The Power of Being Seen

I told my stepson this summer that I was going to start giving him more attention for things he does that we APPRECIATE. Now, when you read that you may think that we must be a couple of strict, picky, parents. We’re not. But especially with two separate households, the kids can pick up on a lot of habits that wouldn’t be my choice. ahah I’m laughing to myself as I read this. No doubt in my mind that I’ve viewed ‘my choices’ for their lives as the ‘best choice.’

Anyway, I noticed over the summer that he was used to getting more attention for being disruptive, impatient, zoning out, and not following through. I think it sort of became a habit for us to notice and point out those things, so of course it only kept him bringing those attributes on even stronger. I suddenly saw it all for the first time, and made a promise that from now on we were going to notice all the wonderful loving things he does instead.

I may have already written about this, I don’t remember. I haven’t read back on my past blog posts. If I did, bear with me, this leads into where I’m actually headed. ahhah

Back to the story: He was surprised, and could hardly make eye contact when I started complimenting him so often. And I gotta admit, it wasn’t easy at first. I found little things and mentioned them to him. I said things like, ‘Wow, I appreciate that you moved out of the way when that person was walking right in front of you. That shows how aware you are…’ or ‘I’m grateful that you let me see what you’re working on. I love that you want to share things that are important to you.’

After about a day of this, he started to change. A little at a time he began showing up differently. He started using the manners I had asked him to use, he began putting his napkin on his lap in a restaurant, he even brought us kind little gifts that showed he was thinking of us.

He is one week away from starting at his new school, and has already began his computer programming classes, and he has transformed. I feel like I’m getting to know this precious being for the first time. For the past week, as we are putting him to bed, he looks up at me and says, ‘So what was your favorite part of the day for you?’ and ‘What are you most looking forward to?’ He’s courteous and playful and silly and happy and sharing his feelings. Last night I sat on the couch wrapped in my robe with his little head resting on my shoulder. He kept reaching for my hand to hold. I had no idea this little guy was so loving, so kind, so generous and thoughtful.

Isn’t it funny? We always assume that when a kid is ‘acting out,’ they need to learn to be BETTER to be DIFFERENT. But what if we just need to see them more clearly? Because when he’s getting his needs met, he WANTS to be kind, and helpful, and even patient.

Even beyond him, I’m loving the transformation with me. He’s only responding to the changes I’ve decided to make, and it’s completely transforming the way he sees the world and the way I see him.

Ahhhh! Love this parenting thingy.

My Life as a Bonus Mom

This all used to be really hard. In my head, these two little beings already had a mom and a dad and I was this new person swimming somewhere in the middle of everything. I didn’t know what I was doing and constantly felt like I didn’t have a place.

For so long I did not see myself as a mother. I felt like more like an imposter, a projected image of what I thought I should be and yet having no clue at all. I also felt that they would never love me as much as their ‘real parents.’

I was embarrassed that ‘real’ parents would see me as a fake mom or that I just couldn’t possibly understand what it means to be someone’s mother.

But I held on.
I breathed.
I asked for help.
I believed deep inside that this must be for a reason. I must be here for a reason.

And then, fast forward 5+ years and here I sit a completely changed woman.

Without a doubt, I have become a mother.

I have rocked both of them when they have been in tears.
I tell them no, respectfully.
We have worked through some really really tough situations together.
Sometimes I have to remember to be kind.
They roll their eyes when I sing 80’s ballads at the top of my lungs.
There are moments when they are upset and needing to hear something that will help. I open my mouth and pray that I will show up.
I fiercely stand up for them.
I am learning to be more patient.
I hold their hands and remind them I will always love them no matter what.
I teach them consciously but they teach me unconsciously far, far more.
My intention is to truly see them as best as I can. And when I’ve done that, I will learn how to see them even better.

I had no idea I had what it took to be a mother and yet here I am. And you know what? It doesn’t matter at all anymore that they already have a mom. Who says one mother is enough anyway?

Every single day, hard days or easy, I thank the Universe and God for this family. My ‘place’ had been waiting for me all along, and there is no ‘place’ in the world I would rather be.

