Sunday, July 18, 2010

25 Things I Know Now as a Parent

I got this idea from Jen Lemen's Supersisters site (via Mama Om).

Others were invited to join in, so I am -- albeit several days late! Maybe you'll be inspired to contribute your own words of hard-won wisdom.

Here's my list of all the things I now know, thanks to my kids ...


(I considered posting a list where all 25 were blank ... but you get the idea.)

2. Sleep and sex are wasted on those who regularly have time for both.

3. I can't make a baby eat, sleep, or poop. (I got this one from my sister -- but it's still true, and my "babies" are now 5 and 8.)

4. I can break any toddler's bad habit in three really bad days. (Also from my sister.) It takes a little longer, and the days get a little worse, as they get older.

5. My sister is waaaaaaay smarter than I thought when we were teenagers.

6. Sometimes I have to lower my standards to get through the day. (I learned this one all on my own.)

7. If I lower my standards to get through the day, I will pay for it dearly when I'm ready to raise them again.

8. My kids will get over most disappointments in approximately half the time it took me to agonize over the decision to disappoint them. The remaining few will be with us, I suspect, until they're 40.

9. Time spent taking care of me is NOT time stolen from my family. It is promptly returned to them in the form of me not sounding like such a bitch.

10. Asking a child why they just did something never, ever produces a satisfying response.

11. I'm not really looking for a number when I ask, "How many times do I have to tell you ...?"

12. Knowing #10 & #11 will in no way stop me from asking one of those questions when my child has just beaned his/her sibling with a rock (or a baseball bat, the dog, etc.).

13. If you leave a hidden camera in ANYONE's house long enough, you will get enough footage for a Supernanny episode. (Despite this -- or perhaps because of it --Supernanny still rocks.)

14. There are some truly awful parents out there. But most of the parents I so smugly judged before I had kids were just average, competent people having a bad day.

15. Kids are always doing the best they can.

16. Parents are, too.

17. Teachers are only human.

18. Many teachers are really awesome humans.

19. Just because I'm chilly doesn't mean it's worth trying to force my kids to wear their jackets. Sometimes, they're just not cold.

20. If I never let my kids feel cold, they'll never know how to decide when they need a jacket.

21. Numbers 19 and 20 can be rewritten to cover sleep, food, and just about every other decision that doesn't have immediate, fatal consequences.

22. The best memories get made when I put down the camera.

23. Every age is the best age.

24. Every age has challenges that make me, at times, desperately wish it were over.

25. It turns out a lot of cliches are also true. My kids' childhoods really are going by (for the most part) too quickly. I can never have enough reminders to ... Watch. Be amazed. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here in the Dark

"The light is better in our conscious minds, but we must look for healing in the dark unconscious." - Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine, and Miracles

Driving home from yesterday's NAET treatment, I was having my usual wrestling match with faith.

I want to believe this will work. I need to believe it will work. But I struggle, because I don't understand how it works. NAET operates in a realm I cannot see, touch, or grasp with logic: the subconscious mind.

On the other hand, it just occurred to me that I have no idea how the medications prescribed for me by MDs work, either. I can't see or touch things like histamine, dopamine, or hormones. I take it all on faith and swallow the pills. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don't.

Yesterday I watched a Jon Stewart interview with Marilynne Robinson regarding her book, Absence of Mind. Her thesis is complex, but it has to do with the (false, in her mind) dichotomy of science vs. religion. At the end of the interview, deliberately misinterpreting her thesis for comic effect, Jon Stewart asked, "Quickly, before we go ... Who's right?" She considered for a mere half-second before replying. "Well, I am."

It was admirably quick, clever and funny. It also struck me as right on the money with regard to healing. Whether a treatment plan is based on Western science, Eastern philosophy, or blind faith, the bottom line is: What is the effect on my body? Does it work for me?

I'll tell you what I know so far about NAET, what I can observe with my conscious mind. During the testing phase, I hold glass vials containing various substances in one hand, while Will presses down on my other arm.

Resist, he says.

Sometimes, the arm stays strong. Sometimes, the muscle seems to weaken dramatically, suddenly, and my arm drops to my side. When that happens, Will makes a note of my allergy to that substance, to be treated later. We move on to the next item, both of us briskly rubbing our hands together to clear the negative energy before continuing.

He also uses muscle testing to gather other information from my subconscious. Has a treated allergen cleared completely? Am I strong enough to tolerate another treatment today? Which allergy should be treated next?

I then hold the allergen I'm being treated for that day, while Will works on acupressure points along my spine to clear blocked energy. He moves his hands across my face, interacting with the brain in a way I do not pretend to understand. Then he places acupuncture needles for a balancing treatment, and I rest. (This is my favorite part. Resting, I "get.")

Some days, I confess, it all feels like a big test. How far "out" are you willing to go to get well? How much are you willing to trust and accept?

But I know that is the conscious mind talking. Mired as it is in logic, and its fear of the unfamiliar, of things it cannot control or understand.

Resist, it says.

Sometimes my faith holds strong. Other times it weakens, and my resolve drops. What can I do? I make a note of it, and move on.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Cross of the Moment

My first conversation with Will, my NAET practitioner, went something like this. (You'll have to imagine his soft German accent, because my attempts to replicate it this morning made him sound like Col. Klink from Hogan's Heroes.)

