Love and Fear and Motherhood

Last night I had a dream.  I had a dream that I lost a son.  I don’t have a son, or at least not one that I know of, but I have to admit that I feel like the baby I miscarried so many years ago was a little boy. In fact, I can picture him in my mind, with his dads blue eyes and little tiny ringlets falling around his face. Some days I imagine him driving the tractor with my husband in grass filled pastures. Sometimes, I see little boys playing with cars and hugging their mama’s, and I think back to that dreadful day in the hospital when my insides, literally and emotionally, were somehow ripped from inside of me. I will never know for sure whether that baby was a boy or a girl, but it really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that love, and fear and motherhood – are often so intricately laced

that being a mom can leave you breathless.

Like the first time you saw your child get hurt. You could feel the pain inside your own body. When my kids get hurt even now, my hands ache from a very deep spot. While I recognize the pain is not my own, I feel the pain nonetheless. Just last year my 6-year-old came home from school with tears in her eyes telling me a story about a little girl that she asked to be her friend.  The little girl said no, and that NO broke my daughter’s heart. She didn’t understand it. How could she when she had up until that point, lived in a world that was filled with nothing but the soft vapors of love?

My kids are getting older. My love for them is not as new as it was in those first few years after they were born. But it is much, much deeper. So  much so, that my love for them is no longer something that I do, or feel.  It is something that I am. While I tell them that I love them often, and they return the words – time has made them unnecessary verbalizations of the feelings of the heart.  It is those feelings, the ones that we feel so deeply, that require no words or actions, that are simply expressed through the statics of electricity that pass from person to person.  You could put 45 people in front of me (some of them other family members), blind fold me, and ask me to tell you which ones were my children by allowing me to touch only their hands, and I would get it right EVERY/ SINGLE. TIME.  Not just because I love them, but because I am the love for them. It is part of me. And part of them. It is what is familiar to me.

And here they are walking away from me. Those younger years when they stayed under my control, when I could watch them constantly and feel their breath as they slept, that always gave me the sense that I had things under control, in no way prepared me for the walking away.  With each step they take, a part of my heart – bound by an imaginary heart string, walks with them. There are many sayings that say fear cannot exist where love resides, and although one side of me wants to believe this, my motherhood side smells a rat.

mothers_day_quotes7The fears that they might get into a car accident, that they might experience an illness, that they might get hurt, or be sad, or have their heart broken – are all REAL fears.  The fear that something might happen to me as their mama before they are ready to be ‘let go,’ is a REAL fear of motherhood.

What amazes me is how exponentially far our maternal heartstrings can stretch.  I imagine that they can wrap around continents and cross oceans and even make the slow voyage from life to death should we ever lose our children. I see other moms whose children have journeyed into the military, or into careers that put them in danger - heartstrings still in tact, love still vibrating from their hearts with as much fever as a penny on a train track.  And of course, I have witnessed the slow passage from adolescence to adulthood that all children take, that I have taken, in which our children leave our brick and mortar homes that smell like sugar cookies and vibrate with memories to pave lives for themselves. Each step, never disconnecting the love, never extinguishing the fears – no matter how far they go.

The best way, maybe the only way to deal with this cocktail of love and fear and motherhood is to live by the words of Benjamin Franklin, who tells us:

Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen.

Keep in the SUNLIGHT!

Yes, keep in the sunlight.  Lately, when I find myself drowning in the sort of love that causes fear, I try to stay in the sunlight.  Have faith. Pray silently over my children, for my children, for myself. And mostly stay positive and pulsing with gratitude.

 

 

Conversations With My Daughters

Many moons ago, when I was a young girl – and I honestly felt like I was placed in a world where I didn’t belong, I read (and wrote) a lot of poetry.  The stuff I wrote then, was raw, so much so that I rarely if ever drag it from my treasure box and read it now, fearful that pain I felt in those uncertain times, will come crashing down on me all over again.  It’s not a place that I want to revisit.  But it is the same place that my teenagers and most teenagers are in today.  One of my favorite poets then (and now) was Kahlil Gibran.

I remember reading his poem on children.  Back then, I read it from the perspective of a child who was trying to find her way, trying to figure out who she was, trying to find a way to expand my clipped wings and fly.  If you have never read it, I suggest that you do.

          Your children are not your children. 
       They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  
      They come through you but not from you,  
      And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.  
      You may give them your love but not your thoughts. 
       For they have their own thoughts.  
      You may house their bodies but not their souls,  
      For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. 
       You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.  
       For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.  
      You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. 
        The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.  
      Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;  
      For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable

Just this week, I read it again, but this time as a mother.  A mother going through a somewhat difficult (New world’ish) problem with her twin teenage daughters.  A problem that I had the answer to.  In our conversations, I was jumping up and down waving the solution to my girls’ problems in their air like an attention starved school child trying to be the teacher’s pet.  I literally had the hall pass in my hand.

I tried to tell my kids what they needed to do, how they needed to think, the best way to handle things.  Only because I love them, and want what is ultimately best for them.  I even resorted to the tough love speech that goes something like, “Do whatever YOU WANT, I don’t care.” Then, I jumped up and down some more. (Looking rather desperate I suppose.)  I kept thinking if only, they would listen to me.  Why won’t they listen to me dammit? 

It’s frustrating when we, as adults and parents can see something so clearly but our children cannot.  Even more frustrating is to sit back and watch them learn their own lessons.  And then, this poem popped into my head and I had to read it again.  And again.

