"Once your consciousness has been raised, it cannot be lowered"

My parenting journey, our home educating family and some other stuff here and there....

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Ah the Music of the Spheres. To me this brings thoughts of two things:

1. It's the title of Ian Brown's 2001 album. This man has God-like status in our household, even with wee Magnus... I'm almost a fan ;) I do like this album a lot though.

2. The Clangers. Esme loves this episode, the final ever made. Oliver Postgate also has near God-like status here.

Anyway, I've disgressed, all I really wanted to pass on was this link so you can hear this lovely music.
I think there's something really special about these sounds.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


I've been thinking about the way our culture seems to ascribe children really low levels of competence with some things and yet prematurely pushes them towards being grown up with others.

Last weekend we visited a park that was swarming with children and their carers. I've not been around a big bunch of  local kids for a while. I suppose it was all pretty normal, but I what I saw made me think, as so often happens these days. Some examples. Huge (to my eyes) kids wearing nappies. By the climbing frame I could barely move for parents anxiously hovering, saying "be careful" to their massive offspring as they clung for dear life onto the equipment. One man was "helping" his daughter to climb a rope ladder by holding her two arms up in the air, so she was only using her legs... yeah, thanks for that Dad. Such low expectations of what the children would be capable of doing.

Now, I really appreciate that all children are different and that they all have their own way of developing and gaining skills. I also have my own experience that tells me that small people are really able to do a lot more than most folks seem to realise, particularly where physical development is concerned. Babies are born communicating their need to eliminate, if you're listening. Really young children can be frighteningly adept at climbing, but fearful hovering creates self doubt and will most likely result in a fall that perpetuates the parent's need to urge caution. As for over zealous hands-on help, how frustrating to be so stifled! It saddens me to think so many people aren't prepared to trust their child's sense of exploration and just be there to reassure and assist when they actually need them.

It strikes me that our culture is all for children developing independence when it suits the grown ups. Allowing children the freedom to become physically competent at their own speed develops their confidence, but it also makes life more difficult for us. It's not easy keeping an eye on a toddler climbing everywhere, and it can be really inconvenient having to stop and help a child go to the toilet whenever they need to.... It is unnerving to have a two year old whizz away from you at top speed on a balance bike. I'm not sure it's conscious but it seems to me that the result of not trusting children is a way of making our lives more straightforward.

The independence and competence we seem to strive for culturally so often compromises areas of development where it is more "normal" biologically to be dependent on another person. Perhaps I'm cynical but this also seems linked to giving parents an easier time of it. Like expecting children to sleep alone and through the night early on, not carrying or giving as much physical contact as children may need, not breastfeeding or nursing only until a certain age is reached, refusing to baby a "big" boy or girl by helping to feed or dress them....I'm sure there's more...

How back to front that we baby children at times when they don't need it and expect them to be grown up when they need to be babied. So much misplaced energy in this mad world. I'm not saying my energy doesn't ever go off in a wonky direction but at least I can see it ;)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Love Wisdom

I'm still in a pondering dreamy mood. I looked over my bookshelf tonight while the kids were in the bath with Joel and found a little book called "Love Wisdom" that i got free with a magazine many moons ago. It's one of those "ask a question and open the page" books and I'd forgotten I have it. It's surprisingly sage and always fun to flick through so I had a go.

I decided asked how my partnership would fare with the current feelings of turmoil and imminent change we are facing with our home situation. The book gave me pages on healing, sacrifice and meditation. How apt!

We are working through lots of things in our decision making process. As we move forward I can feel we're making progress with communication, particularly negotiating the practicalities of preparing to try and sell our house. Also, my attitude towards desiring a specific outcome is really different. I feel ok with whatever happens and I really am concentrating on doing what I need to do moment by moment. There is definitely part of me that feels like I have learnt some lessons and I'm starting to heal the old stuff.

I know that if and when we move, things are going to be tough with money, and time for each other. I am also aware I may have to compromise on my ideals for the greater good. In the long term we will gain by sacrificing things now.

And meditation, well there aren't many of us who wouldn't benefit for more quiet time and contemplation are there? I can see a lot of reasons why I would benefit from more meditative activity and I'm starting right now with this one!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Que Sera Sera....

I don't know if I'm coming or going these days... so much is happening.

We're thinking quite seriously about moving out of the city. It's a little daunting as it will mean quite a big change of pace and way of life. We have good friends and an active and supportive home education community in Manchester, and I am very involved in a very exciting project to do with learning that is very much rooted in being here. When I write down that I wonder why I want to move out.....

