The balad of maternal dependency. Just in case I tell you again how to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of parenting.

This post was originally published during the national poetry month and I suspect it might have been buried by the avalanche of poems that were published at that time. Since I am quite fond of this post I would not like it to end like that. So just in case you missed it, here it is!

3

Illustration: Patricia Fitti

My baby boy won’t eat.

My baby girl doesn’t speak.

My baby boy won’t listen.

My baby girl doesn’t sleep.

And I , oh I , I cook for him so many things.

And I , oh I , I speak to her so many words.

And I , oh I , I explain to him so many times.

And I, alas, I’m lost in an infinite and infernal exhaustion deprived of sleep“.

(sing this playing a little guitar , using a trembling voice, in the sweet and soulful style of Violeta Parra. Repeat as many times as you like or continue reading, there may be alternatives).

I wanted to write this for a long time. As I told you, I do not like confrontation, but today I am not being myself: I got up at 4 am , I showered , I meditated the best I could – I’m not good at it – then I had breakfast , I promoted my free play seminar and reactivated our family business twitter account wondering how is that they suspended me if I opened it yesterday… evidently I can make things wrong from the very beginning.

While all this is going on, my family is still asleep (it’s not even 6 AM).

So I have free time and no one to care for. I do not like that, it makes me nervous.

Since I became a mother most of my attention is directed towards my children. When I got married I focused a lot on my husband. Since I completed college I’ve been attentive to social welfare. And when I was a teenager, ah, I was focused on pairing my thin, rebel and busty friends who excelled me on every aspect getting boyfriends (I never managed)…

Before that, ah… before that I was focused on myself. On my dolls game, on putting up a classroom in my bedroom where I taught naughty and imaginary children, on my rollers and the long balcony of my childhood home hanging above the forest and the lake, on horses, on the morning when I opened the curtains and the whole world was white, white, and only an immense silence covered the ground with snow.

Such an immense silence, so beautiful and deep as meditation. A real one.

When I was a little girl I focused on my selfsame axis. I was myself, ample and self-complacent. Nothing lacked me. Well, I exaggerate. I often lacked a milk tooth and I was so shy that I refused to smile in public because I was acutely aware of its absence (for that reason I lost a casting my mother wanted me to perform, blessed be my destiny). But other than that, I lacked nothing.

The boy, the girl mentioned in the ballad don’t need anything either. They are perfect as they are, a complete, sufficient and full Self.

But we moms have forgotten our own axis, our focus, we depend on whom we can. No one is better than our own child to fulfill our need. And so, depending on them, we teach them to depend.

Oh, is not easy for me to say this…

I breathe …

I infuse myself with courage …

I strive to return to my center, to my true self…

I continue.

Children do not do anything “against us”.

They do not eat because they have a good reason not to. They do not speak (yet), would not listen (never), do not sleep (not even in dreams!), because we have been doing all those things for them. We have not given them enough space, time and respect to learn to do it for themselves.

We control the food we serve on his plate, the amount to be eaten and what will go to his mouths in every bite. Because we do it all for him.

We control the words she says, how many are they, and run to check the correspondence with the number of words she should be saying at by her age (by 18 months they must speak 15 words, really??? ) .

We control his time, we bounce into his motor skills explorations, into his watchful eye , into his hands and games. Without even a warning we interrupt him, lift him without previous notice. We decide how, what, why and when he plays.

Then children have a tantrum… they rebel maybe? And yes, they would not listen. Because they haven’t learned to depend, not yet, not entirely. They still have so much, much focus on their own self. What we tell them not to do, they do it, again and again . And if they observe that this procedure creates in us a show of anger and rebuke, even if they suffer they won’t doubt in pressing one more time the red button of our vulnerability.

“Aha… How interesting was mom’s reaction when I did this … let me see … I’ll do it one more time and will observe if she does it again”. They say all of this in their own language, without using words, driven by the immense desire to understand human bonds through us, their moms. Their deep interest in decoding and comprehending human relationships is their priority and they go for it.

In this state of things the day passes by and we’re all tired. He, she, us. It is 7 PM, we have to complete a lot of household chores and we are all exhausted.

