One of the Last Times.
*This is an older post - my daughter is now (shock, horror) at secondary school!*
And so, I have walked one of the last walks to school with my last child in primary school. Sunny morning, fresh sea air whispers peacefully - revealing space and breath and beauty. Holding her hand tight, I tell her how proud I am of her for her amazingly calm attitude towards her SATS and how hard she has worked. It's a big week, but I have done this 3 times already, and thankfully Esmie has had much training from her older siblings about the fact that "SATS don't matter, you'll be fine, just don't worry because they will be over before you know it, plus mum gets you lots of treats while you're doing them". Amen and hallelujah to bribery I say!
This little one is a veritable fireball of love and laughter and animation - she launches herself at the world with vigour and curiosity, with equal energy - she immerses herself in all her relationships. I have learned much from this being of mine. I have keenly observed and thus learnt from all my children - they are, after all, new to this life, so their child-like wonder approach to it is a welcome reminder to us adults! Exploring each part of it with a fresh perspective. They live in the moment, appreciate the smallest of things and display vast altitudes of emotions! They are utterly fascinating when you stand back to just 'be' and observe.
Running from your feelings
My children have saved me - in the early stages when it was simply 'just survive', I was forced to get out, get up, do school runs, cook, clean, do washing, etc; I had no choice. At times this made me want to explore and run far, far away! I just needed to stop! But I couldn't, and this ultimately pushed me through. Eight years in, I am able to allow feelings to surface at times, without the fear that I will never reemerge. However back then, I lived in terror of the magnitude of them and the threat they posed - the iceberg beneath. I ran, constantly, from my feelings: only for them to do just this - engulf me and break me, then, bewildered and staggering - I had to get up and carry on, slamming the iron door with bolts on top once again.
Coping is a subtle but deliberate shift in perspective.
Watching the world through a child's eyes; you can only learn. They open you up, widen your gaze and shift your perspective. Coping is a shift in perspective at times; a quite deliberate one that you must decide and correct yourself upon when you slip. Having said this, however, at other times, it's merely about battening down the hatches until you come through some kind of 'other' side.
Being 'child-like' in your mind can be a good thing! Observing my four, I witnessed time and time again how they didn't run from their feelings - they felt them, allowed them, then moved on. Wow! What strength children have to experience and to feel their true emotions. Gradually, I began to realise that to be less broken, I had to allow and not reject my feelings, for my body and mind to be slightly freed of weight, and therefore move again. It's like when you allow your feelings, you are limbering up your emotions and thus in time, this movement of emotion becomes the strengthening of you. My emotions flooded me at times and I wanted nothing more than to run from them - but I eventually became better at knowing myself and that I always did, at some point, get back up again, providing I allowed the freedom of feeling. The freedom to feel liberates and strengthens, you have less to fear - because you have felt the emotion AND survived! Knowing this infuses you with emotional power and strength.
Children as our teachers
The essence of a child is pure and it is innocent, it's inquisitive and accepting...
Having watched my children cope with and learn about their 'new dad', I have taken many lessons from them. For example, I remember a big shift in my attitude towards the carers in my home. Although I get on with them and am grateful for the job they choose to do - I wouldn't be able to have Alex home if they hadn't chosen the career they had! I find it tough - an extra person, a new person, total strangers that I have to train and educate about Alex and who he is, how to be with him and so on, they act as a reminder of all that went 'wrong' in my life, a reminder that my normal is so very different from most. But the kids - they have offered cups of tea, smiled, engaged, asked innumerable questions, chatted freely and have been acceptance personified. I have tried to adopt their accepting attitude and moved in front of any 'this isn't how it should be!' thoughts (although I have had many!), and chosen to thank them for their care rather than resent them for what they represent - even if resenting is understandable, it doesn't serve me in a healing way!
I guess what I am trying to say, is, it is surprising if you remain open, who you can learn from - and life is that - it's school! Even if you don't have children, you can still adopt their attitude. I remain fixated in awe at mine and have everything to thank them for.