Organic Wisdom :: How To See A Child

On occasion I like to share some of the quotes I post on Twitter and Facebook, with some of my expanded thoughts on it here.

“Organic Wisdom” is what I have found speaking to me in those quiet moments, that guides me and that echoes Truth in my life. Please feel free to download, or share this image in any way you’d like.

One of the best questions I’ve ever asked myself: how does my child need to be seen?

The answers that spoke to me in the ensuing silence?

With patience.
As someone loved and lovable.
As a real human being. (Now. Not just when he grows up.)
As someone capable of greatness.
Capable of learning.
Worthy of respect.

Another version of this question: how does my child WANT to be seen?

As a comedian?
A rock star?
A scientist?
A novelist?
As serious?
Mature?
A kind person?
Someone trustworthy?

Yes, there will be plenty of times when we could see the opposite. But if we choose to still focus on how they need and want to be seen, those times will become less frequent as they step into the person they feel they are.

How you choose to see a child will be reflected in how they see themselves, how they live their lives, and the relationships they find themselves in later. How you choose to see a child will be how they learn to judge themselves or others, what they learn about acceptance, compassion, stereotypes, inclusion versus exclusion, support versus criticism.

“I SEE you.”

Powerful words to hear and experience.

Really seeing them – past their mistakes, past their behaviors, past their challenges – becomes the permission they receive to love and approve of themselves.


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More thoughts on parenting a teenager

Birthday gaming #zeb #monopoly #play

Zeb woke up a little after noon yesterday, his 13th birthday. I could tell from the look in his eyes that something was unsettled within him.

For the next 90 minutes we walked softly, gauging his needs.

He was quiet, teetering on the edge of irritable. Not what we expected, but not uncommon either.

It was several weeks ago that we started talking about his birthday. He had made a list of everything he wanted (which was 95% Halo related) but his anticipation ended there. Or at least his excited anticipation.

When we asked what we wanted to do, I got a clue as to his feelings.

It is his 13th birthday so we had planned to do something big. After all, it’s not every year that your child becomes a teenager. I wanted to celebrate just as much as I thought he did.

So we asked him what he wanted: something big, something small, something with others or by himself, eating out or making something, going somewhere fun and adventurous, somewhere laid-back and low-key or nowhere at all.

His response was to hit the verge of tears.

I’ve seen him spiral down before.

When something gets triggered and he wavers between irritable and depressed.

Justin and I were surprised this time though. As he quickly left the room, we stood looking at each other in confusion.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in parenting it’s this: I have no idea what my child wants or needs.

I have no idea what exactly is getting triggered or when exactly we’re likely to trigger it.

But I do know how to respond.

So I quieted my own triggers (“this is MY birthing day too!” “he should be happy, not upset.” “I don’t have the energy for big emotions.”) and I went to his room.

Zeb’s room in the 5th wheel is a bunk house, which means to really connect I get to climb up on his bunk with him.

Which I did.

I laid beside him on the narrow bed as he stared off to the corner of the room.

I wrapped my arms around him.

And I told him the story of his birth.

How big I was on that day 13 years ago, when his “due date” was anticipated and how he had other plans, what his baby shower was like, how excited each person was to meet him, how his little spirit had told me his name from the very beginning.

I told him what it was like when his body entered the room, how each person was moved to tears at the sound of his cry, the sense of euphoria and joy that swept over me and his grandma and his aunt.

He slowly rolled toward me as he listened.

I told him what it was like when he was a baby. The first time the favorite people in his life held him. What he loved and what he would do that made him so wonderfully him. Then I recounted each birthday I could remember. And I reminded him what an honor it was to be his mother.

I could feel his mood shifting, but sensed he needed time. So I left him with a kiss.

(He came out later with uplifted spirits, which told me I was on the right track. I may have no idea what was going on within him but I still had a moment of Mama Success in my attempts at meeting his needs.)

So yesterday, I wasn’t completely off-guard when he wasn’t excited to see anyone or do anything.

Instead I just leaned into trust.

I walked to our friends in the next RV and let them know we were going to have a quiet day together (Zeb even decided to postpone cake until today). And I went back to spend my son’s 13th birthday without any fanfare, however felt right to him.

