because parenting is about breaking AND building

I change taglines every month, and spend more time thinking them up than you might imagine.  Some are inspired, some are blah, but that’s just how it works.  Hoping to work some posts around the ideas as they come though, we’ll see how it goes!

the usual level of chaos in my boys’ room …The banner image above came from this lovely shot of my boys’ room the other day, as they were documenting the destruction of a large block tower.  Destroying it by shooting it down with a bow and arrow, or course.  They build, they destroy.  They build, they destroy.  It’s a pretty endless cycle, and one that drives my let’s-do-something-and- finish-it mentality right up the wall.  I don’t like mess and clutter, I never have.  Well, not since I had my own place anyway, don’t ask my mom about the state of my room when I was in my teens as you might get a different story!  It never looked like this though, I can guarantee that. 

Mess is something that I have to give in to.  It’s not going away any day soon, it’s the product of small spaces, creativity, boys, and homeschooling.  I can bang my head against a wall in frustration with their sloppy habits, buy more bins to organize, and nag about clothes left all over the floor for days, but it’s simply a fact of life.  My boys aren’t neat freaks by nature (do you know any tidy young boys?  I don’t, though I assume a few exist somewhere …) and aren’t going to become them by my grumbling either.  I can let it break me, or I can work, slowly, on building better habits into them.  And more tolerance into myself.  It seems like both are always required.

Building strong relationships with my boys, that’s something that scares me.  It’s about communication, trust, love, and quality time.  It takes conscious building, because if I don’t it will break under the kind of pressure that I know is looming in the teen years.  I need to build it now, so we’ll have it later to fall back on when the rage and disappointments and disagreements are fueled by increasing independence and hormones.  I know it will come, it’s just a matter of when.  Spending time doing things we all love, and things that they love even if I find them tedious.  Building. 

It takes the breaking of some of my habits to make it all work.  Working smarter, so I can play harder.  Admitting how much time I dither away on the computer that’s not really work.  Making my time count.  Breaking my intentions down to reasonable levels, that’s a big one.  Giving myself realistic expectations, rather than huge lists for the day that are guaranteed to make me feel crazy and unproductive.  I’ve started making daily to-do lists, in a new favorite notebook (with dividers and pockets!), that has a sidebar for meal plans and appointments.  So far it’s working well, and making me conscious of how I over plan.  How many times do I want to re-write the task on a new day?  Makes me think twice before I put it down. 

The more I look at it, the more the two do seem to go together.  In order to build a family, we have to take the locks off our hearts and the expectations out of our heads, or it’s going to be a one-person hut with no windows.  Trusting, communicating, breaking down the inhibitions and fears in order to move forward.  There are no maps where we’re going, and that’s true for all of us.  Plans, yes, hopes and dreams, sure!  But maps there are not.  For those of us who struggle with control issues, this is what saves us from ourselves. 

Direction is a different matter, and something that I hope we all have.  A vision, a compass, an idea of what we’re working towards, both individually and as a family.  I need to see where my kids are headed, and give them the tools and opportunities to develop their ideas and talents.  I have to carve out space for myself and my husband to do the same.  As a family, it takes regular communication to decide where we’d like to go next, and how we propose to get there.  Building joint dreams, and listening to everyone’s ideas together.  Making sure we’re all heading in the same direction, at least for now.  I know they’ll head out and do their own thing all too soon, but having a sense of who we are as a family is putting a few bricks in the foundation of their characters.  Knowing when to step back and let them build recklessly?  That’s what I hope I have the wisdom, and strength, to do when the time comes.  They’re certainly great at it now in the world of blocks and Lego!