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

Monday, February 11, 2013

Instinct and reason

When it comes to my kids, I am quite proud. I'm not just proud of them, I am proud of all the changes and growth that we have accomplished together. I am proud of our relationship and how close we've become. I am proud of the work that my husband and I have put into parenting, unlearning damaging patterns, and replacing them with respectful, loving ones.

I've also become somewhat presumptuous. I trust in the connection that I have with my children and trust that my intuition has helped me grow acutely aware of anomalous changes or troubles. I have become quite confident that I can face any parenting challenge, because you see, I have X-ray vision and can see under the surface of my children's behaviors (and many times other kids). I read my kids' actions like a mystery novel and often can have the culprit/source of the behavior uncovered within minutes. I look at the situation, try to understand the emotions that arise from the situation, step back then analyze the big picture so that I can start helping the kids implement solutions. Yes, there is just a teensy bit of Sherlock Holmes pride here, eensy weensy.

So when my daughter began complaining about school, telling me things like "I don't like school", or  "I don't have any friends", or "no one likes me", it got my attention. Now, of course children complain. Children can be so dramatic as you know (especially my girl), but because I trust and respect what they are feeling, and I also believe they are honest reflections of what is happening inside, I listen to every complaint and weigh them against with what is happening all around them.

I have written about my daughter many times. She is a sensitive soul with a powerful imagination. Knowing exactly who she is and what she wants has always been her strength. When she is unhappy, annoyed, tired, sick, overwhelmed, together we usually can figure out why. But, especially in the last month or so, I've noticed my girl struggling with something big. I have honed in on those feelings and have been trying to understand them ever since. I think she is struggling with structure. I think she is struggling with conformity and rules. She is struggling with not being fed creatively, at least not in the way she hungers for anyway. She is struggling with realizing that the days of staying at home with mom, following her passions all day long without hindrance or interruption have disappeared, she is struggling with not being able to do what she wants when she wants, because she is now in a setting very different from the one she's had for several years before.

Most kids go through this I know. But do most kids begin to doubt themselves in the process? Do most kids began to see themselves as not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough? Do most kids go from confident and self-loving to distraught, moody and self-critical? Comparison and competition are unavoidable in a system where children are placed in a room together for 6 hours a day. I won't say that I didn't know this might happen, but the emotions and reactions that have grown out of my daughter from these experiences have hit me harder than I expected. And the boy? He has not had any of these issues, at all, confirming what I've known all along. The system is not made for everyone. Most of us don't question, we just follow instruction. We conform and accept because it is the norm, and because we can conform. But what about those that know intuitively that they can't, and truly don't want to, and struggle terribly because they try against their true nature? What about the kids that know themselves well enough to say "Mom, I didn't learn to read because of school, I learned to read because I was getting older"? What about the ones that begin to not like themselves because of the growing rift between who they know themselves to be and who they think society wants them to become?

I am still grappling with this one, I am. I see her struggling and my first instinct is to pull her out of school and homeschool again. I want to protect her self-esteem. I want to continue to nurture the light in her that causes her to rebel against the norm. I want to let her continue to live in her brilliantly, imaginative world of mythical creatures and stories than have to table them for math and learning how to read a clock. I want to put healing cream on all the little bumps and bruises that she gets from feeling like she is different from every one else, from peer troubles, from feelings of rejection, from having to do things that she earnestly doesn't want to do (and isn't sure why she has to do them at all).  Most importantly, I want her to love herself, as much as I love the bright, sparkling being that she is. And if something is in the way of her doing that, whatever it is I want to pick it up and remove it, blow it up, disintegrate it.

And Reason? Reason says this is part of growing up. Reason says that at some point kids have to adapt. Reason says that this is how we all learn that the world does not revolve on what we want, that we have to learn to struggle in order to get stronger, to understand ourselves better, to problem-solve, to grow. My daughter will eventually have to learn to adjust. She will run into struggles because she will never be the eager beaver student that does what she is told when she is told, memorize what she is told to memorize, or thrive on praise or competition. She will be the girl that wears wings to school, looking for the next exit.

And Sherlock is no where to be seen, and not giving me the answers as clearly as I want them. Instinct tells me one thing and reason tells me another. And what is my daughter telling me? She says she would homeschool again, but that she would miss some things like her friends (yes the same ones she said she doesn't have), seeing her brother, and recess. My reservations have to do with isolation, (something she is very good at, something that could do more harm than good) and with delaying the inevitable. She will have to learn some way somehow how she fits into this world, with all of her out-of-the box quirkiness, in school or at home.

So there you have it, the tornado that I am spinning in. I have not found answers yet but I suspect they will come. I suspect the writing is on the wall and my xray vision needs adjusting. And when it is adjusted, you will be the first to know...

Monday Monday....

ps. I know some people might think that instinct is the way to go, but for me instinct and intuition are two different things. From experience my first initial reaction is not necessarily always the best choice. Instinct makes us mothers, but reason, experience and intuition make us great mothers.

As always, thanks for reading...


  1. Ahhh, parenting can be so tough. How do we choose which direction to go? Good for you being patient - the answer will come. I too have some worries as the boys will return to their old school next year. My thoughts are with you as you go through this shift.
    Chey xo

  2. Oh this post tugs at my heart, both for you and your daughter. I wish I had some advice, truth be told I am carefully watching you and others with older children so I can help guide my little one when the time comes.

    I know you will find the answer, it might just take a little time. Hang in there and hugs. xoxo

    PS Love this "Instinct makes us mothers, but reason, experience and intuition make us great mothers."

  3. Oh hugs mama. You are such a patient loving soul I know you will find an answer that will nurture you both. I too feel this resonating so deeply with me. My little H is already struggling with self esteem and I do not know what to do to help her see how beautiful she is.