His request: Just hang out.

So we did. We played Mario Kart, and Monopoly, and laughed together like it was an easy Sunday afternoon, not the start of a new era.

We went out to pizza together, and laughed some more at the jokes he told us.

My handsome MEN. #birthday #zeb

Zeb's cake: Halo battle in the hill

His spirits lifted, we came home and met with our friends for a short time and he happily received their homemade cards and gifts. (We still have plans for cake as soon as I post this blog post.) Then we played Rummikub before heading off to bed.

It was a good day…and I’m proud of myself.

….

Can I admit something?

I’ve been worried about parenting a teenager. All his life I’ve held my breath for this right here. The strictness I leaned into when he was small was out of fear that if I didn’t crack down then, this era of our relationship I’m in right now would go terribly wrong. The changes I made as we shifted toward relationship-based, organic parenting was in hopes I could course correct and maintain an actual relationship as he grew.

I’ve worried so deeply I would lose him at this age.

And it’s through my triggers that I still can.

We all have so many ideas of what teenagers are like, what they can do or should do. What is right and wrong with each one we meet.

And the more I work to release those the better I get at parenting him and maintaining our relationship.

I mentioned to someone not long ago that as soon as we think we have their needs figured out, they change. I’m never really aware of what’s going on within him; sometimes he’s not fully aware of it.

But the one constant, the one thing that hasn’t changed in parenting him for 13 years…is that it all hinges on how well I tune out my barriers and tune into him in each moment.

Tune into his unique and ever-changing needs.

Tune into where he is and what he wants to share or do (or not).

Tune into trusting him and my ability to love him in the way he tells me (or hints to me).

It’s the one skill that never changes, despite their age, despite their unique selves:

Our ability to meet them where they are and help them figure it out.

It’s fucking hard.

Yesterday was a win for me. I dropped my ideas of how I wanted to do things, how I wanted to celebrate, what he “should” be grateful for and why, and as a result we had one of the best days we ever have. We connected, played, laughed, and left him feeling as though it was a wonderful day with the people he loved.

But sometimes I totally fail. I lean into my own fear, my own stubbornness, my own insistence that I know better than he does. I refuse to see his point of view, to connect with him on a deeper level, to trust him. And it’s always terrible.

13 years ago I thought the hardest thing would be “getting through” the teen years without losing him…

Now I know that the hardest thing is getting through my own ideas of who (or where) he should be.


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Is Our Anti-Child Society Your Fault?

Choco-fingers

We live in an adult-centered, anti-child world where mistreatment of children is considered, not just appropriate, but preferred.

At best, kids are considered loud, messy and exhausting.

At worst, they are considered inherently “bad” and in need of training, which is usually doled out in the form of mental, emotional or physical abuse.

It’s true that children are the only group that is still boldly and legally discriminated against. They are the only people who are legally allowed to be hit, stolen from or held against their will. There is even a movement to ban the “brats” from public places based on nothing but their age.

Think about any of these sentiments said about a particular race and you’ll see my point. It is a very anti-child society we live within.

Of course, all of this instills in children a belief that they are less than, broken or bad. And unless they heal that belief, because children are the only oppressed group who will outgrow their oppression, it’s a belief they will continue to carry into their unoppressed adult life and inform every choice they make, including the treatment of the next generation.

So, we are essentially creating an entire culture of broken, hurting human beings for generations to come.

And I keep hearing so many parents complain about this and the so-called “brat bans”.

We are all appalled and offended when someone speaks condescendingly, assumes a child’s guilt or otherwise passes judgment on them based on their size.

But how many are doing anything about it?

Guess what?

If you want the anti-child treatment to change you’ve got to come out of your hiding places and start talking about.

Not just on Facebook.

Not just on your blog.

You need to start speaking up. At family reunions. At the grocery store. With your best friend. With strangers at the park.

You need to grow some cahones and start creating real awareness by speaking your Truth.

You need to live with Integrity.

Last week I got the opportunity to ask an older gentleman to drop some anti-semetic remarks he was making in front of us.

This was a strong, opinionated man who never backs down. He’s the kind of man that constantly makes racist, classist or sexist remarks and is used to winning arguments. The kind of man no one even bothers arguing with anymore.