There is nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when we are exhausted. You have to get to sleep before that. Once depleted, a body that had no opportunity to get rest on time pulls out energy from vital reserves and injects a large dose of adrenaline to keep going (do not take it literal, it is a metaphor, although this may be what really happens from a chemical point of view). That’s what happens when we are sleepy at a party: suddenly we reawaken and we feel could go on and on, so we do it. The next day we pay the price for that extra demand on our body, we all know it. Imagine how it goes for you if you do that on a daily basis. Well, maybe you don’t need to imagine anything. Maybe it’s just what you get. But without the party part, only with the get-energy-from-where-there-is-none part, not getting any sleep at all and be already exhausted from dawn.

Feeling frustrated out of so much accumulated fatigue we take everything personal, we lose our temper with our kid and we cry along with him. We don’t know better.

Until one day we realize we cannot put up with it anymore and we get to read articles like this one and others that are surely better. We read and read and wonder when will the author finally offer us the keys to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of motherhood.

But we do not get the relieving answers we are looking for and even worse: we are made responsible for our fate.

Ok, ok, don’t despair. Just because you read all the way down here I will sing it for you:

There’s no child who does not want to eat, if eating is just eating and only that. If eating is a free act and only as much as he needs to feel satisfied.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I eat, how good am I at eating being so young!

There’s no child who does not speak enough, if speaking means communication and connection, and only that. If speaking is through the eyes, gestures, cries and smiles and when it is genuine. Then the girl realizes that she is being perfectly understood.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how well do I express myself, how good am I at expressing myself being so young!

There’s no child who rebels against limits, if they offer a safe boundary, a form of love that speaks to the heart and only that. Then accepting a limit means feeling a maternal embrace, firm and calm.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I respond, how good am I at accepting limits being so young!

No little girl wants to sleep. No baby boy wants to go to bed. Because sleep is a change of state, a transition and only that. But that’s just what the boy feels as a challenge, just that puts the girl on an alert.

If my mom accepts my efforts to learn how to navigate the changes, oh gee, and from the first moment in the day I can eat , express and accept by myself being respected, oh gee, I think it’s time for my mom to stop putting me to sleep, oh gee, to stop bouncing me, driving the car, moving the stroller, walking with me in her arms, rocking me in the cradle, putting me to the breast as if it were a sleeping pill, oh gee, it’s time for her to trust that I can also learn to sleep by myself , oh gee , in my own bed, oh gee, in my own bed, oh geeeeeeee!

(sing this using maracas, tambourines and gymnastics ribbons with pure art. If you get Raffi to sing along with you the chorus, even better).

Sometimes it takes us more than a baby to learn this.

But at some point appears a light at the end of the road , we wonder if we are dead but no, we are more alive than ever before. And if you are left wanting more details, oh gee, leave your comment bellow, because right now I have no more time. It’s 6:58 a.m, oh gee, and one after another three little lion cubs appear into the scene, three little cubs oh gee, and they call me, they call me: Mamaaaa!

 

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The hidden child. Let’s talk about autism to children. InNaPoWriMo Day 6.

Click here to get the full version of this beautifully illustrated poem for children in PDF for just $2.30. English & Spanish Bilingual e-book. Length 12 pages.

There’s no me. I’m not here. They are wondering…
Where is the boy?,
A thousand times they call a name that’s not mine.
I am hidden.
I am very good at staying still where I am.
There’s no me. I’m not here. They are searching…
Where is the boy?
They caress me a thousand times.
But I’m the furniture,
I’m the chair, the table, the living-room lamp.
soy un leon ahora si
© Illustration Patricia Fitti (Argentina)
There’s no me. I’m not here. They are asking…
Where is the boy?
They hug me a thousand times.
But I am a lion, a bird I am.
I run fast, fly high, I’m also very good at that.
cuadro

© Illustration Patricia Fitti (Argentina)

Now I am cold, I am sleepy.
My mother sings a name, a name she knows is mine.
Where is my mum?
When I leave my stash my mother is waiting for me.
We name each other, we cherish, we hug a thousand times.
My mother is right here, by my side.
© Fernanda Raiti for texts. fernandaraiti @ gmail . com
© Patricia Fitti for illustration. patriciafitti @ fibertel . com . ar

Get the beautifully  illustrated e-book bilingual version here for just $2.30

I never thought about amararama as a place where to sell anything. I still don’t do so (what I said in Mirror, oh mirror was just a joke).

