your family. Thank you for one of those posts that had me nodding with resonance as I read your words ...
    I think I'll leave the messy room alone tonight too!

  16. What a beautiful deep thought. This probably also holds true when you look at your partner or parents or siblings. We all bring our own view to things and have so much to learn from each other. I really enjoyed reading about this and it touched me so!

  17. Wow. I LOVE this post. It really is so much of what I think — and am still trying to work through putting into practice. There is this fundamental shift when we realize that our children — all children — are worthy of respect, not just in some vague way but in truly listening to their opinions and taking them seriously. It goes against everything our culture says about the relative places of adults and children in the hierarchy, but those ingrained mindsets and habits are so worth bursting through. Your pictures are also soul-inspiring. Thank you!

  18. Love this post! So glad to have found you through the Carnival. Reposting on FB. :)

  19. I see that you're reading Naomi Aldort's Raising our Children, Raising Ourselves. This book really resonated with me, as did what you've written in this post. Thank you.

  20. What a fantastic post! Allowing my daughter to lead us has really made all the difference in my parenting. It has also made parenting so much easier. My next thing is to learn to not command. Thanks for this inspirational post.


“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~ George Bernard Shaw