Dear reader, it’s been seven months since my last confession.

You see, all the normal excuses have taken over my life – work’s been busy (a good problem to have when you run a business, no?), I started falling asleep with CJ every night, stopped even the most simple acts of self-care, started drinking too much (even to my standards), secluded myself from the small circle of friends I still have, drank some more, lost half my hair, drank some more, realized I was probably depressed, kept with the cycle, freaked on Papa Cheeks MULTIPLE times, freaked on my best friend, drank some more, had an awakening of sorts.

And now I’m back, determined to do better. This includes, but is surely not limited to, getting back in the blogging game (slow and steady wins the race, though, if you’re catching my drift).

Prelude: Part 1

Since CJ was born, I’ve heard a lot of talk about making sure I “just don’t become one of those parents who lets their kid go to the park and think he’s [a dog], [barking] at people and just being an asshole.” (Yes, someone actually said this and no, I didn’t blow up in flames.)

Now, I will admit that unless there is a VERY good reason for someone’s child to be acting like a dog and barking at people, I’ll probably shy away from said-child, if no other reason than the concern he might come over and bite me or my human toddler.

Prelude: Part 2

CJ’s Oma came over this weekend and was amazed at his confidence (and determination) of displaying frequent nudity around the house, even when not entirely necessary. She couldn’t remember if Papa Cheeks was this way (the confidence, at least).

This comment about CJ reminded me of a conversation I had a few weeks ago with a mom friend, and about one of my (proud and as-of-yet effective) intentional parenting methods:

The Safe Place

The safe place is nothing more than the confines of our home (and family unit).

The (Physical) Place

In our home, CJ can be whomever and whatever he wants. You want to be a unicorn? Fine. Be a unicorn. Feel like being a cat? Cool. MEOW! You want to scream at the top of your lungs and run around naked like a cave man? By all means, child, do your thing. Dresses are your style this week? Wear all the dresses you like, honey, if it makes you feel good.

This is not to say rules, manners, or expectations of our little one have gone totally out the window. “Please,” “thank you,” “May I please,” “will you please,” cleaning up our own messes (potty, kitchen, bedroom, or the like), and helping keep the house “tidy” (I laugh as I type this because my tidying standards have been sub-par at best for a WHILE now, but they’re expectations to say the least) are all part of our routine.

This IS to say that if you walk into my house and CJ is wearing my make up, running around naked, yelling like a caveman because he feels like it, and you disapprove – well, you can walk your “blessed heart” right back out, if you even have an inclination of commenting on that well-intentioned disapproval (and don’t mind if the door hits you on the way out, either).

This is NOT to say that outside of this safe place, we continue to act like said-caveman (by the way, I’m just rolling with the caveman thing. This could be anything, caveman just seems to work right now). At the grocery store, CJ is a clothed 21st century human, who is expected to use inside voices and keep on all articles of clothing. He is to continue his manners, speak when spoken to, and if he decides to throw a tantrum in aisle 5 – well, that’s a topic for another post.

The Family Unit

Family is SUCH a big tool for this safe place to work. Family, in the Cheeky household and beyond, is a non-judgmental vessel of love. I will be damned – & repeat: I will be DAMNED – if someone makes him feel as though he’s not good enough, solely because he does not meet a certain standard or expectation. It’s a sure-fire way to get removed from our safe place and never ever ever ever everrrrrrrr get invited back. (Sidenote: CJ’s family, on both sides, is great at the non-judgmental love vessel thing, it’s just a standard requirement in case there’s ever a hiccup – contingencies, you know?)

If my love nugget can not come home to feel accepted for whoever he is, for however he feels, for whomever he loves, or for whatever he likes to wear – where can he feel accepted? Where will he ever learn to be comfortable in his own skin, regardless of what the rest of the world is telling him – especially if he’s not surrounded by love in his own home or by his own family? How will he ever build a sense of self-worth and understanding, if the people who are supposed to love him UNCONDITIONALLY (definition: without condition – under no condition do you stop loving) are telling him whom he should be rather than loving him for who he is?

The Safe Place v. The Public

For this safe place to work, it’s important for CJ to recognize the difference between the love from his family and the judgment of the outside world. As you know, folks, it is a HARD, judgmental, cruel place out there. People live to a societal standard that is not fair to many, and hurtful to most.

Because of these standards, I expect there to be some difficult conversations about why he can’t be a caveman at the grocery store, or how it might make things really REALLY REALLY arduous for him if he tries to wear a dress to school when he’s 17. Conversations about potential outlets are going to be KEY as he grows, because guiding my son, rather than squashing his dreams and desires to fit my own expectations and desires, is the definition of parenting in my “book”.

I will continue this practice of The Safe Place until… the end of time (or until Time proves me wrong and this theory blows up swiftly in my face – one or the other is bound to happen). I will practice this method of parenting when he is 40 and home for a short weekend, when he brings over his first significant other to meet mom and dad, when he’s flunked his first important exam and feels like a total failure, if he decides after serious consideration to drop a team, etc. etc. etc. I’ll do this, because as a mom I am here to love him and to guide him and to TEACH him; the world can make him hard, as it makes all of us in the end – but i refuse to be a part of that game.

So, please, lovely reader, if you feel the urge to spout hate, pronounce judgment, or feel as though you are better than this post because unicorns are not allowed in your home, I invite you to (kindly) stay the hell away from mine.

Until next time,

Mama Cheeks