Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I'm THAT Mom...Naturally!

A couple of years ago, I wrote this "I'm THAT Mom" post.

It came to me more or less whole, because we had just been camping with other unschoolers, and the comaraderie and the beauty an life of the lake were still overflowing within me....

When I saw the topic for this month's Unschooling Blog Carnival, I was a bit perplexed.

What kind of THAT Mom am I, now?

So, I went to the sources - the people who call me Mom.  They had only flattering things to say, which stroked my ego even if it didn't coax out my muse.  According to them I am kind, generous, really really nice, patient, and I work hard to get them things they want.  I am pretty and happy....

And then, it happened.

Annalise said, "You're natural.  You're my natural mother, and I'm your natural daughter."

She's had a way of putting things ever since she was a toddler and her favorite word was, "Happened."

The muse burst forth.  Yes, I'm a natural Mom - I definitely lean toward crunchy Earth-mamaness.  I might have made a fine hippie; I was even born in 1969.

But my affinity for organic and ecologically sensitive products; my penchant for thrift stores and dislike of makeup, aren't really what she meant.

She loves nature, does Annalise. She lives it.  I have been many incarnations of mommies, in our play, and, when I am not her natural Mommy, I often am asked to adopt her away from a home where she was not being treated well...

For the first years of her life, I treated all of my mothering more or less like those games - as a role I was playing, with prescribed rules and have-tos.  I did all the things I "was supposed" to do to "be a good mom".

In those days, I did not look to the kids to see what they needed for me to be a good mom to them.

Discovering unschooling unlocked me, shifted me, and helped me to begin the arduous journey of reshaping myself into the everchanging image of the mother they needed.

Still, though, I was playing a role - the role now of the good unschooling mother.

Playing the role of unschooling Mom at the National Zoo, 2008.

And I needed a script to help me navigate that role.  Each time a new conflict or problem arose, I turned to the scripts I'd created in my mind, ahead of time, using them to guide my way.

It was much better than the days of consuming mainstream parenting media, and trying to create a peaceful and happy life with that....

But, still, it wasn't enough.  Before I could create a peaceful home, I needed to be peaceful.

I realized, eventually, that I would need to make peace with my own childhood, and end the dysfunctional ways of relating that still existed within my family of origin.
"The little Foster girl with the long blonde hair".

As I delved more deeply, learned to find a place of confidence and certainty within myself that allowed me, at long last, to sever the ties that bound me to my abusive parents and an abusive sibling, as well; I found a more natural and open place within myself.

It's been about 4 years since I began seriously exploring and applying radical unschooling philosophies in our lives, and I have something now that is new and exciting and has made our home a place that is usually filled with peace - active, noisy, chaotic peace, and quiet, snuggly, mellow peace - and all the types between.

The less-than-peaceful times roll through like summer storms, and we are all getting better, now, at letting them wash over us without sweeping us away....

I don't need scripts, anymore, nor the advice of experts, generally.

I've found my own "unschooling instincts", and a natural type of balance.

I have stepped fully into my own life, making changes there, rather than demanding my children conform to my ideal reality.

I have claimed my own passions -  and one of them is living symbiotically and joyfully with the three others I share my home and my life with.

It's been a long journey, and it isn't over yet -

But I know that, from here forward, I make it as a natural mother, tending to her children as mothers of all mammalian species are intended to do.

So, if you see us, I will be that Mom who, more and more of the time, just seems natural.  Who looks, not outward, but into the vivid blue eyes of a son only a bit smaller than she is, and accepts his powerful hug, and his disbelief that some ten-year-olds do not hug their mothers in public.  Who looks into the deeper, dancing blue eyes of a daughter who, at almost 8, is not little anymore.

And, instead of apprehension and tension as they approach adolescence, I am in awe of the people they are, and of who they are becoming.  Rather than power struggles and battles and resentments building over time, we have a relationship built upon cooperation and respect, and two children who are growing in their ability to consider others, and two parents who are learning to do the same...

At RaptorFest  2012, playing with a miniature horse - ages 7 and 10.

And I think it only gets better - and more natural - from here!


Cap'n Franko said...

Right on, sistah!

Like the song says, in 69 I was 21. I am a (leftover) hippie!

Sue said...

I love this post, Shan. It's really great to see the progression toward a simply more natural CONTENT way of life! Thanks for sharing! :)

Jen Armstrong said...

Yes, Shan! I too watch with awe as my son Cutter, almost 12, approaches adolescence and I find our relationship growing in new and wonderful ways.

Shan Jeniah Burton said...

Frank - I humbly say thanks! And I love leftover hippies. =)

Sue - Thank you! It is amazing to live it, too! =D

Jen - It is awesome, this strapping lad who comes up to my nose, who cooks and talks about driving, and the job he will have, and what he thinks of political candidates...and then comes and leans into me, wrapping his arms around me.