Live Inside Your Walls

After brushing my teeth, I begin to put the few things away that were straggled on my counter. As I cleared the things, I stumbled across a spiderman toothbrush cover. I picked it up held in my hand and begin to smile. It was covered in old, hard toothpaste. It must have fell behind my counter, because the kid that adored this toothbrush holder was now in college. I sat down on the edge of my bathtub and listened to the silence. The silence that was once bliss and desired more than anything in the world. Tears begin to stream down my eyes as I held this tiny toothbrush holder in my hand. I looked around my bathroom and it was spotless. Not a thing out of place. I had spent yesterday cleaning it which explains how this tiny treasure had surfaced. I had longed for so long the desire to have a spotless bathroom, you know the kind that you see in magazines. And finally the day had come, and I was sitting in my magazine worthy bathroom balling tears of sadness. Why was I so sad? I pulled myself up and got dressed. Life was so different now, my house stayed clean, I had ample amount of quiet time and I was never short on me time. My career was thriving, yet my heart wished for the ‘good ole’ days. The days when I had tiny feet running about. The days when I had people storming into my bedroom asking me for help. The days when I had tiny arms wrapping around my neck and pecking me with little kisses. The days when my days were full of joyful chaos. Why had I rushed those sweet days away? Why was I in such a hurry for things to be different? Sure, I loved my life now and I enjoyed how things were, but there was still those sweet memories of yesterday.

What is it that makes us rush our present, in hopes of a better tomorrow only to get to tomorrow and wish for another yesterday?

I find myself, as a mother of 9 children at home, hoping for better tomorrows. Hoping that one day I don’t have to fuss as much. Hoping that one day my house will stay clean. Hoping that one day I will have an hour to myself. Hoping that one day I will get a moment of peace and quiet. I find myself daydreaming of these tomorrows. The problem is while I am daydreaming of these tomorrows the today is a blur. As a mother of 1 child out of the house, I find myself wishing for yesterdays when he was tiny. I know all to well what is to come, wishing for yesterdays; however I still find myself hoping for better tomorrows.

It’s almost as though society has arranged it for happiness to be impossible. The system has been setup to never be satisfied always wishing for something. It would have us believe we are incapable of living in the present. We have been programed to be living in the past or looking to the future rather eagerly or anxiously.

I have spent a lot time talking about kicking down walls and living outside the box. But for a moment I want us to live in the box. I want us to stop and look around our tiny little box and recognize the beauty of our box. Not concerned with what is going on outside the box, not wondering how we got into the box, but simply enjoying the box. For a moment we aren’t going to try to rip down the walls and get to a better place, instead we are going to say our box is our box and it’s enough! Can you make up your mind Tanyell….. I know, I know it can seem confusing. But, part of living beyond the walls is recognizing that our walls are our walls.

Let me explain. We take the time to build our perfect little four walls. For me my walls consist of my husband, 10 children, a dog, cat, a few small animals, my private practice, our inflatable business, our spirituality and view of the world, and a few other bricks. I have been careful with building these walls, being very strategic with each brick. However, inside these walls is chaos, craziness, madness, messiness, laughter, yelling, love, tears, laughter, and a plethora of other things. People will often come inside my four walls and begin to tell me what I need to change what I need to do different. I sometimes find myself comparing my four walls to other people four walls. And slowly, the beautiful bricks that I have strategically placed and the perfectly carved wood I have placed, I begin to chisel and hammer down. I find myself beating my bricks up and cutting my wood up with should and could. I find myself saying I can’t wait until this brick is gone or this wood is moved so I can_________ fill in the blank. My once perfect walls slowly get destroyed piece by piece by piece. The light shinning through isn’t a bright happy light of promises of freedom. The light shinning through is a blinding bright light that forces me to cover my eyes. My walls are crumbling and it doesn’t feel good.

In order to repair the holes in my walls, I must begin to plug them with memories and moments of the present. Take time to enjoy the tiny moments that are happening within them. The heftiness of life and all of it’s imperfections. It means allowing my littles to sleep in the middle one more night while my husband and I hold onto the edge of the bed. It means wiping tears and cleaning non existence booboos. It means stepping over toys and framing literal wall art. It means listening to the yelling and screaming and the details of who did it. It means putting the phone down to make eye contact and fully engage in a 20 min story about a teddy bear and barbie doll. It means reading one more bedtime story.  It means walking into a bathroom with tissue hanging off the roll and toothpaste spilled across the counter top from little hands brushing little teeth.

Sometimes life beyond the walls means remaining in our four walls. Sometimes it means not allowing others to come inside of our walls and try to tear them down with their ideals and opinions. Life beyond the walls can mean seeing beyond our walls to know that everyones four walls are different and the beauty inside of each of them is to be held by the person living inside. Before you begin to chisel down the walls in your life, make sure they aren’t your four walls that you built.

