Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Provider Dad

So much debate is tossed around about the Stay at Home Mom versus the Working Mom. And it's all focused on the women. Of course. We women are the center of our universes.
What about our men? What about Dads?
The debate here would then be The 100% Provider Dad versus the what? 50% Provider Dad?
Ouch. Smarts a bit. No man want to think of himself as less than 100%.
But this is the reality of what a dual income family is. The man provides about half or maybe a bit more or less to the family. Our society, WE have come to think of this as equality and fair.

What is the impact however, of removing the responsibility of being sole, 100% provider to the family, on our men?

Here's the deal. Men are best when challenged. Super Hero's are super because the task before them is life or death.

Men lose interest if the challenge isn't great. Want to know why it is so challenging to get a man in his early to mid or even late twenties now to commit to a relationship and marry? He doesn't have to. All the women he dates make enough if not more money than he and he can party and play with them all. The urgency of finding a mate and providing for her to create a family has been watered down.

Want to know why so many men play video games and ignore their kids and nagging wives for hours? Because they can first of all, they are not the only one to provide for the whole family ( someone else can do it=perpetual teenager syndrome) so they kick back. Secondly, their wife is "doing it all", taking care of the house and working and her overwhelm and stress may be having her be so annoying that the only way to chill out is to check out. It's survival.

They continue to do their job to maintain and survive the balancing act of his wife "having it all" and having to give it all to their kids. They are last on the list and left feeling constantly inadequate....they may not admit it...but the fact that his wife works still means, deep inside, that she has to, and occurs to him as a reflection on his ability to provide.

What happens when men are not in the world of needing to provide for their family, and have their ass on the line as the sole provider, is that something is lost for them. Their purpose and pride and power silently occurs to them as diluted.

What is created when they do have full responsibility?

They step up. They provide. They expand their repertoire of skills, of communication and leadership. They broaden their horizons socially and politically. They connect with other high performing men and bridge the gap between where they want to be and where they are. And they do it willingly, with pride and confidence. They may be fearful, they may be challenged and not know how to do it, but they do it.They create opportunities to expand. They create opportunities in their jobs, careers, society and culture.

And in the end of the day, when they come home, they see the mess that their wife, who has the privilege of staying at home, has created with their children, the crafts and art proof that he creates a life of fun and adventure for others. He is proud, fulfilled and happy.

The man who is the sole provider for his family gets to know himself to be someone he never would have imagined himself to be... completely generous, dependable, the source of all that is important and fun. He provides the food. He provides the clothing, he provides the home, the education and the adventures on vacation. HE does all that. He is our HERO.

This is a role that men have fulfilled for ten of thousands of years and to have that removed in our society has an impact. For them to take it on and CHOOSE to be the sole provider is humungously huge of them. They don't have to choose it, many have dual incomes and the wife does something creative and empowering, he supports that, and that's great. I am not discounting the contribution that is possible to society with women working and the possibilities inside marriage. I am simply putting in, wondering about, especially while the children are young and most challenging, what would be possible if the father provided for the family and the mother mothered?

What if we women trust that they can and support them? In doing so, we have an opportunity to be surprised and delighted by our men. To marvel at their Heroics. We can relish in being a woman and care for and be amazed by our children...and in the process, we will amaze ourselves at our ability to trust, mother and be present to what really matters to us. Our children AND our men.

Zen Honeycutt

The Case for the Stay at Home Mom: CHOICE

My husband recently shared and article with me: "Elite Women Put a New spin on Debate"
It's about high exec women who are starting to say that being 80% responsible for the children's care ad 100% responsible for a job and 80% responsible for household management just mathmatically doesn't work. It may not be "having it all". It may not be what it is all cracked up to be.The feminist movement may have, in fact, enrolled millions of women into an idea of a lifestyle of constantly being overwhelmed, feeling inadequate and resentful. They aren't saying the latter part out loud yet, that was my doing, but as a former business owner with two children and now three, I can see now that that was there for me. I thought I wasn't good enough unless I was doing it all. And that had me not satisfied with anything.