SOUL

Ah! I’m back! 2 vacations, so much change personally, and now here I am. It feels like a lifetime ago that I actually sat down to WRITE. There is so many cool leanings and inspirations and aha moments that I WANT to jot down here, but I need to remember to chill out. I don’t need to do it all in one day. I’ve got time. As long as I’m being dedicated and diligent, there is always time. So… what do I write about first?

*******DRUMROLL*****

Ooooo! I know! This is something that I have AVOIDED writing about on this blog. It just wasn’t the right time to open up freely about it. See, that’s another lesson I’ve learned.

Even when I’m excited about something, that doesn’t mean it’s the right time, space, or place to talk about it. HA! Sounds like such a simple realization but it’s huge. I’m usually bursting like a volcano with news, so it takes a lot to HOLD BACK. Which is exactly what I’ve done.

I haven’t written much about my step kids. I don’t know why exactly, but here goes. My step son is this amazing techie kid that has this incredible brain for computers. However the PUBLIC schools he’s been in have not been helpful. He doesn’t learn by sitting still and taking notes. I can’t stand that they keep trying to get him to comply, to be more like him, to learn in the ways that they teach. I’ve known public school wasn’t working for him for awhile, and it’s been devastating to watch him time and time again struggle not only with the work in school but seeing his self worth take such a toll as well.

If he were my SON (my actually son son) I would have changed his school years ago, but because he’s not exactly, I had felt like my voice just didn’t have a chance. Two years ago my husband and I attempted to move him into a different school, but his mother wouldn’t have it. I was broken-hearted. I had done so much work on finding an environment that would (hopefully) work better for him. But she flat out refused. It took me a long time to work through that.

Fast forward to this year. We went at things very differently. My hubby and I have both changed in so many ways, and one of them has been to become much more firm in what we believe. But be able to do it in a loving, kind way. We were able to have a conversation with my son’s mom, and she finally HEARD. I can’t believe she finally got it, after all these years! And the funny thing is, is that we had thought SHE was the problem. In reality, we were all involved in the dynamic. It’s taken us growing into who we are to be able to stand strong, that provided the foundation for her to say ‘Okay lets move him.’

After 4 months of meditation and prayers and research and phone calls, and many many many school visits, I was constantly wavering between anxiety, and stress and fear that she would change her mind or that we wouldn’t find the right school and he’d have to just go back to where he was last year. I put a lot on my shoulders, probably more than I should. It felt very personal to me because I had also felt misunderstood in my time in school. So I think little Jackie was getting a chance to possibly be healed as well.

But then, in the middle of all of it, a miracle happened.

We got a small lead of a new school opening up called SOUL Charter School. It was like a little crack in a window pane, something I could have ignored, but I didn’t. Instead, I thought, ‘What the heck, what do we have to lose? Lets check it out. With a name like SOUL, this has to at least be interesting.’
So I brought up the website.

All at once I saw in front of me exactly what my hubby and I had STATED we wanted for our son. There it was plain as day. Ah!!! And! They were ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR 7TH GRADE. Just like that it was there in front of us, just what we wanted. So I filled out the application right away and crossed my fingers.

After attending the parent meeting and talking to the co-founders, we were both buzzing. The schools intention is to focus not only on teaching academics, but also on EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, SOCIAL SKILLS, AND PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT. They even have courses on becoming an ENTREPRENEUR. Woa. What if school doesn’t need to be a horrible place where everyone feels mistreated and misunderstood? What if it can inspire the joy of learning and teach inclusion and taking risks and that we all have unique talents? This is what the founders talked about! Ah!

This was it. We both knew it, but we had one more hurdle. The ex-wife needed to be on board. Besides the fact that I was completely bursting at the seams with so much joy, I had to keep it under rap. I had to keep it logical. So my hubby and I wrote up straight information for his ex-wife. I actually left out my emotion, can you believe it? ahahhaha It was a really hard exercise. We wrote it up and sent it off.

I felt sick and scared and a little hopeful. Well, a lot hopeful but that was only from the constant meditations and feeling that we had the Universe on our side.

Anyway, we were visualizing her wanting this school. We were visualizing and feeling how nice it would be to have some ease where we weren’t convincing her of anything.

And then it happened. She said, “I think SOUL is the way to go. Can we get him into that one?”