I am “the bow from which my living children are sent forth.“  I am nothing more.  They think on their own, make decisions for themselves, have their own emotions that no matter how much I love them, or how much I think I know them – I will NEVER be part of.  No one really knows what another person thinks, and we are naïve and perhaps egotistical as parents to think we know our children better than anyone else, or can read their minds, or that we even know what they need.

Perhaps they need to learn the lesson the hard way.  Maybe, they need to come to their own conclusion – find their own way of getting over a bump in the road.  Maybe I can offer assistance, and guidance as the BOW, but once I let it go – I am helpless to steer it.  And even if I did ‘steer the arrow,’ that is my children – it would only postpone their own growth. My solution to THEIR problem would only be temporary, because the solution belongs to me, NOT them.

Regardless of where you are right now in your life as a parent - you will wake up one day and be in my shoes.  What feels like forever when your kids are young and impressionable and housed both emotionally and physically within our bodies turns into a blink of eye when it’s over.   We help our children the most when we empower them, and ALLOW and encourage them to make their own decisions – even if they are going about it asshat backwards.

I see so many parents today clinging to the destiny of their children, as if it the highest marker of their ability to parent.  I see so many mothers and fathers playing political games, butt-kissing, literally and metaphorically buying what they think is their children’s happiness in life – force feeding their kids the answers to every problem and taking control and ‘fixing’ it themselves if their children are unwilling.  What on the surface may seem like being the best parent in the world, or just loving their children and wanting happiness – is really all about fear. And that fear doesn’t belong to your children.

I won’t say it’s easy to watch my kids make mistakes.  But I know it is what I must do.  And I will ”allow my bending in the archer’s hand to be for gladness;  For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable!

The Gift of Sincerity – A Guest Post

The following is a guest post from my friend, my sister from another life.  The fact that she can concentrate long enough to write this while raising like 457 kids – makes her a hero.  She blogs (not enough) at http://kittyhague.blogspot.com/.

Last night, as I was reveling in the comfort of finally sinking into my soft cozy bed (seriously… if you don’t have a bed that is absolutely heavenly you owe it to yourself to make it that way. Even if you have to eat Ramen for a month. Make your bed the most awesome place…ever.) Anyway, I was laying there with nothing to think about except how good my new fabric softener smelled when my husband (who was obviously less affected by the bliss which was our bed) says to me, “If you could teach the kids one thing that they really grasped and held onto… what would it be?”

Damnit.

Why must he be philosophical at bedtime? Always. I mean, Always.?

I considered faking sleep… but I know him. It wouldn’t have mattered. He wasn’t going to let it go. I wiped the drool that was already beginning to pool on the pillow side of my mouth (yes, I’m a habitual sleep-drooler) and began the process of clearing the cobwebs. My first thought was “I would like to teach them that when someone has spent all day mothering seven children and a man-child and she has finally climbed into her happy place and engulfed herself in Mountain Sunshine scented bliss;  if you love her…even a little bit… you should never, ever, wake her to ask her to participate in a conversation for any purpose other than the prevention of the death of an immediate family member. If the house is on fire… try to put it out yourself, call the fire department, evacuate all the children to the pre-determined meet up spot, and THEN come ask her if she would rather get out of bed… or wait a little bit to see if it burns out on its own.”

That was clearly the cobwebs speaking though. So I bit my tongue and gave myself another moment.

What would I want my children to really take to heart of I could teach them one thing.

“Sincerity”, was my answer. The importance of being sincere. Always.

See, children are born with a perfect understanding of sincerity. It is natural to them. It is why we all roll our eyes and joke that “Kids say the darndest things…”. Kids don’t say they “darnedest” things. Kids are honest, and kids are sincere, and that strikes us as funny. Unfiltered sincerity makes us a little uncomfortable… so we laugh about it and chalk it up to kids being kids. Somewhere along the way, as kids grow up, we teach them that sincerity is not a good thing. Kids will say something honest and we correct them.

“I don’t want to play with Johnny. He breaks my toys because he plays too rough with them, and he smells bad.”

How many parents first reaction is to say, “Now now… don’t be mean. Johnny can’t help that he smells bad. It isn’t nice to say that. He doesn’t mean to break your toys… you need to be nice and share with him.”

Here’s what the response should have been. “You know, you’re right. Johnny does stink. Maybe his mom didn’t teach him to wipe his bum properly. Maybe he doesn’t brush his teeth as often as he should.  I will talk to Johnny’s mom about it and see if maybe she can help Johnny out.”

No… I’m being serious.  Honestly, it would probably be best for Johnny and his mom to know that people are talking about his smell… wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t they then be able to take measures to correct it so that Johnny isn’t the smelly kid….forever? In theory, most of us believe that. But it is really hard to be the one to tell Mrs Smelly Kid that there is a problem. Its easier to just fake it.

And what about the broken toys? Is it okay to force our kids to allow other people to mistreat their belongings? Society, with a few awesome exceptions, tells us that we must teach our children to share. But sharing when it is forced, isn’t sharing at all. What we are telling our kids, when we force them to share with someone they have deemed unfit to use their belongings, is that their happiness is less important than the happiness of others.

Some argue that is a noble idea; teaching that the happiness of others should always come before your own happiness. They teach that selflessness is the most favorable of all attributes in a perfect society. I disagree…but that is another rant, entirely.

If a child has a valid reason for not wanting to share, why would we force them to share?

Kids who are told over, and over and over again that it isn’t “nice” to be honest or that their needs come after everyone else’s needs are being set up for failure in what can be a harsh world.