But this amazing poetry week drove me back to a project that is very dear to my heart: to publish The Orders of Love for Children Collection. Based on Bert Hellinger’s highly inspiring vision, I wrote over 10 stories and poems that will help children to understand their family systems as a the best place where they can experience belonging, give and receive in balance and be recognized for whom they are and for their right to hold a proper place in their families. Some of these writings, as The Hidden Child, The Enormous Child and The Invisible Child offer a renewed and compassionate perspective about the interruption of the natural flow of love in a family system and how it can be restored through a healing vision and healing words.

Artist Patricia Fitti shared part of this dream and she illustrated The Hidden Child for me. Get the full version of this beautifully illustrated poem in PDF format here at Gumroad (a wonderful place where to sell your self published e-books, by the way). It will help you talking about autism to young children in a simple and effective way and you will be supporting independent writers and illustrators. It is an English & Spanish Bilingual Version and it is best viewed setting Adobe Reader‘s Page Display in Two Page View function.

Thank you!!

The balad of maternal dependency. How to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of parenting. (day 5)

3

Illustration: Patricia Fitti

My baby boy won’t eat.

My baby girl doesn’t speak.

My baby boy won’t listen.

My baby girl doesn’t sleep.

And I , oh I , I cook for him so many things.

And I , oh I , I speak to her so many words.

And I , oh I , I explain to him so many times.

And I, alas, I’m lost in an infinite and infernal exhaustion deprived of sleep“.

(sing this playing a little guitar , using a trembling voice, in the sweet and soulful style of Violeta Parra. Repeat as many times as you like or continue reading, there may be alternatives).

I wanted to write this for a long time. As I told you, I do not like confrontation, but today I am not being myself: I got up at 4 am , I showered , I meditated the best I could – I’m not good at it – then I had breakfast , I promoted my free play seminar and reactivated our family business twitter account wondering how is that they suspended me if I opened it yesterday… evidently I can make things wrong from the very beginning.

While all this is going on, my family is still asleep (it’s not even 6 AM).

So I have free time and no one to care for. I do not like that, it makes me nervous.

Since I became a mother most of my attention is directed towards my children. When I got married I focused a lot on my husband. Since I completed college I’ve been attentive to social welfare. And when I was a teenager, ah, I was focused on pairing my thin, rebel and busty friends who excelled me on every aspect getting boyfriends (I never managed)…

Before that, ah… before that I was focused on myself. On my dolls game, on putting up a classroom in my bedroom where I taught naughty and imaginary children, on my rollers and the long balcony of my childhood home hanging above the forest and the lake, on horses, on the morning when I opened the curtains and the whole world was white, white, and only an immense silence covered the ground with snow.

Such an immense silence, so beautiful and deep as meditation. A real one.

When I was a little girl I focused on my selfsame axis. I was myself, ample and self-complacent. Nothing lacked me. Well, I exaggerate. I often lacked a milk tooth and I was so shy that I refused to smile in public because I was acutely aware of its absence (for that reason I lost a casting my mother wanted me to perform, blessed be my destiny). But other than that, I lacked nothing.

The boy, the girl mentioned in the ballad don’t need anything either. They are perfect as they are, a complete, sufficient and full Self.

But we moms have forgotten our own axis, our focus, we depend on whom we can. No one is better than our own child to fulfill our need. And so, depending on them, we teach them to depend.

Oh, is not easy for me to say this…

I breathe …

I infuse myself with courage …

I strive to return to my center, to my true self…

I continue.

Children do not do anything “against us”.

They do not eat because they have a good reason not to. They do not speak (yet), would not listen (never), do not sleep (not even in dreams!), because we have been doing all those things for them. We have not given them enough space, time and respect to learn to do it for themselves.

We control the food we serve on his plate, the amount to be eaten and what will go to his mouths in every bite. Because we do it all for him.

We control the words she says, how many are they, and run to check the correspondence with the number of words she should be saying at by her age (by 18 months they must speak 15 words, really??? ) .

We control his time, we bounce into his motor skills explorations, into his watchful eye , into his hands and games. Without even a warning we interrupt him, lift him without previous notice. We decide how, what, why and when he plays.

Then children have a tantrum… they rebel maybe? And yes, they would not listen. Because they haven’t learned to depend, not yet, not entirely. They still have so much, much focus on their own self. What we tell them not to do, they do it, again and again . And if they observe that this procedure creates in us a show of anger and rebuke, even if they suffer they won’t doubt in pressing one more time the red button of our vulnerability.

“Aha… How interesting was mom’s reaction when I did this … let me see … I’ll do it one more time and will observe if she does it again”. They say all of this in their own language, without using words, driven by the immense desire to understand human bonds through us, their moms. Their deep interest in decoding and comprehending human relationships is their priority and they go for it.

