In pregnancy, parenting, loss, healing and growth, there is no one right way. The manual is ours to write, but we don't have to write it alone.
Dad and I look at each other. “A what???!” “An E—-F—-H…” he repeats in a do-you-pinky-swear-you-won’t-tell-anyone?!?! sorta whisper. And with that, I get it and interpret for my husband. Our child is attempting to spell out a cool-secret-thing he wants, just like he’s heard his big sisters do.
“Mom, can we have some I-C-E -C-R-E-A-M?” or “Mom, can we go to the P-A-R-K when Hadley and Colin nap?”
Things not meant for three year old ears lest they want it too, get spelt out in our home and our little guy had cracked the code. He just didn’t know how to spell. But why let that stop him, right?
They may not always do what we want, when we want… but do not be fooled.
THEY ARE LISTENING.
It was only a week ago that my 12 year old daughter first asked me, “What if I shaved my head?” to which I immediately responded, “What? Why?!?”
She replied softly, “I don’t know. I was just talking about it with my friends.”
I took a deep breathe and thought about her question for a minute before replying a second time. And though I still not thinking she would actually shave her head, I began to feel that the question was not as hypothetical as I had first imagined.
“Well, if you did, you would rock it.” I said, which was received with a smile.
“Yeah,” she said, “that’s what my friend said.”
Over the next few days, the shaving the head idea picked up steam. She asked her dad. She asked more friends. And with each person she told that did not find it to be the craziest thing they’d ever heard of, the idea became more real.
“What if I shaved my head?” quickly became “When can I shave my head?” followed closely by, “Who will I give it too???” Each question brought with it a new google search. Soon she had all her answers.
She saved an inspiration photo on her ipad of a cute teen girl (not a star, just a girl) sporting a t-shirt, killer smile and a buzzed head in all it’s glory.
She found a non-profit that would not charge the child receiving her golden locks on the other end when a wig it became. She read about the organization and the medical conditions that caused children her age and younger to lose their hair. Fuel to the fire.
This. Was. Happening.
I texted my hairdresser for reassurance:
We went to the dentist the next day and when they asked us what’s new, my daughter told them, “I’m going to shave my head.” I loved the way they received this news. “It’s only hair!” and “It grows back” and most encouraging of all, these words from the the office manager, “Good for you! Will you send us pictures?!?!” I could see my daughter’s confidence growing.
Once home her google searches still read “donate hair” and “buzz haircut girl” while mine still read “girl pixie haircut.” Evidence of my resistance filled my iphone camera, pictures of longish short hair cuts for girls. I told myself they were for “just in case she gets half way in there and changes her mind…” but they weren’t. They were for me. ”Well hey, look at this one of Gwyneth Paltrow with the cute little bobby pins holding back easily five inch long front hair locks. This would look nice.”
The day after we’d made the hair appointment, I panicked. Had I been doing my job? What if as “mom” I was supposed to be the one resisting the idea? What if moments after her hair was cut into two 12 inch ponies wrapped in rubber band after rubber band, she looked at me, her eyes filled with disappointment? Disappointment from a decision she’d made without me throwing detours or nary even a road bump in it’s way?
The next day we were alone, driving in the car. Reilly was talking about her future buzz which I seized as an opportunity to fulfill my maternal obligation to offer her pause. I asked her, gently, “What if you don’t like it??? What do you want me to say to you if you cry afterwards?”
To this my daughter, without getting defensive or taking this to mean I didn’t believe in her, answered “Just remind me that it doesn’t matter what I look like. Remind me I helped someone.”
“Okay, sweet girl. But that’s not going to happen, is it?” I thought.
I grabbed for her words, saying them over and over in my head, so I would remember them.
My daughter knows what is important and what is not, I thought.
The next day, she fearlessly sat in the barber chair with a smile spread ear to ear as long clumps of hair left her head, only stopping to furrow her eyes and scowl at me, now and again for taking too many pictures.
My kids have always taught me plenty, but this time, I felt like I was getting a reminder of not only what is important in this life, but what gives it meaning.
There is nothing like parenting to pull those old wounds to the forefront of life to be healed. Who, me? Triggered much as a mama? You bet-ja! Having and raising children is like jumping on the super highway to healing old hurts – the kind I don’t even consciously remember and the ones I do.
