Pride Is The Enemy

One of my dearest friends shares some truths we’d all do well to bear in mind.

What does your inner voice tell you?

Pulled Pork and Prayer

Do you ever share with other people the nasty little things the enemy whispers in your ear to try to undermine your confidence, your happiness, your contentment in life?

Let’s face it, there are some terrible things said in our internal dialogue. Mine likes to dredge up every unkind word I’ve said, the people I’ve thoughtlessly hurt, the ill-timed attempts at humor. Then it likes to tell me I’m worthless, a terrible mother, selfish, thoughtless, irresponsible, cruel, lazy, and undeserving of anything ‘good’ in life. All my sins and transgressions prance through my thoughts, flaunting themselves at me, reminding me of failures, poor decisions, opportunities missed or ignored, woulda-shoulda-coulda.

Patch is having a tough time with his internal dialogue. At the ripe old age of twelve, his inner voice is telling himself that he’s sinned too far to ever be forgiven. He’s done too many bad things to ever deserve…

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Separation Anxiety in Three-year-olds

I’m a stay-at-home mum to a three-year-old girl. She has just this last week started attending a preschool setting. She only goes for three hours a day, twice a week. The first day she was there, it was ok. The second day, she needed longer cuddles. Today, it was an hour before I was able to leave.

I’ve been scouring the internet for how to deal with this. The best advice is “develop a routine – hug, kiss, goodbye, then walk away”. I’m sorry, but that sounds harsh, even to me. Of course the child’s going to still be upset. I think I’d be too.

All my closest friends know I’ve been struggling with this. Trying to figure out the right course of action. Just now, my eldest sister send me a message on Whatsapp, and the penny dropped. And I’m quite literally (well, almost) sitting here happily bashing my head against a brick wall over my stupidity. Now, mind, I’m not saying that all parents/carers are stupid…. but…. perhaps we need to look at this issue in a different way.

What my sister said, roughly, was this: Have you looked at this from your daughter’s perspective? You’re her primary carer. You are the person who she goes to for EVERYTHING, and she’s been doing this for over three years now. (Yes. That’s true. I get frustrated some days when she comes to ME to ask for water instead of asking Daddy….) So now. You are taking her to a strange place, with strange people, and you’re leaving her there. So what questions might be going through her mind? Let’s look at some examples:

  • Who will change my nappy if it gets full or I do a poo?
  • Where can I find water to drink?
  • Who’s going to give me a snack?
  • What if I hurt myself? Who can I go to for cuddles and a kiss (if required)?
  • What if I get cold? Who can I ask for a jacket?

I know I’ve done it, and I’m sure countless others too… I think we completely forget that our little ones need to LEARN how things work outside of the home, how things work when Mommy (or Daddy or other carer) is not around. And how on earth are they LEARN unless we TELL them!?

We need to TELL our children who are scared of leaving us that “[this particular person] will help you if you need *fill in the blank*”. We need to do a proper handover of the carer position so that they know who they can go to. Not just assume that they will attend nursery/preschool/kindergarten and be happy.

I’m not saying this is THE solution to separation anxiety, don’t get me wrong. But I DO think that this is probably a HUGE part of where our children are having issues, and it is such an easy fix it’s ludicrous. I can even recall doing a similar handover previously, at least a year ago, just chatting to my daughter in the car. And if I recall, I was effectively dismissed on arrival, without so much as a hug, let alone a goodbye!!!

I have yet to speak to my daughter. She’s in bed for the night. But tomorrow I plan to have a chat with her. I will apologise to her that I don’t think I’ve understood what she’s been scared about. Then I’ll ask  her if this is what her worries have included. And next time I take her to preschool, I will do a proper handover. I’m betting it’ll go a long way to solving the problem.

A Woman of Peace?

Some time ago I read the following observation: “I think men struggle with upset women because men are by nature problem solvers. The simple fact is you can’t solve a woman’s worries. We are far too complex and guilt-driven creatures for that and we don’t expect a man to solve our problems. A couple of minutes listening and maybe a hug is probably all a woman ever needs.”

This set me to thinking.

There are numerous books out there on being a woman, accepting oneself warts and all, and I’m sure the list goes on. Many self-help books, some of which even I’ve found useful from time to time. One image has stood out in my mind over the years – an image created by the authors of ‘Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul’ – that of a 40-plus-y/0 woman who is at peace with herself and her circumstances being attractive (without necessarily being magazine-cover-perfect) precisely because she  is at peace. That people around her desire to speak to her. In a way, even though I’m yet well below the 40-yo mark, I’ve held this image in my mind and strived for it. So what have I learned along the way?

The observation in the first paragraph above disturbs me somewhat. For several reasons:

  • It implies that we aren’t problem solvers – whereas, by and large, we are. Our emotions just get involved (often with good reason), which means we take a circuitous route to the solution instead of a simple, clearcut one.
  • I’m also not sure that we can hide behind words like ‘complex’ and ‘guilt-driven’ any longer. I know that I cannot. They are excuses, barriers we put up that say ‘no, don’t help us’ when, actually, help is required.
  • Listening and a hug…. this superficialises the feelings and emotions of women.

Life is, oddly, more superficial than we realise. Don’t get me wrong. What we do is important, but it isn’t the be all and end all of our existence. Of more concern is HOW we do what we do. What I’m alluding to is the following conclusion of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11:

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.

The work of a woman – particularly that of a mother (although yes, in many cases the father too) – is, I believe, the most important in the universe. We are far and above the ones given the responsibility of educating the next generation. And trust me, it’s not an easy ride. In fact, I’ve often reached the conclusion that motherhood is designed to drive a mother round the bend! I spotted the following quote, and it explains why, in a nutshell:

The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one’s life. C.S. Lewis

Interruptions! One of the most difficult parts of motherhood to come to terms with. Your time is no longer your own, and you could be called away from what you’re concentrating on at any given moment to attend to, or do, something completely different. Like I said, guaranteed to drive one around the bend – UNLESS one accepts that that is how it is. As Michael J. Fox said,

Acceptance doesn’t mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there’s got to be a way through it.

And if you think there are a lot of quotes in this post, yes, there are. And they’re included because they’re literally rolling across my screen as I write this post and they’re relevant to the discussion.

Another observation that is pertinent is pax maternum, ergo pax familiarum (peace of mothers, therefore peace of families), or more colloquially (to the US South, from what I gather from friends there): “If mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy.” And I’ve noticed this to be true too. Being the emotional creatures we are, if we are not at peace, then our spikes and spines radiate out from us to those around us like the beam from a lighthouse, warning those closest to us to stay well away. Does that make for a peaceful family? I don’t think so.

So, in conclusion, what would I rather the observation be? To be honest, I’m not sure. I don’t think that this is something one can put into a pithy saying. That said, I’ll hold onto the concept of self-acceptance (through accepting that Jesus has already accepted me as His child, just as I am) and being at peace with oneself.