White Privelege

I’m sorry.

Apologies are not something to go amiss, especially by me.  In fact, I apologize even when there isn’t anything to apologize for.  I don’t know if it is a result of situations from my past or just an over-courteous nature, but I excuse myself to the point of annoying friends and family.  Recently, I read an article about whites feeling like they have to apologize for circumstances beyond their control and we should stop this.  It got me thinking.

Why do I apologize for who I am?  Okay, so when I apologize, I am frequently doing it as a result of something I did or think I did.  However, I don’t intentionally try to oppress people or offend them.  In that regard, please understand the tone in which I have started to stop apologizing for mere accidents of my birth.

What do I mean by a mere accident of my birth?  I mean circumstances in which I had no control over.  These circumstances include my genetic heritage which has left me with predominately white coloring and my financial inheritance.  I didn’t ask to be affluent.  I couldn’t demand to be white.  Now, I made choices which have allowed me financial peace since my birth, but I didn’t select my family that allowed for easier financial freedom.  I was born this way.  God put me in this particular time and place.

I do have sympathy for the plight of the poor and for the injustice against particular races.  However, I don’t think it is the government’s right to tax me and divide my earnings to other people.  Charity should be an act of free will, not coercion or force.  If we are not careful, this decision to tax people so that there is equal wage despite merit or effort, we will enter the realm of communism where the government elite prosper and common citizens are left without a voice.

Also, I understand that slavery has impacted our country.  However, I don’t personally own slaves.  My parents did not own slaves.  Why then, is it considered a requirement of true justice and sympathy for me to fund a minority’s college expenses?  To me, affirmative action is simply reverse discrimination.  Scholarships and awards should be given based on effort, not by the color of your skin.

Some people will argue with me that minorities have had fewer opportunities in life and thus can’t break the cycle of poverty and oppression.  My father is a white male and as such, his struggle with childhood poverty isn’t often acknowledged.  He was the son of two Swedes, one legalized immigrant.  Growing up, my dad would live in campgrounds, shower in cold water, and have scarce rations of food.  He put himself through college.  On the first attempt, he failed out because he liked to party.  Needing money, he decided to enter the Air Force.  After seven years, he entered college again and graduated with honors.  Now, yes the military did assist with college funds and this isn’t a route for every person, but he still made decisions to get himself out of the poverty he was born into rather than bemoaning his circumstances and playing a victim.  Also, I’ve seen Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities rise from the ashes of poverty.  These individuals didn’t demand hand-outs, but worked hard to get themselves debt-free or educated so they could start to make themselves debt-free.

It isn’t impossible to get out of the projects.  There are programs to assist individuals in difficult situations.  Even welfare is good if only used temporarily and as a stepping stone to greater “success” (if we define success by American idealism, which is a debate in and of itself).  One program in NJ that helps people get education  and housing when they are going through a tough time is Family Promise.  You can live in their buildings with daycare offered while getting loans for college courses.  Is it hard? Yes.  Impossible? No.

Please do not misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that poverty is a choice.  Sometimes no matter how hard someone tries to get out of the pit of financial duress, they can’t.  It isn’t always the fault of the individual.  Poverty isn’t always a result of laziness. Engaging in media outlets isn’t any more of a vice for a pauper than it is for a rich person.  (Sometimes my language and tirades on TV might make it appear this way, but poor folk have just as much a privilege to watch TV as rich people. They shouldn’t be made to feel guilty or accused of slothfulness as a result.)

I’m not entirely against welfare either.  I just know too many abusing the system and using it for years on end.  I think it should be a temporary form of assistance.  I’m not sure how to prevent system abuse, but there should be regulations in place to minimize the occurrence of such offenses.

My main point isn’t in why poverty exists and how to abolish it.  I’m not quite sure why it does or how to eradicate it.  I just think it isn’t the government’s job to stipulate where I give my money and who gets it.  I think individuals are far more capable of making decisions for themselves than a select few of elected officials.  Government’s role is to protect its citizens from invasion and ensure health through transportation and emergency services.  Note: Healthcare itself should be competitive and offered by private corporations.  Insurance should also be competitive too and monopolies should be forbidden.  If we study socialized healthcare, and especially Obamacare, we find out it is more expensive.

Perhaps, we can offer civics courses and budgeting instruction in public schools.  I also like pay incentives to high-performing teachers to teach in high-risk locations to better the education system in the inter-city.  Education is a viable and valuable tool in helping break the bonds of oppression and extreme poverty.  (I know that this language is making it seem like I think poverty is a result of laziness and choice.  I understand it isn’t in some cases.    In those instances, the church should be providing for the people, not the government.)

The church should also not require people to give.  Charity should be motivated by a heart for God and people should give what they can and want to give.  The more people are taxed unnecessarily, the less they have to give to others.  People have to carry their own load too.  You don’t want to become a financial burden to others by giving so much you can’t pay your own bills.

Needless to say, I don’t want to continue to feel bad or be made to feel guilty for circumstances beyond my control.  Just because I’m white and come from a family with money doesn’t mean I haven’t had difficulties in my life.  (I’m short and I don’t notice the world accommodating my stature to great lengths.  I’ve had to live with it and make changes to my life to deal with being a short person in a tall world.  I also get made fun of a lot, but I can choose to sulk or prove that my height doesn’t have to stop me from reaching high cabinets.  I realize this is a bit of a petty comparison.) I have had struggles and had to move past them rather than become debilitated by them.