If I could teach my kids one thing that they would really hold on to and apply every single day, it would be that you should always say what you believe. Even if it seems mean. Even if it isn’t popular. Even if it makes you, or others uncomfortable. We say, “honestly is the best policy” and yet most of us don’t actually believe it. Most of us believe “to pacify is the best policy”… let’s make everything smooth and easy and comfortable. There, that’s nice isn’t it?

But that isn’t what life is about. Life isn’t about making everyone like us, all the time. Life is much bigger, and much more important than the opinions of others. Life is about making hard choices, and making real progress. It is about trials and failures and successes and heart breaks. How can we ever hope to know ourselves, to make any change for good in this world, or to affect anything of importance if we fear the consequences of sincerity?

I want my children to be happy. I want them to have friends…real friends. Friends who value them as forces of nature; strong and kind and independent and honest… not friends who like them because they are doormats. I want them to know, and understand, and apply every single day, the idea that if everyone likes you… there is a good chance that you have never stood for anything.

And as I felt my “Philosopher husband’ twitch next to me, I realized I had lost him at the Smelly Kid.

Pfffft… Amatuer.

Old People and ATM Cards

I really love old people.  I don’t always like the way they smell, but I love the way they walk around this world with the knowledge that it doesn’t matter what other people think.  With confidence regardless of whether their boobs are hanging out of their shirt or not.  With assertive drive that indicates their sense of accomplishment at having made it so far in life.

Their wisdom comes in all shapes and forms, sizes and colors and I whole heartedly believe that they have something to teach each of us.  Lets face it, they have been around this Earth longer than we have, and they have life experiences that stem from an entirely different way of living (one in which few of us could handle today) that can definitely give us some insight as to where we are being led astray in today’s crazy ass world.

One thing I really love about old people is getting behind them in line at a store and watching them try to use their ATM or Credit card in the new and fancy machines that us younger folk can likely operate with our eyes closed.  Heck, my 6 year old knows how to swipe my card and sign my name.

Old Woman Using a Walker Equipped With a Horn ClipartEach time they approach the machine, there is at least 55 seconds of hesitancy, followed by an instinctive feeling that these new machines are completely for the birds.  Last week, while shopping at the Piggly Wiggly, I assisted an older lady who was trying to use her debit card to pay for her purchases.  She was clearly pissed, and clearly annoyed that the store wouldn’t allow her to write a check, and announced that in this world she was too frightened to carry around cash.  Her clear annoyance for the dreaded swiping machine was deeply rooted in mistrust that these machines will  actually work and her belief that this was just another trick and scheme that our government was forcing her to do so that they could one day steal all of her hard earned money.  “She worked for 57 years she told us,” shaking her head in disgust. She admitted quite loudly, that she still buried money in mason jars in her yard and told us that if we were smart we would start doing the same.  I smiled.  (And secretly wished I knew where she lived because I imagine there are hundreds of mason jars buried at her house).

When the machine asked for her PIN number, she was of course clueless.  “PIN Number!?” She screeched.  “I don’t have no PIN number, hell I cant even remember my granddaughters phone number, how am I supposed to remember a PIN number?”  More frustration.

The nice check out lady then convinced her to use her ATM card as credit.

This led to a lengthy conversation about the evils and perils behind credit cards and that she had just received her social security check and would not be charging food of all things.  She also explained that her grandson had gotten into some trouble with credit cards and pointed her soft finger and warned us younger folks to avoid the credit card scam.  Again, with a quart of ice cream melting in my arms, I explained to her as nicely as possible, that it would still come out of her checking account just like it would if she used the card as debit, and that she would not be receiving a bill, and that she wasn’t in reality using her card as a credit card.  “Well it says credit right here young lady!”  It was sort of hard to argue with that.

My words fell on deaf ears.  Not literally deaf, but ears that had likely heard so many lies and seen so many methods of deceit in one life that it makes it easy to mistrust.

“This would be so much easier if I could just write a check,” she grimaced – sliding her card through the reader one last time.  “This world is out of control.  If they don’t want us to use checks, then everyone should be forced to use cash.  I used to pay for my groceries with dollar bills and dimes back in the day before food became so dang expensive,” she quipped. “At least when I right a check, I can use my signature.”

Seeing a hole I told her, “You will get to sign your receipt here too!”  For a moment in made her feel better, until she realized that her signature would be taken on what she referred to as an etch and sketch, and that she was certain the bank would not accept her transaction because Lydia at the bank would know that was not her handwriting.  As she packed up her backs and left, I was just left to ponder.  What is it that we younger folks are missing?  What is it that the generation before us finds so frustrating about the way we handle day to day life.

Is it us that are so far ahead – or does this generation have something to learn?

As the clerk checked out my order, she said, “Like the banks really check handwriting anymore,” shaking her head in clear disdain about what she considered less than intelligent behavior from an elderly person.

But for me, this was proof that long ago, things were VERY different.

This was also some sort of proof, that perhaps our generation - as trusting as we are, as nonchalant as we have become about money and spending, are headed down a disastrous road that enables us to take too much for granted too far.  Be real, its easy to swipe a card and go.  There is something very detached about the way we handle money today, trusting technology and cable wires to transmit every little thing we do.  Maybe we are moving too fast in the wrong direction.  What if the innuendos about our money and bank accounts being tied to electronic tracking devices in our arms are true.  (Yes, a little apocalyptic and paranoid, but nonetheless thought provoking).  Chances are if you would have told today’s elderly that they would be carrying around plastic debit cards instead of cash or checks they too would have shaken their heads in utter disbelief.