I can’t even describe the feelings I had when my husband told me those words. I just cried. All this time and energy and years and pain and knowing without a doubt that something needed to done, all of it FINALLY PAID OFF. We will now be able to do this.

I don’t think it’s sunk in even yet. I feel so so so very honored and grateful for this opportunity to be involved in a new school with an entirely different message and focus. To have a curriculum that can be tweaked for every student with teachers that genuinely want kids to love learning. And we get to do this, together. I have so much respect for my sons mom, that she trusted us enough to do the research and that she’s willing to give up control and take a risk. Because anything that we don’t have all the answers to is a risk.

So I just have to say this: If anyone in your family lives in the San Diego area and is struggling in a regular public school, and you don’t know where to turn, please check this out. The school is starting with 7th and 9th grade, but each year they will be adding a grade, so it’ll ultimately be a 7th-12th grade school. There is still space available! Ah!! There are still parent nights and space for your kids. I think we owe it to them to have a place where they feel celebrated and validated and want to learn more about themselves and the world.

Here is the website below if you’re interested:

http://soulcharterschool.org/
https://www.facebook.com/soulcharterschool/

 

Woa I’m back

Oh my gosh I can’t believe it’s been 11 days since I’ve written! Sooo crazy.

In the past, I would have gotten really angry at myself for not sticking to what I PROMISED I WOULD,..┬ábut now it’s a different story. It’s more like, uh okay, it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog, that’s okay. I’ve been doing other things that have been equally important. I can get right back into it!

Sometimes life is a bit crazy and unexpected, and I’m learning how to go with the flow and not judge myself the way I used to. I want my life to be full of experiences and adventures, and in order for that to happen, I have to be open to the unexpected!

About a week and a 1/2 ago, my siblings and I, and my hubby and step kids all came down to Utah to surprise my mother for her 60th birthday. She had thought we were all just too busy to be with her! Ahhh!! It was soooooooooooooooo hard to keep it a secret. In fact, I so wanted to write about it on here, but there was a CHANCE that she’d read it. Ha! That would have been bad.

Anyway, we all arrived at the school my mother teaches at around 1pm. Oh my gosh all of us were so excited, we could barely hold still. My stomach was jumping all over the place. Ahhahaseriasdfvcni!!!!!!!

We managed to find someone in the office to video tape her. I am really glad we did. My brother suggested it, and it turned out to be the best idea ever. Usually I get too excited for stuff like this and just go for it, forgetting to have it recorded.

Anyway, the weather was FREEZING. It was seriously SNOWING the last week of April, so we were all huddled together in the car before walking to her portable classroom for the surprise. hahah So funny and unexpected.

The entire weekend turned out to be amazing. My mother was so surprised to see all of us, and absolutely shocked to see Tyson, my brother who flew all the way over from Germany. We gave her 30 minutes to pack and then took her to Park City for an overnight trip.

I think one of the reasons that the weekend was so awesome, was the fact that my hubby and I decided that we didn’t need it to LOOK LIKE ANYTHING. In the past, I would have gotten so wrapped up in what I THOUGHT IT SHOULD BE, that I would have been stressed out making sure it was perfect. Wow. It was so much easier to be IN THE MOMENT knowing that it was going to move whatever way it needed to. We were all engaged, and we went with the flow.

Another reason I think it was so good, was because we worked out our intentions for the trip. It’s so easy to get caught up in the details of a vacation, or a birthday, or a surprise, that we can forget WHY we are even doing it. So I made sure that the whole time we were together, I was remembering my intention for being there in the first place.

To celebrate my mother.

Whatever that meant in the moment, was what I wanted to do.

For me, having the intention broad enough was helpful so I didn’t feel limited. I wasn’t needing anyone to FEEL anything. I didn’t need to ACCOMPLISH anything. I was just going to be in a place of love and celebration, and hopefully that would be easily felt. We all ended up having fun and feeling so much joy! It was seriously one of the best memories of all of us together.

This reminded me that I can do this sort of thing more often! I can set my intentions, and then practice being in the moment, allowing life to unravel the way it needs to. I felt more myself, and felt like there was space for me to just BE ME!

Ahhhh! So happy to be back on the blog!

xo

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