Father’s Day Family Myths and Mysteries

English: A grandfather teaching his little gra...

Simmering, Vienna, Austria, June 2006. Photo by KF. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughters’ paternal family has a very interesting story.  On one side their great-great grandfather shared a name with a South American dictator.  The strange thing about the story however is that he just disappeared one day and was never heard of again, when his son was a child.  He had either one or two children, I’m not completely sure.  Of course he may have had more than that by another woman.

On the other side their great-great grandfather didn’t come into his daughter’s life until after her step-dad died.  At which point he got together with her mother again and they married in their 80’s. He only had one daughter.  They were all Germans who continued to speak the language and grew up on farms.  Unfortunately for this father/grandfather no one is really very fond of him.  He missed out on a lot of his daughter’s life and yet she is in charge of taking care of him now.   She plainly shares that she doesn’t feel very close to him.

On my maternal side Grandaddy…my great-grandfather, was almost a mythical creature to me.  He had 14(or so) children and he died when I was two.  Those who knew him better talk about him with reverence and mystery.  He was beloved.

All of his male children were also great, responsible fathers.  One of his sons was even a foster parent who adopted many of the children he fostered.  Another of his sons (one named after him) had as many (or more) children, except by different women.

My grandfathers are two guys that I’ve only seen a handful of times.   My maternal grandfather was in the hospital a few years ago and called upon my grandmother, who works in the hospital.   Why is he calling now?  Was the question she asked.  He was married with several children from several women and really couldn’t be bothered to keep up with his children or grandchildren, even in adulthood.

My dad is a lot better.  He has tried to keep in touch with me, and he’s seen my daughters several times.  We have had our rough patches, but it was mostly in building closeness in my younger years, and now there is a great sense of comfort.  I spent many summers with him as a child and then in middle school I stayed a year and a half.  That ended badly and I didn’t see him for awhile but I spent a year and half in high school as well.

If there ever comes a time when my dad needs me, I don’t think I’ll have a problem helping him out.  Even if just to lend him an ear or some comfort.  He is honest with me and he listens and reaches out and that is all that matters.  He has also helped me out with money and plane tickets at times, but what really creates a strong relationship is the emotional response that we share.

Now that I am not with my daughters’ father anymore I think about this a lot.  What will it mean to them and what will it mean to him?  The biological men in his family have all abandoned their children, (though a few came back later) and he doesn’t feel very close to his step-dad.

I think about a lot of fathers out there who don’t even know what their kids look like and what they’re really missing out on, by avoiding their role as a father.  All you really need to do is try and you will build a relationship with your children, no matter what you do.  As long as you keep putting in the work to connect emotionally to your children, be honest, be supportive, it will pay off in the long run.  Being a dad is not about paying child support, or giving your children gifts.  Some parents are there with their children everyday and they are still emotionally abandoned.  Don’t do that.

Reach out to your kids with honesty or you’ll become another family myth or mystery.

One Year Ago Today I Committed To Me…

It would’ve been my 7 year anniversary of being with my former mate. Last year, this time, though we were still together, something really changed in me. I can’t say exactly what it was, but I have the distinct memory of thinking “I’m going to commit to this blog thing and see where it takes me”.

And I did.

I haven’t been 100% consistent…hellz no, not at all.

But I’ve tried… I’ve challenged myself…I’ve connected to some of you…I figured some things out…

I figured that things I couldn’t blog about I probably shouldn’t be about.

I mean at my deepest. I’m a writer. Since I was a tiny one, with neon colored Lisa Frank notebooks, I’ve written and written and written.

The other thing about me…I LOVE sharing my shit! I laugh at myself and share my struggles and insights and I’m rarely embarrassed or ashamed. That is my nature…I mean, I never felt like my life was private. I always felt that it was public. I always felt the buzz of the internet, long before I knew what it was. (universal consciousness and all) I also felt the buzz of the ancestars and have felt a connection to the future as well, as if I have always been living for them… I’m going back to that Aniweda Dream ya’ll…the one I met in childhood.  I guess you could call it TRIBE.

Magyar: Forrás: http://www.bukhara-carpets.com...

Magyar: Forrás: http://www.bukhara-carpets.com/img/yurt/DSCN5853.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m one of those introverted people written about at the http://www.carlkingdom.com/10-myths-about-introverts. I need to talk to people about real shit, and share scars and wounds and ecstatic goofiness and geekiness as well.  I need to feel deeply accepted and trusted.  I like to connect deeply…too deeply for lots of people.  I’m intense I’ve been told.

Anyway, time has been a thread for me…I never felt like “old people” were old, or the turn of the century was a long time ago, or a disconnect from the beginning of time. What I’m trying to explain is that I’ve never felt like anything ends, everything is a part of the same story. That’s why I can’t check those cute little boxes on government forms. I am…I am…I am…

Me. And when these little questions started popping up for me, about what I could write about…which parts of me I couldn’t share, I started wondering if maybe these parts of me, weren’t. To quote J.Lo(;)) “I’m Real”… and I was connecting myself with beliefs and conditions that were false.