I knew all of this going in. I’ve seen how people will sit uncomfortably and listen as he makes these remarks and not say a word, because they don’t feel it’ll help. They all looked pained as they shrug their shoulders and ask “What can I do?”

But I live by my own integrity.

And according to my integrity, all people should be treated with honor and respect and compassion. Even this man who was making anti-semetic remarks.

So with respect for him, I clearly stated that I was uncomfortable with his remarks, explained why and stated that I would appreciate them not happening in front of us.

Because I spoke with respect, not anger or fear, he did what no one had ever seen him do before.

He apologized and said he hadn’t looked at it that way.

We then went on to have a nice conversation for several more hours.

The One Rule To Speaking Your Truth

It doesn’t work when you speak from a place of anger or fear.

It doesn’t work when you fight or demand or criticize.

People shut down when they hear your anger, or feel attacked.

But people hear Truth.

Truth is not angry. It’s not fear-based. It’s not judgmental.

It’s just Truth.

And real Truth comes from a place of love. It comes with compassion and acceptance and gentleness. It doesn’t back down or hide.

And it speaks volumes louder than anger.

If we want to change these anti-child views…if we want to promote respect and love, compassion and kindness…we get to speak out while we set an example of what respect, love, compassion and kindness look like.

We get to live our Integrity out loud.

(And really, if you’re speaking with anger, are you really living your integrity?)

Change doesn’t happen by complaining about it.

Keep this in mind: the reason these anti-child (or racist or sexist or any-ist) sentiments make you uncomfortable is because you’re not living according to your own beliefs, your own integrity, when you don’t speak your Truth.

You’re sacrificing your beliefs to “keep the peace” (what peace?). And that’s uncomfortable!

To live with integrity means to take your authenticity and your Truth out of its box and into the world.

What do you know as Truth? What is holding you back from speaking your Truth with compassion and respect for everyone involved?

Because if you see the abuse and hate occurring towards children – or anyone else – and you do nothing about it…or you increase it with abuse and hatred of your own, whose really to blame here?

Your Kids Don’t Owe You Jack (Or: Sometimes Life Hands You The Hard Lesson)

Talk to the hand

It was Mother’s Day morning and I woke with high hopes. After all, I’m a mama and I give a lot. This was “my day”.

Except it wasn’t. You see, it’s easy for us since we travel full-time to lose track of the day and my husband and son didn’t even remember that is was Mother’s Day.

I was sent into a tailspin of emotions and painful thoughts. “How could they forget?” “How dare they forget?” “I’m not important to anyone.” “I’m just the doormat.” “I’m that forgettable.” “Well, screw them both.”

Pain, suffering, anger, resentment, hurt…it all started pouring out.

Not because any of it was real. But because Life was giving me the opportunity to DIG IN and discover where I held these feelings and ideas that were causing me pain, instead of joy, that were keeping me in misery instead of inspiring me to create.

So I dug in. I allowed myself to open my heart to healing. And in the space I created to release the old stories that were keeping me in anger, resentment and disconnection these are the words that spoke to me…

(P.S. It sounds rougher than it was. It was actually filled with a lot of love and glimmers of freedom.)

Now that I have your attention let’s please make one thing clear…

You chose to have children.

You chose to be a caregiver, to take on the responsibility of providing for your child’s physical, emotional and mental well-being.

Your kids don’t owe you thanks for your own decisions.

They just don’t. They are here to live their lives, growing and learning in a way that makes sense to them.

They aren’t here to meet your needs.

That’s your job.

It’s your job to meet your emotional needs. It’s your job to fill yourself with love. It’s your job to care for your own well-being, give yourself the things you love or want and make sure you are happy.

So, are you?

Are you loving yourself? Are you making your well-being a priority? Are you giving yourself everything you need to be the parent, the partner, the person you want to be?

No one else is responsible for it. Just you.

And here’s the Truth…

When you can honestly answer “Yes” you will start to notice that others treat you with the same care and consideration you treat yourself.

And when you are honest enough to know the answer is “No” you will notice that others treat you with the same care and consideration you treat yourself.

I sat with those words and those questions…was I giving myself love? Was I making myself a priority in my own heart or insisting to others that I come last?

