Dharmajam's Blog

A Ha! Let’s Stop Traumatizing Our Kids for Having Feelings, Yes?
July 25, 2012, 7:27 am
Filed under: "Personal Growth", Mothering / Parenting

I had a wonderful, liberating experience this morning, so much so that I wish I
could just call y’all up and relate it “in person,” so to speak.

We had an ant invasion last night which I was trying to deal with naturally but when DH came home from work he went ahead and sprayed right outside the bathroom window, bringing the smell of it inside the house.

I had DD do bedtime bath routine in different location, but the door to bathroom was open.

I knew that it had been a problem when she awoke screaming at midnight. (Read up on chemical sensitivity, artificial flavors/scents/colors here: http://feingold.org).

This morning, sure as the sun shines, DD woke up on the wrong side of the bed. After breakfast, she started displaying anxiety about her sister, getting controlling and intrusive, glowering and literally growling in anger over the slightest source of frustration.

Through it all, I had a peace of mind that generally escapes me when DD has aflare up. Maybe it is the effect that the recent tragedy in CO has had on me. Lately I have been feeling that the single most important
thing is just to let my family really know that I love them each and every day. So, I’ve been more apt to respond with an even keel rather than get all bent out of shape. Moreaccepting, more generous with hugs and willingness to fulfill requests, and I don’t FEEL like I am bending over backwards, it has  just felt good to be supportive.

That’s not to say that I let my kids get away with being nasty, mean, or disrespectful. I do call them on it. I
now consider it a running conversation with them about all pitching in to make the family nice, keeping the house in order, loving eachother, and doing their own important work of being good helpers. Thanks to Bernice Davidson http://globalriversart.org/ for all her support on this. I have learned so much from her and so have the kids.

They respond as kids do, sometimes with real enthusiasm, but also with feet dragging and
complaining or out and out non-compliance. I now feel that this is OK, because it is a process of growing them up. The important thing is to keep modeling the behavior I expect from them so they can see it is a real request I am making of them, that is, that it is something that can actually be done. How can I expect patience from them if I am not even able to have patience with those most deserving of it?  We may say that our stresses are so much greater than that of children, but remembering back to my own childhood, the
feeling of helplessness at being at the total mercy of the adults coupled with the intensity of feeling even “regular” children have, let alone the very sensitive, and it is easy to see how the little ones can become so distressed.
The important thing is not to punish but to teach discipline. I use time outs when they are way out of control, but I am finding that the out of control moments seem to be dwindling. When DD (and
DD2) starts to respond in a way that is uncivil, I simply say “you are starting to spin out of control” (thanks again to Bernice for the verbiage) If she is unable to stop or won’t stop, she must go for time out. In this way, it is logical and no anger is involved.

But, as I began this post, the real A HA! moment came this morning when DD became really mean. There was a moment of clarity in myself where I realized that her inner turmoil was a very real and terrible feeling. Who isn’t guilty of taking out their frustration or anger on those around us? When you don’t feel
good, the whole world turns dark and you just want to scream or be hurtful, but it is really just trying to

LET IT OUT and be gone with it! Even if that means shunting it onto someone else. It is a painful truth. Perhaps that is why empathy is so absent from society. How can one acknowledge and have compassion for another’s suffering if we can not even deal with our own?

As I realized this I told her the following, which was really just validatingher feelings (and isn’t that what
we all just want? to be understood and loved?), I said in a firm but calm voice,

“Listen, listen. I know you are having a reaction right now, and that it makesyou feel really really terrible inside. But, it is not OK to be mean to your family even though you feel so terrible. We are going to get
through this together today. We are going to drink lots of water and be OK.”

At first, when I said the word “listen” she backed into a corner, almost in the fetal position and I could see by her expression that she was expecting my usual barrage of “why are you acting this way (even though I
KNOW WHY, I still couldn’t help saying it out of frustration)! You need to STOP IT!”
This always sent her the message: You are not OK, I am not OK with you.

When I instead went on to validate just how awful she was feeling, an amazing thing happened.  She relaxed.  And listened.  And said in a calm, relieved voice, “OK.”

