On the cusp of grown

Perhaps if I had kept having babies I wouldn't be so bittersweetly aware of how you have grown. 

Distracted with little ones, I might not notice how your body moves through space differently these days, how you nearly match me in height and strength and size.

But I'm certain that I would.

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Perhaps if you went to school this transition into bigness would be more subtle.

Apart each day, I might not notice you exploring the edges where childhood and adulthood mingle. 

But I'm sure that with more time apart that awareness would only be stronger.

 

Or perhaps if I were more distracted with work and life it would be easier to miss this unfolding.

And I might not ache so deeply as I bear witness to your growing up. 

But with more time in different worlds I'd surely find even more reasons to grieve.

 

But grief is the wrong word, really. Isn't it? Because it's not grief at all at the heart of this longing. It is love that we find at it's core.

A love that I never knew existed until I became a mother those fourteen years ago. It changed me in ways I never expected. And for that I am always grateful.

It is a love that transformed me from woman into mother. A love so immense it's almost disorienting. A love that tears us down, then rebuilds us again with a new sense purpose, of our power to change the world, and a radically different sense of self. 

So mostly what I feel as I watch you become is love. So much love that my heart could burst, as I stand by watching the years spiral around us as you transform before my eyes.

And suddenly, today, you are fourteen.

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So I will whisper a prayer that you linger a moment longer in this slow childhood of yours; the only childhood you have ever known. There's never been a reason for you to rush, and for that I am so grateful. I watch as you stand with one foot in each world, part boy and part man.

Linger here. 

And as you do I will continue doing the only thing I've ever really know how to do as a mother: love you, enjoy you, marvel at who you've become, savor the moments we still get to share.

And continue to be thankful for walking beside you along this beautiful path toward adulthood.

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Happy Birthday, Sage. I'm honored and humbled to have you call me your mama. 

You have taught me more than you may ever know. 

 

Love,
Mama

 

Love big

Love Big

Hey, parents. Here’s some unsolicited advice. (I know. Just what you wanted. But stick with me for a minute and I’ll make it worth your while.)

Enjoy your kids. Love them like mad. Accept them completely. Laugh until you can hardly breathe and have pillow fights with them and bake cookies at bedtime together.

Do everything you can to connect with your kids right now.

Not when they’re older or easier or when life is more fill-in-the-blank-here.

Do it today. Because today is all we’ve got.

No, life won’t ever be perfect, but when your foundation is that of mutual respect and appreciation it’s hard to veer too far off course.

I wrote this last night and seriously within an hour there was drama over here. And yet. AND YET. With this solid base of We Truly Like Each Other to stand upon, the smoke soon cleared and everyone felt heard, honored, and held. 

No, liking your kids doesn’t mean they won’t drive you batty. They will. (And you – them.) But this baseline of respect and friendship helps you all come back to center in a hurry when things fall apart. Which they will. Often.

Love big.

Love big

And never apologize for being friends with your kids or for enjoying their company, you guys. Because that’s like apologizing for having a beautiful harvest of tomatoes from your garden! (“Look at these beautiful vegetables we grew! I’m sorry.”)

Why waste time apologizing when you could be savoring that bounty?

Just love big, friends. That’s all you need to do. Love. Big.

P.S. I’m pretty sure both sets of pictures above were taken approximately eight minutes apart. Seriously. It’s like that.

Numbered days

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A few nights ago we took a family walk at sunset. We've done this for years – on nights we get dinner cleaned up in time – but it's been a while. When the kids were small it was every night. Now it's a treat. 

I'm not sure why we broke the habit… perhaps we've been too busy. Or perhaps we'd just forgotten.

As I hung back taking pictures, I watched my family walk down the road ahead of me. And I felt how quickly these years have unfurled since the days when a walk before bed was the only way to guarantee sleep.

Since run-run-jump; since first bikes; since baby slings.

Some days I think we're turning pages in childhood before I've had a chance to read the words. "Slow down," I whisper. Slow down… But they can't. 

I ran to catch up.

 

For all of its struggles, these years are swift. This chapter of life  - so hard, so full - will end before I am ready. Of that I am certain. And looking back on the past fourteen years of parenting, each year has passed in an instant. Some easier, some blurred from lost sleep, but all swift. Our life has unfolded in rapid seasons as the years flutter past and the decades unfurl behind us. They show no sign of stopping.

And as we walked I realized: only four more years until Sage is grown.

Four more years.

Four more summers for swimming in the creek; four more autumn road trips. Four more snow forts in the yard; four more springs, drinking maple straight from the tap.