And it hit me: All year long I refused their generosity. I made it out to seem I didn’t care about silly little things like celebrations and gifts. I shut down their very desire to love on me by insisting they shouldn’t. I could even remember times where I insisted that Mother’s Day wasn’t important. And although I had been making peace with those things inside myself that kept me from receiving, they had years of experience with my refusal. Why would they have cause to remember a day I insisted they forgot?

I made peace with my feelings of inadequacy after those words rang through my heart. I made peace with my thoughts and felt peace in my emotions too.

I discovered I am worth celebrating, I am worth showing my family how I want to celebrate my own mamahood. I’m so worthy of it that I can do it for myself.

And in an instant I accessed the freedom and the joy in my heart that was missing.

It was about two instances later that my son walked in, heartbroken that he had forgotten Mother’s Day. If I had been in my anger and resentment I wouldn’t have been able to meet him with compassion. (I probably would’ve seen to it that he felt horrible or forevermore remembered me as a raving bitch.) But I was so deeply in love with my own mamahood and ready to celebrate my own Self, that my arms went around him and I told him it was only my responsibility to make myself happy and that wasn’t his burden. That my love for him ran deeper than that.

We then went on to plan a rockin’ Mother’s Day together. ♥

Hey sweet mama, can I support you?


I know how damn hard it is to fill our own cup when you’re working so hard to fill everyone else’s.

That’s why the start of the Organic Parenting e-course is dedicated to just that – showing you how to consistently, effectively, wonderfully fill your own cup.

So you can shine. Not just as a mama.

But as the vibrant woman you are.

Ask yourself: What’s stopping me from meeting my own needs?

 

What Are You Holding? Space + Vision vs. Limitations.

Hold Me

A lot has happened since I experienced my perspective shift toward receiving.

I’ve experienced such an incredible insurge of insight and experience in the matters of support, creating tribes and the intertwining acts of creating our worlds.

There is no separating these exchanges from Who We Are. We give. We receive. We shine.

Sometimes the exchange feels big – an A-ha moment that rocks your world, the purchase of something that brings beauty into your life, a new commitment or change.

Sometimes it feels pretty small – a tip left for the waiter, a smile to a stranger, a phone call from a friend.

But more and more I’m recognizing one of the greatest gifts to give or receive IS the most simple: Our presence.

Holding Space + Vision With Our Presence

My Visionary Mom team is wrapping up this month and I can undoubtedly say the women I’ve come to love on this team will be a part of my life for some time to come. We’ve laughed and cried, voiced our anger and fears and victories. We’ve shared advice, resources, tools and ideas with each other to help accomplish our dreams.

But it’s come to all of us in the past few days that perhaps the greatest gift we’ve given to each other is not so tangible.

We’ve created and held sacred a wide open space for one another to Be, to dream, to discover and to create.

But even more incredible is what is held within that space:

A vision of “Who You Are”.

This is such a gentle, careful thing. Without expectations or attachments, we just hold in our hearts an image of the other person  – an image of strength, of beauty, of authenticity, of the incredible women we are.

In my darkest hours or deepest and messiest challenges, it was this space and this vision that moved me through.

When I felt I lost my hold on my own light, my own vision, my own strength, I was reminded that they were holding it for me. It never went travels from me, because those around me never let it go.

The Opposite is Also True

The space and image we hold for someone can be freeing and empowering for them….or it can be incredibly limiting.

We can hold an image of someone that is negative: an image of brokenness, of unhappiness, of pain, of being wrong.

Or we can hold an image based on our own expectations, based on what we want or think is best but that does not resonate with the other person.

And that image can shape their beliefs of Who They Are, what they are capable of doing and where they are going.

It can feel just as slight as an affirming image, so much so that we don’t realize we’re doing it.

  • She’s never happy.
  • Oh, he’s just like that. That’s just the way he is.
  • They are always wrapped up in drama.

It doesn’t matter if we feel it’s true. It’s still constricting.

We do this with more than just labels, though; we do it with our expectations, with our limiting beliefs of what is possible and with our fears.

  • I don’t think he’ll follow through.
  • Here we go again….
  • You’re not being practical.
  • But you could be hurt!