I am also a feminist.  This might confuse some people.  I am not the kind that thinks women should be given special privileges based on gender.  I’m also not fighting for men to be silenced and I don’t think they are all useless sacks wasting oxygen.  I want to fight to give women a voice and make sure they are recognized for the efforts they contribute to society.  Now, I could just sit around and talk about injustice and how women are still treated poorly in society or I can be an agent for the change I wish to see.  I don’t have to be a helpless victim.  Instead, I can be an advocate, raising awareness, and being a champion for women here and around the world who might be scared to speak up.  Government has been less helpful for assisting women be recognized than individual people fighting for cases they were passionate about.

I’m for the minimization of government control in individual lives.  Government bureaucracy has only ever left desolation and corruption in its quake.  People gain power , can get prideful, and harm the very people they tried to represent.  If people are left largely to govern their own families, communities, and states, we might witness the very revolution of change we hoped to see.  (I think that makes sense in my mind and hopefully yours.  I hope these are not just nonsensical ramblings. Then again, my eyes are becoming bleary from staring at a screen and I’m tired from night-feeding my toddler.)

Yeah, I fear Trump, Cruz, Bernie ,or Hillary becoming president.  I’m curious how these became our top nominations in this year’s election.  However, I find comfort knowing God is in control.  He works all things for his glory.  Society is sustained by his hand, spread through and in his people, more than it will ever be by a single individual, usually not God-fearing, as President of the United States of America.  If these are our choices though, I am doing a write in nomination.  That is my right and privilege as a United States citizen.  I know that my true citizenship is in heaven as a child of God though; thank the Lord for that because this election is a disgrace.

(I don’t want to keep apologizing to the world for the things these white folks are saying and the misrepresentation they are giving to my race and for some, my God.)

Was any of this coherent or was it a rabbit trail?  I might have tried to address too many ideas and topics herein.  Apparently I haven’t be freed of apologizing yet and I seem to be ending this post with regrets and condolences.  Why do I feel the need to ask forgiveness for controversial thought and opinion.  People are allowed to disagree and that is part of the beautiful aspect of humanity.  We are made better through challenging thought, testing, and questions, not in having everyone agree and not be offensive.  We will always offend somebody regardless how hard we try not to.  I should really stop this post before I keep rambling and spend the next several paragraphs apologizing.

Parents, and perhaps people in general, need more sleep.

End.

 

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Raising Awareness

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week.

My experience is bittersweet.  For four years, my husband and I tried having children.  After four years of tears, testing, and trial, we conceived!  Then sadly, after a brief 5-6 weeks, we lost our child.  It was my first miscarriage that I knew of.  I went to baby showers and events with children during those four years and the same month of my miscarriage.  It hurt.  I was happy for my friends and family, but it was like a slap in my face of what I yearned for and didn’t yet have.

Trust in God’s timing.

The shrill resounding gong of well meaning Christians made my eardrums bleed, my heart pound, and my soul dead.  I know his timing is perfect, but I noticed that those telling me to trust God always had kids.  Here I was wading in uncertainty and expectation while they cradled the babe I longed for.  It was easy for them to spew such careless advice.  Rather than hearing me cry and offer gifts on Mother’s Day, or something akin to that, I was essentially told to gird up my loins and be content with the lot God had given me.  I was grateful for the opportunity to travel and bond with my husband, but I felt a deep sense of longing in my heart.  Those dark days weren’t made any easier by being told to trust God.  I did.  I just wanted to know I wasn’t alone, that I had people interceding and praying when I felt too sorrowful to do so.

If you stop stressing it will happen.

*Punch*

I have an infant now.  I have another child on the way.  I can’t recall how many times I was told, “See, we said to stop stressing and when you did, it happened.”  This is a huge slap in my face.  Rather than offering up a willingness to pray, people were saying this was something I could control.  I already felt biologically inept and like less of a woman.  These statements make me feel like I wanted this long journey because I refused to let go of stress.

Clue to everyone out there:  You will always have stress in your life.  Stress doesn’t go away.  You can surrender to God and trust him, but we will still endure trials.  Telling me to stop stressing feels similar to those preaching prosperity…like if we fix sin in our lives, work harder, or increase our faith than we will be blessed with the desires of our heart.  Science indicated that my issue and my husband’s were very real.  We had medically diagnosed sexual problems.  (We had a strong desire for each other but frequent engagement isn’t going to ensure conception.  It might increase odds, but if there is a problem than a problem exists.)  People’s “innocent” comments made it seem like our years of confirmed diagnostic testing was false.  You wouldn’t tell someone who had cancer that it was just due to their imagination and if they stopped stressing that it would disappear, would you?  Why do we do this with infertile couples?

[Also, Willow was conceived JUST after a miscarriage.  We were stressed out to the maximum.  Willow didn’t occur because we let go of stress and worrying about having a kid.  God gave her to us in spite of stress.  He is good and gracious.]

Friends and family might think that since I have children now that I’m not plagued by that dark past.  Sometimes I still struggle with having been infertile.  I have friends who are still enduring that burden.  I ask myself why God would answer my prayers and not theirs. I fear my infertile friends resent me.  Since I have a child and another on the way, I wonder if other people question the validity of my experience with infertility.