Soon, as the years fly by – there will be fewer and fewer people who remember what it was like to know bank teller by name, who know about writing checks and balancing checkbooks without getting online.  And our detachment with our money will become even greater.  The people who lived through the great depression will no longer be here to teach us the simpler side of life, or to remind us that perhaps we are getting a little carried away with things.

There is a part of me that has to wonder why the older people today feel such a deep sense of despair when it comes to something as simple as a debit card and a card reading machine.  Maybe, just maybe – they are trying to tell us something.

 

 

Break Ups, Shaving Legs, Pooping at School and Peri-Menopause

timesThis has been a long week.  A very long week.

There have been a lot of firsts in my home for my kiddos that have been painfully new endeavors for me as a mother.  Kid 3 decided it was time to shave her legs, which is a massive indicator that she is growing up, much to my dismay.  It’s one thing for my oldest kids to be growing up – but for one of my littler ones, not so much.  And speaking of growing up, Kid 4 – the youngest, actually pooped at school.  This too, is a huge, massive milestone coming from a child that I thought would probably be okay with me wiping her butt until she is 20 due to her aversion to anything gross.

That, and then one of my oldest endured her first break-up, after a first relationship.  And a first heartbreak to boot.  I have to be the first to admit (lots of firsts here) that watching your child hurting when you are powerless to do anything about it, sucks big donkey butt.

But it also reinforced the fact that although I don’t have the perfect family, we are perfectly imperfect.  I learned that even though I have suspected my daughters hated each other all these years, they don’t.  Seeing them bond together to help heal the heartbreak of one of their sisters was a pretty amazing journey.  On Saturday night, sitting around the kitchen table, I wanted to break out into the chorus of “We are FAMILY, I got all my sisters and me,” because it really was an empowering girl-fest which made me feel sorry for anyone who ever tried to ‘mess with’ or ‘hurt’ one of my kids in the years to come.  The backlash unleashed from the sisterhood will be brutal.  While my girls may not always see eye to eye or get along, apparently they come together on the important stuff in life.  (And yes, I will happily take credit for some of that no matter how fleeting the ‘got each other’s back’ phase may last.

Lets put some icing on this ‘time is flying’ cake by me deciding that I have in fact hit perimenopause.  (TMI?)  Not really, because it really doesn’t mean anything except for that I will spend the next several years trying to convince my doctor to go ahead and get rid of my girly parts – which is something I have been doing since my last C-Section anyways.

The funny thing is that just yesterday, (and I promise it feels like just yesterday) I was reeling from being pregnant and changing twin diapers.  The FUTURE is NOW here.

My biggest worry in life was whether I could get all the kids in bed on time.  I was stressing over insignificant (at least they seem that way now) things such as the growth chart from the doctor, the runny nose, whether the inside of the bulb syringe was clean, the color of their poop, whether my children would ever learn to crawl or walk, and whether or not they were getting enough vegetables in their diet.

I was a stressed out hot mess back then – and today, not so much.  As much as I hated thinking about the future back then when the kids would be growing up - its not so bad now that I live in it.

Even though I am dealing with bigger issues than the ones from ‘just yesterday,’ I am handling them better.  Time has moved so fast, that it is no longer 4 against 1 on the home front where the kids outnumber the parents.  Instead, its just one big dysfunctional, perfectly imperfect family that works together as a unit to tackle life one day and week at a time. Together.  As a team.  We have grown to that dreaded awful place in life where we are a team of family members.

Yes, the kids are growing up.  Things are changing rapidly.  And while the changes may be bittersweet, there is also something very comforting, empowering and relaxing that comes with the growth of our children.

Judging Judgy Mc-Judgeypants

judgment-quotesIf you are reading this, than chances are you have spent some time on the internet.

And you have probably heard the word ‘judgy’ (which isn’t even a REAL word) or ‘judgment’ or some variation thereof thrown around with as much velocity as the ‘f’ word and with as much frequency as the word ‘the’ is used in general text.

Yes, it seems that everyone is becoming or accused of being Judgy Mc-Judgypants with the same disdain that we use for armed robbers.

People accuse us of judging them, which always ends up in some one’s panties in a wad.  We accuse others of judging us, which ends up in our panties in a wad.  People revert to throwing out Bible quotes about judging to defend their dislike of judging, say mean and ironically enough, ‘judgmental’ things back to show their disdain for what they feel is ‘judgment’ in the first place - and most often become hypocritical products of judgment themselves.  Even worse, our entire legal system is based on judgment in the hopes of providing everyone equality.

It’s confusing, yes.  All this negativity on the inter-webs, in life, in families and especially among mom circles over something called ‘judgment.

Whenever ‘judgment’ is suspected, the aftermath is immediately troll like and facetious.  Mostly, however – it’s all a little bit ridiculous in my non-judgmental opinion.  Here’s why!

Somewhere along the way, likely through religious quotes such as those listed here in regard to judgment - we have decided that JUDGING, as in the verb, and JUDGMENT as in the noun are evil things only undertaken by egotistical know-it-alls with the specific intent to inflict or do harm to others.  (Funny enough, on the other hand if people AGREE with you – then they will become an army behind you defending you and in turn ripping those that disagreed apart thread by thread).

And the people constantly accusing others of being Judgy McJudgypants and getting all bent out of shape about it are in my OPINION (not to be misconstrued with judgment) people who believe everything in the world revolves around them and their opinion.  Oh my gosh, if they read a blog that they don’t agree with – then it MUST be about them specifically, whether the author knows them or not.

Yep, I’m starting to hear the lyrics to Carly Simon’s hit ”You’re so vain, I bet you think this song is about you, you’re so VAIN!”  (You can thank me later for planting that song in your head for the rest of the day!)