There’s a reason that catch-phrase persisted. It is all too easy to attach to, claim and blend into the falsehood. It could be because of persuasion, trauma, embarrassment, confusion, loneliness, even excitement. It could be something that slowly sank into you or something that you spontaneously swerved into. It could be something you can’t pinpoint, haven’t even noticed, can’t escape or don’t dare to acknowledge.

I don’t know what it is(or was) for you. But I can practically guarantee everyone will or has (and probably at many points) head in a direction of being who they are not. For me it was a bipolar tug-of-war. I was constantly pulling myself out of the pit, building myself back up and carrying on, only to be pulled back in, over and over again. Finally, I realized I needed to untie myself from the ropes.

Fire Ropes

Fire Ropes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blog helped me to do that. Not with the things I published, not really even with my famous backlog of drafts. It was in the things that I struggled to even write, that I struggled to even wrap my head around how to write or if I could. These things gave me the impetus to write what I could, make connections, learn from other bloggers, and commit to me, the real me.

I am grateful for all the readers, bloggers, businesses and supporters who helped me stick with this, and finally define my vision. I had a dream, when I first started this blog. But when I started this blog, that vision was a barely flickering flame lit in a closet that I was afraid to open. I knew it was a part of me, I knew it was my soul in there, but so much death in my life was fearing me away from it, telling me I couldn’t have it, telling me to be someone else. But I gave hope to that vision, I protected it’s source, I fed that flame, and it has grown into a blazing inferno, just like it was when I lived it many years ago.  But now… it is ALL MINE! (mwahahaha)  To have and to hold and to never lose sight of again.

That’s what community and commitment are for.  Setting up that foundation for reality to expand and still fit in where it started.  (Don’t forget where you came from, ya’ll.  It’s your key to getting back to you.  Your heart…your real home.)

My partner’s grandmother said something to me before I left.  Okay she said a lot of things and I have an awesome draft about it, that I’ll publish someday, but she said “I felt the same way about my first love.”  It dawned on me…damn.  I never thought of it as my first love.  It was intense and I thought it was forever, but now I see why I needed those years to know my capacity to love.  Now I know.

How did your first romantic love teach you about yourself?  I’m mad curious, yo. ;)

Changing Our Everyday

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

***


I am challenging myself this month to become more mindful of my environment and the way I live day to day. I know my kids and I have made a big adjustment moving to the other side of the country recently and I want to be sure there is a feeling of comfort and that we are living efficiently enough to achieve our goals. Mainly things are out of place in our lives right now. There is no continuity in anything. I’m probably exaggerating there, but I really want there to be more of a routine, more for my kids(and myself) to depend on.

Right now, we don’t really know any other kids. There are some kids in the neighborhood, but when we go outside they’re going inside or they’re just too old for my kids to play with. It would be nice to have playdates or attend some kind of play-oriented class or program at the library.
We’re also struggling with space in my mom’s house. Our closet is filled up with my mom’s things. I tried to store our thing in containers, but there’s nowhere to put them that the kids can’t reach, and when they reach them they make a mess of everything. I’m constantly changing where our things go and it is because I haven’t come up with a sustainable system.

On that same topic, we don’t really have any clothes for warm weather. My mom has a ton of clothes she is holding onto that she can’t wear and I think it would be great to try to recycle her clothing rather than buy new clothes for myself and my daughters. I have a great little sewing machine that I left here years ago, and maybe it would do me some good to express to my mom my ideas about minimalism and non-consumerist values, which are coming into play between her and my oldest daughter.

Which brings me to my next goal; entertainment for my kids really needs to change. My mom and aunt recently bought my 4 year old Barbie dolls. They come with these little sheets of paper that have pictures of several other dolls in that series and my daughter whines non-stop about the other dolls she wants.

I know that despite my goals of showing her what is really important in life and that she doesn’t need these things, her environment will have a big effect on how she really feels about it. I need to engage her in new, creative and adventurous things. I don’t want her to fasten onto the idea of buying stuff, I want her to learn to create and appreciate what she has.

I think that keeping a schedule of activities to do regularly, field trips and surprise activities, and free play will help a lot. I also think I need to organize their toys better and put them into sections. I need to limit her to playing with a few things at a time, and take toys away when they become a problem, bringing them out later after the novelty has died down.

Lastly I really want to make the most of my time. This is a temporary situation, living with my mom again. I want to get memorable and transformational moments out of this. I don’t want to be passive aggressive and upset that things aren’t going my way and my parenting philosophies aren’t being accepted. I need to set an example.

Instead of being upset that the TV is on all the time, I need to set up a fun activity, engage my mom with the things we have in common, like scrapbooking, and get us all in a space to create, support and get to know each other better. I need to allow my kids to feel comfort in their surroundings and I need to feel like this is my home too, however temporary it may be, I need to allow myself to enjoy it, I need to grow while I am here and not feel stunted due to the change in household.

