Writing has been a sanity saving bridge which has led from processing parenting experiences to peace and solutions. Single parenting two children led me on a journey for which I have no map. Through writing, I create the map as I travel this wild and wonderful parenting safari.
My parenting journey has included many life lessons disguised as sinkholes, road blocks, and dead ends. My daughter, Lillian, was diagnosed at age 3 years old with a rare condition called 18p-. This chromosome deletion only affects 1 in 56,000 people. Her sibling, Thomas, is a strong willed empath who either speaks his mind or holds how he feels inside until he explodes. In 2006 I became a single parent to them, lost nearly everything, and was forced to file bankruptcy.
I have been single parenting Thomas and Lillian for the past twelve years. Lillian is 17 years old now and the main way that 18p- affects her is an inability to articulate words, anxiety, chronic pain, irrational fears, and difficulty processing strong emotions. Thomas is 13 years old with his own difficulties of being a sibling to Lillian and puberty has hit him full throttle.
Writing led me to peace and acceptance of my role as parent to these two unique and beautiful children. Writing brought peace and solid steps to take in regards to medical issues, schooling, and emotional challenges faced by Thomas and Lillian. In some situations, writing was not the only factor; yet, it has been a shining thread of grace that connected my heart and mind along this parenting journey. And still is.
Several factors led to a loosely held practice of writing every day. When I became a single parent I intuitively felt moved to learn the practice of mindfulness, meditation, and journaling.
My practice of going for a walk three times a week also solidified into a committed practice of noticing and immersing in nature. All of these practices combined with the writing practice opened my eyes to a different style of parenting, a more focused and connected style.
My laptop became the couch I rest upon; while writing of my experiences became the therapist. This also serves as a tool for me to sync with life and for giving myself feedback for those experiences. Writing became an avenue to connect with and release the myriad of emotions and experiences of parenting.
The writing becomes an observer of my experiences. One that allows me to step away from the situation by pouring my heart onto the digital pages. I feel we all know in our heart the solution to tough parenting situations; or at the least, what would be the better of available options.
Although I choose to publicly share much of my experiences through writing, one does not have to write with the intention of sharing with others. The very act of writing about experiences and feelings is deeply therapeutic. There are many writing practices from which to choose. Writing with pencil and paper, using a laptop, writing in the morning, in the evening, in silence, while listening to music, at home, in a cafe, in nature … You get the idea.
The how, when and where is a completely personal preference. The portion of the practice I have found to work best for me and those I have mentored is to first get centered in one’s heart. If you find yourself stumbling and no words flowing; this is a sign you are still centered in your mind.
Take three long, deep breaths and gently release whatever thoughts you may be having. Begin to write about the parenting issue facing you. Write about your feelings and thoughts on the issue. Once you feel finished with this portion, stop for a moment. Take three long, deep breaths once again dropping your focus into the heart.
Next, write these six words … “What do I need to know?” Don’t hesitate. Just write. Write until the words are no longer flowing. Write no matter how wacky or scary this may seem. Write no matter what crazy thoughts come to mind. Write those too.
For some of you this may not be concrete enough and seem like “fluff”; and for you, it simply may not work. Yet, I’m betting that more than half of those who try this will at least feel at peace with the situation and at most know what actions to take that are in everyone’s highest and best interest.
I have experienced parenting guidance in this way and have seen others receive peace and guidance as well. If you aren’t accustomed to writing, it may take a while to grease the writing wheels. Don’t give up. Try it for at least a month. No one has to see what you write. Delete it, tear it up, shred it, crumple and stomp on it, burn it, eat it, whatever.
Write. Write and watch the transformation of becoming a more connected and focused parent. Not only that. Write and watch the transformation as you begin to trust yourself and become more at peace with life.
©2019 Camilla Downs
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