spoudazo

a blog about daughters in crisis and the moms who love them

Archive for the tag “parenting”

Moms Have Triggers Too

 

you never leave my heartWe know that people with life-consuming issues deal with certain thought paths or things in their surroundings that “trigger” impulses. Impulses lead to choices, and choices lead to decisions. Decisions. Well, they sometimes lead to dire consequences. Attaching the words “Trigger Warning” to graphic photos or videos of the effects of self-injury is an all-too-common way of backhandedly glorifying the behavior. It’s gore for gore’s sake.

Worrying about someone’s triggers going off is no fun either. In fact, the dance between cutters and the ones who love them is one that requires a great deal of relationship savvy. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a “walking on eggshells” scenario where the cutter holds more sway over everyone else’s behavior than is warranted. After all, who wants to be blamed as the reason for a new wound?

Less is said, though, about what happens to a mom’s emotional well-being or anxiety levels while living with a child whose triggers lead her/him to make heart-wrenching, self-destructive decisions. Since Mother’s Day is near, today seems like a good day to bring it up.

Moms have triggers too.

Sometimes it’s hard to reflect on how I became conditioned to a state of low-to-medium-grade anxiety, a “waiting for the other shoe to drop” sense of always-on vigilance. At best, it was distracting. At worst, paralyzing. If I could have stopped every risk from coming along, I would have.

Suffering can be as painful to witness as it is to endure. But I can’t be everywhere at once, can’t make the world stop spinning to get between my child and what might happen. Sometimes it’s misguided to try. Accepting this makes all the difference.

Still, although it’s been a couple of years since anything major has arisen at our house, I notice that when any of my kids has an emotional setback I feel triggered to jump back into Night Watchman mode and brace myself for the worst.

We’ve come a long way. But healing takes time. Recognizing what’s happening in my head and walking through the discomfort to find my peace again is part of the process.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms everywhere. If you are living with a daughter in crisis, my heart is especially with you. Don’t give up and don’t stop reaching out for help when you need it.

Mère et enfant sur fond vert

I love Mary Cassatt’s work. This one hangs in the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, which is probably my favorite art museum in the world (#2 would be the Uffizi in Florence). I’m looking at it with new eyes today as my daughter is preparing to leave for an out-of-state college, migrating from our family’s little nest. I’m going to miss her. In a certain part of my heart, our portrait will always look like this pair. The rest of my heart will go ahead and adapt to the fact that she’s 18 and transitioning into womanhood. I think that’s just how it goes with moms…

Dil·i·gence

Living Routes - Study Abroad in EcovillagesI’m doubtful that Generation X will earn a label as wonderful as the “greatest generation.” I could write for days about why I think this, but my reasons and the layers of what they imply are too dense and numerous to address in one post.

I have a single focus today:  Our kids deserve better than to have us give up too quickly and easily on the parenting front in the face of confusion or adversity.

The generation we are raising is growing up in a world far more complex and difficult to navigate than the one we grew up in. I’m far from the first to say it. The sheer volume of information (good and bad) and imagery (again, good and bad) that the average pre-teen or teen has access to every day would surely cause an ancient Athenian to sit down and ponder for magnitude. The education most of them get fails to equip them with the analytical and moral skills needed to sort through this morass of information and arrive at healthy, functional, wise conclusions.  Many of them end up making bad decisions which can quickly escalate to gravely consequential ones.

Every day, I see parents who not only lack awareness of the types of information their kids possess but also the will to look at it and do something about it.

Think of any slice of the spectrum of things a kid encounters every day — peers, worldviews, politics, commerce, sex, drugs, music, books, movies, games, the Internet, diet, sports — each of those things can influence them in any number of ways. As parents and in-house leaders, there is much we can do to help them find their way. Sometimes this involves much time and effort.

This thought brings me to the word this blog owes its title to — diligence (spoudazo in Greek). Diligence requires balance and it requires commitment. Then there’s selflessness. Oh, and a strong work ethic.

A farmer who lives in an area of the world where there is only one growing season followed by harvest time and then a harsh winter understands that he has to work very hard and consistently to ensure that he produces enough food to sustain his family for the entire year.

A surfer dude who lives in a part of the world where it’s warm all the time and where fruit grows on the trees he passes every day on his way to the beach has no such concerns.

A child’s growing season is 18 years long. The years between 18 and 25 are the time to harvest what has been sown. The full responsibility of adulthood can turn into a brutal winter filled with blizzards and ice storms that don’t always pass by quickly.  Diligent families will enjoy offspring with full storehouses of internalized values and resources to sustain them.

We can’t be surfer dudes as parents and expect that great fruit will somehow just drop from our children’s lives. We can’t stay so wrapped up in work or our own interests and pursuits that we neglect cultivating open lines of communication, trust, respect, responsibility, and genuine love in our homes. That stuff sounds hard. It is hard. We can’t afford laziness.

A Forbes article I just read quoted writer Elizabeth Kolbert, who is “convinced our slacker parenting skills are a reflection of a chronic laziness in our society, a sort of generalized sense of no-can-do. We’ve let everything from banking regulations to public school funding slide, why should it be different on the home front? ‘A lack of discipline is apparent these days in just about every area of American society,’ she writes, a point with which it is really, really hard to quibble.”

I have some lazy tendencies. I’m learning to overcome them, and the payoff has been greater than I could have expected.

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