At the moment I am trying to focus on the areas I do have power in an effort to combat the worst feeling in the world to me – powerlessness. An inability to act. Lack of input. Like those dreams where no one can hear you screaming and you can’t convince them you need help, or that you are even there at all. This post comes from Week Three of the Simplify You Life Challenge 2012 (http://www.homelifesimplified.com.au). This week (which is last week, I’m a little behind, which is my second worst feeling) centred on creating a manifesto of sorts. A family creed or vision statement. Mine, obviously, is wordy and over-punctuated. Just the way I roll. But I truly enjoyed writing it. Here it is:
To make this Family Vision an honest statement in its most useful form for us, I have to really make it just about the two of us, my young son and myself. Family means a lot of things and can come about in a number of guises. I got over wishing for a nuclear family. I have done almost everything else independently, that part’s ok, but I’d prefer that my child had the best of both of his parents. I have devoted a lot of time and energy to building familial connections which I imagined to be bigger and stronger than the different houses we live in but recently I have had to admit that I cannot make it happen by myself. (Some people are maybe less able or willing?) I have made decisions based on the desire to avoid situations that hurt me as a child. Perhaps this has made family and positive connections so much more important to me than to someone who takes these things for granted. And I’m sad about it, I admit that openly. I haven’t conceded outright defeat. I will always work towards the best for my child. Instead, I have had to develop more realistic expectations (ugh – so much harder than it sounds). I know I have the majority of input into my son’s development and emotional intelligence. I consider that an honour and the single most terrifying responsibility known to womankind. This is what lies at the core of my Mission Statement. My responsibility (and desire) to include others in a positive way is what I am considering a sort of ‘side project’ from now on. I can’t control others to make them act in a certain way (dammit) but I can control myself (most of the time) and my intentions as a mother. Writing this feels a bit like a love letter to my boy. Or wedding vows (So I’ve heard..) The common denominator I guess is words from the heart. If the little one could discuss this with me I think he’d want the same things. With more Wiggles episodes.
So, son, the following is my vision for us. The things I hope I can pass on to you, leading by example and with passion.
The mission of our family is to help each other to live the best lives we can, supporting each other and loving each other through times that are both joyful and trying. Because life is beautiful and difficult. It makes you happy and breaks your heart. In our family ALL of these experiences are ok. We will not be smiling all of the time. We will try and fail. But we will never give up. And we will never stop trying to make the most of everything life has to offer. And we will ALWAYS have each other.
We believe in love, laughter and living life to the fullest. We believe in jokes, being silly and playing. The world is ours to explore. We believe in adventure and embracing experience. Short point but cannot be overstated. It was a big part of my childhood. Nanny is a terminal dag (Aussie slang alert: acting silly for fun, term of endearment) 🙂
We want to live in a way that makes us happy. We want the basics; a home to live in, food for our tummies and some special people that care for us. We may not all live in the same house but that doesn’t mean we can’t love each other and share lots of wonderful experiences together. We want to be able to comfort and cuddle each other, even when is way past the age where one of us becomes embarrassed! We want to have trust and faith in each other. We know that even when we fight or disagree (and with this genetic mix, my love, there is no escape) we will always come together again. We want the knowledge that we will never be apart where it matters, in the heart.
We will treat each other and the people we meet with respect. We might forget sometimes but deep down, we know what the right thing to do is. We will back each other up when we need help. Some things are hard to do and sometimes life is scary. We will always have each other (and the rest of this crazy crew) to remind us that we can do anything we set our minds to and that real courage is moving forward when we’re scared. Taking a chance could be just joining a new team or practicing something we aren’t very good at yet. I will always encourage you to try without forcing it, and you help me to be brave and try new things just by being. I want you to see that I try to live the best life I can but also that no one is perfect (though you’ll think I’m pretty close for a few years yet). The main thing we will do is TRY. (This is not regarding drugs or drag racing…but that is for another day).
Our home is a place where everyone can feel safe. It is a place to share, talk, laugh and one day soon, maybe sleep-in. It is a place where our loved ones come to join us for special occasions and eat lots of food. We are free to dress up, read stories, create and laugh out loud. (Not like LOL. You know my laugh. It scares birds from the trees). Perhaps when you are old enough to cook, it will be a place where we eat better-than-average meals. But we will always have chocolate. In our home, we have our own space but we also like to share it. We snuggle, make a mess and even clean up together. There are no ‘girl jobs’ and ‘boy jobs’ in our house. Mummy has a tool kit and you can vacuum. This is a good thing. One day, someone who loves you (I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl) will thank me for teaching you to take pride in a clean living space, fresh clothes and how to run the perfect bubble bath. Trust me.
Our family is comprised of people that love us very much. Luckily, most live close by and we see them whenever we like. A couple live far away. And some of them talk more than others. That doesn’t mean the quiet ones love you any less. I investigated this for many years and I’m well qualified to say – we are super lovable but different people can express that in different ways. Our family is full of variety. We can all learn from each other and it’s what makes life interesting. Hopefully you take the best of each of us and grow up to be happy, funny, wise, thoughtful, caring and passionate about things that matter to you. (That’s just from my side so imagine how cool you’ll be with the best bits of all the others).
In our family, we care about each other and the people around us. Even if we don’t know them. Whether you grow up to believe in a God or greater power, or just chance, we could have been born into any family anywhere in the world. When you are a bit older, you will see that some countries are scary and have a lot of fighting, or people aren’t allowed to do certain things freely. Even in our own country there are people who have really big struggles. In our family we see ourselves not so differently from these people. It could’ve been us. So we find out about these things, and help if we can. In our family, we know that people can change things for the better. We know that change is easier if we speak out together. We also know that speaking up for other people can help them to feel stronger, understood, no longer alone. In our family we know how important that is. Words are important and can change lives. It helps us, too, to feel less alone sometimes. And that’s really special.
To cut a long story short (which I am incapable of doing), as a family we are guided by:
- Love: of each other, of living, of learning
- Freedom: to express emotions (there are no limits on I Love You) and share mistakes
- Independence: to live responsibly, look after ourselves and show courage
- Community: We are part of a bigger world but everyone has the same feelings inside (omitting cynical references here for the greater good) and deserves to feel safe, have a full tummy and be loved
- Bravery: Be it going to school for the first time (when I need to be brave, obviously) or going somewhere alone or telling the truth
- Realistic Expectations: We have great hopes for getting the best out of life and how much we love each other. We aim for great things. But we know we’re not perfect. We cannot control everything around us and sometimes, even ourselves. In our family we know that this is ok in the end. It is ok to dream big. It is encouraged! But it’s ok to miss some stuff or try again later
Photo credit here
I feel so full of love and pretty damn powerful as I post this. Think of the possibilities if I do an amazing job! I nearly cried a few times when I was writing it (which is amazing for me, I’m like a river).
Note to self: Print this out. Save a copy for Little Dude to read when he’s old or hates me. But stick a copy on your wall, silly girl. Remind yourself of the amazing opportunity that’s in your hands as this little person’s guide through life. Leave the stress and guilt that is inherent in that ridiculous responsibility and savour the delight. Just for a delicious moment.
I’m not recommending having a baby to recover from a truly horrible experience but OH MY GOD my baby saves my life every day. I’m very lucky. Going to bed grateful and proud.