Just four. And then childhood will close and a new chapter will begin. (His sister, of course, is just four years behind, so then the cycle for us begins once more.)

Bearing witness to their unfolding is an honor – watching my children open into their gifts. It's just the brevity of it all that is caught in my throat.

The "Four Year Realization" has lead our family into conversations we've never had before, as we ask ourselves what we want most from the next four years. What we most want now – no stalling, no distractions. As we ask Sage: what do you want from childhood? What must you do before you're grown?  

As we acknowledge – perhaps for the first time ever – that there is no time to lose. 

And so we're digging in and talking, dreaming, planning. We're asking ourselves and each other – what do we desire now? Is it farm animals or travel? Adventure or projects? What is our family mission for the next four years?

What do we want to share with our kids while they are kids? It's time to decide. 

 

I am so grateful for these questions and the presence that they cultivate. 

And while our answers aren't clear yet, we're letting the storyline form as we prioritize being together and doing the things we've been putting off. Like a walk after dinner as the sun slips behind the hills. We're doing it now, while we still can.

And we're asking ourselves, "What do we most want from these fleeting days?"  

Because, as it turns out, our lives have always been but a string of fleeting days. It's just at first we failed to notice.

 

 

Peaceful parenting tips for teens

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

When learning the ropes of parenting babies, toddlers, or young children advice abounds.

I feel fortunate enough to have stumbled into the attachment parenting and peaceful parenting communities when my kids were still small. It was from these wells of information that I was able to draw out ideas and strategies that worked for our family.

But what happens when our kids become teenagers?

Many of us may be left feeling like we need some new parenting tools. And – unfortunately – resources for gently parenting our teens is scarce.

The only words on parenting teenagers that regularially pop up in my social media feed read something like this:

"I'm your parent, not your friend. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare, and hunt you down when needed – because I love you."

And I do understand where this sentiment is coming from.

It's our inner mama bear, protecting our cubs the only way we know how. It's our instinct. We are here to keep our children safe, even when things get ugly. Even if we're protecting them from themselves.

I think they call that "tough love".

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

If so, let's call another option "gentle love".

My meme (if I made one) would read more like this:

"I am your parent and I am also your friend. I will listen to you, respect you, encourage you, empower you, accept you, and be your safe place in a confusing world. Because I love you. Unconditionally."

As we teeter on the brink of teendom over here I have been reflecting on what has changed since we began this journey some thirteen years ago. (And surprisingly, how very much has stayed the same.)

If anything I feel us circling back to the beginning once more.

Emotions are tender and riding close to the surface again, and I am reminded that my job is not to control my child's expression but control my reaction to it.

And also – importantly – to lead with consistent, unwavering, unconditional love.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Do you remember how you held space for your toddler, gently guiding them as the ventured out into the world for the first time? It turns out 13 and 3 have more in common than you might expect.

  • When your child was small you stayed close enough for them to know you were there, but not so close as to limit their opportunity to explore and learn.
  • When your child was small you gave them a confident, reassuring look when they pushed themselves, tackling new skills or facing their fears. That look said to your little one, "I believe in you and I'm right here. You've got this."
  • When your child was small you let them struggle and work to master a goal. You let them stumble and fall, then get up and try again. You let them succeed by the power of their own efforts.
  • When your child was small held them close when they were afraid and gave them space when they needed to go it alone.
  • When your child was small you let them know you were here for them – any hour of the day or night.

And at the same time you also knew that there would be days when s**t was going to get real.

You knew that your child was learning and growing and that her life was changing so quickly that she wouldn't always be able to hold it together.

You knew that she was sometimes overwhelmed by the world, by her smallness, and by the dizzying ride of growing up.

The teen years? They're like this, too. And then some.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

And just like when she was small your child still needs you by her side – gently and lovingly guiding her through.

As I look ahead to the coming decade-plus of parenting teens before me, I wrote down this list.

Ten ideas to remind me that peaceful parenting has no expiration date.

Ten reminders to parent as lovingly, gently, and effectively as I can while my child navigates these muddy waters between young child and confident adult. 

Does every parenting strategy work for every family? Of course not. But this is my starting place as our teen years unfold.

If I re-write this post ten years from now there will certainly be points to add. But I can't imagine any of the ideas here being tossed aside.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

I think if I asked my children what they needed and they could find the words, this is what they would say.

Ten Ways to Peacefully Parent your Teenager

Respect me.

How you speak to me today will become my inner voice tomorrow.

And as much as you need me to respect you (something I struggle with a lot these days), I need you to show me that I also deserve respect. Even when I screw up.

