Looking in the Mirror, Welcome 2012

I hate it when I do something I think is stupid, embarrassing may be a better word. I recently did something I’m not happy with myself about. I woke up one morning feeling like I was being “guided” to write a friend. I have not seen this friend in years – probably 20 or more. But, like so many people, through Facebook I have been able to maintain contact with her.

This friend contracted an extremely rare illness. When I say rare, I mean that only 150 people in the world have had this. I’m not inclined to go into too much detail here. But the short is, she almost died and the particular illness she had was extremely traumatic on her body. She is recovering, and because of her strong determination will go back to her life as an exercise coach. I’m thinking that with her excellent physical condition combined with her fierce mental determination, she will prevail and be back to herself in record time.

I have kept up with her progress through a support service for people called CareBridge.org. It’s a kind of blog for friends, family and the patients themselves to keep everyone abreast of what is going when a loved one is ill. This is the second CareBridge page I have followed and I cannot express how touching the posts are. First, my friend and hair stylist, Andrea, kept one for her son’s journey through leukemia. Her writing blows me away.

Same with this friend I am writing about – her family and her husband wrote some of the most loving, open-hearted dedications while updating her progress.

Now for the embarrassing part. So, I woke up last week “guided” to write my friend after she wrote about feelings of needing to know why this happened. I read that and felt like I wanted to tell her that the experience was the why and there is nothing more to do except recover.

I said this because of the messages she received while still in critical condition. She had one message from a woman that prayed for two hours, on her knees, and said she saw Jesus hugging this friend and she would heal. It was so powerful. And the fact that she is even walking right now is a miracle. That’s what I meant about what she has gone through is the purpose. We all were able to see a miracle happen and we all got to pray and bring our collective consciousness into one place of light – over her. It was so gratifying for all involved. What could be a greater purpose for a tragic circumstance than thousands (she has over 10,000 visits to her site) of prayers coming into one place?

It was going great, my “guidance,” but then I messed it up. I said somewhere in there that this “will” happen again and she “will not” be the same person. Oh God, how could I say that to someone so determined I will never know. I meant this “may” happen again and you “may not” be the exact same, who would. The fear would be so great after something like she has gone through. I was saying this in the context of if it did happen again, she would never be alone, blah blah. Why, oh, why did I have to say anything like that? I see my ego all over it. The first part, great, second, bad, ego.

I wanted so badly to go back and write again, but then I feel like a bigger ass. So I just sit and beat myself up for at least two or three days. Then I went to meditation which is where I found a lesson and the purpose to my assness.

Because it is New Year’s Eve, I believe it to be the perfect day to declare my intention for 2012 and this directly ties into my lesson here.

And with that I say, It is my intention in 2012 to concentrate on me – what I can do in my life to be my best self. How can I live to be an example to others, rather than telling others what I know in my head or even in my heart to be my truth. (The main word there is my truth.)

If you have an issue, you won’t have to be scared you are going to get a message from ole Jen telling you what she sees.  This friend is not the first person I have been “guided” to write, mind you. But in the past I have done a better job of expression, or maybe my ego didn’t interfere. My kids did come in the room at the end of my writing her. It’s no secret to me that my ego is very present when my children are around. And, this is another part of me I will be working on in 2012.

In fact, I have already started working on it and I feel, in two days, closer to my children than I have in the six years I have been a mother (with the exception of when they were first born and could not talk).

A prayer has been answered for me. Three nights ago I came home with my daughter and flipped on the television. I bought myself a puzzle last week and I started working on it while my daughter was playing with a toy.

I scanned the show guide and something caught my eye on the CMT channel. That stands for Country Music Television. The show is World’s Strictest Parents.

What they do on this show is take teens that are out of control – talking back to parents, smoking, cussing, drinking, and just generally acting like asses, and they put them with “strict” parents for a couple of weeks.

I watched one episode and learned a lot about how kids become when they are allowed to treat people as they wish without much interference.