I always fear something will happen in my pregnancies.  I didn’t bond with Willow while she was in the womb because I was afraid that if I did and lost her, the vulnerability would be too much.  I didn’t want to invest the energy and excitement I had done with the child we conceived and lost just before her.  As a result, I reluctantly kept, and sometimes still keep, her at arm’s length because I fear time being cut short.  I fear that I’ll wake up from this magical paradise of having my blessed child and she’ll be gone.  Every day I pray a slightly selfish prayer and ask that God might prolong the days of my husband and my children.

I might take some pregnant belly photos, but they are few and far between.  The photographs are captured memories.  I don’t want the constant reminder of a loss should one occur.  I took one photo of myself before we miscarried.  It hurts.  If I dwell too much though, I won’t be able to appreciate Willow fully.  (She was conceived JUST after my miscarriage.)

Well-intentioned, but perhaps legalistic Christians, will tell me that all of this fear isn’t of God.  I should be joyous.  They will tell me to pray more and have the Holy Spirit manifest in me more fully.  “True and sincere” Christians don’t show signs of fear or worry they are full of thanksgiving.  Then I have my doubts about my faith when people won’t comfort my fears through the covering of their own prayers.  Rather than support and encouragement, I’m met with a series of judgements.  I think my faith is authentic but I often question it. Others tell me that depression, doubt, and fear will pass; if we stop dwelling in pity than we can be grateful for what God has given.  While there might be elements of truth to this, it isn’t the balm of a kind word.

This is to women still battling this dark pit.  It feels so lonely.  I’ve been where you are.  I felt isolated.  Your concerns and fears are real.  It is okay to feel.  God doesn’t say we have to be vacant of emotion to have authentic faith.  Please know though that your value and worth are tied up in your identity as a child of God, not as a mother.  You are deeply loved and can impact society immeasurably.  Becoming a mother will not change your ability to influence the world, sure it would be in a different capacity, but you can still do incredible works for the kingdom of God.  You are a dear treasure.  Also, your family of two (you and your partner) is just as valid as a family with kids.  Since we are adopted children of God, we can even be a family as a single individual.  Family is the whole community we belong to, not just the offspring we produce or the life mate we choose.

You are God’s beloved.  May you not have to fight this battle in silence or loneliness anymore.  I pray my confession of this struggle might help you in your own testimony.  To God be all the glory. Know that we fought this ordeal together, an ordeal that made us sisters.  May your awareness of my journey through this situation assist you as you navigate this path.  You don’t have to endure this in isolation any longer.  I’m here to listen to you vent and eat a pint of ice cream if you so desire.  You are loved dear sister and you don’t have to go through this alone.

(FYI:  Sister refers to individuals who have dealt with infertility not specifically my sister by blood relation.)

The Most Grievous Sin

Romans 1:27
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Leviticus 18:22
“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

The above Scriptures have been used to validate the sinfulness of homosexuality.  I believe it is a sin as well.  However, I believe you can think something is sinful but not bemoan the individual.  Now, this isn’t meant to insinuate a “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality.

When we use such language, we create the very divisions we are commanded not to make.  Blessed are the peacemakers.  We are to keep the peace in so far as it depends upon us, leading a quiet life and not stirring up strife.  When we use language that denotes a separation between an act and a person, we essentially wind up focusing on the action rather than the person.  Sadly, we are a culture of works and achievements.  We have difficulty seeing someone aside from their actions.  It is true that faith without works is dead and out of the motivation of the heart the mouth speaks.  However, you are more than the deeds the world recognizes you by.  We are created in the image of God and loved deeply by him.  Just because someone refuses to consistently point out the sin in a friend’s life doesn’t mean you are casting aside convictions.  Perhaps, you are choosing to love first and let the Holy Spirit do the work of conviction.

Still, why do we only seem to use the language of conviction and needing to repent when it comes to homosexuality and transgender individuals?  Isn’t repentance required by all Christ-followers?  If we looked at the grievous sins permitted in the church today, we’d be aghast, or at least we should be.

1Cor6:8-10:  “On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.…”  Please note here that adulterers are called out too.  Most individuals think adultery is having sexual realtions with an individual other than your spouse.  Please notice God’s commentary in Matt. 5:31-32 on what constitutes adultery, not just society’s view.  “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”  This means that divorce and remarriage can constitute as adultery itself!  Statistics (which I should find and insert) have shown that the main cause of divorce today is due to financial duress, not unchaste behavior.  If the church marries two people, with one or both individuals divorced for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness, that the church is approving adultery!  Now the issue becomes a bit muddled when we discuss conversion and being new, but if the individuals were Christian at the time of the divorce and are Christian now, then they commit adultery in remarriage, no?  This is at least how I understand the Scriptural text.  Needless to say, I think this is a bigger issue in the church than homosexuality and transgenderism.  Why aren’t we having sermons and accountability on this issue more? 