Because your respect of me translates into the self respect I will carry with me into adulthood.

Help me see that I am worthy of it.

See me as a person who deserves as much respect as you easily give adults.

And when I disrespect you, remind me of how I can do better. Remind me by showing me – by giving me – the respect I so deeply crave.

Empower me.

I need to make a real, meaningful contribution. Because I'm old enough to notice if my efforts don't matter and those feeling are reflected in my self-worth.

So give me work to do. Yes, I will grumble, but I'll stand taller when I see what I am capable of. And I'm capable of so much more than you may think.

Empower me also by handing over decisions to me. Decisions about my life, my future, my choices.

Help me find my power.

Just listen.

You have a lot you want to tell me. A lot you want me to understand.

But mostly I just need you to listen.

Listen without judgement to my fears, my feelings, my stories, and to the things I can't bring myself to say. Your presence tells me that you care and that you're here for me – always.

And when you listen to the everyday stuff I know you're also here to listen to the big, scary, hard-to-talk-about stuff.

Love me unconditionally.

There are times when I will act in a way that makes me seem unworthy of your love.

Love me anyway.

I need that message more than anything.

And if you seem like you want to spend time with me, all the better! Knowing that you love me and you like me would be a huge win right now. (Even if I don't tell you.)

Because right now I'm pushing limits in all directions. Stay clear on the truth that even when I screw up I am still worthy of your love. I need to know this now more than ever before.

Trust me.

Your trust in me is a strong and powerful message. When you show me trust I learn to trust myself. My inner voice. My heart.

That means I'll make good choices. Better choices. And I'll also gain confidence. (Which I very much need right now.)

Acknowledge how I've earned your trust whenever you can. I need to hear those words from you.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Connect when you could correct.

Yeah, I screwed up. (I bet you did when you were young, too.)

But when you punish me or shame me or put me down – when you focus only on how I messed up and let your down again – I only learn how to hide my mistakes from you. The next time I stumble I'll make sure you don't know.

The truth is, I don't need more correction right now. What I need more connection.

Validate my journey and help me see that I'm going to be okay. Hold this space with me. Make time for me. Laugh and talk and be with me.

I need you.

Tell me what I'm doing right.

My life is full of messages of what I'm doing wrong these days. From grades or friends to self-image and dating, I know well where I fall short.

Instead of focusing more on my flaws, I could use a little help with seeing my strengths right now.

I could really use the message that despite all the ways things are falling apart there are still places where I shine.

Help me see to see my own light.

Encourage me.

My dreams and yours won't look the same. They're not supposed to.

Even if you think my dreams or passions are impractical or foolish or crazy, feed my fire. Please.

Encourage me. The world provides enough discouragement without you adding to the mix.

I'm trying on adulthood and wondering where life can take me. I need you on my side, cheering me on.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Accept me.

Despite our differences, I need to know that you accept me. All of me. The way I dress, the people I like, the music I enjoy, my vision for the future – everything.

Being a teenager is hard enough without feeling like I'm being judged at home. Find reasons to love who I am, even when it's not what you were expecting.

Acceptance matters to me. So, so much.

Be my safe-place.

The world has enough bullies without me finding one at home.

I need our home to be a safe place.

So let me express my feelings – as big or uncomfortable as they may be. Let me be vulnerable, angry, afraid, and confused with you. Let me stumble and fall and get up again as you offer me your hand. Just like you did when I was small.

Be my safe place and my anchor in these stormy emotional seas.

  Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

With these ten points to guide us we can stay close to our teens and be available for them during this time of their great unfolding.

It may be messy, it may be emotional, but they'll know they can count us us to keep loving them, liking them, and being the arms they can fall into when everything falls apart.

 : : :

You might also enjoy my More Peaceful Parenting series. While I wrote it for young children, I'm finding it still applies as we move into the teen years.

I'd love to hear what you would add to the list! Especially those who have already navigated the teen years and stayed deeply connected through it all.

  Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

 

Originally published in 2015.

Attitude adjustment

Attitude adjustment. Finding joy once more. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

I have favorite a memory that I will always carry with me.

It involves a cranky husband, a colicky newborn, and a super soaker.

I was cradling Sage, just weeks old, in my arms. Pete and I were both grumpy.

Okay, mostly Pete this time but that's not to say I wasn't having my share of hard days. I'm pretty sure I was in charge of the bad attitude department in our family in those days.

Overwhelmed and exhausted, we had been living in a joyless haze since the shine had wore off of our colicky newborn.