I watched the second episode and I saw that the discipline these “foster” parents offered the children wasn’t so bad. Most of it had to do with acting like a family – working together in the house, everyone participating in the house work, and everyone playing together. For example, one dad had the kids building a pig pen (they lived on a farm), but that night they played kickball together, parents included. I saw that the punishments involved physical labor – running around a field, cleaning up something no one would want to do, or sitting in a chair (for two hours in one case) until the physical punishment would be done and the behavior that caused the punishment was acknowledged and corrected.

These parents were not just doler-outers of punishment. They talked to the kids – really had intimate relationships with the kids. And they used “play times” to do some of the communicating so the kids were a bit off guard. But they also just had talks with them. And while praise was used often, when the kids did a bad job, they were told – “bad job.”

By the third episode my entire philosophy of parenting had changed. I no longer wish to spend my time running from my kids. And that is exactly what I have been doing all this time.

First of all, my son is not easy. I’m not just saying that, I have people that will attest to it for me, on holy things if it need be. I have experienced days where he, literally, does not say one positive thing in my daughter’s presence and every, single time she opens her mouth he stops her and says something nasty, like “shut up” or makes fun of the way she speaks (she still has the little lisp of many kids, but my son never had this).

He tells me no or ignores me when I ask him to do things. He talks back to me, tells me “Don’t you speak to me that way.” Or, “I’m disappointed in you mom.”

It can get to a point where I have spent my entire day reprimanding him or I beg Hubby to come get him. By the end of the day I am exhausted and feeling physically sick.

But this show, World’s Strictest Parents, has changed my ways and in two, count them, two days my son is a different person.

I woke up the day after I watched the three episodes and announced to my kids that the laundry pile, otherwise known as The Mountain, would from now on be a family affair.

“Mommy is going to need help with this from this day forward,” I said.

They fussed. My son cried, my daughter says, “I’m tired,” but I keep them at it.

When they choose to not cooperate, they have a “lap” up and down our stairs. When my son says something nasty to my daughter, which has been surprisingly not much, he has a “lap” on the stairs.

I guess I should also add something – my son told me three days ago, the day of the night I saw this show, “You are evil.”

Yep, he said that word, evil.

I’m so glad he said this. Of course at first I wasn’t, and to be honest, I didn’t make too much of a response after he said that except to tell him that much of my evilness might be attached to his attitude towards my daughter and me.

I ended up so happy he said this to me because when I implemented my “changes” I was able to tell him that I took his comment of my evilness to heart and I am willing to change. In order to make those changes, I was going to be different in my parenting.

If he didn’t understand when I said it, he sure did by the end of the day yesterday.

We woke up this morning, had breakfast and went to do laundry together again. He folded, he loaded the washer, the dryer and folded some more. He put his own clothes away in his dresser.

Then he said, “Folding the clothes is kind of fun.”

My heart sang with joy. Today I feel empowered as a mother and as a woman. And I know this is just the start. I have set up a “series recording” on this show, World’s Strictest Parents.

You might not understand this, but when I watched that show I saw my son in ten years. I saw him clear as day as not being the best person he could be. I also saw that things could be different if I was to change me and how I am parenting him.
I, for once, have not in two days had the thought or feeling of wanting my kids to just get away from me. It’s so sad to admit it that this is a common thought of mine. But I admit it, knowing that 2012 is my year of change. For mothering and other parts of myself, I am willing to change.

And, while I might have written my friend to try and give her guidance, it was she who did the guiding in the end. And if she ever reads this, I hope she can forgive me and know that my intentions were in the right place.

I am forever grateful for teachable moments, even the embarrassing moments. I’ve had a few in my lifetime.

And with that, here I come 2012 – I am ready to look in the mirror. I am ready to give myself over to the person I am meant to be, and I will get there by concentrating on my own self-improvement rather than looking to improve those around me.

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