In the same way an affirming or positive image never travels far from me, a negative image never travels far either.

Your ideas of Who They Are are always there to be accessed, remembered and absorbed by them.

And the closer you are to that person – a parent or child, a lover, a close friend – or the more vulnerable a place they are in, the more your image of them will have an impact.

What Are You Holding?

In the past few weeks, I’ve have been more consciously holding space and vision for those I know and love or with whom I come in contact.

With my son, whom I tend to worry about. With my husband, whom I tend to help too much. With my mom, my friends, my clients.

Sometimes the shift is incredible: Zeb has felt the freedom I’ve created by holding that space and vision for him and he’s flourishing in it. (Yes. It was only my fear that was holding him back before.)

Sometimes the shift is in my internal processing: I feel freedom, compassion and wisdom in my own course of action when I’m approaching life without these limitations.

But even if the only thing to shift is our own perspectives, we’re still on the right track. Because our perspectives shift everything. 🙂

I’m Holding This For You.

My intention with this blog is to promote my message of Being Organic.

I talk a lot about what that looks like in my own life, but I have no idea of what that will look like in your life.

Some of my Truth – organic learning, organic living, minimalism, authenticity, unconditional compassion, autonomy – will resonate with you. Some of it won’t. And that’s okay.

I don’t need to know Who You Are in order to hold a space and vision for you.

I just need to know one simple truth:

You are wise and wonderful. And you shine best when you remember that.

I’m holding space here for you, a vision of that in you. You are welcome to access that space and that vision anytime you need to remember. 🙂

What are you holding for others?

Does this message resonate with you? If so, I would love for you to share it! You can use one of the social media buttons below…

The If/Then Syndrome and Unconditionality

One Of Us - Storypeople

There’s an epidemic that has infiltrated our culture. It creeps into families and relationships and make us all sick. Sick of each other, really.

It’s the If/Then Syndrome, sometimes referred to as the When/Then Syndrome. And it gets us all at some point. It’s that Tit-for-Tat behavior that we all loathe, and yet it’s just as much a part of us as we feel it is of anyone else. Some examples of its symptoms:

  • If she’s going to be rude to her kids, then I’m going to tell her off.
  • If he’s gonna yell at me, then I’m gonna yell back.
  • When you act nice to me, then I’ll act kind in return.
  • When you help me with the chores, then I’ll pay you.
  • But if you don’t help me, then I’ll be moody and passive-aggressive.
  • When he apologizes, then I’ll stop giving him the cold shoulder.
  • If she cheats on me, then I’ll cheat on her.

Truly, it’s all equal and it’s all pretty immature thinking. But the most mature among us fall victim to it.

We apply it to our parenting, our partners, and our friendships. Ourselves.

It’s not entirely our fault. It’s the culture we live in, one based on rewards and punishments. We feel that every action must be met with an equal (or greater) reaction. We give kids grades based on their performance, allowance based on their contributions, attention based on their behavior. We give our spouses snide comments or biting retorts. We give others parents pointed looks, or offer hurtful, harsh remarks.

And we say (and truly believe) that things won’t change unless we do these things.

We’re a culture of human reactors.

I’ve just realized I do it all the time. If Justin isn’t helping out, I am moody or unhelpful in return. If Zeb is cranky, I act cranky right back. It’s stupid, really because here’s the thing:

I need to be Who I Am, not because of anyone else, but because it’s who I want to be.

  • I want to be a kind, patient, compassionate mother – not to get a particular behavior from my son, but because I want to be that mother.
  • I want to be a generous, loving partner – not to get something from my husband, but because that’s the woman I want to be.
  • I want to listen, support, and honor others – not to be recognized, but because that’s the person I choose to be.

And what does it say about ourselves otherwise?

We expect kids and adults to “take responsibility” for their own actions and we don’t allow them to use others as a scapegoat for their own behavior. Then we yell, punish, criticize, humiliate, embarrass, lose our tempers or our patience and we say it’s because of something they did. We say it’s because we have to make a difference, because they need to change, because of some assumed outcome if we don’t.

Bullshit.