No one tells you it can be like this. But it can. And for us it very much was. It has been a rough day, a rough month, a rough 'welcome to parenthood!' phase.

And while Pete was normally the one to hold it together, he was fried.

I was, too.

I was done. Done with feeling wrung out and exhausted, done with the anxiety, done with us moping around in an endless funk. I was done with the dark cloud that had taken up residence over our normally joyful, nonsense-filled, playful home.

And I was done at this particular moment with his bad day.

 

I went to the basement to wash the diapers.

And then I saw it. A gigantic water gun that Pete had owned since before we met. Laying there on the basement floor. A super soaker. Just waiting for me.

Despite my pacifist tendencies, I saw my opportunity and I seized it.

Laughing quietly to myself I took the gun to the laundry sink. Jostling my baby from hip to hip, I filled the reservoir as quietly as I could. And then, on tiptoe, I ascended the stairs.

 

It's really hard to pump a super soaker with a baby in your arms while sneaking up the steps.

But I managed.

 

As I rounded the corner into the living room Pete heard it. Through his grouchy fog he picked out the telltale "squeeeeeek, squeeeeeek, squeeeeeek" that only means one thing: some is getting ready to unload a liter of ice water on you.

As I rounded the corner into the living room I heard a muttered, "Oh s**t." and then the screen door banging shut as he fled.

With a baby in one arm and a water gun in the other I took off after him.

"You need an attitude adjustment!" I yelled as we rounded the corner into the backyard. We were both laughing so hard we could barely breathe.

And as I unloaded that water gun full of cold water onto his back as he ran across the yard we laughed – harder than we'd laughed in weeks. We collapsed with laughter, our arguments and exhaustion and darkness forgotten.

The dark cloud that seemed so permanent a moment before had dispersed and we found ourselves again, there on the grass, soaking wet and laughing.

Play. It saved us.

Attitude adjustment. Finding joy once more. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Yesterday was full of parallels – except that my baby is not a baby anymore.

After a few hard parenting days I made a conscious choice to connect and laugh and play with my kid. We both needed it desperately. Our attitudes were out of shape and only play could save us.

How often do we play with our children when they are small? Constantly. But what about when they are older? Not as much as they might need it. Not as much as we might need it.

Not enough.

And I realized yesterday that my son and I need to share more joy these days.

Today more now than ever before.

And not our usual quiet sort of play – chess or projects or a walk to the creek – but an all-out no holds barred water gun war. (Even if I am still a pacifist.)

No, he certainly does not fit under my arm anymore, nor can I carry him and run. I'm not even sure I can lift him these days (though I do know he can lift me).

My son is turning thirteen in a few weeks. We're all getting older. Life is unfolding, just like that – poof! Time races on.

And yet the need remains. For connection, for play, for joy.

 

And yesterday we desperately needed an attitude adjustment.

I needed an attitude adjustment.

 

Because the truth is I keep re-reading my Peaceful Parenting your Teen blog post. I need it right now. It's a living work to connect when I could correct, to listen, to empower, to trust and open my heart.

And I want to offer my child ten opportunities for connection for every correction, yet more often than not I flip that equation on it's head.

 

Every chapter of parenting has come with abundant lessons. When to run to my child and when to hang back. When to trust and when to intervene. When to pull them in and when to urge them outward, into the big and beautiful world.

Which brings us racing fast-forward to today and soon to tomorrow. We're thirteen years in. It's happening, friends.

There's no time to waste.

 

So we grabbed some water guns and ran and yelled and screamed and pummeled each other until we were laughing so hard we could scarcely breathe.

We played. And another memory was born that I am sure to carry with me forever.

Because of this guy.

This guy! I can honestly say that since the day he was born he's been the greatest teacher I could ever have asked for.

And it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.

 

Thankfully, my attitude has been adjusted.

Again.

 

Attitude adjustment. Finding joy once more. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

 

 

My work as a mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com : : My Work as a Mother

Perhaps my work as a mother is less about doing everything right and more about accepting where each of us is at the moment.

Embracing myself and my family, with all of our flaws.

 

This weekend Lupine and I picked berries and made a batch of jam.

And as I stood back and watched her filling the steaming jars with our creation I was struck by how capable she is. How confident.

How unconcerned with false measures of success or failure, perfect or imperfect – and anything in between.

I saw passion, enthusiasm, and a steady confidence even I could do with a bit more of.

Absent was self-judgement and criticism. Absent was the worry that she might get jam on her clothes or that the jars may be uneven.

Just patient focus, pure joy, and a love of the work before her.