It seems that our religious expression is getting the best of us again.  It is far easier to pinpoint sin in others than it is to deal with how we, ourselves, are grieving God.  Also, we know that looking at another individual and dwelling on them constitutes lust and adultery. Pornography is still a taboo topic not frequently addressed from most pulpits.  Several individuals say that this is an issue that must be addressed in same-sex groups, no co-ed opportunities.  Why?  Did Paul only address sexual sin to men or did he not do it with the whole church?  Was the letter only given to one gender and then the other on separate occasions?  I don’t believe so.  From the texts as I gather, it appears that the church was called to repentance as a whole, to suffer together, bearing burdens of our brothers and sisters in community, not isolated gender groups.

[A side note, practically unrelated:  In church there is a constant use of language that men are visual beings who crave sex more.  Women are called to modesty so as not to tempt men.  First, this objectifies women into mere temptresses incapable of interaction with men except to be alluring.  This also denotes that women aren’t really physical beings, but emotional creatures.  Why aren’t men told to be modest too?  Women aren’t for the sexual delight of their husbands.  Husbands were created for their wives interest too, no?  This also objectifies men, basically saying that they can’t control their appetite if they see a woman scantily clad.  However, modesty seems to be relative among cultures, at least in dress code.  Some cultures find shoulders and ankles to be more provocative than a bare chest.  I argue that modesty is more how we carry ourselves and interact with others than it is about physical appearances.  What else should we expect from a culture like America that emphasizes beauty through outward adornment though?  FYI: Pornography isn’t just a male struggle.  Women struggle too and when the church uses language that shames female sexuality, it leaves women feeling even more isolated when they are sinning and want to confess but fear that they are different than “normal” women.]

I’m sure if we looked hard enough, we’d notice sins that aren’t being addressed in our church.  In fact, we might see a reflection of the very sin Jesus hated the most, pride.  The religious elite were constantly critiqued by Jesus.  Jesus called the Pharisees white washed tombs!  How are we in the church dead inside while appearing righteous?  What sins are we permitting because we are so focused on sins outside ourselves?  A verse that is slowly characterizing my life, and I hope it manifests well, is to look at the plank in my own eye BEFORE addressing the spec in my fellow brethren.  Also, we are to preach the good news of a Savior who came to save the lost.  We must first put on love and teach people about Jesus (and if they don’t want to listen and reject him we are to shake the dust from our feet) then we can instruct the congregations in truth.  Individuals are to accept Christ first and then through the Holy Spirit, be transformed.  We don’t have to be made well prior to coming to God.  If we must make ourselves clean before God accepts us, we commit idolatry, following the practices of other religions and committing the pride sin of the religious “elite”.  Also, we all must accept Christ and be transformed, not just “those outright sexual sinners”.

The most grievous sin then appears to be pride.  Let us wrestle with God about our own lives.  Let us stop shining the spotlight on other people and “their sin” while we go unchecked.  Also, if we have not love then we are just a resounding gong.  No one will listen to the good news if we are merely spewing opinions, biases, and judgements before we admit that we ourselves are the worst of sinners, like Paul was able to confess.  Oh Lord, make me humble.  Make the church humble too.  May I be one vessel for this change in the church.  Amen.

Mommy Dearest

Mom,

If you ever find this, I hope I’m not in a slew of trouble.  I’ve gone back and forth whether or not I should have written so publicly.  I keep telling myself to shut up and bring this before God quietly praying.  My readership is low though.  It is therapeutic and maybe a part of me wants you to stumble across this, to know my all too painful silence.  Anyways, here goes a letter that I hope will mellow, rather than murk, our already turbulent waters.

First, I love you.  I really do.  You raised me.  I know you care about me.  I haven’t always been the most grateful individual.  In becoming a mother myself, I finally understand what a difficult task you undertook.  Still, I wonder if I’m a daughter you had hoped for or if I led to a series of lifelong regrets.

Daddy assures me that you two were already engaged and had decided to stop the barriers when I was conceived.  You have told me that the only reason you went ahead and married dad was because of my gestation.  Growing up, I was told how much I reminded you of daddy.  I reminded you of the very man you drew up divorce papers with.  Thankfully, you stuck it out and didn’t leave him, but I am apparently the epitome, an embodiment, of a man you wanted to leave.  It has been said that we just fight and don’t get along because I’m so much like my father.  My father who was always hard-working, loyal, and supportive towards you.

I was work.  Throughout my childhood, I was reminded of this.  You consistently said you had kids too young.  You were 30 when I entered the world.  I was told that working hours had to be shortened for me.  Since moving out and establishing my own life, and my sister hers, you normally work 60-80 hours a week.  Your career has thrived.  Do you resent me for holding you back in years past?

You deny it now, but I vividly remember when you told me that my sister was easier to get along with.  She was more like you.  You even went so far as to say she was your favorite.  If you hadn’t outright said it, I would have always felt it anyways.  You’ve called her your baby.  She needed you.  Mama, I needed you too.  Yes, I’ve been far more independent, but I needed you and need you too.

I was never allowed to really snuggle when I was ill because it might make you sick and you couldn’t afford to miss work or school.  When I landed myself in the hospital, I was an inconvenience.  You would always comment on how expensive my medical needs were and that I had to think before acting because I got injured too frequently.  The nurses would bring me food, blankets, and affection.  I guess this is why I don’t mind the hospital.  When I had a cold, you would bring me soup too and I guess that is why I like being catered to when sick.  I had your attention then.

