Without Dad-One Year Later

Welcome to the December 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Change . . .

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about life changes.

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It’s been a little over a year since the death of my husband. I look back and at times it feels like it was yesterday he was here with us, wrestling the children, wrapping his arms around me in a big hug after work. Then, on the other hand, this seems like the longest year in history. Each morning being harder to start without him, I have to give myself a pep talk before swinging my feet out of the bed. After Bella died, people would comment on how strong I was. I didn’t have much of a choice to tell you the truth. It’s the same with Ian’s death, I’m stronger than I never wanted to be. I have two children that need my constant attention and care, so it’s quite necessary to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m so thankful for them in my life. Though I feel they are not getting 100% of their mom, I’m doing my best. At times, my best might not seem like much, but it’s all I’ve got. My kids see me cry and we talk about their sister and their dad a lot, I don’t want those memories lost. A few things I’ve learned about myself over this last year. I really LOVED being married, being a wife. I’m afraid I took it for granted for the 15 years we were together. I had a really incredible husband, and I’m not sure I always expressed to him how amazing he was as a husband and father. Often if I complained about something in my life, he would say how much we had to be grateful for. He really kept me balanced and appreciative. I try to remember that and often hear his voice telling me to be grateful and happy for having my two healthy children with me. I hate the word widow. Widow conjures up images of bent over ladies in tiny villages wearing scarves around their heads and wearing black every day. I remember in Portugal asking why all of the little old ladies would be dressed in black. I learned after their husband dies, many of them stay in mourning for the rest of their lives and show this by wearing black every day. That’s not me. I don’t consider myself a little old lady in any respect, I just need a different word, just not widow. I do not take pride in being a single mom. In fact, I hate it. I do not like being the only parent. It is so INCREDIBLY HARD! No offense to all of the hard-working single moms out there that are rocking it. That’s just not me. I loved having the support of my husband for homeschooling, for everyday decisions and for talking to at the end of a rough day. I have not found my single-mom groove yet. Though I like the double-parent title better, I still don’t take pride in the fact that I’m doing it alone. I feel like I was a much better mom when I had a supportive husband around. My whole support system is gone so I feel like I’m dangling off the ledge at this single parent gig. I am living in chaos most of the time. You would think a year would be ample time to have got things organized after the death of your husband.Oh no, this is not correct. I am shocked at how disorganized and chaotic things still are in our lives. The tedious amounts of paperwork and the overwhelming amount of things that I’ve had to ignore just to focus on my priorities is ridiculous! Because of losing our daughter several years ago, I thought I was on top of things as far as paperwork goes. No, no,no. I beg each of you that is reading this to take the time to talk with your spouse and make some lists and get things organized now before it is too late. I recommend the site.  She has simple checklists and forms that will be sanity savers when/if something traumatic happens to your family. And for goodness sake, please have a place where you can find passwords for important accounts, etc in case one of you dies. I now have it a priority to get myself organized for my children’s sake. On a positive note, this year the kids and I have had a lot of quality time together. We’ve taken adventures together camping, visiting family and friends, and going to conventions. It’s made us pretty tight knit. So even if I am having a bad day and I lose it, I am able to talk to the kids about it and tell them what I’m feeling and apologize. I have learned to do things I never thought I would need to do, like start campfires and clean fish tanks ( I still call my brother to help with the mouse traps 😉 ). Little by little I see us making progress as a family, moving on to our new life ahead of us.I do feel excited about our new adventures that lie ahead so that makes me happy. I hope to be able to move on with a positive attitude though that may not be my first inclination. Sharing with my children that despite all of the awful things that has happened in our life, we can still choose to be happy. We have hope, and it’s a true blessing. I hope to introduce them to new adventures and continue to travel with them to new and exciting places. This year we hope to get their passports in order and be able to travel out of the country. I am excited about our new learning possibilities and all that is out there waiting for us… as long as I can keep swinging my feet out of the bed.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo 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 December 10 with all the carnival links.)

  • Mature StudentAmber Strocel is embarking on a new adventure in 2014, by returning to a space in her life she thought she’d left behind – that of being a university student.
  • And then there were four — Jillian at Mommyhood learned how quickly love can grow when welcoming a second child to the family.
  • Handling Change As A Mother (And Why That Takes Things To A Different Level) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she helps her young daughter navigate change and why it is so important, as a mother, to gauge her own reactions to change.
  • Without Dad-One Year Later — Erica a
    t ChildOrganics shares how her life has changed one year after losing her husband suddenly.
  • Family Ties — Lori at TEACH through Love realized that her most significant, most painful wound paved the way for her to share her greatest gift.
  • Rootless — After Dionna @ Code Name: Mama‘s parents packed up their home and moved to Florida this fall, she is feeling rootless and restless.
  • A Letter to My Mama Self in the Swirl of Change — Sheila Pai of A Living Family shares a letter she wrote to herself to capture and remember the incredible changes from the year, and invites you to do the same and share!
  • Junctionssustainablemum explains how her family has dealt with a complete change of direction this year.
  • Planning, Parenting, and Perfection — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook explains how most of the plans she made for her adult life have worked out differently than she planned, but she’s ended up getting a lot of what she really wanted.
  • Why First Grade Means Growing Up… for Both Me and My Daughter — Donna at Eco-Mothering discovers that her daughter’s transition into first grade is harder as a parent.
  • First Year of Mothering — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot reflects on the quiet change that took her by surprise this year.
  • Building the Community YOu Desire — A recent move has Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children working toward setting up a new support network.
  • Slowing down in 2013 — A car fire and a surprise diagnosis of Down syndrome made 2013 a very different year than the one Crunchy Con Mommy and family were expecting!
  • The Seven Year Cycle — After 7 intense years of baking, birthing and breastfeeding 6 kids, Zoie at TouchstoneZ wonders, “Will I be enough for what comes next?”
  • Rebirth — Kellie of Our Mindful Life has found that each of her births leaves her a different person.
  • When a Hobby Becomes a Business — This year, new doors opened for That Mama Gretchen‘s hobby of writing and blogging – it has turned into a side business. She’s sharing a bit about her journey and some helpful tips in case you’re interested in following the same path.
  • 5 Tips for Embracing a Big Change in Your Family — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about a big change in her family and shares tips that have always helped her family embrace changes.
  • Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes — Ana at Panda & Ananaso ruminates on how having a child changed her priorities.
  • Homeostasis — Lauren at Hobo Mama is finding that even as elements shift in her life — in cosleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, & more — they mostly remain very familiar.
  • Sally go round the sun — A new baby brings joy and unexpected sadness for Douglas at Friendly Encounters, as she is diagnosed with a rare genetic condition.
  • Embrace it — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen muses about the changes in her family this year and how she can embrace them . . . as best she can anyway.
  • Big Change; Seamless but Big — Jorje of Momma Jorje shares how one of the biggest changes of her life was also a seamless transition.
  • Celebrating Change — Change feeds Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep‘s soul. And all the work that seemed like monotonous nothingness finally pays off in a clear way.