 

There are days when I see only my own flaws. Mornings I wake with regret for not having done better the day before. For not having been, well – more perfect.

And a new day begins with old regrets.

 

If my only success as a mother is teaching you that your best is good enough and you are worthy of love for simply being who you are, then I think I've done my job.

Especially if it is a lesson I also take for my own.

This notion that even though you will be messy and imperfect, that the work you choose to do is still worth doing if you pour yourself into it with an open heart.

 

Maybe my work as a mother is less about being perfect myself, and more about embracing you – and me – with open arms. Imperfections and all.

 

 

Peaceful parenting your teen

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

When learning the ropes of parenting babies, toddlers, or young children advice abounds.

I feel fortunate enough to have stumbled into the attachment parenting and peaceful parenting communities when my kids were still small. It was from these wells of information that I was able to draw out ideas and strategies that worked for our family.

But what happens when our kids become teenagers?

Many of us may be left feeling like we need some new parenting tools. And – unfortunately – resources for gently parenting our teens is scarce.

The only words on parenting teenagers that regularially pop up in my social media feed read something like this:

"I'm your parent, not your friend. I will stalk you, flip out on you, lecture you, drive you insane, be your worst nightmare, and hunt you down when needed – because I love you."

And I do understand where this sentiment is coming from.

It's our inner mama bear, protecting our cubs the only way we know how. It's our instinct. We are here to keep our children safe, even when things get ugly. Even if we're protecting them from themselves.

I think they call that "tough love".

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

If so, let's call another option "gentle love".

My meme (if I made one) would read more like this:

"I am your parent and I am also your friend. I will listen to you, respect you, encourage you, empower you, accept you, and be your safe place in a confusing world. Because I love you. Unconditionally."

As we teeter on the brink of teendom over here I have been reflecting on what has changed since we began this journey some thirteen years ago. (And surprisingly, how very much has stayed the same.)

If anything I feel us circling back to the beginning once more.

Emotions are tender and riding close to the surface again, and I am reminded that my job is not to control my child's expression but control my reaction to it.

And also – importantly – to lead with consistent, unwavering, unconditional love.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Do you remember how you held space for your toddler, gently guiding them as the ventured out into the world for the first time? It turns out 13 and 3 have more in common than you might expect.

  • When your child was small you stayed close enough for them to know you were there, but not so close as to limit their opportunity to explore and learn.
  • When your child was small you gave them a confident, reassuring look when they pushed themselves, tackling new skills or facing their fears. That look said to your little one, "I believe in you and I'm right here. You've got this."
  • When your child was small you let them struggle and work to master a goal. You let them stumble and fall, then get up and try again. You let them succeed by the power of their own efforts.
  • When your child was small held them close when they were afraid and gave them space when they needed to go it alone.
  • When your child was small you let them know you were here for them – any hour of the day or night.

And at the same time you also knew that there would be days when s**t was going to get real.

You knew that your child was learning and growing and that her life was changing so quickly that she wouldn't always be able to hold it together.

You knew that she was sometimes overwhelmed by the world, by her smallness, and by the dizzying ride of growing up.

The teen years? They're like this, too. And then some.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

And just like when she was small your child still needs you by her side – gently and lovingly guiding her through.

As I look ahead to the coming decade-plus of parenting teens before me, I wrote down this list.

Ten ideas to remind me that peaceful parenting has no expiration date.

Ten reminders to parent as lovingly, gently, and effectively as I can while my child navigates these muddy waters between young child and confident adult. 

Does every parenting strategy work for every family? Of course not. But this is my starting place as our teen years unfold.

If I re-write this post ten years from now there will certainly be points to add. But I can't imagine any of the ideas here being tossed aside.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

I think if I asked my children what they needed and they could find the words, this is what they would say.

Ten Ways to Peacefully Parent your Teenager

Respect me.

How you speak to me today will become my inner voice tomorrow.

And as much as you need me to respect you (something I struggle with a lot these days), I need you to show me that I also deserve respect. Even when I screw up.

Because your respect of me translates into the self respect I will carry with me into adulthood.

Help me see that I am worthy of it.

See me as a person who deserves as much respect as you easily give adults.

And when I disrespect you, remind me of how I can do better. Remind me by showing me – by giving me – the respect I so deeply crave.

Empower me.

I need to make a real, meaningful contribution. Because I'm old enough to notice if my efforts don't matter and those feeling are reflected in my self-worth.

So give me work to do. Yes, I will grumble, but I'll stand taller when I see what I am capable of. And I'm capable of so much more than you may think.