I’ve been told I lecture you too much.  This letter might even have that air.  However, when all I hear are complaints…your job, your car repairs, my dad’s “never-ending annoying qualities”, your house, and your family, I wonder if I, who tries to find gratitude in what I have (not perfectly by any means), might bestow some wisdom on how you might attain a sliver of my thankful demeanor.  Also, when I’m regaled with stories of friends or family offending you via Facebook, I wonder why you take social media commentary so seriously.  It is Facebook, really!?

I have remained in contact with your sisters, which you hate.  They hurt you.  You want me to hate them too.  I don’t.  You tell me I would if I knew how they talked about me, saying my faith is a phase and I’m a hypocrite.  Jesus said I would be hated and suffer because he was hated first and he suffered too.  I should consider it joy when I’m mocked on his behalf and devotion to him.  Also, I don’t talk to them much.  Any negativity they formed about me was off of you complaining about my behaviors too them.  You’ve often told me yourself that I am “too devout”, “too religious”.  You don’t like when I talk about God, even though you label yourself as one of Christ’s followers.  That doesn’t make sense to me.

This morning I was telling you about Willow bumping her head.  You said I better make sure she is okay.  Ummm….duh?  Mom, don’t you have even some vote of confidence in my ability to raise and protect my daughter?  I’m not going to leave her with wolves.  Kids bump their heads.  They get hurt, a lot.  They learn through the consequence of pain sometimes.  I have had to do the same.  I picked her up though and cradled her until the sobbing quieted.  I didn’t try to tell her she was okay, even though she was.  I just held her and said it sounded like it hurt.  You seem concerned about her welfare.  What about when I got hurt as a kid, when I get hurt now?  Can you trust me to mend my daughter’s hurt, at least with the ability God has endowed me with?  Don’t you think that you raised me well enough to care and grant affection to my offspring?  It feels like you even doubt me here.

I just want to know that you approve of me.  For years, and sometimes still, I’ve struggled with approval addiction.  I compare myself to others.  I want to be liked.  A part of me never understood why.  I’m beginning to think it is because I’m still trying to vie for your acceptance.  I don’t want a harried “I love you” as we hang up the phone.  I want questions about how I am doing, before I’m asked about my kids, your grand-kids.  I want to not have our conversation put on hold so you can be an alarm to wake up my sister each morning.  Yes, I know she misses you and vice versa, but there is a difference between adult responsibilities and talking every night to maintain the close bond you two have established throughout the years.   I want you to take an interest, or at least feign it, in something I like.  I don’t want to talk about weight and Weight Watchers.  (When we discuss such things I feel like outward appearance is the only attribute you or society constitutes as beautiful.)  I don’t want to complain about our jobs, even though we both have frustrations about them.  I could care less about celebrity lives or TV; let’s take an interest in each others realities, not “famous” names.

Mommy, I want to curl up on your lap like your precious little angel (maybe that’s why I despise your dog so much…I’m jealous of that ridiculous creature, a Chihuahua). I want you to assuage my guilt, my worries, my frustrations to the best a mother can do.  When I look forward to vacationing with you or spending two weeks with you when Frank is away, I don’t want you to act like I’ll tax you, to be disgruntled.  Yes, I know you can strain my nerves too, but I want to try and reconcile these rifts.  I want to get our nails done together, even though I don’t care about such things.  I want to play board games like Scrabble because we both enjoy the competition.  I want to bond with you in a way my sister seems to have, despite her ignoring you when you visit her in CA or her cursing you out when you tell her of your distaste for her male companions.

You are a strong and independent woman.  You’ve instilled confidence in me.  Celebrate that, don’t disdain.  These are traits I want my daughter to learn too.  They are valuable character traits.  Yes, they need to be harnessed lest pride consume you, me, or her, but they can impact the world greatly.  Let us be a duo, or even trio, that can conquer more together than we ever could alone.  Please show me that I’m not a nuisance. Let us break the generational rift between mother and daughter (you had stress with your mom until it was too late to rectify that strain).  Please discard the favoritism lest it infect my children’s lives.

I’m scared I’ll compare.  Lord, help me to notice the valuable assets of all my children, not pitting them against each other or me.  Help me to speak well of their grandparents in front of my kids, so they don’t form incorrect, biased, or uninformed opinions.  Let me love my mother unconditionally and let go of this bitterness.

Do you even know of these offenses Mama?  I’m sure they weren’t intentional.  I don’t want to harbor unforgiveness for past misunderstandings.  If I don’t release this anger, I’ll become bitter.  Do you possess bitterness?  Let us lay down our critiques, our differences, and petty conflict, with each other and other family members, that we might leave a legacy of love, true devotion, community, and most of all, acceptance despite our many flaws.

Mama, do you want to love me in this regard?  I want to love you this way.

Forgive me for not phrasing things in a tender manner if you were hurt herein.  I don’t want to hurt you while wrestling with my pain.  I love you.  You have given me life, and I’m grateful for the care you did give.  I always had food in my belly and a roof over my head.  You did give of yourself and I want to express my appreciation for a mother’s sacrifice.  I know it hasn’t always been easy.  I love you.  Please see the cry of my heart though, a heart longing for your embrace, your approval, your praise more than your critique.  Yes, I have lots I need to work on.  God and I are sifting through my dross.   Let us be supportive, giving feedback in loving truth, not in unwarranted or unkind advice.

