assertiveness 101

When you have a child you get to learn to do things all over, like how to be assertive.

One day I found her in tears by the window.
“Grandpa sprayed the window!” She’d been watching grandpa water the garden. The glass next to her face was wet on the outside. He’d pointed the hose at her for fun.

I patted her back, stroked her forehead, told her grandpa was just playing. But she kept crying and repeated what happened over and over. It occurred to me that more was needed to reconcile her; to reconcile this.

The fact that grandpa was playing and meant no harm did not justify or lessen the fact that she was upset by it.

In all my conflict-averse introvertedness I’d do anything to avoid dealing with this kind of thing.
“Liliu, how about you talk to grandpa in the morning? It’s bedtime now.” She’d probably forgotten it by then, which would be perfect.

Seeing her little sad face though, another part of me said: Why can’t she tell him now?

An internal debate ensued. The Brave One pushed arguments about how I’d fail my daughter now if I let this go and make her deal with it alone tomorrow; how it might teach her that her upset wasn’t important or legitimate enough because the offense wasn’t intentional. Or worse, that she was making a fuss and just needed to get over it.

The Whining One rolled her eyes and said, “But it’s not a big deal.”
“Or is that just an excuse because you’re actually scared to do anything about it?”

The Whining One rolled her eyes again, like she couldn’t be bothered with repeating how much I hated confrontations. Which is right. We’d heard them all too often.

In that gap of silence the Brave One inserted herself: “Liliu, you know what, let’s tell grandpa now.”

I still didn’t know what to say, but I opened the window and shouted him to get his attention. To my surprise, Liliu knew exactly what to say.

“Grandpa, don’t spray me again!”

And with that she gave me a lion’s mane and war paint on my cheeks. Riding on her courage I added, “It scared her when you shot water at her!”

“Oh! I’m sorry Liliu!” He shouted back. “I was only playing! I’m sorry!”

The world had stopped when I decided to speak up; and now it moved again. The evening birds sang again. The air was alive again, and so was I.

When you have a child you get to learn to do things all over because she’ll have lots to teach you. As I lay next to my daughter’s little body at night I’m humbled by the greatness of her being.

i reclaimed my body!

I am a tower on which my child stands. I am her favorite mattress. I have a pair of bio-cranes that lift and lower the world’s most precious cargo. I’m an elevator with up buttons on my feet, apparently, for my child to step on. My legs make a slide and I’m one of those swing rides from the carnivals.

The reins of my body used to hang as I wait to see what people would like or expect me to do.

Now the reins rest in my hands. (No, not my toddler’s hands, though it might look that way!)

The idea that I might eat certain things, go certain places, not go certain places, do things, not do things, or have sex to keep someone else happy hits me now as betrayal to my body.

Sometimes I stand back and let the animal roam, in order to watch and learn its language.

How I Ran Out of Love for My Child, and How It Came Back

How I Ran Out of Love for My Child, and How It Came Back –

On 4/13/18: I want to put it down in the history book that yesterday, my forever infinite love for my child is officially exhausted. She is a normal two and half year old who makes a mess wherever she goes. Every other thing I say to her is “No!” or “Stop!” My patience is all but extinguished, and for a week I’ve turned into a constantly frowning mom with a bitter pout.

I’m so sad. This is not the mom I’d been or the one I want to be. I hope I’ll get out of this rut soon and come up with some creative solutions…

This is how I feel today on 4/24/2018: For about a week now I have all but forgotten about that declaration of my loss of love. I only remembered it today because I remembered seeing that a Mercury Retrograde ended on 4/15. I’m not a believer in astrology like that, BUT, it ran from 3/22 – 4/15, and that for Capricorns, it meant loss of domestic happiness (and career hindrances, which was also true).

So, this was how I ran out of love and how it came back – it all just happened as naturally and quickly as the ebb and flow of the ocean, with possibly a mysterious trick by the planets.

 

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Last word: It was hard to see at the time that love would come back at all. So I reached out to a Facebook community of mothers to help me through the dark night. Knowing that you’re not alone is what we often need most.

Because you’re brilliant and amazing, and especially if you like to write, ask to join! The group is called:

BRILLIANT+AMAZING+WRITERS+MOTHERS

 

Potato painting

The Little One is into painting lately and I have no excuse not to indulge her, since I have the supplies and even a dusty art education from a past life time! Guess who had more fun?

Ps. I found that it’s not easy to do. Maybe it’s my cheap paints but you need to control the amount of paint on the potato in order to get a sharp edge. Also I sucked at carving the stamps (I didn’t have enough small enough cookie cutters as a mold). But repeating a shape lent to such lovely results! The Little One had fun too, painting her hands.

missing out on fun?

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We took Liliu to the Seattle Gymnastics Academy for indoor free play. The first thing she said the next morning was: we are going to the trampoline place again (she doesn’t know how to ask a question yet so it’s a statement).

To me it was a fun hour and something I’ll mention on Monday as chit chat. But for her, it must be such an amazing experience that the first thing she knows in the morning, is that she wants to do it again.

When was the last time I got up and knew what I wanted to do? When was the last time I got up and knew I wanted to do something fun? I’m not sure I know what fun is for me! Reading is fun. Writing or sewing are a type of “fun labor”. When was the last time I got up and asked, or decided, or even thought to, do something fun?

No. As an adult holding down a job, as a mom, you sacrifice that thought. You sacrifice what you want to do, to accommodate what your kid and your family, want to do. You give up noticing what you think is fun. You give up asking for what is fun for you (unless you know it will also be fun for someone else in the family). Because you knew the cost all too well: if you really wanted to do something that’s fun for you, simple as watching TV or reading a book, the wanting makes you impatient and snap at your child. The child cannot control their desire, expression or temper. And you don’t want to rush them to that. So in order to be fully available, present and patient for your child, you sacrifice your desire of fun, even your attention on what would be fun for you. You brush it off like the crumbs your toddler left on your sweater.

But these are crumbs back to yourself. We may only get crumbs and tiny pockets of time, but they are important. Without the crumbs, we go too far and lose sight of who we are, and then we don’t know how to be with ourselves any more. And we get hungry. Those crumbs keep us alive.

 

brave enough to cry

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I’m so grateful for this Facebook Page, Calmer Choice, for sharing this image! See the full post and their discussion here!

I’ve definitely heard enough of “Don’t cry, it’s okay”, or “Don’t cry now you’re a big girl/boy, aren’t you?” in my life that sometimes it’s what comes up in my mind when dealing with my upset child. I hear those voices, they almost come out. 😢And I’ll hold on to another second of silence to think about how to be empathic. 💪🏻I deeply believe in emotional intelligence. The things I say and do when she’s upset now will become the things she says and do to herself as she grows up.🧐