Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Frame

Saturday Cuppa: Ginger Tea

Last night I heard an inspiring quote that came, not from a spiritual guru, but from Nigella Lawson, voluptuous and beautiful celebrity cook.

“When you have children you are no longer the picture, you’re the frame.”

YES YES YES! In many ways, this is similar to Kahlil Gibran’s “You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.”

Parenthood changes you, for better or worse. Sometimes it certainly feels like it has been for the worse, but no doubt it is very much the same as the grain of sand in the oyster forming a pearl. Our children are gifted to us specifically to rub away until we gleam with beauty!

As a frame to our children’s lives, the focus isn’t on ourselves anymore ~ we’re always looking at the full picture. Does a frame enhance a picture or detract? It is so easy to judge other frames as we symbolically sit there on the great wall of life viewing each other.

I walked into a shop the other day past a women heavily pregnant ~ and smoking. I was stunned. The words were preparing to come out of my mouth. Head and heart were battling furiously ~ speak up, no shut up!

Who was I to say anything? I felt justified in being an advocate for her baby. Someone had to be, as she surely didn’t appear to give a damn. But in 2006, if she’s not aware of how detrimental smoking is to a growing baby she’ll never be. As I write this, I’m aware of how many people look at the frame around my children and wish to play lifestyle advocate. They too no doubt feel justified in their comments to me ~ which come thick and fast on occasion.

Sometimes it’s little things like when I was at a friend’s house recently and Bethany (jokingly) asked if she could have a coffee. My friend was about to get her one when I (eyes expanding to bursting point!) said that she was joking and they don’t drink caffeine. My friend thought *I* was joking. “You don’t let them drink coffee? God, you ARE radical!”

And sometimes it is bigger things like ‘send them to school’. People feel as justified in telling me how to raise my kids, as I did with the round lady puffing on a fag.

A frame is embracing. It is there to provide structure, give shape and allow the best of the picture to shine through. Whatever decisions I make for my children are also based on the long term implications. I’m consciously aware that once they’re older, they can do whatever they want ~ no questions asked. Until that point, I will do whatever I consciously can to give my children a solid, secure and loving foundation.

A lot of adults feel resentful because of the parents who inflicted stuff, even with the best of intentions. There was always an element of fear and lack of trust in the inherent goodness and love of the Universe. That lack of trust has been transmitted down the generations. One of our main tasks as parents is to break the cycle because almost without exception we have been shaped by a greater or lesser degree in this manner.

I know as some people read this, their ego will be screaming out at the idea they’re the frame, and not the picture. Ego likes to be centre stage. Ego is the one that insists on getting to the top of the career ladder; best house in the street or fanciest dress at the party. But you know, just because you’re the frame around your child’s picture it doesn’t mean you don’t have a life of your own! It’s just the focus is different, and rightly so. You see, all of us parents have a frame around us too. Many of us like to rip it off and be free of that restriction. Etherically, I don’t suppose it leaves us for the duration of this journey on Earth.

I recently had a bunch of black and white family photos from mine and Paul’s ancestors framed ~ all in matching frames!! They hang above the mantel piece. I’ve been aware of a ‘coming to peace’ with whatever each of them may have gone through in their lives, and knowing that their tragedy and triumphs belong to them, not me or my daughters. Every time I look upon the faces of our joined family trees, I see more and more that each of those people did the VERY BEST they could.

I know that as each year goes on, I am a stronger and better frame for my girls’ picture, for no other reason than that I’m integrating the very best of the framing which surrounded my own childhood and STILL embraces me every time I think of my mother, or feel her love; dream of her at night or hear her voice on the phone or receive her 'love letters' in the post. As always, I feel blessed.


One of the things I absolutely treasure about my girls is their ability to feel joy at what I consider to be very simple things. Yesterday we placed ivy and holly on the mantel piece in preparation for Advent. Each year we get a Pine tree with roots, for planting out in January. With not having our plot of land anymore, and a garden somewhat overcrowded with larger trees, I wondered where we could possibly place another tree. In the end I suggested to the girls we could cut some small branches off the beautiful spruce and put them in a vase ~ that way we weren’t displacing a tree or cutting one down. Well, we did, and then placed the three pieces into a lovely basket. And you know, it looks just like a tree! The girls were thrilled. Our decorations are few ~ just a handful of hand-made wooden and fabric pieces. I know with every part of my being, that Christmas for my girls isn’t about presents. Over and over again they say it is about being together; singing carols, eating nice food, the candles glowing as we celebrate together on Christmas Eve.

Maybe they won’t always see it this way, but for now (which is all that matters) they make life such a joy with their brightness.


pixies denmother said...

Thank you again V for sharing your thoughts.
It is nearly 4 years since I first met you. Since then there have been moments when you or your words ( written here or via The Mother) have appeared in some form to give me a healthy shove into an action I have been dithering about for a while.
I do not confuse you with some sort of prophet or seer, as I know you would hate to be thought of as such, but as the true Earth Mother I know you to be. Yet you are someone who clearly sees what I myself do not, or will not, and is not afraid to vocalise it.
Have just read this post and found it to inspire yet another step into a way of life I know is right for my little "snap shot".
When you look at the frame that you feel yourself to be remember that you hold together many more souls than Paul and the Girls, just by being there for us. A belated but heart felt thank you for simply being out there on display.

Mrs*Twinkle said...

Dear Veronika,

I just wanted to get in touch with you and congratulate you on your media appearances over the last year. I first saw you in Channel 4’s ‘Extraordinary Breastfeeding’ with your great spirited daughters, and instantly admired your views and commitment to more natural parenting.

Today I saw you eloquently putting across your knowledge on ‘Vanessa’s Real Lives’ and was so impressed that I had to write to you. I also believe that you are swimming against the tide in this society we live in and it might be refreshing to hear from someone that actually agrees with you regarding breastfeeding. I also thought that your intelligence was wasted on that programme, especially when Vanessa listed off foods that she considered a ‘healthy diet’! McDonalds! Chips! Steak! Pah! Your reply that breast milk would be needed if children were eating that kind of rubbish echoed my own thoughts! You were placed in the lions den, surrounded by ignorance and you shone. WELL DONE!

Thank you for making your way of life public, it does bless and encourage people like me out there! I always thought it isn’t wrong what you are doing, the repulsion this society has to it is what’s wrong. It makes perfect sense to me that human children should have human milk and calves should have cows milk. They have four stomachs and we only have one, for a start!

It is very rare and special to see someone like you that doesn’t care what people think and dictate, and does the best for her children. I’m interested to learn more about you so I’ll be reading your magazine and articles and sharing them with the breastfeeding support group I belong to in Milton Keynes. You are an inspiration.

I wish we did live in a society that allows us to live more naturally and more children would benefit from the wonderful milk God created for them. Don’t give up! There are some people that do listen and hear what you are saying! What you have done with your children is not disgusting – I’m sure you’ve heard many people say to you that it is, and you may appreciate me saying the opposite for a change.

Keep up the good work and inspiring us mothers out there that long for a more natural existence.

Kindest regards,

Stella Torr
Mother to Ronan and Lawrence

P.S. I love nettle tea too! But fennel's my absolute fave...