I've been resisting the pull of the green Valleys to the North where I grew up for a long time but it's still there and it's getting stronger, if anything. We feel  that we will all be too comfortable in our Urban ways if we leave it much longer to move. It's cheaper up there, we can get a bigger house, a garden, be closer to my family, it's still close to Manchester...not the end of the earth at all really. But Joel will have a long commute to work (at least in the short term) so we'd see him even less than we already do, we will be more reliant on the car, there is not a local home educating community as far as I can tell, no ethical wholefood co-op, no fabulous corner shop. I don't know. It's a hard call...

Here is a not very good picture of my beautiful children at our wonderful corner shop, just because I never put any pictures on my boring text heavy page! 

Anyway, add this to all the other "small"(!) stuff: managing home learning and meeting the children's needs, what to cook, housework, my LLL leadership application, my various on the go projects...crochet, several riveting and enlightening books, my filing pile, sewing and mending, making the house more liveable (and therefore more saleable!), the garden, the pets...even just checking my email, never mind responding....

SO many things are buzzing about in my head, it's all a bit dizzying, and I am really tired out with both the depth of emotion and physicality of my everyday life. But I feel a real difference to how this feels compared to previous times when I've had lots of thoughts to sort out.

I think it's attachment. I am really trying not to get stuck on wanting any particular thing, just trusting that the right path will come along and we'll know when to choose it. Doing what I can when I can, managing my time, being responsible. It feels good to have lots going on but no anxiety attached to the outcomes. All the energy I would've wasted procrastinating and worrying once upon a time will be much better spent looking after me so that I'm strong enough to do what needs to be done.

I'm expectant, excited, hopeful, ready to go forward in whatever way we need to.

Enough rambling. Bed ;)

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


I think I've said this before, but it's pertinent so I'll say it again! When I was a Mother of one I thought, probably quite rightly, that I was doing a really good job. It was only when Magnus was born, and my physical and emotional resources became more compromised, that I began to realise quite how much energy and creativity I had been putting into parenting Esme. She is wonderfully spirited, intense, interesting. And very hard work! Things were level and balanced back then because I was putting such a lot into maintaining that equilibrium.

I never thought I had unending reserves of patience and I've been proving myself right about that recently. It's nearly two years since Magnus arrived, and balance still hasn't been restored in my relationship with my first born. It seems I just can't do enough to make this situation right for Esme. I've been feeling immense pressure to try and find more more more to give her, wondering if anything will EVER be enough to sort this out. Lately I've been feeling doubtful and unbelievably negative about my capacity to mother my children, and it's a horrible feeling. If I can't muster what is needed to make everything good then who can?...and who else would want to?

It's not helpful for me to get caught up in what Esme's doing, because judging her and myself makes it feel even worse. I'm trying to look beyond the behaviour, but the only concrete reason I can find for her being unsettled and angry is that she would just rather not have a little brother to share her Mama with. What can I do about that?!

My fridge is covered in laminated NVC lists, and when I think of my struggle with mothering Esme, and then look down the list of needs through her eyes it brings tears to my eyes. She aches to be with me, longs for affection, deep connection, to be nurtured. It's helpful to realise that I must keep making the effort to validate her feelings and find more ways to help satisfy her needs.

I have, so far, resisted "traditional" approaches to discipline. I'm sure quite a few people would say my alternative has been somewhat lacking in substance, but pooh to them. I don't want to push a vulnerable, highly sensitive little girl who is feeling sad, and perhaps even unloved, further away from me.

It's been so frustrating and exhausting, pouring all my energy into this seemingly bottomless pit. But the last week or so I think I may see a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. After churning this over and over many times (with lots of different friends- thank you all!) I think I may have figured out that....

I am, actually, doing about as much as I can! TAH-DAAAAAAAAAAH! Good eh?!

I reckon the only thing I can really do differently is be kinder to myself. We have some issues to settle with the boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour, and how to communicate this with Esme-that's another post. But perhaps in being kinder to myself in every moment, especially the heated ones, I am finding more strength, energy and resourcefulness to deal with the challenges my dear daughter presents me. And perhaps that's why I feel a little better about all this.

If I can parent with more kindness and generosity of spirit (which, if I'm honest, has probably been lacking) then surely I can draw her back towards me, and the dust may finally begin to settle.

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 
Dalai Lama