playful parenting

One of the things that I am most grateful for about my ForteFemme experience is that I was reminded to be more playful about my parenting.

It was as we sat in a semicircle telling one another about the kinds of play that were approved and unapproved by our parents that I thought that I could definitely be more playful with my children.

It was in that semicircle that I almost cried because of the amount of heartache that having to be the one that disciplines the children most of the time causes me.

The thought scared me because although I do have so much fun with my sons and they bring me so much joy… I hardly ever am fully in playful mode. There always seems to be this burden on my shoulders of having to be in control. Guess that I’ve never felt permission to really let go of the responsibility of parenthood and join them in play without being in control. You can even see the difference between how they totally jump into playing with dad versus how they play with me. Mom plays but always at a further distance than dad. How he gets to be one of the kids sometimes but not me has always hurt. I am the guardian, the responsible parent, the one that usually has to be Debbie Downer and set limits on how wild and carefree the play gets.

Goal 1: Figure out how to challenge myself as a parent so that I could step out of my box as the “responsible parent” and be the “fun parent” more often.

It wasn’t strange at all, thinking about how my parenting would shape my own children’s sexualities while sitting in a room full of women that were discussing how their childhood play related to their adult sexual play. It wasn’t strange at all because almost everything that I do, think or think about doing usually stirs a thought or two about how it will help or hinder my children. Once you’re a parent you’re always a parent. So, it was in that room full of women discussing their kinks that I decided that I needed to allow my children more modes of approved play.

And when I thought about it, long and hard, I realized that I had always wished my mother hadn’t been so strict with me and that when she did play with me it had been more on my terms than hers.

That’s when I thought for a minute that maybe even as a child I might have been greedy and self-centered but instantly that thought went to…

Goal 2: Make childhood more about the needs and wants of my children and less about me.

I am the parent that has always said that children teach us how to parent them yet I had not always followed my own advice. Controlling Anaín has too often wanted for her children what she didn’t have for herself as a child and forgotten that her children are not her even if they are her own.

And there it is… the web that’s so tangled that I can’t seem to get myself out of it. My childhood shaped me and the way I parent, the way I parent shapes them and the way they will parent…

So instead of worrying about how to get myself out of this tangled web of wanting to give them everything I never had, keeping them in a perfect straight line towards happiness and success as adults and being the parent they need and want, I’ve decided that maybe being playful is just what we need more of.

I can let go some…

run around the park chasing the son that loves playing tag

create art with the son that loves painting, sculpting and all things visual art

have conversations with the make-believe friends that my other son has

I can master playful parenting as soon as I learn that it isn’t a goal to be mastered but a part of parenting to be enjoyed!

xo, Anaín

vulvas vs. violence – episode two

This post is the conclusion of a story that began here.

The vulva war began with him taking down my vulva poster without asking me first. It would escalate with days and days of me bringing up how persistent violence on television had to be far worse for our children than one collage of a few vulvas on the side of our fridge. It would end with me putting my vulva poster back up exactly where it once had been but in between there were a lot of conversations about vulvas and violence.

When you are raising children together you spend a lot of time making compromises. Raising children is one of the hardest most joyful things two people can do together but it requires total collaboration and communication because even if you share similar beliefs and usually agree there will be times when you oppose one another. In my household we pretty much are always in agreement on everything. My spouse might be my opposite in many ways but when it comes to the important things we always agree – or so I thought until the topics of sexuality and violence as they pertained to our children started coming up.

My spouse, like me, was raised in a household where violence on television wasn’t a big deal. We were both allowed to watch violent television shows and movies. Sex scenes or even implied sex scenes were a no-no in our households.  His mother had him leave the room when the scenes were about to come on and my parents allowed my brother that was six years my junior to watch but not me. Our parents completely avoided talking about sexuality – in any form whatsoever. It was as if violence was okay and natural but sexuality was dirty, unnatural and not to be spoken in our households. Yet, we both knew our parents were sexual beings, we learned to masturbate on our own (feeling guilt and shame for it), and we both eventually started having sex before we became adults. The only influence our parents had over our sexuality was negative and censored but when it came to violence our parents were open and approving.

vulvas vs. violence – episode one

In November I went to Joani Blank’s Femalia book signing and picked up the poster you see below. Joani in passing suggested that it should be placed somewhere public. I can’t remember for certain if she said something about wishing people would have them on their fridges but that’s where I put mine when I got home; the side of my fridge.

There’s nothing gross or graphic about this poster; it is a beautiful collage of vulvas. My oldest son, he was eleven at the time, commented on it being a cool looking kaleidoscope as his dad cringed knowing what made up the beautiful collage. As time passed and my oldest kept examining the poster he said that parts of it looked like organs to him. He specifically asked me, “Mom are those people’s insides in the poster?”

I was honest and told him that the poster was a collage made from photographs of different women’s vulvas. I asked him if he remembered what part of a woman’s anatomy that was; his answer sort of. That was a perfect opportunity for us to have another conversation about sex, sexuality and anatomy. I popped open some of the sexuality resources that I have that were age appropriate and we had a great talk. My son asked questions again, shared his concerns about his developing body and told me that he wasn’t too sure if he was going to like going through puberty.

motherhood a selfish act

One of my girls says that choosing to bring children into this world is a very selfish act. If you are parent that knows the amount of selflessness required to always do right by your children you might disagree with her. But when her theory is argued using a different statement you might agree that there is some truth behind her theory.

“When Darwin used the term survival of the fittest he was not referring to your good looks or your bank account; he was counting your children. If you raise babies that have babies, you are what nature calls fit. You have passed your genes to the next generation and in terms of survival you have won.” – Dr. Helen Fisher

When my husband saw the two blue lines on the home pregnancy test he asked if we were really ready and my answer to him April 30, 1999 was, “I just want a little pocket version of you that I can spoil, love and protect! I want to see what we created from our love and lust! We will figure it out and I’m sure we will manage.” We selfishly choose to bring our first son into the world even though I wasn’t done with college, my husband didn’t have a well paying job and we barely had enjoyed being a married couple because we both agreed that we wanted living proof of “our love” in this world. (more…)

thankful for new beginnings

This week is going to be one crazy roller coaster ride because we officially start back up with school. We aren’t new to homeschooling but we are not experts either. This will be my third year teaching my older two and the second year teaching all three boys. Last year was incredibly hard. We started off well. We had lofty goals set but we fell very short of them. It was like every single thing that could possibly go wrong did. Teaching isn’t something that I ever saw myself doing. I especially would not have thought I’d be teaching my three sons at home. Long ago, I thought that homeschooling was for weirdos that were well just weird. Just like with everything else that I have ended up doing since I became a mother – a choice here, a situation there and another choice led me to doing something I never even thought I could, would or should do. (more…)

chicken shit woman. brave children.

I shouldn’t tell you this but I am a chicken shit woman. I am so scared of life. I am so extremely flawed and all those flaws usually stem from a fear that I can’t seem to be brave enough to conquer. I am a chicken shit woman but I have brave children. My awesome sons amaze me on the daily because they are so very brave and unlike me. I don’t have a clue why they lack fear when their mother is such a coward. I do know what it is like to live alongside three young boys that inspire me to believe in my own courage. (more…)