When I was newly wed, my husband and I were taking on personal growth and healing like it was part of some advanced college-credit course. We were in a committed, loving relationship for the first time in our lives (not just a serious relationship but REALLY committed, like for life) and that was all the safety we needed to start taking on our demons. We were both doing this independent of one another before we met but we picked up the pace a notch after getting hitched. There is nothing like being in a loving relationship to really open ones heart up to healing. And we got right into it, looking together at the the really gunky, ugly stuff that gets stuffed way down deep in one’s soul over decades of living.
The retreats we took both separately and together at Heartland, a retreat center in the Ozarks founded by Dr. Michael Ryce, were heaven sent. As newlyweds, we unearthed things about our-selves that before had been buried to deep to be handled. The retreats we took together, sometimes for weeks at a time, helped us acquire tools to navigate the murky channels inside ourselves that we were now in touch with. We each brought bags of pain (Michael calls this “garbage”) into our marriage. It may not sound sexy, but it’s true… and we all do it, anytime we start a relationship with another person. Matching bags of garbage. (Dang resonant energy.)
We did alot of living those first three years of marriage and it wasn’t all a bed of roses. When we finally did reach our third wedding anniversary, I remember my husband saying, “WHAT? It’s only been three years?” before he realized this was probably NOT the most romantic thing to say to one’s wife on one’s third wedding anniversary. But I completely agreed. Yep, not sexy (I told you) but hugely forwarding. And now that I think of it, maybe it IS sexy, but in a different sort of way. This is the stuff true love can be built on. Now four kids and fourteen years of marriage later, I get down on my knees and give THANKS for those early pre-kid years of intense personal growth we took on as a couple.
Today, parenting twins plus two children together and owning our own business, getting triggered or being “in pain” is not what I would call a rare occurrence in our home. But our upsets don’t throw us like they might have had we not taken on a very important belief early on in our relationship. It’s a belief we picked up at Heartland. This single sentence has guided us threw many a rough sea. It’s one I am thrilled to live by as a mom. It’s a simple statement, just seven words in all. What is this magical statement?
If I am in pain I am in error.
That’s it. Seven words. But these words have forever transformed my life, my relationship with my husband and our relationships with our kids.
When I first read this I completely disagreed with the statement… until I redefined what error meant. Now when I read the sentence, instead of thinking “wrong” which I used to equate with error, I now think “off the mark”. I look at the pain I’m feeling as a sort of red flag, a tip off to myself to think, “Wake up and watch yourself Suzanne!!!” because if I’m triggered (in pain) I can be sure there is something in the situation for me to heal (i.e. let go of, learn and/or grow) from. Error does not mean that the other person or circumstance in the situation is right and I am wrong. Not really. It’s just an invitation for me to look at something a bit closer from my past. Most likely, if and when I do, the thing that has me triggered will cease to hold so much power over me. Here’s a story of how this looks from my life. A “bad” situation that delivered HUGE rewards when I took on the idea that “if I was in pain, I was in error.”
There is nothing like parenting to make life a-parent. I get opportunities to heal things from my past all the TIME delivered to me by the four little master teachers (all under ten) that live with my husband and I.
If I am in pain I am in error. Take a moment to say it over in your head. Let it rise to the top of your consciousness the next time you feel your blood boiling because your two (or thirteen!) year old just will not listen! See if you can recall these words the next time motherhood or life is driving you insane.
These seven words have the power to transform your parenting reality. Here are two links to help these words live even more powerfully in your home. The first is a simple, seven step forgiveness worksheet created By Dr. Michael Ryce. When I started using it, I set a 30-day challenge for myself, committing to taking on seven small or large irritations a day for 30 days. This exercise proved to be a powerful one. You can do that as well or you might want to start slowly, simply committing to using the worksheet to process your feelings the next time you are parenting and feel yourself getting triggered. (Note to self: be sure to take on the small triggers first and work your way up to the doozies. Rome wasn’t built in a day…) This next link is a chapter from Dr. Michael Ryce’s book, Why Is This Happening To Me Again?!, where in the midst of telling a story about a guy named Richard who is learning about the power of forgiveness, he explains how to use the forgiveness worksheet
Thank you Dr. Michael Ryce, for giving my husband and I (and the world) your insightful perspective on forgiveness and the gifts of these tools. The relationships I have with my children and a large part of my approach to parenting in general is built upon the personal work I did before, during and after the weeks and months my husband and I spent in the Ozarks.