Many Moms were that way before, dissatisfied and resentful, of course, being the stay at home Moms and handling all there is to handle in raising human beings to be responsible and a contribution to society. The job is humongous on it's own....and at one point that job for women occurred to us a "have to". We "had to", we had no other choice.

And in the past 60-100 years we women have added new dimensions into our expectations of ourselves that many are seeing now don't serve us as women and our families. We are grateful to have choice now....and some choose to not partake in the corporate world while raising children.There is nothing old fashioned or non feminist about that either.

Steven King was asked what defined success and he said "I define success by how interested I am in the thing I am currently doing."

In other words by how present, lit up and alive he how much fun he is having in the moment.

The debate need not be about judging others, but looking to ourselves. How interested am I as a Mom in what I am doing? How successful do I feel as a Mom? Or as a working Mom? Whether we take on corporate or entrepreneurial endeavors as well, how interested are we right now in the moment in doing only what we are doing? Are we choosing what we are doing?

As a corporate or entrepreneur Mom of young children especially, this is incredibly challenging. It just doesn't work to be present and lit up by a conference call when the baby is screaming for a diaper change. It just doesn't work to be interested in the droning on of co workers at endless meetings when we are feeling guilty about not being able to stay home with a sick child. It just doesn't feel successful to yell at your child for demanding something when you have a deadline to meet and they don't understand that. I have been there. We may be able to put the pull of our children aside for a few hours and accomplish something and feel good about that, but in the quiet hours of the night we wake up, feeling like we missed something, and wondering how much we matter in the guidance of our child's development.

We women are compelled to focus on more than one thing at a time, and we often do, but we are most fulfilled, feel most accomplished and effective when we are present to one thing at a time....and to what matters to us most. It is a lot more fun, too.

I submit that we women work because we want to provide for our kids, so what really matters is not the work, but the kids. We also want to feel fulfilled and accomplished, and doubt ourselves that we will feel that way being "just a Mom". What possibilities in partnership open up when we trust our husbands to provide and we trust ourselves to nurture our children?

We all get to be present to what really matters to us.

For the child to have their mother to be present and curious about them, to gaze at them, listen, and hear about the world through their sparkling eyes...and then to whisper those stories to your husband before sleeping, has him filled with purpose and pride that he provided that.

To be home when they are sad and distraught after a school tiff on the playground IS having it all.

To go on an adventure with your child on a Tuesday to the beach, to volunteer at their schools and see them learn and grow or to manage the budget on one income so you can go on a camping vacation and let the boys dig in the dirt for hours....IS having it all.

To choose to live on one income, where ever that works, and create partnership in the marriage where each partner's role create trust, support and dependability as the foundation, IS having it all.

To be present to the concept that to be a working Mom is not a "have to" but a choice is meant to be liberating, not create guilt...that inside that choice there is actually possibilities and freedom, trust in the abilities of your husband and your self, and relatedness with your child.

To be the Mom available for snuggles, comfort, complaints to be heard and stomachs to be filled, to be open to be crawled on and tattled to, to be relied on to find things and wash stuffed animals, to be THE One that is always there for your children is fullfilling beyond any amount of money or recognition. In being present to our children we are present to the greatest gift we have to give, ourselves.
The fact is, that CHOOSING to be a stay at home Mom means sharing in the greatest adventure of all with your children, LIFE.
THAT is having it all.

Zen Honeycutt

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What is the Art of Inspired Parenting?

