When I’m frantically trying to brainstorm a blog topic, I usually think about the conversations I’ve had over the last few weeks. Sometimes there’s a theme. As I reflected on my conversations with parents in passing and while sitting on bleachers, I realized a lot of us are ultra-frustrated with our kids right now. Maybe it’s the prolonged cabin fever we’ve got going on here in the Midwest. (When will we ever have two days of sunshine in a row?!!) Whatever the cause, our kids seem to be on our…very…last…nerve.
bickering, the fighting, the teasing. The million little things that quickly add
up and make us want to pull out our hair. We can’t control their actions – we
can only control our own reactions. And sometimes those are less than stellar. How
are we supposed to change our reactions to make the situation better for
get to this point of ultra-frustration, I know we need a new system or fresh
approach. This time, I decided to try an
exercise I had heard about from another mom.
I’ve been meaning to try it for a few years and in March I finally did!
Yay for better-late-than-never me!
The point of the exercise is to create one helpful goal for your child. Grab a beverage of choice and a pen and paper…
Write down all of the behaviors that are making you nuts. If you have a spouse or partner, have them do the same, but no peeking at each other’s papers.
Read off your lists to each other.
It might look like this:
never asks to be excused from the table
hits little brother
“forgets” to make his bed.
(And if you’re like me, the list goes on a bit further.)
Cara Martinisi is a writer, advocate, certified grief counselor, and mom to three little boys, one in heaven and two on Earth. She lost her 6-year-old son in a tragic accident in 2014. She blogs about her journey, sharing with others the beauty and wisdom she and her family have found in the pain they experience. Visit her blog at Christian’s Red Balloon and her new foundation Love From Heaven to support grieving families. You can also connect on Twitter at Grief’s Guiding Light @lightofgrief.
Cara, you have a beautiful blog about dealing with the loss of a child, and you’ve published other articles in a variety of blogs (including this one) besides. What is it like trying to capture your experience, your emotions, in words?
Self-expression in words has always come easy to me. In fact many times, I find myself narrating situations in my own head as they are unfolding. The physical act of writing is soothing. I love the way pen and pencil feel on paper. As my emotions leave my body and the pen glides along the page, a certain sense of calm overcomes me.
There are some emotions that are more difficult than others to put into words. When I have trouble finding words that fit my emotions, I turn to meditation. Often this works, but not always.
After Christian passed away, my ability to read was gone. The concentration and focus needed to delve into books had vanished. It pained me. It was over a year before I could pick up a book again. Now I read even more ferociously than before. The more I read, the more I am able to express myself. Reading, all different kinds of texts, has proven to be a wonderful compliment to my writing.
Were you a writer before 2014, or did the need to write arise out of your experiences?
I have always considered myself a writer. English was my favorite subject in high school and my major in college. While many students bemoan paper writing, I enjoyed it. My confidence never paved the way for me to believe that I was good enough to do much more than write school papers. Although I was employed as a Deputy Managing Editor at The Economist, it felt as though it was more my attention to punctuation and detail that landed me my job.
After we lost Christian, writing was my way to carry on his memory. I would post a photograph, accompanied with a blurb about him, each day. At one time photography was a large creative outlet for me. That outlet seems to have dimmed since losing Christian, while writing is taking center stage now.
Grief is a powerful emotion. Does it serve as a motivator or demotivator for you?
Grief is an intensely powerful emotion. Most of the time it serves as a motivator for me. Many blog posts are derived from my own real time emotions surrounding grief. It truly helps me to keep the blog flowing, as emotions are always flowing. Grief will always be a part of me. With time and growth, my relationship to it changes, but it will always be there.
There are days, and sometimes more than one strung together, when grief is a demotivator. When these dark days descend upon me, fewer than in the past thankfully, it is difficult to do anything that brings joy. There are times when focusing is difficult. Eventually the fog lifts and I find myself returning to writing.
What did you hope to achieve when you started the blog, Christian’s Red Balloon?
My goals have always centered around helping others. It is all about healing. The hope has been to help others heal as well as to continue walking my own healing journey. I have received messages from grieving parents, those who have experienced grief in the past, as well as people who have just walked through tough times telling me that my writing is relate-able and helpful. While I am aware that my blog speaks most poignantly to grieving parents, I am also aware that none of us escape the world without running into some trouble.
It has been over a year that I have been writing my blog and it has become abundantly clear that a strong message is hope. Hope for those grieving, hope for those who are sick, hope for those who are experiencing tough times. We cannot control what comes our way in life, only our reactions. We need to move through the pain, the troubles that arise, and find light. For that is the only way to live again after you have been burned by the fire.