Will: First we test you for allergies to certain basic nutrients. Everyone is allergic to some of these--meaning their bodies do not accept the nutrients, they fight them, and the immune system suffers. I do the testing, and then people decide whether or not they want these allergies to be cleared.

Me: Why would they not?

W: Yes, exactly. He seemed to be truly considering my question. Why wouldn't they?

Yet clearly, some people choose not to get the treatment. In fact, most people choose not to try NAET at all, though information about the protocol is readily available to anyone who can Google. If it really works as well as people say (and I have read some amazing testimonials), why are allergies still such a common complaint?

More to the point ... why was it so difficult for me to say yes? Why did it take me so many weeks just to make that first phone call? Why did I put off my first appointment? Why, driving to Will's office for my first treatment, did I experience such extreme anxiety that I had to remind myself to breathe?

I asked myself that as I was driving. The answer came in the form of another question: Who would I be without my allergies?

I have been allergic to life for as long as I can remember. As a very young child, I was sidelined from the more vigorous preschool activities for fear of an asthma attack. I was warned to keep my distance from triggers, including the animals I so desperately wanted to love: horses and our own household pets. In high school I carried notes for PE teachers, excusing my poor performance on long runs before I even started. My allergies defined me.

We humans don't give up our images of ourselves, even the negative ones, without a fight. In the words of W.H. Auden:

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.

In my car that day, I experienced the fight-or-flight symptoms (cold sweat, difficulty breathing) that I now recognize as the outer edges of a panic attack. A big part of me was screaming Stop! Turn the car around! Because, let's be honest. That part prefers its current life of self-imposed restrictions to the limitless, the unknown. It would gladly turn its back on the possibility of greater vitality and joy, just so it could hang on to that note in its pocket--the one excusing me from fully participating in life.

But I kept moving forward. The greater part of me is ready to be changed. I'm ripping up that note and stepping up to the starting line. When I feel like running, I'll run. When I need to rest, I'll slow down. I'll find my own limits. Or I won't. No excuse necessary.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Four Faiths

I have had just about enough of "no."

There's a reason "no" is among all babies' first words. "No" is useful. Critical, even. To become fully human, we need to be able to say, "No, I don't like that," "No, I don't want that," and "No, you may not treat me that way."

Yet some of us, along the way to adulthood, lost our "no." We learned that our "no" might hurt someone's feelings or disappoint them. We came to believe that other people's feelings and expectations were more important than our own. Our "no"s grew fainter, and weaker, until they almost disappeared.

That sucks. Because until you can truly, unapologetically say "no," your "yes" just might be meaningless.

My last 8 or 9 months have been very much about developing my "no" muscle. I said "no" to work, to the corporate career path that had been defined for me. At the same time, I said "no" to many of the traditional activities of a stay-at-home mom. I said "no" to what I perceived as other people's expectations for my life (and what were really, more importantly, my own preconceived notions of my life at this age).

And then, because I still wasn't quite getting it, I got sick. Along the path to greater health I found a whole host of additional "no"s: No sugar. No dairy. No gluten. No alcohol. No corn or other grasses. (The list goes on.)

The gifts from this have been immeasurable. For the first time in my life, I have experienced a direct, minute-by-minute connection between my food choices and my health. For the first time, I have felt truly in control of what I eat AND how I feel. For the first time, I have put how I feel first -- before habit, before convenience, before social niceties.

And yet ... it's been a whole lot of "no."

Now I have found something that offers, instead, to heal me through "yes." It's a protocol called NAET, and it is said to cure food and environmental allergies. Yes, I said cure. Given that traditional medicine's approach to allergies consists almost exclusively of identification and avoidance (allergy shots notwithstanding, and they can take years), this is a pretty big claim.

NAET views allergies as blocked energy. Once the energy in relation to a particular substance is freed, the body no longer perceives that substance as a threat, and the allergy is cured. In other words, it removes the "no" and replaces it with "yes."

Wouldn't that be great? If, having regained the power of "no," I could start to let my guard down a little? Start practicing my "yes"? Not a helpless, codependent "yes." Not a "yes, because everyone else is doing it" or "yes, because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings" or (maybe worst of all) the unconscious, habitual "yes" -- but a conscious, welcoming, joyful "YES" to food, to the universe, to life?

I'll say more about some of the reasons it was difficult for me to choose NAET, despite (or perhaps because of) this outrageous promise, in another post. But for now, I will just quote Bernie Siegel, who writes in Love, Medicine, and Miracles: "Four faiths are crucial to recovery from serious illness: faith in oneself, one's doctor, one's treatment, and one's spiritual faith."

I'm starting there. I say "yes" to myself: "Yes" I deserve extraordinary health and whatever it takes to get there. I say "yes" to the promise of this unconventional treatment, and "yes" to the lovely, gentle doctor I've found to perform it. I say "yes" to having a little faith in the Universe and all She has done to bring me to this point.

To borrow from James Joyce's Molly, because no one has ever said it better:

yes I said yes I will yes