I hope these seven words and the forgiveness tools above bring you closer to yourself and to your family. Tell me what you think. How does the statement, “If I am in pain I am in error,” sit with you? What about life or parenting has been upsetting lately that you might be up for *forgiving*?
By Suzanne Tucker, mom of twins plus two, co-creator of My Mommy Manual and Yoga Parenting.
This. This is why I teach baby massage. This is it. It is all here in this video.
A peace-filled, conscious connection possible with our hands, telling our little-est people that the world around them is a safe and nurturing place. Telling them it is okay to trust and that they are loved.
Who would not want this for themselves, for their children? (Can someone please do this to me?)
Remember being a kid and saying to your brother/sister/friend, “Your EPIDERMIS IS SHOWING!!!” and then laughing your butt off as they recoiled in horror and embarrassment, covering themselves but not quite knowing where to cover?
I do. I remember being on both ends of that joke. Oh the horror. How embarrassing. I hated being embarrassed (and still do. Who likes it really?)
That fear of showing my epidermis? It’s a lot like when I sit down to write. I read over the stories of my life fearing I’ve shown too much. And then ideally, I hit save anyway. Ideally, I resist the urge to edit me and my epidermis right out of my stories. And it’s hard because, editing ourselves, isn’t that what we’ve been trained to do?
Hiding our “crazies”.
My friend shared a secret from her childhood with me this morning. She sent her story to me in a private Facebook message. She would not have called it a secret; more of a “deep-dark-secret”.
My friend thought I might not reply, saying I could un-friend her and she wouldn’t hold it against me. She thought in sharing her story with me, her “crazies” as she called them, I would love her less or go away all together.
Isn’t that is how we all feel? “If they only knew…”
My friend shared something *private* with me. Something she doesn’t love about herself. Something she was certain I could not love in her either. But I did. And really, I love her all the more for it.
I have these stories. You have these stories. My friend was brave to share hers with me.
This connection created through sharing? This is the single reason I write.
I want to show you my epidermis.
I sent my friend a reply. I told her how much I loved her. How brave she was. I told her she was LOVE and that she was enough just the way she is. And even as I hit send, I was full aware, this reply was for me. It’s the message I am needing to receive myself.
It’s all smoke and mirrors, the messages we are sending. The emotions we think are for THEM, (anger, hate, annoyance, intolerance, jealousy…) let’s be clear, they say more about ourselves than anybody else.
Thank you friend. In sharing your heart with me you have brought me closer to myself. So much good comes when we simply share the stories of our lives.
Today I mourn.
I set down my coffee, turn on cartoons for my two year old twins, move into a different room and I cry.
“Soldier on. Get back to life. Let it roll off. Carry on.
Those are all things we’re told to do by parents, coworkers, friends, society, and more. It starts young.
We skin our knee, our dog dies, an uncle passes. Carry on. Keep your chin up.
Today I don’t want to lift my head, square my chin, and move forward.
I want to stop, mourning the loss of life and the insanity of it all.
If you pray, pray; if you cry, cry; if you dance, dance.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Life is a journey, not a destination” and so it has been for me with loss and healing, more of a way I travel than a place I ever expect to arrive.
If you are a mother who knows the grief of losing a child or the dream of one to infertility, miscarriage, still birth or early infant loss; if you see your experiences as significant; if you feel that you are on a spiritual journey and that healing is more a way to travel than a place one arrives, I am writing this to you.
First, let me say, I am sorry. Ours is a group I wish no mother belonged to and yet here we are, together.
I know the pain of repeat miscarriage. I know the healing journey it has set me upon and I am writing about my experiences for other women that know grief, that in their loss they may feel less alone.
If you believe our lives are best when they are shared, please join in Project Share. Will you add *you* to the book I am writing?
This is a picture of what I hope this book will look like one day soon. I have written to the artist, Monica Sabolla Gruppo, who created this beautiful handmade journal to tell her how much I love it and she has given me her blessing to post it here. It’s been an inspiration. This is what my book looks like in my heart even now as I am writing it.
One day soon this project will result in something tangible we can put our hands around. Something to be written in, to be shared with another mother who is having to say goodbye too soon. Here’s how you can be a part of it too.
To participate in Project Share: simply make some time to sit and reflect back on your journey. I have written a short list of questions for you to reflect on below. After you have had time to sit with them, write your thoughts down and send them to me. I am honored to be on the receiving end of these sacred stories.
