Wednesday, May 30, 2012

She's going to jump!

An old friend called me the other day.  She wanted to reconnect, get an update on our lives and, the real reason, talk about homeschooling.  She and her husband are on the verge of pulling their 7yo son from a school that doesn't seem to be challenging him or allowing him to really delve deep into the things that interest him.  And know what?  She is scared.  Of course she is, we all were when we started!  She is totally over-thinking every little choice and situation and question that she will encounter--just like all of us do/have done on this journey.  She is worried about community reactions, teacher reactions, friend reactions and (the big one) family reactions.  I listened to her and tried to calmly reassure her that every single solitary worry that she has is completely normal, natural and, for the most part, totally unnecessary*.  Yes, there will be tough reactions and even tougher questions.  There will be people who are for it and people who think she is crazy.  There will be people who can see the good and people who think she is ruining her son's life.  And none of that, NONE of it, matters.  Why?  Because she will be out having an adventure with her son.  THAT is the only part that matters.  A while ago, I blogged about taking the first steps towards becoming the person/parent you want to be by simply taking that first step.  Don't worry about how big the overall change is, just take the first step.  If you can see how being home with your child every day loving, laughing and learning together would be good for him, don't even stop to think about what the community, friends or relatives think...just do it.  Do it one step worth and then if that feels good, do it two steps worth and then three.  If it works for you, keep doing it, one day at a time.  If something doesn't feel right about it, change direction (slightly) and try again.  Repeat.

There will be days when you wish they would just go to school and leave you alone.  There will be days when you are sick and can't take a sick-day (when can moms EVER get a sick day???).  There will be days when he doesn't want to do what you want and there will be days when you don't want to do what he wants.  It is all part of the journey and you will work it out.  In between working out the bumps, you will go to the beach, do a bird walk, play board games, watch cool videos, jump on the bed, take up an instrument, learn a word in a foreign language....

So we talked for nearly two hours--we talked about curriculum, homeschool conventions, legalities, groups, emotions, what to say when people question you, daily life, and everything else that was crossing her mind.  And in the end, when she said she felt like she was just standing on the edge of something scary I told her, "Don't over think it, my friend, don't over think it.  Take your son's hand in yours, wrap your soul tightly around him, close your eyes and jump.  You won't regret it."

I'm excited to see where this journey takes them.

*I need to stress that I, along with everyone who has ever begun homeschooling, had all these fears too!  I am in NO WAY talking down to her or trying to brush off her concerns--they are all legitimate concerns that take time to fade into the background of daily life.  My point is simply that they WILL fade into the background of daily life...or rather, daily life will become so full that it will leave little time to think about those concerns!  


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mom Enough

I've been asked to write a post on this, so here goes!  YES!!  I *AM* MOM ENOUGH!

I am Mom Enough for Erin who needs someone to roll her eyes at when [I] don't know enough Star Wars trivia to suit her.  I am Mom Enough to lose constantly at chess and yet still say I'd love to every time she asks me to play.  I am Mom Enough to sit back and give her the freedom to live life the way she wants to and still Mom Enough to cuddle her at the end of the day when mistakes are made.

I am Mom Enough for Megan who needs someone to cheer her new gymnastics skills and help her work the abacus.  I am Mom Enough when she wants stories read and music played as she crawls into bed.  I am Mom Enough to do her pig tails exactly the way she wants them.

I am Mom Enough for Sophia, my shining star and the broken piece of my heart.  I will always be Mom Enough for her.

I am Mom Enough for Evan, our miracle baby boy who sends my head spinning and who wants Daddy Daddy Daddy (because Daddy is a boy, you see!) until cuddle time and then it is all me.  Go ahead and ask him...I'm all the Mom he needs!

I am Mom Enough for Jordan.  I provide milk, cuddles, love, warmth and security.  I am Mom Enough to nurse her just a little longer every day and hold her just a little tighter because we know she is our last little one.

