Saturday, January 9, 2016

You Know the Feeling of Not Being a Good Enough Mother?

I sure do.

This month I am teaching an eCourse on Child’s Play :: the Wellspring of Life, as the monthly focus topic in my Program Celebrate the Rhythm of Life for homeschoolers, homemakers and anyone seeking to create a soulful life with children. 

As I was working through some thoughts and writings for this class, a picture, one that  helped me to better understand and “see" the young child, kept coming to mind from my own childrens' toddler days, as I was trying to find words to explain an aspect of movement and play during ages and stages to the class. 

I knew the illustration was in one of these little books from the Gesell Institute of Child Development. 

What I could remember is that the illustration shows clearly how children move from activity to activity at various ages and stages of development, and then slow down into more focused and extended play. I went to visit that book shelf of mine, where I keep my collection of these little books. It’s a place that does not have so many visits from me anymore.

I began to thumb through them, settling in and chuckling as I read bits of text. So many fond and funny memories came up that reminded me of the good feelings I had whenever I went to these little books with a question or concern. They were like a wise trusted friend to me with their common sense and guidance. I always heaved a big sigh of relief in realizing that I was not alone with my concerns and in learning that my child’s behavior and my feelings about were completely normal and to be expected. These little guides helped me know that others grope with these situations too.

These little guides brought me back to feeling grounded as a mother and helped me remember that “Yes, I am a good enough Mom,” and “My children are healthy, normal children. They are going to turn out just fine."

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, from Your Four Year Old, by Louise Bates Ames and Frances Ilg:

“And we have the (supposedly true) story of a little Boston girl whose mother, discouraged by her profanity, told her that if she swore once more, she (the mother) would pack the girl’s suitcase and ask her to leave home. The girl did swear once more. The mother did pack the suitcase and put her and it outside the door. After a few minutes, feeling guilty, the mother went to look for her daughter. The child was still sitting on the steps.

'I thought I told you to leave home,' said the mother. 'I would have if I could have thought of where the Hell to go,' was her daughter’s reply.” 

In the back section of the book, there are Questions from parents. 

Here are a few examples:

Mother Can’t Stand Her Four Year-Old

Four Year Olds Don’t Always Tell the Truth

There’s Nothin Wrong with Having an Imaginary Companion

Wonderful gems these are, full of assurance and holding a broad spectrum of normal behavior in children, something that is a rare gift and can be hard to find these days.

Do you have people, books or situations in your life that reassure you that you are just fine, your children are normal and all will be well?

Please share in the comments below. We all need to uplift each other and remind ourselves that mothering and children encompass a broad spectrum of feelings and behaviors and its all good.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hello Winter!

After months of unseasonably warm weather, winter has come blasting in with cold and snow. The temperature dropped into the single digits today and snow has been gusting, bringing swirling snow and brightness to this gray day.

My response, a blazing fire in the wood stove, a pot of beef stew and Downton Abbey.  Does it get any better than that? 

My beef stew is one that I make by doing, it doesn’t come from a recipe. I just sort of feel it out, letting smells and tastes guide me. I begin with carrots, onions and celery, also known as mirepoix, something we talk about in my Warmth in the Kitchen eCourse. 

I sauté the mirepoix in a little warmed olive oil. Before that I heat the pan. I add garlic and thyme too. Thyme is my everything herb. I put it in nearly everything I make. I add sea salt and pepper, as well as whole peppercorns and bay leaves. 

After the vegetables and spices sauté for a bit, I add a few good dollops of tomato paste. I stir it in and let the ingredients meld and warm. 

Once that mixture begins to meld, I add a good splash, or two or three, of red wine. I usually have something full bodied around and use that.

Once those flavors have had a chance to meld, I add beef broth and then the beef, usually a chuck roast from a local farm with pasture raised animals.

Then I bring it to a very gentle simmer, cover it and let it very gently simmer. Then I add carrots and potatoes and when they have cooked through, it’s ready.

One of the secrets to good meat cooking that I learned from the local butcher is that it is best to cook roasts at the lowest temperature possible, slow cooking for a long time if needed. He reminded me that a rare roast is only cooked to 125 degrees. I have found this to work well. 

It’s a little trickier with a pot roast and much trickier when that pot roast is on the wood stove. 

I’ll look for a recipe template to format for you in case you’d like one to download. 

There’s something so satisfying in cooking on the wood stove, in knowing it is providing for warmth of body and soul. 

As a leftover dish, I add mushrooms and make mash potatoes to serve it on. The potatoes drink in all the tasty broth. Need I say more?

How do you stay warm when the weather turns cold?

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