Please send your reflections as follows:
1) Via email to tuckersuzanne(@)sbcglobal(dot)net, subject “Project Share”
2) Copy and paste your original piece into the body of the e-mail. No attachments please.
3) Please include your name, your baby’s name, type of loss, and a blog URL if applicable.
4) All submissions may be edited for clarity.
5) Submissions due by 12/31/12
6) I will write a thank you to each participant, mentioning you by your full name, first name alone or “pen-name” in the book’s foreword so please note how I might best thank you in your email.
By submitting your reflections, you are giving me permission to publish the entirety or portions of your submission in electronic (web-based and eBook format) or print publication. Introspection and gratitude are this project’s sole compensation and you retain all writes to your written reflections.
Here is a beautiful example from a mom who posted her reflections to her blog. Your responses may be a word, sentence or many paragraphs long. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no right or wrong way to participate in this project. Here are the questions.
In your experiences with miscarriage: What happened? How did you feel? How did you grieve? How did those around you feel and grieve? How did your experiences affect you spiritually? What was your greatest challenge with miscarriage? What, if any, was your greatest gift or life lesson?
I will hold you in my heart as I read the responses you send me. Some of your experiences will be directly quoted in the book while others will influence my writing in ways I can’t even begin to know or express here in words, but if you participate, you will influence this book.
Blessings to you on your journey and thank you for being a part of this project by mothers who know grief for mothers who know grief. Together may we share our lives that another mother’s heart finds comfort and peace.
I believe that when we follow our bliss, anything is possible. If you know what it is to lose a child, be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss, I hope you walk with me and other moms that have lost a child, because this journey we’re on is better when we are holding hands.
With enough mommy wisdom in the spotlight (for even just a day) I am fairly certain we can change the world. And that is just exactly what we are going to do.
Along with our future cast, our St. Louis Listen To Your Mother team of Co-directors and Producers are excited to announce, with your support we will be putting motherhood center-stage come May 2013.
Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day. For the past three years LTYM performances have been organized by local communities for local communities and they have a vast body of motherhood wisdom to show for it.
With over 200 video readings about motherhood on their YouTube channel and growing, LTYM is artfully and heart-fully capturing the truth, wisdom and wet-your-pants funny moments we all know and love as moms. This movement is making a difference for families one community at a time, raising funds for local charities and bringing people together to share their lives.
After seeing a few LTYM videos online and learning about the founder, Ann Imig, I knew I wanted to be involved. Ann and all the many other talented people that have made this movement a reality described in a single word? It would have to be: ROCK.
This movement. These women. They are the stuff of My Mommy Manual. Moms connecting. Truth telling. Sharing stories. I am so in love.
When we share our life’s stories from the heart, our stories come with magic sprinkles. Little yummy, brightly-colored, sweet truths. These magic sprinkles have the power to bring us together. To make things better. They have the power to change the world. Magic sprinkles. That is what this event is all about.
Our St. Louis production promises to take you on a WILD ride. My sistas in planning this crazy fun, Ellie Grossman, Laura Edwards and Naomi Francis are talented and equally passionate about this project. You will get to know them better in the months to come as surely I will be sharing stories with you from our production journey, because sharing stories is what we do.
So get involved. Sign up when audition time nears in February/March. If you are far from St. Louis (as many of you are) check here for a performance near you and if there isn’t one, make one happen in 2014!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN y’all.
CONNECT IN THE KITCHEN
Halloween. It’s a big deal when you are a kid. Plans for what to dress up as can begin as early as July…
Here are three super easy ideas that don’t take a lot of supplies, talent OR time and are SURE to be a hit with your kids no matter their age – tots to teens.
Watermelon BRAIN: Just a small watermelon, a potato peeler and a knife will get you this good looking center piece!
Bread Stick Roll BONES: My kids had a blast making these femur bones and ribs out of a roll of bread stick dough. They ate ‘em up with a side of butter cinnamon sugar to dip them in. Get creative and make your own shapes!
Scary HAND Veggie Dip: Just cream cheese “glue” almond slices onto the ends of five finger-looking (peeled and ends cut off) carrots, then stick ‘em in a bowl of dip and you’ve got a spoooookie treat. Your kids will want to eat even their GREEN veggies with this one. (for the picture, check the video above.)
How to Bake Pumpkin Seeds