#realmothersdiversevoices : Aspen Cross

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I am thrilled to be sharing a new interview series with you each and every week. In this series, my intention is to reveal the endless ways our family values can inform our Daily Rhythm. The mothers I have interviewed lead diverse lives but they each have a huge sense of clarity about what their Family Values are (even if they change over time) and consciously and creatively strive to create a Daily Rhythm in alignment with those values.

It is my hope that through these stories more Mothers feel inspired to explore what their own family values are, to question them and bring them to life in their everyday experience. I know that seeing the world through another Mother’s lens will develop more empathy, understanding and compassion between us.

Today I am honoured to welcome Aspen Cross to Whole Family Rhythms community. Aspen Cross is a mama on a mission to make room for creating beautiful family and life moments. She can be found blogging at From A to Zwi Blog and on Instagram @aspencross.

Who are you? Can you introduce yourself, your work and your family?

Hi there! I am Aspen Cross, a young, full-time working wife and mother, living a quiet, creative life with my little family in Texas. By day, I work as a loan analyst for a local mortgage company and the rest of my time is spent with my husband and our four year old daughter. We are currently anticipating the birth of our second child, due in May.

What is one of the greatest joys you experience as a Mother?

The idea of our children one day being fully independent adolescents to adults scares me in a way and deep down makes me sad, oh how I wish they could be young forever. But on the other hand, it gives me a sense of pride knowing that as parents we have a duty and responsibility to raise a child up in love and give them the proper foundation they need in order to someday survive without us. I often think of this when I look at Zwi. How grateful I am for this motherhood experience. To have someone who excitedly comes to you to share their accomplishments out of pure innocence and love because they know you care unconditionally is such an amazing feeling. For the few tough moments where I’m thinking “how could we have raised such a brat?” I have a million more moments of “I cannot believe we get to be her Mommy and Daddy; what a beautiful, intelligent, mindful child.”

What is one of the biggest challenges you face daily as a Mother?

Many times I question, am I doing enough? Is she getting the very best that she can get from me? Is she fulfilled? At times I’m brought to tears because of how frustrating it can be when things aren’t going her way…or my way, and I feel like I’m failing somehow. It’s hard to not think of your children’s behaviors as a direct reflection of your success as a parent. But I keep pushing, cry if I need to, go breathe and try again.

What does having “Rhythm in your Home” mean to you?

The word “Rhythm” reminds me of music, staying on beat, staying on track. I believe for us, having a rhythm is our daily commitment to carrying out our tasks and family activities and keeping up with the sways of life. Rhythm allows for variation and change, yet it remains constant and ongoing. We can switch up our routine if we find that something else works better for us, but it’s important to keep up a routine.

Can you give an example of some of your most cherished ‘Family Values’?

Three of my most cherished ‘Family Values” are: 1. Family togetherness through adventure, weekend breakfasts, and indoor play. 2. Education through daily reading and exploration, allowing our child to view the world (to an extent) with their own eyes with the goal to learn. 3. Open communication through healthy, upbuilding dialogue between not only my spouse and I but also with our child(ren).

How do you hope to pass these values on to your children? Or in other words, how do you manifest these family values into your daily rhythm?

To expound on how I eagerly manifest my family values into our daily rhythm, I would like to say that one reason why these three things are very important to me now in adulthood and parenthood is because they are the foundation on which I was raised from what I can remember. As a child, my fondest memories are of being together with my family.

Can you outline a typical ‘Weekday Rhythm’ for you and your child(ren). Specifically when/where/how do you and your little ones eat, sleep/rest, play inside/outside, work/learn and make time for selfcare?

While my husband and I both work Monday thru Friday (and sometimes weekends for him!), our daughter attends an AMI Montessori school. Our Weekday Rhythm looks much like this:

Monday – Friday

6:30 a.m. – wake up, shower, get myself ready for work then wake up my daughter to get her ready for the day.

7:15-7:45 a.m. – we leave our home, sometimes stopping for coffee or breakfast on the way to drop her off at school.

8:00 a.m. – I arrive at the office while my daughter prepares to begin class with her Primary teacher at 8:30 a.m. They have their own schedule for the day which includes independent activities, a group activity, lunch, and afternoon lessons.

5-5:30 p.m. – I leave the office and return to my child’s school for evening pick-up.