I love you Mama, will you love me in action too?

I want us to have a healthy relationship before we can’t.

Signed,

YOUR daughter

 

Now hopefully my mind can focus on the present task of metal analysis and not revel in our divisions.

 

Regarding my daughter’s bathroom safety

Apparently Target has recently allowed transgendered individuals the right to use the restroom of the gender the individual identifies with.  North Carolina has passed laws making this illegal.  My social media sites are plastered with ideas and opinions on the matter.  I probably shouldn’t get involved in the conversation, but here are my two cents, for what it is worth.

First, I am a Christian.  I might not be the conservative-traditional church approved version, darn my feminist tendencies, but I am an avid church goer, passionate prayer warrior, and frequent Bible reader.  Needless to say, I am a practicing and devoted Christ-follower.

Second, I am a mother.  I am a mother to a daughter.

I think the above statements can add “validity” to my stance.

I try to be tolerant and loving of everyone.  Sometimes I fail, especially when it comes to relations with my sister or mother, but overall, I really do try to understand people’s motives and give them the “benefit of the doubt”.  I do think we are born with a particular gender and our genitals define whether we are female or male.  [Exceptions stand for hermaphrodites, but that disease case is RARE.]  Perhaps I am wrong, but I think society’s recent emphasis on gender roles and interests/ actions defining your gender has damaged basic notions of biology and has caused an influx of individuals who identify as transgender because their interests/actions/mannerisms don’t fit stereotypical assumptions of what is “boyish” or “girlish”.  Regardless, there is sin in the world and I think altering the genitalia God gives us is sinful.

Anyways, this isn’t really addressing my stance on the bathroom laws directly is it?  I’m just giving a back story, a history, to my worldview.

Since I am a Christian mother to a daughter, you might be assuming that I’m rallying for anti-transgender bathrooms.  Hint:  I’m not.  In fact, I tend to side the other way.

1.) I love family restrooms.  These generally feel more comfortable to me anyways.  I don’t have the fear of someone coming in and commenting on how it stinks in the room while I poop.  There is such peace to that.  Now, mind you, since I am a mother with a daughter frequently in tow, she will most likely be in the room with me commenting on how my poo is disgusting, but she is my daughter, not a stranger who doesn’t understand my diet and bowel movements.

2.) Women’s bathrooms have stalls.  I have privacy in the stall.  Unless someone is in sandals, I can’t tell by their feet what gender they are.

3.) I haven’t had an adult peep in on me.  Sure, someone might check the crack to see if it is occupied, but I haven’t had any adult stare in at me through the crack or stare up at me under the stall.  I have had little children, boys and girls alike, stare up at me from under the stall.  Little kids can be quite the perverts apparently.

4.) I generally don’t strike up conversations with strangers in the bathroom.  I am a woman and we are known to travel to the bathroom with our friends in packs.  If you go with other people, you aren’t likely to have something happen to you.

5.) Most molestation and rape is actually not performed in a public restroom by a stranger.  In fact, there is greater danger of a child being hurt or sexually abused in the hands of a trusted caregiver or parent than by a male posing as a female in a public women’s restroom.

6.) A HUGE PET PEEVE:  We are discussing the need to protect our daughters.  Yes, I want to protect my daughter just as much as you do.  However, don’t you place as much value on your son’s life?  Don’t you want him to be protected to?  What are we teaching our children when we say that we don’t want men who are posing as women coming in to the woman’s bathroom?  If we don’t want “men in women’s bathrooms”, don’t we want the same standard about “women going into the men’s restrooms”? [Keep in mind when the urge to expel waste was strong enough, I have used a stall in a man’s restroom.  I actually haven’t seen a “man looking man” use a woman’s bathroom.  Ever.]  When little boys hear that girls are to be protected from perverts and adults, we are essentially teaching these boys that if they are vulnerable and hurt that it is shameful.  It’s like we are telling kids that girls get hurt and boys don’t.  Boys can be raped and molested too.  When boys are sexually abused, there is a very high risk of depression and suicide because they are too ashamed to admit they were violated.  We teach boys they are to fight off attackers.  We use language that insinuates girls are weak, not boys.    When a boy is wrongfully touched, he assumes he should have had strength to fight an attacker.  He sees himself as less of a man.  Why do we want to teach our boys to be ashamed and silent should anything happen to them?  They are just as vulnerable as our little girls.

7.)  I understand we don’t want pedophiles not using the laws in their favor.  However, just like criminals will find access to guns illegally, I don’t think pedophiles much care about the institution of a law.  Most creeps will probably sneak into the restroom when it is unoccupied, wait, and attack when an individual comes in.  It is highly unlikely that a pedophile will go through an effort of cross-dressing to sexually assault kids.

8.) There is no way I’m letting my 12 year old girl go to the mall on her own.  If she is using the restroom on her own, she is likely at school (I hope to home school so this would be a moot point) or out with a babysitter.  I’d think the babysitter would bring my daughter into the bathroom and wait outside the stall.  If I have a boy, I’d think that the sitter would walk my child to the bathroom and wait outside the restroom, frequently yelling in to see if the kid was okay.  In any other case, I’m likely to be going to the restroom with my child.  When they are old enough, I’ll teach my sons (if we have any) and daughter (s) self-defense.  Both genders need to know how to protect themselves.  They’ll go to the bathroom alone when they are around 10 probably, but I’ll still be accompanying them to their location.  When they are 15 I might let them do things alone with friends, but not much before then.  They are kids!  (Now I am an advocate for letting my kid play out in my yard alone and I don’t believe I need to be a helicopter parent.  However, going to the mall alone with friends is something for a mature teenager to do, not my budding toddler to adolescent.)