I am Mom Enough for all my kids.  And you are Mom Enough for all of yours.  Mothering is not a competition and it is not a spectator sport that you get to be the judge of all the other mothers around you.  We all want what is best for our kids and even if we have disagreements about how to get that, we cannot lose sight of the fact that all our children are precious and wonderful and deserve our love.  All of our children deserve mothers who are Mom Enough...and know what??  ALL of us are!  The question should not be "Are you MOM enough?" the question should be "Are you a Mom?"  If the answer to that is yes, then the discussion needs to be about how we can best support each other on this mothering journey.  It isn't a is a team sport that involves risk and sacrifice and love and commitment.  It requires hardships and triumphs and mistakes and joys and requires all these things and know what?  WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM!  Let's come together as a team, work together and support each other...because in the end, we are all Mom Enough.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Happy Birthday Willows!

Yesterday was the birthday of one of my best friend's dear baby boy.  He would have turned 5 yesterday, but he passed away in the arms of his mother 28 minutes after he was born.  Willows had a whole head of dark, curly hair and the cutest little pouty lips you have ever seen.  His 3yo sister has those same lips and I'm hoping the baby coming this fall will as well--they really are very cute!

Last night we went over there for dinner and birthday cake.  After dinner I was sitting in the kitchen with Laura and I asked her how she was feeling about being 5 years out and the first thing she said was, "This is it.  It is the year everyone else has forgotten."  And I know exactly how she feels.  It is almost like a dream at this point.  I have to ask myself sometimes, did this really happen?  Did she exist?  Because obviously these babies don't exist the way our living children exist.  Five years from any loss gives you enough distance that you are clearly living your daily life, caring for your children, changing diapers, doing laundry, planting a garden, driving your car, singing songs...all those things that life lets you do.  Five years gives you perspective.  Willows and Sophie brought so much to our lives and now we can see that losing them was a piece of a much bigger puzzle.  Five years gives you back your doesn't feel suffocating like it once was.  You no longer feel like a frenzied, crazy person just searching for something, anything, to hold on to.  You no longer feel completely and utterly lost

But, perhaps because you are no longer that frenzied, crazy person...people forget.  And just like that, *poof*, your baby is gone.  I'm sure this is very similar to other kinds of grief (losing a spouse, a friend, a sibling, a grandparent...) in that the river of time is continually flowing and it isn't that it stopped for you when you were freshly grieving, you just weren't in it.  You were completely unaware and uncaring of the fact that it was even moving.  Now, five years out, you are definitely back into that river--living, laughing, loving and flowing further away from that point waaaaay back there when you had just lost everything.  Can you still see the spot?  Absolutely.  If you want, you can hike back there easily and stand on that spot and relive the whole thing just as clearly as the day it happened.  You can remember the sights, smells, the feeling of that baby in your arms, the curl of his hair...all of it.  You can relive it down to the second.  But most will think you are crazy and the fact still remains--that spot is way back there.  And if you want to go back there, fine, have a visit...but nobody is going with you.  Nobody else remembers that spot anymore.  And so here we are, five years down the road and we turn and look longingly back at that spot, half wanting to go back there (just to hold him one more time, just to feel her last kick) and half perfectly happy down here, away from all that.  Five years.

Want to make a difference in a Babylost Mama's life?  When her baby would have been 5 (or more!), just go up to her, put your hand on her shoulder and say, "I remember."  Happy Birthday, Willows.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sitting Quietly...sigh

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.--Martin Luther King, Jr.
Consider this blog post my protest...because I should have protested louder when I was in the moment and I didn't.  I wish I had.

I'm sure this is common, but it seems to happen to me a lot.  I'm in a situation that I'm leading a discussion or support group of some kind and someone says something that is completely counter to what I believe and/or what the group is trying to promote.  I'm fairly skilled at getting around the comment and getting the discussion back on track, but afterwards I always think of something I should have said that would have actually had the person who "derailed" the discussion thinking about whether or not the choices they are making are the right ones for their family (i.e. I could "protest" their actions a bit...make them think about it more).  A big example of this is always around discipline.  Now, I'm not saying I have the best behaved kids ever, but they are pretty good.  They are respectful (usually) and kind (nearly all the time) and courteous (again, usually...we are talking about kids here!).  They are also children, not little adults, and I am careful about how I react to their mistakes.  My children have never, ever, been hit by an adult.  Ever.  I know what you are saying, and I hear you--I do!  I, like you, have had times when I have wanted to smack them to make the behavior that was driving me to drink just stop.  Obviously spanking is a clear solution and one that would be quick and easy.  But NOT hitting them??  Now THAT takes some thinking.  That approach takes work, time and patience.  And, it is an approach that I believe in so deeply that I get physically ill when I think about kids growing up in households that hit as a means of discipline, no matter how infrequently it may happen.