Oh man, it was like the sky parted and heaven descended to earth! I think it really did, because my prayers for peace were answered right then and there.
Kids just want to be understood and shown by us the behavior we expect from them. Easier said than done when our own emotional trauma is in the way.  But, we can do this, we can validate just how awful they feel inside and then we can help them get through it with respect for their person and clear parameters for acceptable behavior.

I also recently read this amazing book called “The Drama of the Gifted Child” by Alice Miller. It is
only about $13 and worth a million. I wish I could hand it out on the street!


Why I Rebel
July 6, 2012, 6:33 am
Filed under: "Personal Growth", Feminism, Mothering / Parenting

What I once thought was feminist conditioning interferring with my SAHM role

and causing a dilemma of gigantic proportion

I now realize as simply a pattern of defense against feeling pain.


It remains as conditioning but feminism is not to blame.

Rather, childhood subjugation, cruelty, and shame.

July 6, 2012, 6:14 am
Filed under: "Personal Growth", Mothering / Parenting

Peel skins off my feet

Put them on a plate

Serve up to you



Need to feel

Get under to raw



Smoothness under

Peels of skin



Hard shards

Cause exposed





In irony whole

Am I A Grinch?
December 17, 2010, 10:05 pm
Filed under: Mothering / Parenting

Ugh. I have such a love hate relationship with the idea of peace and relaxation.  On the one hand, I feel absolutely compelled to seek it out, like, *sigh* and “ah, wouldn’t it be just lovely to have an indoor pool and sauna aaaaaallllllll to myself? NO ONE ELSE IS ALLLLLOUD (misspelled on purpose) TO USE IT!  Oh the quiet there would be so enticing, so settled.

And then, on the other hand, (my revolutionary hand), it feels like I am fighting some deep conditioning in favor of dead quiet mascarading as peace and relaxation. This pinko hand feels that it is just plain grinchy to desire such a greedy luxury. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss in How The Grinch Stole Christmas,

For, tomorrow, he knew… all the Who girls and boys would wake bright and early. They’d rush for their toys! And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Well, it all probably comes back to just a simple fact: I don’t make enough time for taking care of myself…. still.  Day after day goes by without trying to find a babysitter… I’m locked in to this giving too much till I’m all gived out, and it needs to stop.

Old News: TV is Drugs
October 24, 2010, 4:13 am
Filed under: Mothering / Parenting

TV is the bane of attachment parenting.  It can function in a very similar way as the pipe to a crack addict.  When I feel like I can devote myself fully to the baby falling asleep, it goes down like the most idyllic, beautiful scene you could ever witness between mother and child.  But, when I haven’t given enough to myself, and it is the end of a long hard day, and all I want with my entire soul is to plop and veg, but I’ve chosen to parent in this way that requires my presence for falling asleep (I can not get behind ‘cry it out’ and don’t want to), it plays more like a battle scene from Predator vs. Alien. 

The baby can FEEL my state of being.  She knows when I don’t want to be with her, and it hurts.  Tonight was a good night; my desire to be there with her as she went to sleep instilled trust and a feeling of security for her.  Tonight I uncovered yet another layer of the power of motherhood, and it came on the heels of powerful prayer that was answered immediately.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

August 16, 2010, 11:25 pm
Filed under: Mothering / Parenting, Religion / Philosophy

Revelation. This morning, although exhausted, something happened that I have been running after for many years now. I enjoyed going about, cleaning up the back patio, rearranging stuff, feeding the dogs, feeding the kids. And while I stood, surveying my work, an epiphany.

My life is a microcosm of the evolution from animal to human and subsequent “fall of man.” And so is everyone else’s. This can’t be too far fetched. I am not well enough read to instantly know which philosopher has already covered this ground.  Google gave me references to Milton’s Paradise Lost, published in 1667, and also the poem The Light of the Microcosm by early 19th century poet Petar II Petrovic Njegos, Bishop of Montenegro.

But, I was struck by the simple happiness Annika had while we both puttered about outside.  She just turned 15 months.  It made me realize that I used to be that way too.  Just happy to be here, and breathing, and experiencing new things.  Somewhere along the way, I began to reject simplicity and chase after an elusive idea of perfection that I had created. 