The title of my blog my be construed as: I have the ART of parenting mastered and I am going to share my great Zen wisdom with you.
I wish it were so.
I don't have it mastered. Parenting is relentless and it takes someone being very present to have it be empowering. This blog is my access to empowerment for me, a form of structure to remind me what I am creating and a pathway for me to create.
The title of my blog means that I see parenting as a creative process. It is art itself, constantly creating....relationships, rules, communications, consequences, negotiations... and like art, parenting can be unpredictable and can get messy. Miraculous results can show up when, rather than resisting the "happy accidents" as we call them in the art world, we are inspired and create instead. Inspired means: Of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse.(of a person) Exhibiting such a creative impulse in the activity specified: "an inspired gardener".

Being inspired is created. It is not something that happens to us. Being creative in parenting is essential for optimal results. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the deffinition of insanity...doing the same thing our parents did or didn't do or that the neighbor does...doesn't work with our kids, not always anyway. Doing something just because it always has been that way is not inspired. Parenting from what matters to you and your children, in that instant, creating empowerment rather than regulating and controlling that things go a certain way, is what causes the results you are proud of.

Case in point.

Hot. Hungry. Cooped up in a car for six hours. Bronson starts screaming for Micky Mouse Lollipop.
I ask him to stop.
He won't.
I ask him again.
He screams louder.
I try to distract him with a cracker.
He throws it. And screams til my eardrums vibrate.
The brothers begin to yell and husband begins to drive erratically.
I sense danger and get angry.
I tense and feel helpless and want to smack my screaming two year old into silence.

Then I remember that I am a stand for inspired parenting, and the concept I made up of "creative listening" instead I ask,
"What kind of lollipop do you want Bronson?"
"Mickey Mouse!" exasperated with my lack of hearing.
"Oh...Mickey Mouse...and would that be a red lollipop?"
He stops screaming and thinks.
"Noooo, CHEESE!"
"Oh! I see it now, a cheese lollipop!" How delightful! "That's awesome Bronson!"
"YES!" he puffs emphatically, beginning to calm and sniff.
"A yellow cheese lollipop? With ears?" I asked, painting the picture...creating his world.
"Yes, with holes in it!" he says. How cool a totally new concept to me.
"How would eat it?"
"Like a mouse." he says, pantomiming nibbling.
Suddenly everyone in the car is smiling. Miracle!
Crisis averted long enough for Dad to pull into restaurant.

My son and I are left inspired by the imagination of his world rather than trying to suppress it and shut him down. We could have been angry, frustrated and guilty, yelling and resisting eachother instead, I dove into his world, he let me in, and we were connected, he was acknowledged and I was delighted.
I write this blog to be inspired by life. Through my writing I get present. Through getting present I wonder. Through wondering I can see things I never saw before and by creating and expressing what I see I am present again to the miracles in life.
So if you are inspired, that is a bonus. My hopes it that you simply get present to yourself and your life, whether you are a parent or not, and see the miracles around you that are already there...and create some as well.

Zen Honeycutt

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Love of a Three Year Old

I wish the world the love of a three year old..
To love like one and to receive love like one.

A three year old loves everything. Even when he is screeching NOOOOOOO he is loving screeching.
Love is self expressed.

A three year old loves with warm, snuggly cuteness that has you hold him even when your back is screaming and sore.
He comes in for hugs often and insistently. There is no other option but to stop what you are doing and hug this human being.
Love is now.

A three year old puts his face in the nook of your neck, sometimes licks you and woofs like a puppy.
He does this because love is play.

A three year old crawls into bed with you and squiggles in between the two warm bodies he loves the most in the world, so he can smell them all night.
Love is safety.

A three year old follows you everywhere, even when you are busy and grumpy. Your grumpiness will not deter him from crawling on your back when you are bent over cleaning up the milk he spilled.
Love is overlooking the little things and being love anyway.

A three year old kisses your nose, then your left cheek and your right, then your chin and your forehead. It must be done in this order and all kisses must be delivered or holy hell breaks loose.
Because there are traditions that strengthen and expand love and we make them up because it's fun.

A three year old will ask for tickles or tempt you by flashing his tummy. Then run and squeal and roll in giggles that sprinkle you with delight over and over and over again.
Love is silly and delightful and we want more, more, more!

