Ruby's 9th birthday is a week away and recently I have found myself thinking of her a fair bit. We have spent a lot of time together over the years and have learnt to deeply understand and appreciate each other as people beyond the mama/daughter relationship. Well, mostly that is :-). Living and learning, day in, day out, with the time, and a belief in the power of clear, compassionate communication, we have continued to grow together in love and respect .
It may not have turned out so well - it hasn't always been as easy as it is right now.
This reminds me of a comment I made on Lori's blog a couple of days ago-"This reminds me of myself and my daughter a couple of years back and our "first project." Ruby wanted to do fashion and make up. Read UGHH here. I personally rage against both- the whole young girl striving to look older, girls being overly interested in what they look like yada, yada, yada. But I knew I needed to honour her interest. I tell you it was hard but I decided to remain light and playful ("fake it till you make it" I figured.)
The project didn't last long (phew for me :-), I relaxed when we starting making some lotions, we bumbled around - we were figuring out how to do this whole project thing. What I learnt is to respect her interests, the importance of her playing with her own ideas and me keeping my place as co-creator and not as "the one who knows what she should be learning." I also learnt about how she learns - that the fashion and make-up was deeply entwined with her dressing up and role playing, her exploring characters and story. Now I look back at this first project with fondness - in the end it had so little to do with the content and so much about the dynamics of how we do learning here at our place.
Early on as a Mama I chose to turn towards my children for the answers to my questions rather than trying to fit with others' solutions or standards; about parenting, about learning, about living well together.
When they were babies the solutions seemed fairly clear most of the time; when they cried we gathered in close and attended to their need, when dealing with sickness, we were guided by observing the child not the thermometer (in fact we have never owned a thermometer).
We did have a couple of detours when we thought others had the answers that we were looking for but these soon became dead ends. Apart from just feeling wrong, they didn't deliver the silver bullet they promised.
We gained confidence in trusting the girls in those early years and this made a life without school an obvious choice for us as a family. Not always easy nor without doubt at times, but still a comfortable fit.
I have needed all the time I have taken to become the mama that I wanted to be; to become the human being I want to be.
A learning and life style that fits our family just right takes time to sculpt. The wrinkles of habit patterns and the knots of past hurts take time to disentangle and set free. The "shoulds" constantly need to be swept out the door. The hard edges of judgements (of myself and others, my children included) need sanding back at times.
Compassion and patience need attention to grow and lots of practice.
With such companions, trust takes hold.
This is all sounding a bit OTT in the psychology department to me right now but really, at 11.30 at night (and with a 5.30am start tomorrow), I just don't have time to go back and delete any of it.
And really, it is how I feel on the cusp of being a mama to a 9 year old - an ordinary thing for many, an extraordinary thing for me right now.