It’s not because of what they do; it’s because of something we do. We base our actions off our expectations, instead of our intent. We sacrificed who we want to be because they aren’t being who we think they should be. And when we didn’t get what we wanted (and how often does coercion really result in real cooperation anyway?) we responded with something akin to a temper tantrum.

How can we possibly expect our children (or anyone else) to do something we ourselves can’t master?

This is what unconditional love is about: That we continue to love a person in the same exact way regardless of whether they are being kind or mean, helpful or disruptive, quiet or loud, thoughtful or inconsiderate, joyful or short-tempered, patient or rude, generous or stingy.

Anything less is not unconditional love.

It’s fair-weather friendship, the parent who isn’t there when their child is hurting, the partner who leaves you feeling alone.

And if love is not unconditional, we’d better not call it love at all.

Over the past few weeks, with engine problems and stress pouring out of our ears, I’ve been told by nearly everyone that it all happens for a reason; it all works out for the greater good, that we are exactly where we need to be. It’s so easy to apply that principle to things like dead batteries or a long pause in your plans.

But why don’t we apply the same principle to our relationships?

If we truly believe we are exactly where we need to be in tough times, that there are no accidents, and that it all happens for a reason, how can we try to change someone at all?

Every mood, every attitude, every hurtful or kind word, every helpful or hindering action from our children, spouses, friends or loved ones is exactly where and what it needs to be.

It’s all good, even the messy, the hurtful, the disruptive. It’s all opportunity, experience, chances for understanding, an occasion for contrast, a space in which to learn. Not just for them, maybe not for them at all. Maybe it’s just there for us.

There is always a bigger picture to view. We get all caught up in the details of the moment, the stories we tell ourselves, without ever remembering one of the most important reasons for the moment, for life at all: Growth.

And only by meeting people, especially children, where they are and accepting them for who they are in that very moment while remaining who we want to be, do we give anyone the opportunity to grow. Only by being the person we want to be can we allow others to be who they are, as well. Only by accepting ourselves as imperfect first, can others accept their own imperfections.

Only through unconditional love and compassion can anything be okay.

You can thrive in unconditional love for yourself and others. You can learn to cut beneath the drama and craziness of the world, parent from a place of compassion, and live an unconventional, organic life. Click here to discover how.

I think it’s called exhaustion…

a belated....and very dusty... bench monday
A belated Bench Monday

I lost it yesterday. We were trying to pack up the weekend leftovers and searching out the remnants of our keepers. I couldn’t find something and when I asked my husband if he’d seen it he said something that felt an awful lot like an accusation. I went to playful whack him, but it came out a whole lot more angrier than that. I think I shocked myself as much as I shocked him.

That’s when I realized I’m bordering on losing it. I went upstairs, laid down on the floor and took a four hour nap. When I woke up I went out to the RV and slept all night.

I’ve spent the entire morning in a very hot, very long bath trying to figure out where all the emotion came from. And I realized the estate sale was what I was holding in my mind as the last Big Thing to do before we leave. I was holding it all together to get through it, essentially putting off my own processing and acclimation and emotions until they now feel like they’re pouring out.

I feel a bit like I’m detoxing. My allergies have been horrendous, my head pounding and my body hurting. And my mind is so discombobulated I can hardly think straight. And when I look around there is still more to do than I imagined.

I’ve spent the last two nights sleeping in the RV. The first night was tough; I felt both safer and less safe. Safer because the area feels cozy, almost womb-like and I could hear any potential danger. Less safe because it felt we were so close to the outside world with only a few inches separating us from said potential danger.

Why I’ve even felt so concerned with “potential danger” is still unknown. I assume it goes back to that perceived sense of security we gain from a home. But on the other hand, living in a home with wheels means feeling unsafe is less likely – if we perceive danger, we can simply move on.

Zeb had a few rough days before and during the sale. I needed more help than he was able to manage and I had to remind myself that this isn’t his job. Since then he’s been able to balance helping out with enough downtime to still process and adjust.

Justin is still working on Benny’s veggie oil conversion with Sara’s husband, Matt and it’s taking much longer than anticipated. They are still waiting on parts to ship and we may not even be ready to roll out by Monday. Justin is also taking care of anything big, so that I can relax a bit today (it’s a pretty good man that sees my outburst as a cry for help).