In this state of things the day passes by and we’re all tired. He, she, us. It is 7 PM, we have to complete a lot of household chores and we are all exhausted.

There is nothing worse than trying to fall asleep when we are exhausted. You have to get to sleep before that. Once depleted, a body that had no opportunity to get rest on time pulls out energy from vital reserves and injects a large dose of adrenaline to keep going (do not take it literal, it is a metaphor, although this may be what really happens from a chemical point of view). That’s what happens when we are sleepy at a party: suddenly we reawaken and we feel could go on and on, so we do it. The next day we pay the price for that extra demand on our body, we all know it. Imagine how it goes for you if you do that on a daily basis. Well, maybe you don’t need to imagine anything. Maybe it’s just what you get. But without the party part, only with the get-energy-from-where-there-is-none part, not getting any sleep at all and be already exhausted from dawn.

Feeling frustrated out of so much accumulated fatigue we take everything personal, we lose our temper with our kid and we cry along with him. We don’t know better.

Until one day we realize we cannot put up with it anymore and we get to read articles like this one and others that are surely better. We read and read and wonder when will the author finally offer us the keys to overcome the 4 most maddening challenges of motherhood.

But we do not get the relieving answers we are looking for and even worse: we are made responsible for our fate.

Ok, ok, don’t despair. Just because you read all the way down here I will sing it for you:

There’s no child who does not want to eat, if eating is just eating and only that. If eating is a free act and only as much as he needs to feel satisfied.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I eat, how good am I at eating being so young!

There’s no child who does not speak enough, if speaking means communication and connection, and only that. If speaking is through the eyes, gestures, cries and smiles and when it is genuine. Then the girl realizes that she is being perfectly understood.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how well do I express myself, how good am I at expressing myself being so young!

There’s no child who rebels against limits, if they offer a safe boundary, a form of love that speaks to the heart and only that. Then accepting a limit means feeling a maternal embrace, firm and calm.

If my mom is happy with my satisfaction, oh gee, how nicely do I respond, how good am I at accepting limits being so young!

No little girl wants to sleep. No baby boy wants to go to bed. Because sleep is a change of state, a transition and only that. But that’s just what the boy feels as a challenge, just that puts the girl on an alert.

If my mom accepts my efforts to learn how to navigate the changes, oh gee, and from the first moment in the day I can eat , express and accept by myself being respected, oh gee, I think it’s time for my mom to stop putting me to sleep, oh gee, to stop bouncing me, driving the car, moving the stroller, walking with me in her arms, rocking me in the cradle, putting me to the breast as if it were a sleeping pill, oh gee, it’s time for her to trust that I can also learn to sleep by myself , oh gee , in my own bed, oh gee, in my own bed, oh geeeeeeee!

(sing this using maracas, tambourines and gymnastics ribbons with pure art. If you get Raffi to sing along with you the chorus, even better).

Sometimes it takes us more than a baby to learn this.

But at some point appears a light at the end of the road , we wonder if we are dead but no, we are more alive than ever before. And if you are left wanting more details, oh gee, leave your comment bellow, because right now I have no more time. It’s 6:58 a.m, oh gee, and one after another three little lion cubs appear into the scene, three little cubs oh gee, and they call me, they call me: Mamaaaa!

 

There’s Kids Art for Dinner. A sucessful nutrition service-learning project.

When you caress your baby you are giving him love. You are teaching him to love and in this way you are also nourishing him.

When you caress your baby you are giving him love. You are teaching him to love and in this way you are also nourishing him.

Today I read this post about Food Fights at Not Just Cute.

Then I remembered a project I wanted to share here and this might be the right time for it:

When our older child was in Grade 2 they did a nutrition project at school.

Teachers invited nutrition professionals for an interview, children cooked, they analysed industrial food ingredients and advertisements, they watched videos and played games.

Not only regarding taste, but also the other senses that can be nourished: sight, smell, touch, ear…

Kids did all this with a tremendous interest because it was a service learning project and they were really involved.
The final goal was to create banners for CONIN, an Argentinean NGO working against malnutrition in community canteens where food was served for free to children of their same age.

They thought of a slogan synthesising their nutritional recommendations, they compiled all what they had learned and created two different banners to decorate the community canteens:

  • abstract compositions using kitchen tools,
  • a painted white plate using the yin-yang symbol as background.