Empower me also by handing over decisions to me. Decisions about my life, my future, my choices.

Help me find my power.

Just listen.

You have a lot you want to tell me. A lot you want me to understand.

But mostly I just need you to listen.

Listen without judgement to my fears, my feelings, my stories, and to the things I can't bring myself to say. Your presence tells me that you care and that you're here for me – always.

And when you listen to the everyday stuff I know you're also here to listen to the big, scary, hard-to-talk-about stuff.

Love me unconditionally.

There are times when I will act in a way that makes me seem unworthy of your love.

Love me anyway.

I need that message more than anything.

And if you seem like you want to spend time with me, all the better! Knowing that you love me and you like me would be a huge win right now. (Even if I don't tell you.)

Because right now I'm pushing limits in all directions. Stay clear on the truth that even when I screw up I am still worthy of your love. I need to know this now more than ever before.

Trust me.

Your trust in me is a strong and powerful message. When you show me trust I learn to trust myself. My inner voice. My heart.

That means I'll make good choices. Better choices. And I'll also gain confidence. (Which I very much need right now.)

Acknowledge how I've earned your trust whenever you can. I need to hear those words from you.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Connect when you could correct.

Yeah, I screwed up. (I bet you did when you were young, too.)

But when you punish me or shame me or put me down – when you focus only on how I messed up and let your down again – I only learn how to hide my mistakes from you. The next time I stumble I'll make sure you don't know.

The truth is, I don't need more correction right now. What I need more connection.

Validate my journey and help me see that I'm going to be okay. Hold this space with me. Make time for me. Laugh and talk and be with me.

I need you.

Tell me what I'm doing right.

My life is full of messages of what I'm doing wrong these days. From grades or friends to self-image and dating, I know well where I fall short.

Instead of focusing more on my flaws, I could use a little help with seeing my strengths right now.

I could really use the message that despite all the ways things are falling apart there are still places where I shine.

Help me see to see my own light.

Encourage me.

My dreams and yours won't look the same. They're not supposed to.

Even if you think my dreams or passions are impractical or foolish or crazy, feed my fire. Please.

Encourage me. The world provides enough discouragement without you adding to the mix.

I'm trying on adulthood and wondering where life can take me. I need you on my side, cheering me on.

Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Accept me.

Despite our differences, I need to know that you accept me. All of me. The way I dress, the people I like, the music I enjoy, my vision for the future – everything.

Being a teenager is hard enough without feeling like I'm being judged at home. Find reasons to love who I am, even when it's not what you were expecting.

Acceptance matters to me. So, so much.

Be my safe-place.

The world has enough bullies without me finding one at home.

I need our home to be a safe place.

So let me express my feelings – as big or uncomfortable as they may be. Let me be vulnerable, angry, afraid, and confused with you. Let me stumble and fall and get up again as you offer me your hand. Just like you did when I was small.

Be my safe place and my anchor in these stormy emotional seas.

  Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

With these ten points to guide us we can stay close to our teens and be available for them during this time of their great unfolding.

It may be messy, it may be emotional, but they'll know they can count us us to keep loving them, liking them, and being the arms they can fall into when everything falls apart.

 : : :

You might also enjoy my More Peaceful Parenting series. While I wrote it for young children, I'm finding it still applies as we move into the teen years.

I'd love to hear what you would add to the list! Especially those who have already navigated the teen years and stayed deeply connected through it all.

  Ten ways to peacefully parent your teenager | Clean. www.lusaorganics.typepad.com

Fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

fresh pastures

This weekend felt like one big reboot for me.

It was exactly what I needed.

No, I didn't do it all, but I found time for so much more than I have for many days.

I made time for myself, my kids, my husband, and a friend. Inside I found time for more painting and an epic mudroom clean out. Outside there was early morning garden weeding, a wonderful harvest, our first two days milking our goat Melissa, and a half-day spend as a family fencing new pastures for the sheep.

And with all that goodness going on fencing – somehow – rose to the top of my list of weekend highlights. (Okay, milking rose to the very tippy top, but fencing – a job I don't normally love – topped even painting this time.)

Here's the thing about animals.

They look pastoral, romantic, and sweet. Which they are. But they are also a great deal of work. Taking good care of them is, indeed, more work than we expected. There's a learning curve on them all (steeper on some than others) and while we're working our way up, it's a slow road.

Almost three years in on our little farming gig and there's lots of reevaluating going on. Do sheep make sense for us? Do goats? And meat birds? And the rest? We're running a cost-benefit analysis on every aspect of our life and making sure how we spend our time is worth the energy and effort we're putting in.