Seriously, make a comment about something as benign as your stance on breastfeeding or gun-control or fast food or ANYFREAKINGTHING for that matter,  and suddenly you are considered a judgmental jack-wagon who deserves to have their toenails pulled off one by one by those that DISAGREE (in their judgment) of your opinion.

People will demand apologies and retractions and will try to punish you by hitting the ridiculously unpowerful ”like” button on your Facebook page, or unfriend you personally or online.  (Oh no, please not that, right?) (Does anyone else see the irony, here)

Try making a generally informed opinion about anything and sharing it (go ahead do it, I will wait right here)- and chances are good some ass-hat who disagrees, or who feels that your words hit too close to home, will come at you with a “How dare you judge me,” remark as if you have just engraved their head stone with biting words.

Isn’t there a slight chance however that we have gone too far?  Is our own value REALLY AND SERIOUSLY so fragile that it hinges on what other people think, write or say?  Could it be that we are confusing the words CONDEMNATION and JUDGMENT

I have been accused of ‘judging’ someone else’s life a time or two and I will admit I have been put off when I felt that someone was ‘judging’ me without knowing all the facts.  However the reality is that judgment is defined by Webster’s (Wonder if any kids today know what Webster’s is)  as follows:

the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing

As parents, we are ALWAYS trying to instill a sense of judgment in our kids.  We are constantly hoping that our kids will use good judgment.  Shit, we harp on that crap all the time from the time out kids are young.  Part of being human is learning to – and having and formulating an opinion.  And moreover, just because you have one – doesn’t mean that you should be crucified for it.

Making good judgments about people, and situations and morality, and choices and life in general is a coveted skill.  Think of those among us who operate without any sort of good judgment and tell me what positive thing they add to society? We use catch phrases like, “that was a poor sense of judgment,” or “use your better judgment” all the time.

And you know what else:

If you don’t like what I say or what I think, then disagree – and move on.  If I don’t like what you say or your opinion, I can do the same.  Who cares?  Agree to disagree.

See, as human beings we are born with this thing called FREE WILL.

Free-will means that we can think whatever the hell we want at anytime.

We can even through our freedom of speech, share these thoughts and opinions that we have formed by (see above definition) without going against God or humanity.  And even more important, when we come across an opinion we don’t like, that hurts our feelings, that we don’t agree with – we can YES – decide to move on without getting our panties in a big tight ass wad that strangles us from any sort of common sense. Or we can choose to get angry, resentful, mad, or spiteful about itFree will gives us that choice as well.

Isn’t it a big waste of time to invest so much of our time in what other people think?

As the old saying goes, “What others think of you is really none of your business.”  And unless you feel threatened by their thoughts, or feel like they are handing you a shoe that may fit your foot just fine, then it really is okay to let it go.  Ask yourself, “Why are you so upset about this?”

Speaking from personal experience, when I have been the most upset about something – it’s because it is something I feel guilty about, or something that resonates with a part of me that I am not too thrilled to admit I have.  We use the outside world as a mirror to our inner world, and its always easier to argue with the outside world than admit that we could be flawed or weak, or have made mistakes in any way, right?

Maybe, just maybe – all these accusations of judgment and being judgy and being offended by anything that we disagree with is a more a matter of human beings with different mindsets, developing differing opinions based on cumulative knowledge or feelings.  After all, we come to our opinions about things in life for a REASON, through a process.  Sure, some of these processes are more thought out than others. 

In the mom community, the Judgy Mc-Judgypants, often referred to as ‘trolls’ are out in droves.  Why are moms so judgmental?  Probably because each of us moves through this thing called motherhood with so much insecurity.  We all want so badly to be perfect – to do everything the ‘right’ way, and anything that might seem to even ever so slightly indicate that we aren’t, has us lashing out harshly at one another to protect our oh-so-fragile maternal egos.  It’s silly, really.  We could actually be learning from one another, spreading love and support and empowering each other rather than constantly being accusatory and defensive.

At the end of the day – it is not my opinion (even if it is seen as a judgment) or your opinion (even if it is seen as a judgment) that matters.  And if it does, then perhaps WE have something internally we need to work on in our own lives.

 

Disclaimer:  This is just one woman’s opinion and is not to be taken personally by any one person or persons and in no way pertains to anyone specific.  If you don’t like it, move the hell on! 

 

 

 

 

Compassion – Who Really Gives a Rats @ss Anymore?

imagesThe other day, my 15-year-old and I were having a conversation about the state of the world. 

It was prompted by the Boston Bombings, and became a discussion about the tangled trail of human tragedies and her belief that people today don’t really give a crap about other people.  In fact, she said, “People don’t really give a rats @ss about things or other people unless it is happening to them or affects them personally.”

I tried with a hopeful heart to point out all the good things people do.  The way communities come together to help a family, the way churches and organizations form to volunteer time and resources to help others.  The good things that often stem from a tragedy, the friendships made in cancer wards etc.  She wasn’t buying it.

She told me a story about a boy in her class who committed suicide last year.  Up until he did so, she said the teachers and administrators at her school as well as the bulk of the student body were ‘mean’ to this kid.  She believed he had been written off, despite that he was known for smoking pot and getting into trouble and was probably in need of some help.  Then, his funeral turned into a city-wide event – and filled a church to the gills and beyond with people crying and sobbing what she believed were fake tears of guilt.  Many of these same people decimated by his death, adults and children alike,  were the very ones who had nothing good to say about this boy, and who never once reached out a hand or extended themselves to him.  In her eyes the mourning and production in the aftermath was fake, and only a resolution to guilt that people were feeling for treating this young man as disposable to begin with.  And she points out that today, almost a year later – very few people even talk about this young man anymore.