  4. sending love to you and M. whatever decisions you make I know they will be the right ones for your family. trust in yourself.


  5. This has to be such a hard place to be in, especially for a fierce, connected mom such as yourself. Sending peace your way as you seek out solutions. Xoxo

  6. A year ago, I could have written this post about my spunky daughter. (Though less eloquently, I am sure;) In the end, after much heart-seeking, she and I both agreed on a decision that we are still happy with. She sounds like a strong girl with a loving mama. Whichever way you decide can be reevaluated at any point in the future. Choosing what's best for now, does not preclude making the opposite choice if it becomes the better decision later. That was a comfort to me. That I wasn't permanently screwing it all up :)

    1. I'm glad to hear things are still working out Nikole :).

  7. What a tough choice. As a former home-schooler, now turned mother, I foresee days like this in my future. Thank you for sharing these thoughts, because I know that one day I'll be struggling with the same thing and hoping for insight!

  8. for me, i have found that intuition is both strongest and most chaotic when it comes to my child. there is too much emotion involved. too many conflicting emotions.

    when my LO struggled right from the start, my heart broke and i wanted to pull her out. i chose to see my job not only as protector, but as guide. so i helped her navigate the stormy seas. and she's come out stronger and wiser (unconsciously so).
    i certainly wouldn't have chosen a trial by fire for her, but that was her 'destiny' i believe, and my job was to ensure she worked through it, rather than hide from it.

    But other times it may be to protect her completely, to pull her away from a situation. i can only hope that i will recognise which is which, more often than not.

  9. oh, sweet mama, i hear and feel you on this one.

    my girl has had her struggles since she went back to school (her choice, certainly not mine...although i see how she has benefited from the whole thing)

    it's excruciating to watch them struggle and hurt...but as Monica says, sometimes our role is to assist the navigation rather than steer the ship. and because they are so much more wise than we are, they know exactly what to do once they are further empowered by our faith in them.

    interestingly, there's a thread of a conversation on my blog about how many writers/artists/imaginative/creative people have walked through fire to adulthood...and none of us are sorry for it. 'tis a harsh apprenticeship, but we are all grateful for what it gave us in the end...

    much love to you and your girl...xo

  10. "Instinct makes us mothers, but reason, experience and intuition make us great mothers."

    As a mom who went through this ever changing dance with her oldest I am feeling you sister
    one of the happiest days of my life and greatest day of relief was the day he graduated and it was OVER! School was such a journey for him, for us.
    A constant re-shuffle a constant being alert watching the sign and signals...listening, being as engaged as possible with out smothering....
    I won't give you any advice...I will just say I know this journey and I finished it on my feet....and so did he....His school journey taught me to be flexible and open...it toughened my mama skin by being his voice when he did not have one and letting him use his, quieting my own, when he was ready....

    my other son
    completely opposite!!!!! lol

    strength and wisdom to you as you walk this storm out...funny that you use the description of a storm
    it was through the storms I weathered with my son that I realized if I went into the middle of the tornado, stillness reigned and I could hear the voice of something else...something a little calmer than my own, something more powerful,something that let me know I was not alone

    Love and Light

  11. Finding out the reasons she isn't liking it seems important. Yes, structure is important, and I guess some kids just won't like school, but if there is another option that would make her happier, or put things in perspective for her...?

    Running into struggles is something that has to be learned. Yes. But hating school everyday? That would be a hard one.

    I come from a different place than other commenters maybe because I had a very hard time in school and I don't think it fared well for me in the end. That said, things were different then and my school actually was NOT a safe place.

    Do you love her school, her teachers, the other kids? Do you feel it's a safe good place for her? Is there something maybe you don't know about?

    My daughter's school feeds her creative side, she loves her teacher and the other kids. If she did not feel that way, I would look into it very closely. That said, all kids are different. Some kids just don't like school regardless of everything being "good." And that's a bummer.

    You'll do the right thing. And hey...maybe just let it go through the year and it will change and next year she'll be more into it.

  12. hey mj, how are you today? little m? i hope things are already becoming clearer for you. have you read "your 8 year old" by louise bates ames? i haven't read that one - but have read the others up until now - ez is six. they really help me with these kinds of emotional storms. maybe it's worth a read. other than that, i like everyone else have no advice. you're on top of it. you're a great mother. you're going to get to the bottom of this sherlock style! i hope you have lots of moments of peace and clarity along the way and that you and m come out stronger for it. all will be well. (can you tell me the same thing now? hehe...)

    1. thanks for the recommendation Anushka :). we are doing better today, despite another cold for M.. things are looking up, as they eventually do ;).

  13. this: Instinct makes us mothers, but reason, experience and intuition make us great mothers.

    thinking of you as you work through this.

  14. Sending thoughts and blessings your way as you, and your amazing daughter, journey through this time.

    May you come to know what is best for her...


  15. That first part I could have written. I know there will come a time when my Sherlock eludes me, and my heart hurts for you.
    Its so tough, some time old souls have a hard time fitting in here. I think it is so important to remind them their "old soul knowledge" is just what they need to navigate these uncomfortable waters. Much love to you and your girl.

  16. tough decision. and it is so hard to see your child struggling. my heart goes out to both of you in this rough patch.

  17. Sending you and your family positive energies to make the decisions that are needed and face what needs to be faced. Love to you! xo

  18. I feel your ache. My eldest daughter has a heart that feels everything around her, and school just isn't the happiest of places. I struggle with the common belief that folks need to harden to make it. I want to keep her exactly as she is. I'll keep you in my thoughts as you forge ahead.


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