9.) If an individual identifies as the opposite gender than what they were born as, they have most likely gone through painstaking efforts to look like the gender they identify as.  They aren’t going to be discernible.  You most likely won’t notice a transgender woman using public facilities.  You will probably assume someone who looks like a girl is female.  There are some individuals who cross dress that you can’t distinguish any difference.  Some cross-dressed men look more feminine and pretty than some naturally born women!

10.)  In talking with a co-worker, she brought up some good points.  How would we even enforce such a law?  It isn’t even like bathrooms are monitored.  If they were, it might create jobs but then that invades privacy, no?  What have we done when a man was caught loitering in a woman’s bathroom before?  This won’t change matters.  A pervert is a pervert and governmental laws which are difficult to enforce won’t change how these issues were addressed in the past.  Target allowing this to happen won’t be earth-shattering different.  Right?

If you look like a woman, whether you have a vagina or not, use “my” female bathroom.  If you are a man that accidentally wandered into the women’s bathroom and used the facilities, don’t worry.  (My dad has done this and he isn’t a pervert!)  Regardless of who you are, if I started off in the bathroom alone and someone comes in, male or female, I am on higher awareness.  Even at home, if my shower curtain is closed, I will look behind the curtain to see if someone is hiding, ready to attack me.  It might be paranoid, it might be weird.  I can be attacked by a male or female, in private or public.  This holds true for my daughter too.

Let’s just try to keep our kids as safe as possible.  Laws in favor of allowing transgendered individuals into “your child’s bathroom” aren’t really going to change an incident of rape from the frequency or likelihood of cases past, from before the laws were instituted.

Really, let us be grateful for indoor plumbing, potty-trained adults, and clean facilities.  We have so much to be thankful for in America.  Those of us who are Christian, let us trust God with ourselves and our children.  Stop being so paranoid that laws are going to allow your child to be endangered.  In fact, I’ve noticed that laws have actually prolonged adolescence and prevented us from growing up when we should.  Laws have over-protected our kids.

If I’m for government legalizing prostitution (notice I’m not okay with sex-trafficking and the illegal or non-consensual distribution of sexual services) and marijuana.  I’m really okay with bathrooms merely being a place to expel waste and I never really understood gender specific waste disposal places anyways.  If they all have stalls, does it really matter?  However, if we are really looking for a compromise, install 4-5 of the family restrooms anyways.  I like those.  They also tend to have a diaper changing table in the same room of the toilet I’m using, not out in the open where any creep can watch me wipe my kid’s soiled butt anyways.

 

The Weirdest Pregnancy Craving for an American

Some facts about food intake and pregnancy:

1.)  You need roughly 300 more calories consumed each day;  if you are nursing, you need roughly 500 more calories/day.  When you combine the two because you are nursing one child and pregnant with another, you need a massive amount of calories.

2.)  It is best to consume around 60 g of protein/day.  This helps build the proper amino acids in your child for growth, health, and intelligence.  This protein consumption also helps with reducing fatigue in the pregnant woman.

Americans consume a highly processed, often high sugar, diet.  This diet leaves us bloated, diseased, and tired.  High sugar consumption has also been linked to behavioral disorders and mood disorders.  [I should really insert links to evidence based articles.  Search on Google.  I ate too much sugar and/or carbohydrates today.  I’m tired.]

Third world countries use available resources for food.  Individuals are often not picky, but will use whatever is readily available.

There are over 6000 insect species on the earth.  Insects are high in protein and could help, notice I did not say solve, reduce world hunger.  It doesn’t cost very much to spice and bag insects.  Plus, insects are EVERYWHERE!  Just this morning I saw a cave cricket. Our home is having a problem with ant manifestation.  Spiders are the bane of my existence.  Summer is fast encroaching and with it, the rise of insect life.

In early March 2016, my family and I went to New Orleans.  While there, we were told we should visit the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden.  Now, I felt like I could see an insect museum anywhere so why should I go in a city I hadn’t been to before?  After being told that it was a really good museum and we really should go, we decided to venture over to the expensive establishment.  Unlike the aquarium in New Orleans, the Insectarium and Butterfly Garden were definitely worth the money!  It has been one of my favorite museums to date.  I like museums that are interactive.  I love reading, but I don’t like museums that require me to spend hours perusing plaques.  This museum had the proper balance between plaque reading and interactive displays. Even Willow was enthralled by the museum.

The Insectarium had several displays of insects.  There were dung beetles in a case right by the bathroom.  Frank liked to point out the irony of that exhibit.  (*Giggle*  Sorry, should I be too mature to laugh at potty humor with my husband?  Oh well, we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.)  They also had a touch room/ immersion room that relayed information about insects living underground.  I also decided to be extremely adventurous and visited the insect cafe.  While there, we were offered to taste seasoned insects.  I was skeptical.  However, I am spontaneous and daring.  I tried the dishes available.