She talked about how at school most young people only get involved in other people’s problems because they are nosy, and likened it to rubber- neckers on the highway slowing down to see an accident.  For a split second they feel compassion, they may offer a word of kindness or some advice, or metaphorical blanket of warmth in the moment - perhaps send up a prayer – but then they move on and give the situation little further thought because it didn’t affect them.

She had in fact, tons of examples of fake compassion.  And although a large part of my hippy self wants to believe that there are a lot of people in this world who truly care, and who truly reach out to others – I have to admit that in many ways she is right. 

There are more people who are willing to remain complacent than there are who are willing to give something – whether it be their time, resources or heart.  We do tend to easily forget, quickly discard, and rapidly un-invest in anything that doesn’t affect us personally.

Sure, we all feel bad about things that happen.  We all hate to see people suffering, see the loss of life, see horrific tragedies like bombings or mass shootings.  And while it may instill many of us with fear and anger – the awful reality is that the majority of the world just moves on shaking their head.  If you gathered the percentages of those that help compared to those that do nothing – it would likely be shockingly low in relation to the overall population.

Why do people help?  What makes someone reach out to someone with an honest heart and compassionate soul?  For those that do because they care, it is simply that.  They careAnd they see humankind as an extension of themselves and realize that if they are able to help and spread love, then they should.  They even feel compelled to do so at a deep self and spiritual level.

And yet, in my young daughters defense, there are plenty of people who reach out momentarily only to relieve their own guilt or fear or anger or resentment about situation.  And plenty of other people who will message you on FB, approach you in the grocery store, or send you a text to check on you just so they can find out what is really going on in your life.  The information alone satisfies them, although their reaching out is done under the veil of compassion – it isn’t really compassionate at all.  It is self-serving and riddled with guilt.

I am not sure that there is a solution to this, or even if this can be classified as a problem.

Perhaps we are living in a world that has become desensitized to one another – that is living by a motto of “every man and woman for himself.”  Or perhaps this is just a defense mechanism so that we aren’t overloaded with fear and misery, and overwhelmed by taking on the broken wings of every bird in the world.  Truth is, I don’t know the answer.

She asked me if our house burned down, who would help us?  She asked me if I were to die and her and her sisters were to lose their mother, how long would it be before people forgot and moved on with their own lives?  And as far as the bombings and mass shootings and terrorist attacks – she reminded me that as soon as the news coverage is over, most will just forget and move on – while thousands of others will be affected for the rest of their lives. And she’s right, the ones personally affected will never forget.  But the rest of us, sadly….will.  Or will at least push it to the back of our minds.

She said, “Mom, is giving those people water – or collecting their shoes or selling t-shirts, really enough?  Or is it just a way for people to make themselves feel better about themselves – boosting their own ego temporarily?” 

I will admit that I was left in awe of her wisdom.  And saddened by her lack of faith in humanity.  I like to believe the best about people.  I like to think that I have raised my daughters to find the good in others, and to be compassionate souls.  But having people literally run over your dog in front of your house – then drive away without even slowing down to apologize while you stand there and watch a beloved pet die – leaves a sharp scar about the compassion in this world.

Still, I will continue to point out the good things to my daughter.  Will continue to try and keep her faith in humanity as inherently good alive.  I just wish the world would help me out a bit.

What’s your take?  Do people really care about one another?  Or are many acts of kindness just ways to inflate our own egos?

 

 

 

 

Where Has Mom-Spirational Gone? Bloggers Gone WILD!

6716_xekILRpMOdzstIfFor the amazing 5 of you who are actually subscribed to this blog – you might be worried that perhaps I have fallen off the face of the Earth or something.  And for those that follow along on Facebook – it may seem like I have taken a complete hiatus from writing anything new on the blog – since its been several weeks since I have added anything new.

I appreciate the deep concern.  And I am here to tell you that I am okay.  Totally fine.  Wonderful.  Hunky Dory!  (You may now wipe the sweat beads of worry off your brow – and THEN, please subscribe in the box to the right so that you will NEVER miss out on anything from Mom-Spirational ever again!)

Okay – so where has Mom-spirational gone?  What is up with the blog?  Is everything okay in the estrogen filled, old white house with the red tin roof and crooked floors?  Is someone sick or dying? 

The answer to all of these questions is unimpressive.  (I tried to think of something really cool to use as an excuse, but couldn’t even imagine a more exciting and fun-filled life than the one I really own.)

I have been here all along.  *Sigh*

The problem is that LIFE HAS COME RAINING DOWN on my perfectly planned parade, and every time I sat time aside to write, or to get things done – someone would holler, “Mama.”  Or the phone would ring.  Or the toilet overflowed.  Or my beloved dog would get out of the dog pen and I would have to chase him before the crazy ass bike riding twit came hurling down my road looking to sue me again.  You get the point!

We have had school projects, softball season has started (with 4 kids playing and coaching 3 teams), mid terms, spring break, and the horrific state-wide testing has commenced (which means tons of cramming and homework)  Plus, there is that shitty little thing called dinner that must be cooked every day (which if you know me – you know is the bane of my existence), some home improvement projects looming, generalized cleaning and of course laundry.  Then of course there are the hundreds or seemingly thousands of phone calls to make, appointments to plan, bills to pay etc. that eat up minutes like kids eat up candy.  And if I am really lucky, I can sneak in a shower (which I swear only takes me 10 minutes from start to finish, including hair drying).  Throw in a little grocery shopping, errand running, a party or two at school, returning calls to the people who are important to me, – and I will be the first to admit that I have become completely overwhelmed with life.   And now that Spring has sprung, grass cutting is becoming a necessity as well.

