Start as You Mean to Go

Since before my children were born, I have always known what kind of relationship I wanted to have with them. I have always dreamed of a day when my children would be grown and we would speak to one another as equals, as friends. I have this image of us sitting at a cozy table in a trendy café, chatting easily with one another about anything and everything. What’s more is that I have been sharing this image with them for as long as I can remember.


“Perhaps we’re in the Old Port of Montreal…or maybe we’re on Dobson Street in Vancouver…” I’ll suggest. Now that they’re older, they like to make suggestions of their own and they’ll name cities and countries from around the globe. It has become our dream.


Why did I choose to tell them about this dream from the time they were little? I believe that in sharing my dream of our beautiful, loving, lifelong relationship, I am setting up the conditions under which it may flourish and become a reality. I tell them that as much as I love being their mother, it isn’t easy having to make difficult decisions. It is never my wish to disappoint them. But right now, it is my job to be their parent, not their friend. But one day…one magnificent, glorious day…though I will always be their mother and I will always want to look out for them…they will be adults and we can have a friendship wherein I respect their choices and offer advice only if it is requested.
I don’t pretend to know that this dream will come true. I am well placed to know that life can throw all kinds of twists and turns at us. What I know for certain though is that I stand a much better chance at achieving this dream if I consciously work at it in the present moment. Rare are the dreams that come true just by chance.

The Return.

The Christmas Break has drawn to an end and it’s back to the juggling act of the school and work routine. Teachers, parents and children alike may be less than enthusiastic about getting the “machine” running again. In light of this reality, might I suggest the most basic of resolutions for the New Year?


What if we were to focus on being grateful? Our beliefs shape our reality and likewise, what we choose to put our attention upon feeds our spirit, for better or for worse.  By focusing on being grateful,  your return to the work and school routine will surely get off to a smooth start. This includes the self-talk that goes through our mind as we assess our situation. It takes a mere couple of seconds to send a kind message to our ourselves but the impact of these messages can have a lasting positive effect on our day, and by default, our positive sense of well-being can uplift those around us. Sounds good in theory right, but what would that look like?


  • When you’re bemoaning the fact that it’s back to packing lunches for yourself (and the kids), be grateful that you have food with which to fuel your body and feed your family.


  • When you force yourself (and the kids) to go to bed earlier, be grateful for the extra time you have had together as a family, for having a bed in which to lie down and a pillow to rest your head upon.


  • When the alarm goes off in the morning, be grateful for having a warm home in which to awake.


  • Whatever lovely winter weather greets you as you step outside, be grateful that you have clothes to protect you from the seasonal elements.


  • When you are sitting in traffic just trying to get yourself to work, be grateful that you have a form of transportation that allows you to arrive safely to your destination. If that’s not enough, place your attention on something that brings you joy. For instance, the longer you’re stuck in traffic, the more Adele and Ed Sheeran songs you get to sing (now you know what I’m doing as I line up to cross the Mercier Bridge.)


This next part is specifically for teachers:


  • When you greet your students, keep in mind that they may not have had two full weeks of rest. Not everyone necessarily had “Happy Holidays”. There may have been lots of running around visiting relatives and friends, and may have been more stressful than joyful. Think about the family drama that you witnessed during the holidays and consider the fact that your students may have lived through the same kind of events, if not worse. Take time to be grateful for one another and be sure to celebrate your reunion as a group.


Back to parents:


  • When your kids come home tired, remember that they need to have a safe place to release their fatigue. Be grateful for being together again and for having a home in which to rest and be ourselves. Moreover, be grateful for the opportunity to set up the conditions within which you can allow your children and yourself time and space to let off some steam. That might look like alone time in their bedrooms, or a nice, big hug to release endorphins in the body, bringing about a sense of calm.


  • When you’re rushing to get dinner on the table, be grateful for the meal you are about to share with each other.


  • When it’s time to take showers and brush your teeth and get into pajamas, be grateful for…yup…you guessed it…hot water, personal hygiene products, warm clothing, etc.


Have you got the hang of this yet? The moment you find yourself ready to complain or feel sorry for yourself, find something for which you are grateful. There are billions of people in this world who have less than you. The situation we are all well aware of with the Syrian Refugees ought to be enough to sober us up and allow us to find dozens, if not hundreds, of things for which we can be grateful in our daily lives. Happy New Year, Happy Thoughts.


If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished? – Rumi

Photo credit goes to BK from Flickr

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