A three year old loves his things. He will ferret them away or pack rat them into a bag and carry them around. He will cling to them as he sleeps and cry for them in the car. He loves his little notepads, or erasers or toys from a party goody bag. He cares not of value, but he makes it valuable. And then... the thing is just a thing and he moves on to love something else.
Love relishes, it is not required.

A three year old loves to be powerful. He love to say no and pound the table and demand room on the couch. He shouts when it suits him and skillfully makes puppy dog eyes when asking for a cookie. He knows he has power because we love him, and he uses it.
Love is not shy.

A three year old hugs and kisses and rolls around with, he tickles and allows himself to be carried and swung, anyone who wants to play with him...his brothers and brothers friends and cousins and sisters of cousins, classmates and new friends in the play ground. A three year old loves freely and fleetingly. There is no sadness when the hug ends and the friend runs off to his car, never to be seen again. That was then, now is time to play some more.
Love is everyone. Love is not sad, but a moment to share no matter what, because we can.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Grass is Greener

The water tastes sweeter here, the rain more gentle and frequent, the dew last longer and the scent of dirt is stronger. The grass is greener with lushness and the air is filled with floral freshness that wakes you up and says "YES!". There is nothing like Connecticut country living.
The hills roll more roundly here and the country roads more curvy. There is an abundance of everything that has you breath deeply more often and sigh...more green, more rain, more song birds and more daffodils that bloom again and again. More acreage, more horses, more stone walls covered in flat minty green lichen. More geese, more morning doves, more wild herbs and more love of good hard work. Maybe it's all the beauty around us or the change of seasons that drive us, whatever it is, New Englander's have more gumption. We are do-it-yourselfer's boot strappin' folk. We don't pay nobody to do something we can do ourselves. The satisfaction is what country living is about.

Doing it all myself has gotten me in a bit of trouble here and there though...a lot of last minute scrambling and projects not quite what I wanted ...and I have been expanding my mindset after living in California for twelve years. I am still a country girl at heart, and I got a dose of fast-walking-New-York-City girl blood in me after ten years of pounding the pavement there, but as a California girl, I learned to slow down, to look people in the eye and say hi and enjoy it. I have learned to connect, create partnership, play nice and work well with others. I have learned that you get more done with a team and yes, honey does work better than vinegar, and no it doesn't always work to get mad when people are late and or do everything myself. California has taught me it's okay to chill and play, to see the abundance and roll in it. To feast my eyes on greenness and not see work, shrubs that need to be trimmed or weeds that need to be whacked, but to see the dew drops and spider webs and marvel at them so long that my knees ache. I am grateful for the shift in my perspective from having lived in New York and California. I see Connecticut as more delightful now, and my gratitude has me be at ease.

Enjoying Connecticut living has me be more quiet now too. There is no air of having to prove something like I take on in California. I can drive for an hour with my Dad and just stare at the trees hugging the roads. I can stain cedar siding with my brother and just enjoy the satisfaction of working together. I can sit by the pond with my Mom and just point to a Great Blue Heron. Everything else is said with a sigh of appreciation. We can just be in Connecticut.

There is something magical in being in nature for the boys too. They hardly fight. They run and play and catch dragon flies and leopard frogs and then fish and throw pine cones at snakes. They interact with nature. They break sticks and dig stuff up. They revel in the stink of Skunk Cabbage and marvel at the glow of a Buttercup flower under their chins. They run with bare feet and fall on gravel and get up with determination. They get dirty and crusty toed. But somehow they seem cleaner than ever. They have to be wrangled into a shower once a week. Their hair is thick and shiny and their skin is rosey and clear. Their shouts of glee when they catch something is worth more than the fee of a summer camp. Their faces of awe when their uncle builds them a tree fort is worth more than their weight in gold. Summer in Connecticut is priceless. I hope you get to experience nature like this often in your life.