I have already started on this challenge by talking to my mom and my daughter about having a more active, creative lifestyle and I’m currently setting several alarms a day to make sure we stay on track, meet our goals and have planned activities. I think I’m on a path to really transforming as a parent, not just in this situation, but for the long-term. The perceived limitations I face here are making me stronger, more appreciative and more organized.

 

***

Mindful Mama Carnival -- Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #MindMaCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Mindful Mama Twitter List and Mindful Mama Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

Go Boldly (Back Home)…

The bustling US economy, the culture of nuclear family, the tradition of emotionally stable men in this country have all culminated in a sudden bombardment with my past(and my sarcasm)…in reliving it, with the addition of my two offspring in tow.

I am back “home”.  Living with my mom in the town I was born in and I am forced to address the same old issues I left in the dust of my college rebellion.

Truly, I don’t know how to address these issues, but I know what they led to when I didn’t address them in the past.  I’ve now started my own family, established my own culture and traditions and dreamed my own dreams of what I want and expect from life.  My family doesn’t seem to know that, however.

It is my fault of course.  I felt stifled by my family and left home without telling anyone…I guess you could say I ran away, but I was 21 years old.  I changed a lot about myself, things that I wanted to change before but felt powerless to actually achieve.  I learned tons of things I’d never thought about(most of which this blog focuses on) and I disconnected myself or distanced myself from my past.  I’d always felt very pressured to be a certain way in my family and I felt like it was easier to just deny my personal desires than to face the fire of resistance to my goals and plans.

I started changing some things about myself in college.  Internally I’d been very protective of “me” and keeping my uniqueness intact, but externally I hid behind normalcy.  Then I started dressing the way I’d always wanted to, stopped straightening my hair(with more resistance than I expected) and changing my diet to vegetarian, then vegan fare.  I also started hanging out with people more compatible to me and stopped hanging out with those I was “supposed to” hang out with.  When I eventually left, it really allowed me to spread my wings and stop feeling the pressure to please my family, but I should have known that changing myself would not change my relationships.

It has been 7 or 8  years since I’ve been my “normal self” but a few weeks ago my mom suggested I go back to college(I tried not to be shocked or offended by this).  My education and experience means nothing to her and I doubt that she even knows what I’ve studied.  She also obviously knows nothing about my learning style and how I feel about unschooling.  She insulted my natural hair and in fact all natural hair in women of African heritage, she’s constantly attacking the quantity of food I and my daughters eat and I have been immobilized in my shock at these reactions.  Too confused to think of an appropriate response.  This is our tradition going back to my teenage years, if not earlier.

I know that my family has taken the traditional path, while I have gone off on some strange, unforeseeable tangents they don’t understand.  I’m not surprised there is concern about what I’m doing, why I’m here and what my plans are.  I am surprised, however at the negativity and fear-conditioning.

Without a college education you can’t get by in the world.  This is what is taught in most schools in this country and what is perpetuated by the mainstream media.  I’m actually very excited and pleased with my personal education and most of it came after I quit college.  I’ve done many different types of formal training courses, as well as researching a lot myself and I’ve volunteered and worked in many different capacities.  I have a wealth of experience and a true confidence, love and clarity about what I want to do and how to succeed at it.  Unfortunately, I still have this people pleasing gene and I crave approval.  I want someone to say to me that they believe in me, and I don’t want just lip-service.

Anyway, being home is tough.  I became fiercely independent after leaving and very opinionated and exact about certain preferences that I feel are important to my mental health and sense of fulfillment in life.  I know that I need to be here right now and I’m trying to find every fraction of hope, opportunity and healing I can touch, mold and polish the cracks in my past with.  When I leave here I want to have made a difference in my own life.  I want to have finally learned my lesson on how to communicate with my family and remain boldly, positively me…I want to have closer relationships based on respect and genuine interest and connectedness to each others journeys.  I want to understand and manifest an idea of home that lasts, that nourishes me and that enables me to always be responsible, prepared and complete in myself, no matter where I am.

Sometimes I want to bolt.  I want to run away again.  I want to cry and say I can’t do this…I want to find somewhere to be where I don’t have to depend on anyone, or ask for help or check in with anyone.  But if I do that eventually, I’ll have to come back to this same place of adolescent pain.  There are many reasons for an adult to go back to their parents home.  It will likely be difficult to adjust to the change, but I think that if your journey leads you there you should gratefully accept your mission and go boldly where you haven’t gone before.  It may be a small corner or a basement or an attic of unresolved issues, it may be a mantle or altar or garden of opportunity, it may be both… go boldly back home and make it work for you…the future of your family deserves the transformation that comes when old wounds are redressed and foundations are rebuilt.

Have you gone back home or do you have children or other family returning home?  How are you adjusting and what would you like to address during the time of transition?  Do you have any advice for others returning to or welcoming home adult children?