Each child painted one plate and in pairs they did the abstract composition.

One of the slogans they came up with was: “let’s become artists, let’s serve at least three colors in our plates”.

Now our child is almost 12 years old, so 5 years have passed by. Still today, when we are serving dinner, he (or his brothers who learned this from him) says: let´s count how many colors do we have here.

This is a very simple way to include a well-balanced meal with protein (dark brown, dark red, white, yellow), vegetables (orange, pink, red, green) and cereals in a same food (soft brown and white)!

Here are some of the art works and slogans children age 7 came up with. I particularly like the last one where the lady is breast-feeding her baby. Which one do you like most?

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A simple question. No answer found.

cry tear

I felt like crying many times lately for I can’t find an answer to a question that really disturbs me. So this is somewhat a catharsis. Hope you understand.

I offer playgroups for early childhood in Castelar, Argentina.

More and more parents ask me:

“Why nobody else works the way you do?”

Do you know what I do? I follow Magda Gerber´s teachings.

I wait, wait and wait.

I trust every child.

I don´t interrupt a playing child.

I let them cry out their feelings in a safe environment.

I broadcast their social efforts to interact with each other.

I nurture children´s trust setting limits. Lots of firm, calm limits. As many as I can and as soon as possible without feeling emotionally involved.

Then I say “I wont let you hit, you can trust me”. I trust the child and the child trusts me. Eventually they hit. Most of the time they wont.They are so happy.

Parents are there and listen.

So they ask me:

“Why nobody else works like you do? What you do is healing and rewarding and it is so different from what we see at educational facilities. It really helps us and helps our children”.

I am pretty sure I am not an educational savior.

I am no genius.

I am no hero but zero: the less I do, the better it goes.

I am sure there are many people working the way I do.

But I guess is not enough.

So little children come to my playgroup after being expelled from kindergarten at the age of 4  for the mere reason of not being conformists. For not complying with an educational system that does not respond to their real developmental needs.

Little children have been told they are inadequate for being different. So they have to go to the psychologist. The psychologist sends them to my playgroup.

And do you know what happens?

They get better. Much, much better. Because they are accepted as they are. Because they are not told their own and unique way of being is inadequate.

Of course I have studied. Of course I am a professional.

But I am not special, I have no magic.

So my heart burns and my voice cries out a question I can find no answer yet:

Why? Why aren´t there more people working the way I do?

You don´t need much. Just a heart in your chest and a renewed vision in your mind.

Mess or Marvel? Depends on your perspective.

This is my early childhood educational center after the last playgroup meeting yesterday.

Done by kids age 3 to 6.

In Cooperation. Concentration. Contemplation.

Absolute beauty.

Believe me. I really appreciate it. With all my heart.

However, I had the intention to untangle the whole thing to be able to reach the entrance in a straight line, without having to sort “snakes”, “laser rays”, “time machines” and “time tunnels”.

My kids begged me not to.

– Boys, I can barely walk here, I said.

– We know!, middle one agreed in a gleeful mood, his eyes sparkling true enthusiasm. – That´s the best of it!

P1120191 P1120192 P1120194 P1120197 P1120198

The hug. A postcard

Klimt

The other day I was listening to a mother of a 2 years old sweet boy who was playing sitting by her side. She was telling me about her pregnancy and her child´s personality. Out of respect I looked at him and said softly:

– Now mom is speaking of you. I know you´re listening. You´re free to express whatever you need.

This little boy doesn´t say a word yet (at least not in Spanish, very surprisingly he says “ball”, “jake” and “car” in English!) and the mother mentioned that point a few times. In the meanwhile, her child started rolling on the carpet, creating a “wave sensation” wiht his own body rolling away from mom, rolling back to her. The kind of “Fort/Da!” concept was incarnated in his own body. Every movement made sense and responded to what his mother was saying. Then the mother made an awesome statement:

– There is one thing I knew in this life and that is I wanted to become a mom and have children. That was my deepest desire.

Suddenly the boy stopped rolling back and forth, stood up, run as fast as his little legs allowed him and jumped on his mother lap, hugging her…

Little arms, tiny hands, clear mind, generous love hugging truly, unconditionally, in full surrender.

The mother became still, received her child hugging him back and they became One Soul.

I had the fortune to witness the magic.

Did I mention the child does not speak? I correct myself. He silently speaks in the universal language of the heart.

What do you feel when reading this story? Share your comments!