I have decided that I need a DO NOT DISTURB sign to hang around my neck.  Or, I need to ship the kids off for a week just so I can think and so the voices in my head will stop.

This makes no mention of the fact that I have paying gigs to write for, and that I spend more time in my car every day than in my bed. Sadly, I don’t even have writers block!  Here’s the PROOF, just check out some of the amazing things I have written lately!  And on top of that, Andrea over at AKAY Web Design (she’s amazing) has been helping me get our Softball site up and running.  (You need to check it out)

It’s so funny to me that the world thinks I have ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.  My husband is always saying, “just write your book already,” and the kids think that between the hours of 8am and 1pm every day, I should be able to get things taken care of at home, phone calls, my work life, the house.  You name it.  What they think I can accomplish in 5 hours, is more than what 5 of me could accomplish in 5 hours.

And that’s the story. (I am sure you know it well, right?)

One of the reasons that I bow out from any of the garden duties around this farm, is because I know how much time and effort a garden takes.  If I take that on, I will spend hours weeding and picking fruits and veggies, and cranking up the tractor. So I let the kids, hubby and father in law deal with all of that.  But having a blog, is very much like having a garden.  It takes time and commitment, and nurturing and love.  You have to be able to nurse social media, and spend quality time writing.  If you don’t put time or effort in – your blog will look like mine – empty for two weeks!

But, I am back!!!!!  Even if it is just for three or five of you who care – mostly my blog is for me.  So I have decided that I will at least set aside 30 minutes a day, with the do not disturb sign around my neck – to baby this dream of mine.  

So hey!  Do me a favor and subscribe the blog, like us on Facebook – and make all this hard work pay off a little.  (I will return the favor)

Buying Clothes For Girls – (When You Are Broke)

 

clip-art-sale-096045One of the problems with kids, is that they just keep growing.

That means that with each new season – I have the lovely chore of forcing the kids to try on last years clothes, only to find that their shorts are inches too short – or their shirts barely cover their mid-section, and their heels are hanging off the end of their shoes.

I don’t know about you, but the LAST thing that I strive for when it comes to what my kids wear, is allowing them to roam around scantily dressed like Hoochie-Mama’s wearing clothes that are too tight, or too risqué.  (Which by the way is incredibly difficult these days with the fashions being marketed to young girls.  Do they really need to be wearing lace and see through clothes that could double as lingerie?  To School?)

Once the trash bags of old clothes are filled up and ready for donation – the closets bare, I begin looking for bargains.  Buying for 4 girls is not an easy task on any budget, and the truth is that without coupons or sales, or promotions from stores – I would only be able to buy a few items at a time.  My mother in law firmly believes that children should have around 10-14 outfits per season that they can rotate shirts and pants to make several different outfits.  (And thankfully, she helps buy school clothes for the kids)

Often, with patience and a little research I find deals such as save 15% off everything from my favorite stores.  Since it can be difficult to fit my daughters into new clothes shopping online - but the prices are often cheaper, we often just make a day of going to the store – finding what we like, writing down the item numbers and then bulk ordering online. In the past few years, I have saved quite a bit of money shopping this way, plus many of the online promotions allow you to bundle coupon codes from sites like Retail Me Not

I am also certainly not opposed to second-hand clothing stores.  I am lucky enough that in my area there are quite a few consignment shops that cater to pre-teens and teenagers as well as elementary school kids and I can often find entire name brand wardrobes second-hand for what one single outfit would cost retail price.  Many of these stores also offer coupons or deals, and have frequent shopper cards and/or seasonal sales. Shopping in these stores has also been a great lesson for my children, showing them that you don’t have to pay full price – or necessarily shop at the ‘most popular’ stores in the mall to walk away with decent clothing.   Yard sales, and even E-Bay are also great ways to buy clothes for rock bottom prices,

I know for a lot of parents, the easiest way to save money on buying kids clothes is to buy out of season.  Unfortunately, this has never worked for me.  Every time I have tried to buy winter clothes at the end of the season, I have found that they didn’t fit come the following winter.

Just last week, despite the fact that Mother Nature is insisting that it will be boot and scarf weather for the next month or so, Yellow Box flip-flops (a must have for today’s teens) went on sale at a local store.  With a store coupon and an in store coupon code, I was able to buy 4 pairs for the retail price of 2.

You will find that keeping kids in clothes that fit is not only time-consuming, but expensive. The realization that they will grow out of everything you buy at some point – makes trying to save money on clothes a no-brainer.  After all, if your family is anything like mine – you have plenty of other things to spend your hard-earned money on.

How do you save money on clothing and accessories for your children?

 

 

Special Needs Child Meets “Me” The Asshole

I hope that most of you will read beyond the title, before berating me for what I realize now was discrimination against a special needs child. 

This is a story about awakening, about being re-acquainted with my value for each and every human – regardless (and sometimes despite) their behavior.  But mostly, this is a tale of understanding.  About never forgetting.

As humans – we tend to find fault or anger or make false judgment against things we don’t understand. That doesn’t make it right, or valuable.  We cannot just go around saying, “Well, I didn’t know all that,” and then find comfort in our belief systems that anyone who is different is not ‘right.’  And we certainly cannot expect to know each and every childs (persons) story – or think we have a right to knowing their story, before we can excuse or accept them for who they are.

