Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

When you decide to raise a child without punitive consequences, you will likely be questioned and admired - and also booed, blamed and thought to be irresponsibly contributing to the downfall of society.

You will need the strength of Hercules and the patience of Mother Teresa because growth is sometimes slow to see, but that doesn't mean just because everything looks the same – that nothing is changing.

As the mother of a precocious second-grader, I am starting to see glimpses of the tween challenges to come, and I find myself wondering how I will maintain my dedication to this peaceful, non-punitive path in the face of her ever-increasing quest for independence.

How do I stay compassionate when presented with -

  • eye-rolls at my silliness which used to win her affection
  • witty comebacks and door-slamming my attempts to engage her.
  • resistance to my insistence on warm clothes, not just stylish ones.
  • requests for a Justin "Beaver" T-shirt (clearly she doesn't know who he is yet - and I should probably tell her it's not "beaver," huh?)

In just a few short years, I will be teetering on the edge of full-fledged pre-teen sass, and I have to admit, I'm a little bit terrified of the change.

Yes, sometimes the days drag on, and I find myself escaping the latest American Girl doll drama or our recent wardrobe wars by daydreaming she's 22 and we're having lunch-dates instead of play-dates. 

The monotony of my days seems never-ending and the more things stay the same - the more I wish they'd hurry up and change.

However, as I watch my little girl disappear before my eyes, I realize how very much I want to remain present and treasure every stage.

I want to savor every last moment of sameness. 

I know nothing is ever really the "same." The moments where nothing seems to change are when the real growth happens. 

She is assimilating every experience, every interaction, into a repertoire for living, knowing, seeing and being seen in the world.

My baby girl is almost eight, or as she says "seven-and-three-quarters," and I dare anyone to leave off those quarters in her presence.

She is a formidable being.
She does everything BIG.
Loves BIG, laughs BIG, feels BIG and plays BIG. 

As a baby, she never cried softly. She was either summoning a demon god with her blood-curdling wail or she was quiet as a mouse.

She doesn't just hug you - she sometimes squeezes the breath out of you.

She doesn't just kiss you - she plunges full force for a laying on of mouths (we've now cleared up just exactly with whom this is appropriate).

She doesn't just take a "No" at face value - she will mine every opportunity to discuss the possibilities which lie ahead.

In essence, she is strong and tenacious. Her presence motivates me to do everything in life with passion. Or ask, "Why do it at all?"

I want this light inside of her, this nugget of her brilliance, to remain constant, to shine through, and never be dulled by the "should" people in her life. 

I want her to stay pure, strong and authentic.


Still, I know I am sometimes that "should" person in her life, submitting to my fears and inner chaos, acting like the very people I fear will try to obscure her radiance or insist on changing her with... 

You should do this.
You should not do that.
Please do this instead of that.

I get caught up in wanting to move forward, wanting progress, wanting change, wanting growth, and all my kid wants to do is focus on the now.

This moment. Not the shoulds, the have tos, nor the must dos.

She isn't focused on growing and learning and changing because it isn't something she needs to do. She is simply focused on BE-ing, true to her inner knowing, self-directed and autonomous.

Such as when she insists on choosing her own clothes. She has an exacting sense of style and matching is very important in her world right now. 

This morning, the only pants which were acceptable to her were a pair of capri summer leggings because they were black and “only black would match.” 

"The Polar Vortex left yesterday. Find some winter pants,"  I barked. 

I could have been less adamant, more open, or understanding. My attempt to explain, "after school we will put away all the clothes except for those appropriate to wear in winter" was interpreted and recounted to her father as, "Mama said she's going to throw all my clothes in the trash."

This brief moment in time, when it seemed she would NEVER be flexible enough to change, grow or be responsive to my requests, was when I needed to remind myself to come back to the HERE and NOW.

It's in the now that I can embrace sameness and recognize it as an opportunity for growth instead of seeing it as a place of stagnation.  

Tweet: Growth is what happens when you aren't looking – but when you are just being. @TEACHthruLove #CarNatPar Growth is what happens when you aren't looking – but when you are just being. via @TEACHthruLove (TWEET IT!)

The tedium of sameness is the precursor to change.  It’s the equilibrium before the upgrade. The calm before the storm which gives way to something new.

I composed myself. She changed her outfit (all pink instead of all black), and we agreed to revisit the issue later, after school, when we were both feeling more capable of solving problems.

The more things stay the same... the more I realize how fast she is growing up and change is right around the corner

While I'm learning to stay present in the constancy of the now, I'm also learning to be okay with inevitable changes to come because it means I'll keep on growing too.

What kind of "sameness" have you learned to appreciate? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)
  • Always an Artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • 'The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution. 
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

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