Mama Thoughts in October by Teresa Palmer
Doesn't it feel like this year has completely whizzed by? I can't believe we are getting in to Halloween now and then before too long we will be prepping for Christmas with the kiddos. What a turbulent month it's been. We said goodbye to Mark for two months, but not before going on the most magical camping trip of our lives. What a beautiful time it was to connect without phones or other distractions and just to be with my favourite people. It was heaven. It was a wonderful way to kick off October.
The last few weeks have been a lot harder: saying goodbye to my teammate and also dealing with lots of feelings coming up surrounding what's been happening in the news. We really have seen so much suffering over the last couple of month; news of the Las Vegas shooting, natural disasters, fires in California, sexual abuse survivors coming forward and rallying together against a powerful predator. It feels endless and horrifying, shocking and very rattling. So how do we continue on with this awareness and ensure that it doesn't become too overwhelming and disheartening? How do we regulate our own emotions yet continue making life carefree and routine for our children? And do we include them in some of these conversations?
I don't think there is one clear answer to these questions. I've been doing a lot more work on myself to deal with emotions that have been triggered this past month: I downloaded the In Timer app to ensure I'm working a daily meditation practice, I've been journaling a lot of my thoughts and I've been having long post kids-in-bed conversations with my husband. In our household we have this rule: we talk about everything! Things are censored if they seem too inappropriate but we are all really open with our feelings and emotions. We want the kids to feel as though we are always here to talk about all sorts of issues and that it's a safe space for them to raise questions and to be honest with us. We have chosen to talk to our kids about some of what has been popping up in the news lately but those conversations with Bodhi at the age of 3.5 and Isaac at the age of 9 look different.
With Bodhi, I tend to follow his lead, and be observant of the things he is talking about. I've noticed in the last few weeks that he has been very inquisitive about "vahcanos", tornados, and hurricanes. It seems natural disasters are being talked about amongst the kids, and we want to allow Bodhi to ask questions. We have spoken at length about what can happen, where, how we can be safe whilst also really being sensitive to not over sharing. We keep it pretty general.
Bodhi also has a very clear understanding that guns can really hurt people, we often steer the inevitable gun play towards target practice with foam balls or throwing a ball in to a hoop. I notice any kind of play like this is more about power and fantasy play as opposed to hurting people. As for talking to him about Las Vegas and the many other similar terrifying situations, it's not something we ever discuss with him. We feel he is much too young and that kind of news could make him feel unsafe.
With Isaac it's different, we do discuss it. He already has his firm ideas on gun control and has a really healthy expression of his views and beliefs. He likes to talk about it. He is old enough to understand the situation and yet young enough to not take it on as a daily worry.
In terms of the sexual abuse reports of late, it probably goes without saying that we won't be discussing it with our 3 year old. We do talk to Bodhi about his body and what is private. Sometimes he will ask me "are we in public?" if he wants to do a nature pee. He understands about his body and that it is his own.
Isaac on the other hand is a very mature 9 year old and he is a particularly deep thinker. Whilst he hasn't been with us over the past few months, if he was living with us I still wouldn't bring up the specifics of what is going on. Isaac is more than capable of having conversations about what is appropriate and what isn't but keeping it much more general is how we would approach it. I'd talk to Iz about abuse of power and sexism and if he heard something at school we would be honest with him without giving all the intricate details. It's not one size fits all, Isaac is very emotionally and mentally mature, he understands what sexual harassment is and is quite the young advocate for women's rights. We know that discussing these issues wouldn't impact him negatively.
Despite what we do as parents and how much we try to protect our children from the atrocities of the world, it is a reality and many will see things or hear things that leave them feeling unsettled. I read something beautiful the other day, it completely resonated and it's something I will share with my children in the future. It gave me so much comfort, and I know we can all gain healing, hope and strength from it;
'When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." ' - Fred Rogers
It's true, in all of the darkness, throughout the overwhelming pain, you will always see people doing whatever they can to be of service, to lend a hand, to offer a hug or words of comfort and sometimes just to sit and listen. The capacity we as humans have to love one another with all of us, is overwhelming. I love knowing that kind of connection exists and I look to find the every day helpers not just the ones shining through the darkness but those we see helping through the ordinary. I want to strive to be one of those people and encourage my children to do the same.
Sending love to all & Happy Halloween 🎃 👻
❤️ Tez xx