(I wonder if I should carry information around in my backpack so that I can hand out little pamphlets to parents whenever the topic comes up.  Of course if I took this approach, I would have handouts on discipline, breastfeeding, circumcision and local foods...I wouldn't have room in there for much else.  And people would probably begin to fear me...Oh here comes that crazy woman with all those pamphlets again--RUN!)  Anyway, I'm holding a discussion group a bit ago and the topic turns to discipline.  One of the mothers in the room says, quite frankly, "I'm a spanker."  She goes on to describe how when her older daughter was a toddler and reached for something that she shouldn't touch, she would get a few warnings and then a slap on the hand.  Of course this grew to full out spankings "when necessary."  I quickly jumped in with how there are loads of other ways to discipline children and the conversation moved back into territory that was gentler for children.  But then I got home...and I thought of all the things I could've/should've said.  All the information I could have given her about the harm she is doing, the distrust she is creating, the fear...but I didn't.  All I did was readjust the conversation to "safer" ground.  And there she sat, cuddling her precious baby at her breast without any further information.  So now all I can think of is how that beautiful little girl is going to reach for something as a toddler and get whacked.  Never mind moving the shiny crystal vase out of her reach until she is bigger, noooo...this toddler needs to be taught not to touch it.  Really?  Because while you are teaching her not to touch the vase, you are also teaching her that someone bigger can hit her.  I'm sorry, I simply don't agree with this!  Keep in mind, please, that as I'm rambling here, I am holding absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind AT ALL that this woman LOVES LOVES LOVES her kids.  She firmly believes that what she is doing is right and necessary and important!  We all want kids who respect authority and are kind and know right from wrong--I get that.  I simply disagree with how she goes about it.  Again, this woman LOVES her kids with all her heart and is completely devoted to them.  And, in addition to that, I'm sad about her choice of discipline. 

Leave it better is a motto I have taught my kids--whether we are talking about the park down the street, a relationship with a friend, or our relationship as a family.  Leave it better.  See trash?  Pick it up--leave the park better than you found it.  Fight with your friend?  Work it out and make sure it is better and stronger than before.  If my kid does something that goes against our family values, what can I do to help them see it was wrong and then leave the situation better?  I can see absolutely NO situation in which hitting them would ever Leave It Better.  It wouldn't help the situation and it wouldn't help our relationship.  Would it stop whatever behavior is causing the tension?  Perhaps...but does it make the person or the relationship stronger/better?  Absolutely not!

I'm not judging this mom and I've never been in her shoes so I don't know where she learned her approach to discipline.  I love and respect all that she has done for her kids--she truly has wonderful ones!  She is a pretty amazing woman!  I'm also pretty sure this mom won't change her disciplinary approach.  Which leaves me sitting here rambling about it while my heart breaks for her baby girl and that moment, that exact second, when she first learns that her mom is willing to purposely hurt her.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy Birthday!

I take great pride in rattling off my kids' ages...last year they were 2,4,6,8 (with 4 being our missing one).  This year they are 3,5,7,9.  Except there is always a problem between the end of Feb (when all the other kids have had their birthdays!) and the beginning of May.  Because for that short time, Megan hasn't changed over yet.  Well, folks, yesterday it became official!  I can now say my kids are 3,5,7 and 9.  (Of course, there is the baby now, that throws it all off...but I digress!)

Megan turned seven yesterday with a large piece of chocolate cake and a big dollop of ice cream!  I'm so proud of what my little Goose has become and I can't wait to see what the coming year will bring!  Happy Birthday, Megan!