Monday, September 28, 2009


Today was Sis' 2nd ballet class and again, of course, she loved it. This time around, the parents were banished to the hallway so planning ahead, I brought along a coffee and some reading I've been meaning to get to. I read an interview with Salvador Minuchin, famous family therapy innovator, and it was just what I needed to hear. Here is an excerpt:
I have become a much better parent now than I was as a younger man. I wish I had had the quietness and the wisdom then that I have now. I think it is a pity that beauty is spent on young people, and wisdom comes with age. It wold be a very different world if it was the other way around.   Psychotherapy Networker September/October 2009

Yes, precisely. It is a struggle for me to feel an internal quiet in the midst of the noise and bustle of family life. There is always the push to keep one step ahead of the chaos that threatens to overwhelm the fragile order that must be re-created each day. Routines and rituals just barely keep it at bay at times. After an especially crabby day yesterday, I told my husband that it feels as if there is a to-do list that lives in my head. It is never completed -- as one item is checked off, another takes it place. My mind is always occupied not only by the present (usually the noisy silliness of my children) but also by the demands of the future. And heavens help me if anything truly historical (like anything greater than 5 minute ago) should be sitting on the fringes of my consciousness, waiting for an audience! And then there is my inner critic, the one that tells me that I know how to parent better than I do. It is deeply reassuring that one of the greats of psychotherapy, of family therapy specifically, can reflect on his role as a youthful parent and find himself lacking in the complete calm and centeredness that evades me! 

Another excerpt:

I never expect people to change themselves. In a struggle with yourself, somebody has to lose, and that will be you

He goes on to explain that it is by doing something different that we discover new ways of being in relationship with others -- we change something in how we typically are in these relationships in order to change the system (family/relationship) that we are a part of. In simple terms, my sweet cherubs are driving me nuts at breakfast. Rather than the guilty self-talk I've been doing about my failings as a grounded, calm parent -- which by the way, doesn't feel very enpowering -- I've decided to change something else in the system. I need 15-20 minutes of quiet to have some coffee, gather my thoughts, check in with myself and others. It is the tension between urging the kids to eat, not be too silly, get dressed, not hit each other, etc and this need I have for calm that drives me bonkers. So my new plan, are you ready for this?I'm going to prioritize this calm first thing in the morning, before the children have come downstairs. I'll get it all out of my system so that when we all sit down together at the table, my attention is not divided. That's the plan. The difficulty will be waking up early . . . 

You're good people if you've made it this far, thus I'm rewarding you with some of my favorite colors of fall:) The first photo above is a deliberate imitation of the kinds of photos I admire over at Georgia B's  It's Just How I See Things. And the little duo of the vine was taken on the zoo trip this weekend. This evening it began to rain and cool weather is forecasted for the rest of the week. You know what that means? Lots of beautiful orange pumpkins in the future!

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