Monday, January 28, 2013

Lesson from the past

So, a woman I respect a great deal posted this thought on her facebook page yesterday: When we judge someone, we don't know their story or their path. We instantly shut down the possibility to spread peace and love and make a difference in the lives of others. When we can look beyond the surface, we may see ourselves in others. We have all been at our worst at times and it hurts to have the eyes of judgment on us when we are needing support and connection.  It really struck a nerve with me.  See, over the past 6 years, I have lost some of my closest and dearest friends--not from illness and death (though I did lose one that way), but through distance and judgment.  In 2007, at a time in our life when we needed support and connection, we got a lot of comments about how to deal with the tragic loss of our child.  People who were not us and who were not living our nightmare told us how to move forward.  Instead of quiet hand-holding and reassuring words, we were told to "get over it" to "move on" and that "at least we had our girls" or "at least we could have another baby."  People who were friends with both Chris and I seemed completely unprepared for the depth of our grief and the intensity of our love for our baby girl.  Of course we quickly learned who we could talk to about these things and who would prefer we didn't mention the fairly large and obvious elephant in the room.  And know what happened with those who couldn't or wouldn't talk about it?  We aren't really all that close to them now.  Sure, we may chat occasionally or follow each other on Facebook, but we don't have a real relationship anymore.  At times, this fact makes me deeply and horribly sad.  I miss these friends who were so much a part of my life who now seem too far away, either physically or emotionally, to try to bring back to my circle.  I'm sad that Sophie had this effect on some of the important people in my life.  Of course, with the work I do with grieving couples and families, I have learned that this is far, far, far from unusual.  So many people I know have lost friends and family members over the death of a baby and the intense hurt that follows.  It is a second loss in many ways--not only do we lose a child, we lose some very important people in our lives.
As January wraps up and I begin hauling my very-well-hidden-yet-definitely-still-present grief around for a 7th year, I just want to put the above quote "out there" in the hopes that it will resonate with some and you will make an effort to open to peace and love instead of shutting down with judgement.  Sophie taught me that--it is a lesson I will forever be thankful for, despite the cost of learning it. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

6 years...

364 days of the year, we are so grateful for what Sophie gave to us, both as parents and as a family.  The love, the understanding, the awareness, the patience, the ability to be in the moment...all these are things that we feel so much more deeply than before she was born.  For 364 days of the year, we can look up and see her in the brightest stars, the most beautiful rainbows, and the passing butterflies.  We can hear her sparkle in her brother's laugh and see her glow in her baby sister's smile.  For 364 days of the year, we can relish each moment with the two little ones who never would have been and the two older ones who continue to enjoy doing random acts of kindness in their missing sister's name.  For 364 days of the year, we are okay.  We the survivors of this sad and unfortunate event and we are stronger for it, negotiating the grief journey with apparent ease as we move farther and farther from the point of impact.  Yes, for 364 days out of the year, there are games to be played, songs to be sung and adventures to have...but not today.  Today we just miss our little girl.  Happy Birthday, Sophie.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My confession...

I fell from unschooling grace...but I'm back, ready to make a full confession.  See, I was at the library a few weeks ago and a woman who I don't know, had never met and will probably never see again, made some comment about my 3.5yo wearing pjs.  It was something about homeschoolers and being too lazy to get dressed or something.  I can't even remember the exact words, but I know how judged I felt in that moment.  Instead of sitting with it all and realizing that the problem was hers and not mine, I began to insist that my child get dressed before we go places.  This little boy rarely gets dressed because he just likes pjs!  (Who doesn't???)  He gets up in the morning and puts on clean pjs, but he really hardly ever wears "real" clothes.  Often, he'll compliment his pjs with a tuxedo vest and tie or perhaps a pink dress and get the idea.  Anyway, I made this decree that he must get dressed before we go places.  And know what??  It has done nothing but strain our relationship.  I began insisting that he could do it on his own and he would cry because he didn't want to.  He stopped wanting to go out and do stuff (like the library) and oh, how we fought.  Daily.  We have been fighting over this daily.  (Of course once the fight started, I would get into the authoritarian parenting thinking that made me feel like my child had to get dressed simply because I said so...but that is a post for a different day!)

Yesterday it came to a head--I was SO angry with him for making us late yet again because he wouldn't get dressed!  Something as simple as getting dressed that he should be able to do!!  Then, something snapped and I finally came to my senses and realized that I was letting that judgmental woman ruin my relationship with my son!  My precious, wonderful, growing-up-too-fast, SON was being forced to do something he didn't want because of someone I've never met!

When I think about it, I was truly concerned about the image our family presents out in the world.  I want homeschooling to get a good reputation in our small town and I was honestly concerned that my son's pj habit was going to reflect negatively against families that choose this lifestyle.  (Just typing that out right now makes me see even more how ridiculous it was for me to think that!)  I also felt very judged as a mother--of course my child "should" be dressed!  How wrong of me to think that this was okay!  Clearly I had lost "control" of my children!  (Again, typing it out helps solidify how silly it was of me to feel these things!)  Bottom line??  This morning I apologized to Evan and told him how much I loved him and how his clothing didn't matter to me at all and that pjs were perfectly good attire to wear to the library, the grocery store, or anywhere else he thought they were reasonable to wear!  We had a wonderful, relaxing, connected day.  When it was time to go to the library, know what he did?  He got dressed...because he wanted to.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

School is in session

We have pulled Evan from the preschool he attended 3 mornings a week last semester.  It simply didn't match our educational philosophies and I was having a hard time justifying the expense while not really getting the time with the older girls I thought I would.  Evan, however, asked if we could do school-at-home for him, with a teacher and everything.  So, Erin has become Evan's teacher.  She set up a desk and whiteboard, got a bell, has snack and recess and everything!  They both love it!  And today I heard her say, "Okay, class, today we are going to learn how to change this cardboard box into a space ship!"  Finally, a curriculum I agree with!!