I make no excuses for myself, except for sheer ignorance.  I tend to believe that I am an extremely understanding individual, and have tried to teach my kids that there are all sorts of people in this world and that we have to try to accept them all.

When it comes to the human beings that land on this planet, I do not believe there are any mistakes.  They are ALL here, WE are all HERE for a reason.  There is not ONE singular exception to this rule….

I am bit embarrassed to admit however, that I too – have unknowingly discriminated against a special needs child.  Not outwardly of course, but inwardly – within the confines of my mind and in conversations with my young daughter.

There is a particular child in my daughters kindergarten class who seems to be constantly out of sync.  On the multiple times that I have visited the classroom, all I notice is his bizarre and impulsive behavior and his lack of self-control.  My daughter comes home every day and tells me yet another story about this ‘little boy in her class’ who has once again, done ‘such and such.’

I always tell her shaking my head with disgust, “Well just stay away from him,” or “Maybe there is something wrong with him.”

I have told her that there are just some kids in this world that aren’t disciplined, and that have problems and that some kids just act badly at school.  Bad.  Badly.  (Words that I am ashamed to admit I used about a 6-year-old boy).  Rotten bananas are bad, not kids.

And yes, I will shamefully admit that I have felt sorry for his parents, have wondered what was wrong with his mother and father – and been curious about what atrocious things must be going in his home for him to act so strangely at school.  And, YES, I will further admit that I have felt resentment that this one child has taken up so much time in the conventional classroom, time away from the kids who did fit into the perfect mold of kindergarten academia.

Here’s the thing.  I didn’t know one thing about this boy.  Not one.  Just his name.  And yet I saw him as a ‘threat’ a ‘detriment’ and a person that “normal” kids should not have to deal with on a daily basis.  Yes, I did just write that sentence.  And yes, I feel like a complete and total asshole for admitting that here on a public blog. 

One of my all time favorite Facebook Pages/Blog is The Crumb Diaries.  I look forward to her posts everyday about her son Logan, who is a special needs teen.  I know all about indigo children (as I have one of my own), and I have fallen in love with Logan and his mother (they have no idea who I am) by reading her daily posts about life with Logan.  I have grown to see him as not special needs, but simply special. 

When I was young I wanted to be a writer AND a special needs teacher? 

I have always been able to pick out the kids in this world with a broken wing and extend my hand and my heart openly to give them wings.  So what the hell was wrong with me?  When did I become such a bitch? 

In a short conversation with someone who knew this child well and knew HIS story  I was swallowed whole with guilt and remorse for my feelings toward a child.  A child!   A fewllow human being.  I was guilty for words that I used to describe him without knowing HIS story.  Here I am writing a blog segment called Stories of Us on this blog, and yet I was forgetting that even children have stories that don’t necessarily read like an open book.  They are thrown into this world of standards and rules and when they don’t seem to fit into the puzzle – they are discarded or judged.

Had I really stepped so far off my moral and spiritual road to think that my thoughts were EVER okay?  Apparently, I had.  And apparently the Universe was going to remind me that although my kids may ‘look and act perfect’ on the outside – human perfection and love comes in all different wrappers.

Here’s what I didn’t know.  (Not that it should matter)

But, this boy was found in a dog crate at the age of 18 months while living with his drug addicted mothers home.  He had never had anything to eat at that point in his life – except a bottle.  He spoke not a word.  There’s more to the story that I wont share now, but you can rest assured that he is now in a loving and healthy home.

Here he was 4 1/2 years later, a handsome and healthy young boy with some developmental delays and some emotional problems.  I skimmed the playground to find him and saw him hugging a classmate.  When he accidentally got bark in another child’s face, he ran to the teacher to immediately confess and get a hug.  In fact, he hugged his teacher many times during that short 30 minutes.

There wasnt a ‘mean’ or ‘bad’ bone in this childs body and his heart, when I was really looking at HIM, not his differences - was as honest and pure as crystal.  C.R.Y.S.T.A.L!  And perhaps that is exactly what made him different.

As we walked back to class, me still reeling from my own guilt and horror – I stood back to walk with him as he seemed distracted following the line of students headed back to the building.  He accepted me as a friend without apprehension or shyness.  I looked into his eyes and wondered if he was ever held as a baby,  ever rocked to sleep.  There aren’t words to describe the despair I felt for him.  I grabbed his hand, and he told me – a perfect stranger – that he loved me.  And I think that he meant it.

I think that he really meant it, as tingles shuttered through my body as if I had just touched an angel. I knew I didn’t deserve to be loved in that moment, especially by him – a perfectly beautiful child, who I had written off as a ‘bad egg’ so to speak. 

Our teachers come in all shapes and forms.  This day, my teacher, my messenger from the Universe was a small boy with warm hands and a big heart that I may have missed out on seeing due to my own close-mindedness.

I have never once considered myself close minded until this moment in my life.

The truth is, I shouldn’t have had to learn his story to be accepting.  That is our responsibility from the get go, to accept others.

No one has a responsibility to share with us the reasons, or diagnoses, or unexplained history, or medical definitions of why anyone is the way they are.  We (I) cannot walk around this world with a box to compartmentalize people by shape, size, or color as if we are all Legos. 

Sure, we are all one small part of a bigger plan – a larger picture, a massive and tall Lego tower, where each of us has a place to belong – but none of us have any right to make decisions about where that place is.  Not ever.

In the end, it was me with the special need – not this little boy.  And I am grateful, that he was there to teach me, to put me back on the path of real human acceptance and love.