I thought of the evolution, or growth, of the fetus.  We each begin as a single cell organism, which starts to become human when acted upon by another.  The cell starts to rapidly divide and become a higher life form.  Soon, the developing child resembles lower life forms.  Reptilian features give way to a mammilian appearance, including a tail.  The tail disappears, and the human emerges from this condensed, personal experience of Man’s evolution. 

Continuing with the idea of a personal experience of the evolutional journey, the new baby is wholly and contentedly dependent on the mother and father, in much the same way newly created Man must have experienced his relationship with God in Eden.  All was well.  Then comes “The Fall.”  Man becomes like an animal (meaning here that he became disconnected from God and subject to the laws of nature, such as death), a caveman if you will… and the baby becomes a toddler, complete with communication in grunts and pointing and a developing sense of individuality which prompts extreme displeasure manifesting as tantrums. 

But, the toddler gradually becomes socialized, over about a 3 to 5 year period to the point when he acquires the capacity to reason and communicate verbally

This point is extremely facinating!  A child can not realize his full potential as a human unless he receieves this contact with other humans.  This means that we are not inheritly human; we must be acted upon by “the other” in order to become human.  We must be perceived as human by someone else! 

Only look to the regretable  instances of feral children, or children who are withheld human love and attention, and we can see the lack of full human capabilities such as verbal communication.  True, these children may have had developmental difficulties from the outset which prompted their caregiver(s), evil though it is, to reject them.  However, we have seen that developmentally challenged children acquire higher levels of functioning through loving care and attention.

Here we come to the chicken or the egg.  How did this human capacity to reason and verbally communicate come to exist?  How could it have sprung up out of nothing?  I am inclined to believe that God gave us the capacity and then socialized us to its use, in a similar way to the development of children.

So what does this mean for me today? How should this impact my day to day living? How should any of us respond to such a revelation? I feel prompted to delve deeper, to be happy with what is, to give thanks and praise.  If life as we experience it is not a given, then I must rely on the giver.

The Issue of Support, aka Why Do Some Women Go Nuts?
June 29, 2010, 7:08 am
Filed under: Mothering / Parenting

There’s an amazing book called “After the Baby’s Birth” by Robin Lim.  http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781587611100

Nitya loaned it to me during my second pregnancy, not so long ago. It centers around how to care for and support a woman after the birth. What could the world need more than for women to receive a crash course in how the first year of new motherhood should go? It should be required reading in every obstetrics practice, and recommended in every childbirth class.  I have a good mind to go around distributing it liberally in waiting rooms across the country.  Save the Mammas Tour… who’s with me?

Despite the media attention to postpartum depression in recent years, the issue of hormonal changes and the crazies that can go along with it still remains a hush hush topic.  I mean, the most women get in the obstetrician’s prenatal visit is a stern “this could happen to you, and if it does, tell me.”  Most of the time that talk doesn’t even happen.  The mother-to-be simply reads a poster up on the wall, or a pamphlet about the affliction. 

I know it is against medical procedure, but how about some good ole’ preventative measures?  But, they are not sure why some women have PPD and others don’t.  I feel confident in stating that the primary cause of debilitating PPD is a lack of maternal support in the neonatal period and year following.  I do not mean to say that pre-existing conditions, or a latent condition brought out by the hormonal changes of the birth are not to blame.  I am saying that these factors are meant to be mitigated by loving, understanding support of the new mother.

The brilliant part of the book is that it is a guide for the woman, not her husband or partner.  (Although the issue would be better served if both read it.)  The book teaches a woman, gives permission to a woman, to follow her gut, to state what she needs to herself first, and then to others. Once a woman gives permission to herself to receive support, she is able to communicate it with conviction.  She knows that if she receives support, she will be able to support her child.

I’m talking about understanding and compassion.  It seems that, more and more, women are expected to *bounce back* quickly from labor. People are impressed and happy to see a woman out and about with her days-old infant. What happened to the lying in period?  That sensitive, holy time of focusing only on acclimation and getting to know each other; that time for adequate recovery?  What happened to other women making soup for a week to nurture the new mother?  Why is there a perception that a new mother should be able to keep up?  With the house keeping, or visiting, or anything?  There should be zero pressure.

The prevalence of mothers not bonding sufficiently with their babies would be greatly reduced if mothers could get the support and love they need in the neonatal period and in the year following.