They are good questions that I encourage everyone to ask themselves.

Some of our biggest, most rewarding life changes have come from asking ourselves juicy, challenging questions. "Is this our right path?" "What do we really want?" "Is it working?"

Our biggest game-changer came more than a decade ago, with me holding then two-year old Sage on my hip, looking out the window at the pasture across the road. I felt myself awaken to the reality that we were living in a place we moved to for a job I quit two years before.

And I yelled, "What are we doing here!?"

Within two years we had sold our house, Pete quit his job, we moved to the community we'd always wanted and started our own business. Boom.

Ask the big questions.

But I digress. Back to fencing.

Fencing always falls to Pete. And for start-up inexperienced farmers who want to rotationally graze animals on 42 varied acres it's big work to take on. And it's ever-changing. Factor in that sheep have different requirements than goats and that we have a lot of lowlands and horsetail that don't work for either, it's like doing a Rubik's Cube when the time comes to move animals.

As I said, we're reevaluating.

Reevaluation or not, the sheep needed a clean pasture this weekend, and when Pete went out to fence before the rain that was forecast for Saturday I pulled the kids in for a chat.

I told them that animals were a lot of work, most of which their papa did. I acknowledged how much we all love having sheep and goats but that it didn't feel fair that Papa has so much of their work on his plate. I suggested that we go out and help him put the fence in so the job would be done faster.

And to my amazement, they thought that was a great idea and all but bounded down to the creek to help place insulators and fence posts and wire.

I savor these moments of delirious cooperation and harmony.

They are rare and I don't take them for granted.

And what a lesson for me! Had I forced them to do this work our day would have likely been joyless drudgery for us all. I supposed the same goes for me, had I been strong-armed into it. But they saw that they were needed and jumped in with enthusiasm, and so did I. We led with love. We wanted to help.

I also saw how Sage, nearly 13, needs meaningful adult work in his life.

Work like fencing and stacking wood and cooking dinner and mowing the lawn. He needs to see his own competence, contribution, and value. He needs to see how our family works because he contributes.

When he looks out on our sheep, contentedly grazing down in the valley, will he see his own hard work and success? I think he will.

Don't we all need that in our lives?

And finally this: fencing is not my favorite task. It's not even on the list. I would have much preferred painting or sewing or canning the dilly beans or making lunch than popping insulators on T-posts all morning.

But going out to help with fences forced me out of my rhythm (or rut, as it may be) and into something new.

While working with fence posts I marveled at the blue vervain and the bone set, the mullein and the swamp milkweeed. I noticed honeybees, their legs thick with orange pollen legwarmers. I listened to the gurgle of the creek. I smiled. A lot.

I got out in it, despite having other plans.

And these co-pilots we've brought into our lives are so good for that, aren't they?

Our children, our livestock, our partners, our pets – they all pull us off our comfortable, predictable tread-mill and take us out into the world, to places we might not otherwise go.

They get us up off the couch and out into the beauty of the world that exists just beyond our sight. How grateful I am for that nudge.

And come to think of it, I guess that belongs on our list as we reevaluate, too.

 

What big questions are on your list today?

 

 

Before our fledglings fly

Before our fledglings fly

Before our fledglings fly

Before our feldglings fly

Before our feldglings fly

Before our feldglings fly

Before our feldglings fly

The day had gotten away from us, and suddenly it was late – 10:30 and the end of a busy day.

We stood together brushing our teeth, my son and I, both gazing in the mirror with sleep-hungry eyes.

It was bedtime.

It was ritual and rhythm and everyday mundane.

As he stood in front of me I noticed, surprised, that he reaches so far beyond my chin. My eyes grazed the top of his head toward our reflection in the mirror.

I wrapped my arm around his chest and gave him a squeeze, testing. He didn't pull away but leaned in, so I left my arm there while we brushed.

Savoring.

I'm learning the new boundaries. And adapting to them with grace. But sometimes I miss the boundless affection of early childhood.

I shift and grow and count this leaning in as measure of our closeness.

 

How many times had we done this before? Brushing together, readying for bed.

Mother and child, suspended in the mundane rituals of life.

First him in the sling, toothless but aware, me in the same pajamas I'd worn constantly for three days and counting.

Next him with tiny teeth, the top pair cutting first, unexpectedly, after the wheelbarrow incident. I called him "bunny" when this ritual began, me brushing his two new teeth each night before sleep.

I remember him standing, mouth open wide, wild blond curls around his ears, wearing floral pink polyester footie pajamas that he chose himself from the thrift store.