I’m know there is a lesson in all this about “expectations” and “letting go”. Again. Because that seems to be the lesson of my life, doesn’t it? I need to take a really deep breath and stay in this moment. I need to let go of the expectation of things going a certain way or happening by a certain date. I need to chill and realize we’re not in a hurry. If I can’t do it now, how will I do it on the road?

Highly-Sensitive Transitioning: Before The Move

Zeb making lists of our dreams
Zeb, making a list of our dreams: places and people we want to see
and things we want to do on the road.

When we first started discussing the decision to travel full-time and eventually settle outside of Vegas, we included Zeb. How could we not? He’s one-third of our family and his experience will be as life-changing as ours.

So, we sat down. We talked over our situation and our choices as best we could without overwhelming him or stressing out an easily-stressed soul. We told him every pro and con of full-time RVing we could think of, we gave him a timeline for being on the road but were honest that it could change, we discussed the potential challenges. And we asked what he thought.

He was hesitant, for sure. Thoughtful and questioning. But after some time, and a promise we’d make room for his Legos, he told us it would work for him.

And then he was excited…for about a week. That’s when his real transitioning began.

Zeb is an emotional, highly-sensitive child. He creates strong attachments to animals, friends and family, as well as things that hold special significance. For years he kept his school reports and certificates on his walls because it reminded him of *something* good from those difficult years. So it’s really no wonder that this transition – away from loved ones, best friends, his hometown, all that he knows, even his pets – would hit him hard.

All at once he was torn between sadness and anger. This isn’t to say he wasn’t simultaneously excited. But he realized how much he would miss his friends and family. He worried that he’d be bored. Truthfully, I think he was a bit afraid of such a Huge Unknown. In his ten years, he’s experienced some pretty difficult stuff and it’s left him leaning heavily toward the hesitant side of life. Now here we were, and he was feeling as if the security we’ve built for ourselves was being stripped away. It’s a big world out there and it’s already proven to sometimes be scary.

This went on for awhile. Some days  – many days – I didn’t handle it well. Truthfully, my own excitement was building and I was feeling resentful for his raining over my parade. I didn’t want to be pulled into the emotional upset and away from the budding joy. Internally, I didn’t think I had the energy to handle it.

On those days I tried to rationalize with him, remind him how much fun we’d have, how many more friends we’ll see and make, how many things we’ll have the opportunity to do. I took lots of deep breaths and left the room countless times. It’s not that I didn’t understand him. It’s that I was too wrapped up in my own expectations to react to his needs.

He doesn’t need to be rationalized with or reminded that he had once agreed. He needs to mourn what we are leaving behind, so that he can be prepared to move ahead.

Zeb has always needed a slow transition. He’s slow to get out of bed, slow to stop one thing and start another. We work with this by giving him plenty of notice before we leave, before we eat, before company comes.

And this anger and sadness was the beginning phase of a very big transition. All he needed from me was a place to vent, some validation over what will surely suck and some patience. So I finally stopped rationalizing or talking him out of his emotions. I stopped trying to fix it. (Wait. I thought I learned this one already?)

I allowed myself to be his emotional punching bag.

He needed a safe place to let it all out. And with lots of deep breaths and quiet reminders to myself to keep my mouth shut, I became that place. Sometimes he yelled, other times he cried. Sometimes he questioned and voiced concern. Some days he talked excitedly and made plans. At one point he blamed us for ruining his life and called us names, hating us with conviction. And that’s about when I was suddenly able to see past my own expectations and look with compassion on my son who was grieving a loss in advance.

And as soon as I managed to stay present and compassionate during his storm, it passed. In a matter of an hour he went from total meltdown to cuddling in our arms. In the end he gave us a look that resembled a Thank You, a hug that said I Love You Too and he was off to conquer the day without the heavy emotional load dragging him down.

I’m not about to assume we’ve seen the end. He’s not that kind of kid. And he still has his moments of fear amid the moments of excitement, although they aren’t as explosive now. But if I can remember to breath and not take it personally, I know we’ll get through them, too.

There is plenty more to say on the subject of transitioning/moving/traveling with a highly-sensitive child. You could probably consider this Part One.