After brushing my teeth, I begin to look around at the toys in the bathtub from last night baths, the toothpaste splatters on the mirror from big spits, the clothes on the floor that lead into the closet were pajamas were kept, the tissue dangling from the roll from someone who needed a piece to clean their nose. I looked around at the beautiful mess of life, fun, and memories. I took a deep breath, put my toothbrush away, and walked out of the bathroom leaving the mess for another moment. I went out into the living room and embraced myself for all the mommies and feels that were going to flood me before I could make my way to the coffee pot. I took the time and hugged each and everyone of them looking deep into their tiny eyes and feeling their tiny arms try to wrap around me. I hugged my bigs and remembered their tiny arms. I took mental pictures of this moment and listened to all the dreams and the plans for the day. I didn’t think about the dishes, the work load, the better tomorrows. I held onto this moment and closed in the holes of my walls so no light could get in and I could focus my eyes on the beauty of what was happening inside of my walls. And at that moment I begin to live life beyond the walls within my walls!

Why Not Say Yes

“May I have some candy?” NO! “May I watch TV?” NO! “May I have a pb&J Sandwich for Dinner?” NO! WHY NOT!!!! What is preventing you from giving your kids a yes?

I recently had the privilege of taking a parenting class for parents who are parenting children from hard places aka parents of adopted children, known as Empowered to Connect. The information given in this class is from the book The Connected Child written by Karen Purvis. To say that the information I was given in this class was wall breaking, is saying the very least. As a mother of both biological and adopted children, I feel like this information should be given to every parent, because let’s just face it, we all come from hard places. Being birthed alone is traumatizing and hard for an infant.

While taking this class, we were given different parenting tools to try and explore, one of the tools that impacted and knocked down so many bricks in a wall I didn’t even know I had built, was a day of yes.

Many times, we think as parents we have to provide structure and protect our children from this big bad world. While this is true, it is also important to connect with our children and build a secure attachment with them. One of the ways to achieve this goal is allowing your children the opportunity to learn they can talk to you, but more importantly trust you. Saying yes to our children could provide them space to not be afraid to come to us in difficult times and ask hard questions, because they know you will answer reasonably and fairly. They learn how to accept no better and with ease. They begin to understand the whys behind the yes and no. If you are a parent that constantly says no to your children, you risk the possibility of them shutting down and shutting you out as they get older. No does not provide opportunities for experiences, growth, or connection. 

For me, this day of yes seemed daunting, I mean I have 9 children at home 8 of them can talk and ask for things. My initial thought was this could and probably will get out of control, they are going to suck me dry. What I found, is that my bigger kids had become so complacent with me saying no they hardly ask for anything. My oldest at home, didn’t ask for anything, and my younger ones while they asked for things constantly; their request were fairly reasonable and within acceptable boundaries. If this was the norm, why was my go to usually no?

I found, I typically say no out of pure convenience and selfishness. Not only was it easier for me to say no, but sometimes I simply didn’t  want to share or stop doing what I was doing to say yes. Examples? Well, on our yes day I fixed a nice breakfast for the kids as they ate breakfast and I proceeded to sit down at the computer to do a little prep for the remainder of the day. My 4 year comes to me and says can I have an orange? Now my go to would have been no eat breakfast. It’s an orange people! Relatively healthy and again an orange. Not a bag of chips or piece of candy.  I said yes, he was ecstatic, he did a little happy dance as we went into the kitchen so I could peel his orange. As I analyzed the situation, I realized I wanted to say no because I didn’t want to stop what I was doing and get up to go peel an orange. Now there are times I would have said not right now, when I finish this, in a minute, etc etc. These are all acceptable, however, many times it’s just easier to say no. No is final! I don’t have to hear now can I have one, are you done yet, is it a minute, blah blah blah. However, yes is final too! It took me all of 30 seconds to peel the orange and he was happy and content and I could go back to what I was doing and actually get it finished. Yes was better than no. Another example, I will usually treat myself to chick fil a once a week. It’s my treat just for me no one else. I came home  with my Arnold Palmer and set it down. I only had a few sips left.a few min later here comes my 5 year old can I have this mommy? My gut turned into knots as my lips started to form no, that’s mine. (I mean can’t this mommy have anything to herself.) That’s what would have went through my mind.  Instead I formed a smile on my face and said yes. Her eyes lit up and she drank the last few swallows. She was a happy girl. In my self analyzing, I realized sometimes, ok most times, I don’t like to share. Had my cup been full I may have been more likely to fail this yes, but the reality is  I could have easily poured her some in a little cup and we both would have been happy. Win win. 

When you have multiple children, you are bombarded with questions all day long. And saying yes to all of them all of the time isn’t realistic nor healthy parenting, however, taking a moment to discern can I say yes to this is what’s important. Understanding the why behind your No.

 My challenge to you is to pick a day and on that day say yes to your child/children  (within reason)for an entire day. You don’t want your child being put in harms way, so please use discernment and common sense. Push yourself beyond your limits and say yes to as much as possible. No matter how bad you may want to say no, if you can say yes, say yes! While doing this challenge, keep track of your feelings and emotions. Remember it’s only for one day! A day of yes is an opportunity for you to not only build a stronger bond with your children, but it also provides you with an opportunity to understand yourself and why you parent the way you do. Saying yes can be enlighting as well as freeing. It opens up doors that you may have never knocked on let alone set foot in. It provides you with the chance to grow beyond your comfort zone, and what happens when we grow beyond our comfort zone? Walls come tumbling down! So, get to it…. Happy Yessing!!