6-8:00 p.m. – Since our daughter is a somewhat picky eater and has quite an appetite after school, she normally eats her evening meal before we do. Then, I prepare dinner while my husband handles bathtime or vice versa.

8-8:30 p.m. – We wind down for the night. My daughter usually requests two books, a simple “easy reader” book that she can read and a longer storybook that I can read to her.

8:30-10:30 p.m. – My husband and I spend time together talking or watching a favorite tv program or movie before heading to bed.

On the weekends, if we have the energy, I put effort into getting out of the house as a family. We normally do our laundry, tidy and clean around our home and complete our weekly grocery shopping. Sometimes we’ll go out to breakfast then spend the rest of the day lounging at home.

How important are higher belief systems, stories, literature, art, family history and creative expression to your family? How do you weave these into your family life?

We do believe in a higher power and Creator and our daughter is aware of our beliefs, though she still has a lot to learn. With my husband and I being from different religious backgrounds, I’ve sort of taken over the responsibility of the spiritual education by way of bringing her along to learn and participate at our Christian meetings. At home, art and literature are big parts of our life. Both of these have always been major influences in my life and since my daughter tends to gravitate towards them, it’s no problem to continue to instill them in her upbringing. I encourage her to be open in her world perspective, creativity and imagination and that’s probably a huge reason why I love the Montessori community that she’s in. It allows for a continuous influence of similar subjects both at school and at home.

When does your family rhythm get thrown off kilter?

Holidays and vacations tend to throw off our normal routine, as one would expect. Grocery shopping doesn’t get done until later, the laundry piles up and gets postponed, it’s just a mess. We have to make the choice to either get normal errands done before we pick up and leave…or wait until we get back and throw it back into the schedule somewhere.

Do you consciously re-evaluate and change your family rhythm with the seasons and ages and stages of your kids?

I most certainly have to re-evaluate our family rhythm, especially as our daughter is getting older and interests change. Her maturity can handle a variety of new activities and experiences so we grow together as she does. I believe it’s important to constantly ask if our children are getting enough from their life; are they also fulfilled as we desire to be? I have to figure out where adjustments need to be made in order to get the most out of our goals, expectations and individual roles as partners, parents, and children. Just like myself, what my child needs at four years old to thrive will be different from what she needed two years ago or even just last year.

When you’re feeling stuck, tired, frustrated with your role as Mother, what do you need most to shift your energy and perception?

Most of all, I have to reflect on all I have to be grateful for, which is quite a bit. It’s so easy to get caught up in negative emotions when I face challenging situations that damper my whole mood. I’ve found lately that it helps me tremendously to just think about all the positive things in my life and the precious things that I don’t want to take for granted and just refresh my mind to see things through different eyes. That things could be “better,” but undoubtedly they could be much worse for us. I can’t let every little thing get me down and affect my role as a Mother, especially when I have a little person who is watching my every move.

What parenting advice would you give yourself if you could go back and talk to yourself during your very first pregnancy?

If I could go back and talk to myself during my first pregnancy, I would tell myself three things:

  1. Accept all the generosity and help from your loved ones during those first few moments of motherhood. It does not make you weak, it does not make you helpless; although at many times it may feel that way. There is so much power in community and It’s OK to not be able to do it all, especially when caring for a new life.
  2. On the other hand, although we have well-meaning loved ones who hopefully have our best interests at heart, take all advice with a grain of salt. What worked for one parent and their children may not work for you and yours. Display humility in taking the time to listen, yet remain open-minded and cautious in your decision-making as a parent.
  3. You’ll make plenty of mistakes as you learn to navigate through life as a Mother. You are not perfect, no one is. The important thing is that you learn the lesson in every mistake and figure out how to do things better or differently going forward.

Thank you so much for your beautiful responses, Aspen and for so openly sharing your family values, rhythm and vision. 

Meagan Wilson is a parent educator and author of the now-retired seasonal series of Whole Family Rhythms. After finishing a BA, she went on to complete her Foundations in Steiner Education and Anthroposophy at Sydney Steiner College, as well as her Waldorf Early Childhood Certification at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. She has received her certification as a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach and has supported hundreds of parents to create a strong family rhythm unique to their own values and culture. She has four young children. Meagan provides resources, support and information to parents who are looking for a bridge to cross between their unique family life and their children’s (often but not always) Waldorf schools.

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