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Daddy Died

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations
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 spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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One of my favorite pictures of Daddy with Big Z. 

I knew I had to say it straight, with as few words as possible. I knew I couldn’t add explanations or too many words, or it wouldn’t sink it. My brain and body were so overwhelmed with emotions. I had to control myself and be strong for just a few moments to get the words out. My children were seated at a small children’s table in the Hospital waiting area with my sister in law. They spent the night for the first time at my brother’s house the night before, so I hadn’t seen them that morning. I walked into the room and they looked happy to see me, but they could tell something was wrong. I sat down next to my oldest and in a soft yet strong voice I said to my daughter “Daddy died.” She just looked at me puzzled, disbelief was in her eyes. She just saw her Daddy yesterday, he was fine. He just called before she went to bed last night and he prayed with her over the phone. Now she just said, “What?!” and I had to say it again, “Daddy died.” Little brother was there too, but he didn’t say anything. He slumped over and sat on my lap. This was a bit too much to comprehend all at once. This month will be 6 months since I’ve had to had that conversation with my children.It’s still too much to comprehend at times. We are still grieving, but the memories are beginning to get easier to talk about. This was only the beginning of the tough conversations… Why?.. Where is Daddy now?.. Why did this happen to us?.. Will you die too?.. Will I die? Where’s Daddy’s body?.. Can we keep Daddy’s things? … My strategy is still the same when these questions arise, I try to answer them as simply and as straight forward as possible. What is your strategy when faced with these tough conversations?

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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 March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mex
    ico
    writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

Authentic Grief

Welcome to the January 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Authenticity This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about authenticity through character, emotions, and establishing authentic communication with their children. We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Honesty. ***

 

Most of us have faced some sort of great loss in our life and have had to work through the grief process. Many families have had to deal with miscarriage, infant loss or the death of other close loved ones. I’ve shared that my husband passed away recently. Five years before that I lost my daughter, Bella, at 16 months of age. Grief sucks. It’s ugly and there’s no way around it. It can catch you off guard and leave you in an emotional puddle at the most unexpected moments.  At other times, you want to cry, but feel unable to do so.
As parents, how can we be authentic in our grief? When we are faced with the emotions of anger, shock and depression do we tend to hide them from our children? Sometimes we think that we need to protect them from issues of death and dying.  How wrong we are to shield our children from these experiences! Death is a subject that we’ll all deal with at some point. Trying to keep your child from experiencing grief or sorrow is impossible. Making death a taboo subject only creates more fear.
It is always best to tell children the truth. Share your genuine emotions on the topic. Perhaps they wondered what happened.Keep your communication simple and honest. It may not be easy to talk about, but it’s best to answer the child’s questions so they don’t fill in the missing parts themselves. When they are left with their own thoughts, they may start to blame themselves for situations that were out of their control.
Feel your loss when it happens, share those feelings with your children. It’s okay for your children to see you cry or to feel angry in dealing with the loss your family has faced.(It’s also okay to take time for yourself to cry alone too!) Depending on their age, children may not have an adequate vocabulary to explain their feelings. So keep the conversation going as they grow. They’ll mature and have the vocabulary to put their feelings into words and this will help them to continue in their grief process. It also helps to preserve the memory of the dead loved one.
When a family is faced with a great loss, often well-meaning family and friends may offer to take the child(ren) to give the grieving parent(s) a break. This may be helpful for short periods of time. However, many children will fell more secure being close to their parents through this scary time. It can be so difficult to be dealing with your own grief and reaching out to help your children at the same time. Working towards this balance of healing yourself and your children is key.  If possible, reaching out to help our children through their grief will help them in their path to healing, and will reward us in the long run.
Embracing grief and dealing with it in an authentic manner will give your child a strong foundation to build on as they grow. They will grow up more aware of how to deal with tragedy and loss that they will face as adults. This will help them to know how to support others in a healthy, whole manner. It can be a time of unexpected lessons. Often children will learn how to deeply care for one another, because of the love they were shown through this difficult time.  I am reminded of my son’s prayer last night, he said “We are very sad, but we are happy. We have friends that love us so much..”

*** APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 25 with all the carnival links.)