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Raven (yes, really), a pagan, homeschooling mother of two -- one teen, one tot -- shares her adventures in parenting from a pagan perspective. Watch her juggle work, education, parenting, cooking, gardening, and . . . how many balls are in the air now? Sometimes they fall, and sometimes she learns from her mistakes. You can, too.

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Teaching Hard Lessons

In homeschooling and parenting, some of the most difficult lessons to teach our children are those we struggle with ourselves.

For me, I've conquered some of my biggest struggles: I learned to ask for help, I learned to stop beating myself up for small mistakes, and I learned how to make sure I work on self-care.  But there are other lessons I still wrestle with, and even more I have yet to even recognize.

My partner and I had a discussion recently about a shared clip from a social media site, which began with the line, "You don't have to be grateful that it isn't worse."

The concept behind this being: somewhere in the world there is someone who has had or is having a worse experience than you. Yet being told to be grateful about your own lot, when you're suffering, minimizes the trauma you're working through.  Worse, over time, a person who continually has their experiences diminished becomes internalized.

After years of hearing, "Get over it," and "Is she still hung up on that?" about ten months of my life when I went through extreme abuse, I began to diminish my own feelings.  To become angry with myself for continuing to have flashbacks or let memories bring me down or sensations trigger a hostile response.  I blamed myself for not having healed enough after twenty years.

Then one day, when I was particularly upset about everything, my partner graciously took our children out so I could re-organize my room.  Organizing my space always helps me work out issues I haven't been able to address.  As I went about the bedroom, hanging clothes, shuffling objects into new spaces, reordering books in my personal library, I talked out loud to myself. 

After playing question and answer with myself for fifteen minutes or so, it finally came down to one final exchange in which I got fed up with my own excuses.  It had been twenty years of failed therapy and spiritual questing to heal what had been broken during those ten months.  Why did I still try to blame so many of my internal problems on that one event?

The answer came simply: Why not?  It was a significant, life-altering period in my life, and it sent me veering off course.  It changed me in many ways, and not all for the good.  

Once the answer hit me, I stopped organizing and sat down.  I started crying.  I remembered all the times I wanted to just be done with the pain.  The partial healing and then set backs from different forms of therapy, even one designed to address PTSD. 

I recalled how often I remind people to be gentle: gentle with each other and with themselves.  To allow themselves to grieve or process or simply be.  To acknowledge life as a messy, complex dance in which sometimes we dance so well we could fly and other times, we can't even crawl onto the dance floor.

My conversation with myself happened about a year ago, but I'm still learning the lesson.  Teaching it to my daughter, who sometimes struggles with the early years we lived in poverty, is part of my own process.

One of the best ways to teach the hard lessons is to tell our stories.  Openly, honestly, and without reserve.  To show the ugly bits as well as the beauty.

When I talk to my daughter (and one day my son) about the horrors I lived through, I don't have to share every detail about what was done to me.  Instead, I talk about the tiny steps I've taken to heal the hurt parts of me, the challenges I face, to explain the harsh truth and frustrations of day-to-day failures in attempting an unrealistic ideal of who I should be at this point in my life.

Whatever reason brings us to these discussions throughout our lives -- for they aren't planned or scheduled -- afterward, I show her how to shake off the weight of it in the moment.  We hug.  We drum.  We get up and dance in silly ways.

Or sometimes, we acknowledge the pain, and sit with it a while.  Breathing.

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Raven lives in a forest with her two homeschooled children, partner, and several demanding cats. She enjoys performing, cooks a mean burger, and is obsessed with farming, but has yet to adopt a goat. Her publications are listed at


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Wednesday, 02 March 2016

    Thank you for this tender wisdom.

  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers Wednesday, 02 March 2016

    Thank you for taking the time to respond and for the kind comment. Be well!

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