As he grew I remember making up brushing songs to get him to keep still long enough for me to finish. He would lie back on the tile floor as I pretended the toothbrush was a backhoe and his teeth were a construction site, his blue eyes sparkling.

Two teeth. Then four. Then a mouthful.

And soon he was big enough to brush himself, with checking, then without.

Night after night in a seemingly endless string stretching out into forever.

But it's not forever. It's finite.

Because here we were, thousands of nights into our journey, my eyes just clearing his head to see us in the mirror.

It won't be long now.

 

And I thought –

I'm thankful I wasn't born a bird.

Because almost thirteen years with this child? It is far from enough.

What if we had only a season?

Then, I suppose, we would truly savor.

Savor each brief moment before our fledglings fly.

And so I will.

I will savor. And be grateful.

Because we get scores more time with our children than most.

And for that I am so grateful.

 

Yet still somehow, I feel the time we have could never be enough.

 

Love,

Rachel

 

P.S. If you're new here you might also enjoy this and this, two favorites about the journey that is mothering.

Fleeting

My dad came to visit today.

After Lupine left the room he looked at me with wide open eyes and said soberly, "She's so big."

She is.

And so is her brother.

The truth is, in one more breath they will be grown. Just like we were as our own parents stood watching just a generation ago.

 

And it felt like time to read these words once more.

 

This is a repost of a piece I originally shared in 2013. 

Because yes. I feel it again today.

I expect the same is true for you now and then.

Love,
Rachel

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

Fleeting. A poem about growing up. | Clean : : the LuSa Organics Blog

There are days when I ache with this truth.

I feel it in the marrow of my bones.

Clear into my soul.

Because I know.

 

These days are fleeting.

 

Nothing lasts forever.

 

Not the sleepless nights of a newborn nor the angst of a pre-teen.

Not the sweet milky smile of a baby nor the quick humor or this half-grown child.

Our life has become this pile of snapshots and in each photo I can see you growing up.

Sometimes it feels so fast I can scarcely breathe.

 

No, nothing lasts forever.

 

And so I look around and wonder where the time has gone.

It turns out that "this too shall pass," my motto on the hardest days, applies to everyday.

And suddenly I don't want to squander a moment.

 

Today is fleeting.

And I wonder when my son will be as tall as me.

And when my daughter will no longer curl in my lap and kiss my cheeks.

I wonder at how much longer my arms will be the welcome nest that my children flock to, encircling them as they sleep.

 

And when they will finally pull away.

 

And so tonight I will lay beside you until you are soundly dreaming, just in case I wake tomorrow to discover that you've grown up.

 

I will listen to your breathing and remember the days when you were small and sometimes it seemed so hard.

And I wonder why it seemed so hard.

 

In the darkness I promise myself to lead with my heart.

Always.

To lead with compassion.

Starting now.

I promise myself to stop wasting time speaking words I will regret.

 

I imagine this life with children grown, off to write their own stories and live their own adventures.

And while my mind delights in them finding their wings, my heart weeps at the suggestion.

 

And there is that ache again.

 

Perhaps that ache is love.

True, full, indescribable love. The kind that you didn't know existed until you had children of your own.

The kind you can't explain now because language is inadequate.

The kind of love you whisper into small, sleeping ears because you just need them to know what is unknowable.

 

This much love.

 

Yes. Maybe that ache is the feeling of a heart bursting from a fullness that is immeasurable.

 

And perhaps that ache will help us remember what really matters.

 May it keep us kind.

May it keep us playful.

May it help us find the words and be the parents that we want to be.

Words like "I'm sorry," and "It hurts," and "I understand."

Words like "I love you," and "You are enough," and "I am here."

Words that heal us and connect us.

 

May it help us remember how it feels to be small.

I remember how it feels to be small.

 

May we live this life and guide these children with the goal of having nothing to regret.

Not one thing.

And may we remember always that when the sun sets on today our child will be one day older.

One day closer to grown.

And that tomorrow is another chance to start again.

 

Oh, yes. These days are fleeting.

 

So I will savor the taste of my child's spirit when it rises up.

I will skim it off and drink it deeply.

So that I never forget these fleeting days.

So that I never forget this perfectly ordinary day that will be dust and snapshots tomorrow.

 

Today I will hold you in my arms.

I will listen to your dreams.

I will take your hand and go wherever you wish to go.

While you still want to journey there together.

 

Because soon it will be time.

 Time to open my arms and let you go.

 As you find your wings and soar.

 

And I ache.

Again.