Willow even tired some cricket dip (dip not pictured).  She looks disgusted, but was definitely grabbing for more.  We all enjoyed the snacks, Willow and I more than Frank though.

I’m tired today.  I’ve been tired.  I’m not getting enough protein.

Ever since having a southwestern waxworm, I have cravings.  I’m hankering for a quick and easy snack that is high in protein.

That’s right, this American girl could really go for a big bag of southwestern waxworms or a cricket and chocolate chip cookie right now.

I’m grateful for travel which removes me from my comfort zone, causes me to try new things, and I become a better person for it.  However, now I’m left with a craving that isn’t easily satisfied.  Every pregnant woman that has had a craving will surely understand this plight.

*mmmmm…..waxworms….*

Gratitude for a Father

3 am.

Wails pierce the silence.

Soiled and disoriented.

Changed.

There stands your rocking shadow

cradling the distressed babe.

You utter a hush rhythmically.

Slowly she drifts again to peaceful slumber.

Kissing her forehead, you declare your devotion, your love.

My heart swells.

I have chosen well,

been blessed beyond my dreams.

I know our child is cared for.

She quiets down in the comfort of your embrace.

I praise our God who has fearfully and wonderfully made you, husband and father.

Requesting Assistance: Laying Down American Pride (Individualism)

Frank will be away this weekend for the military.  He goes away once a month.  This time, it is a 3 day weekend away and he may or may not come home at night.  As such, we asked Frank’s parents’ if they could watch our dog.  I was sharing how grateful I was with one co-worker and another one shook his head in disgust.

Apparently people have done this for years before without there being issues.  People he knew took care of multiple children and multiple dogs at the same time.  I understand that people have done these things.  I can do them too.  I am perfectly capable of walking a dog and pushing a stroller, but it is difficult.  It is doable, but this task can be daunting, especially if you are sleep deprived.

[My infant has yet to sleep through the night.  Let me tell you how fun it is to have people silently judge why your infant isn’t “sleeping through the night” yet based off of your choices…which by the way, don’t prove anything because I know people who do the same things I do and people who don’t and their kids will or will not sleep through the night.  It is more kid dependent than procedure dependent.  If one procedure worked 100% wouldn’t we all do this to achieve more sleep?]

Anyways, there are also the semantics of having to take the dog out early in the morning while my infant is still sleeping.  What do I do if she wakes while I’m out?  It can be done.  I know it can.  I know I could do it.  I’m not weak.  In fact, I’m quite a determined individual.  The matter is less of ability and more of desire.  The dog would wake me at 6 am.  I get varying sleep as it is.  Am I selfish for wanting to take advantage of the possibility of not having to deal with that for a couple more minutes of shut-eye (that is if my baby decides she can sleep in for once)?  Perhaps.  If so, I don’t care.  I need my sleep to be a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and most importantly, Christian.

Also, I don’t really have a fenced in yard.  I can’t just let the dog out.  I actually have to walk the dog.  I’m pregnant.  Crouching down to pick up dog poo is getting more difficult.  Again, can do it, but why strain myself if I have someone willing to assist me and my family?

In America, I find too many stressed out mothers.  We try to take on too much.  Supermom is some wonderful ideal to achieve, apparently.  In the process, we wind up frazzled, anxious, disgruntled, bitter, wrathful, and/or angry.  I might be making a generalization and I don’t have statistics to back it up, but it seems that mothers are a bit more relaxed in other cultures.  If they don’t have help from a child’s father (which is actually the case in most countries…child rearing is seen as a female responsibility for some reason), they at least have a community of women giving advice and lending a hand when needed.  Several men in America refuse to help too (it isn’t “manly” in their eyes) and American women aren’t asking other women for help.  However, women in other countries have lower postpartum depression rates.  It seems they have a greater sense of self-worth and identity.

For years I tried to put on a stable face.  Inside, I was screaming.  I wanted help with my emotions, my adolescence, and my routine.  I would try to figure out womanhood from my parents but they were too busy working.  I was told to just deal with things or to get over them.  I do believe there is a time and place to not wallow in a pity party, but I was a confused teenager.  I don’t want to be a strung-0ut mother.  I know too many of them.  They scream at their kids and more so their spouse.  I lived for too long trying to push through things.  When I finally let go of that pride and voiced a need for help, which is still a work in progress, I noticed myself more relieved and content.

When I first had Willow, I was stressed out about dishes piling in the sink and a mound of laundry building.  I could clean, but I was trying to sleep when the baby slept (as I’d been advised).  I couldn’t get sleep and get these chores accomplished at the same time.  I called in resources.  Some people gave me static for it.  However, I am typically not a resentful person.  I have my struggles, I complain, and I vent, but overall, I’m a pretty relaxed and laid-back individual.  I generally like life. I can’t say the same for the individuals I know who “did it all alone”.  Instead, I notice the people, especially the women, who tried and/or are trying to handle everything themselves are burnt-out, angry, bitter, or crazed.  No thank you!

Individuals who can conquer the world, through their own volition or not , tend to be more worn out and drained, especially when attempting to gain victory through their own means.  God has blessed me with a community full of resources willing to help me.  Why should I remain in a place of fatigue when I can be a calm and joyful person by calling on the willing help available to me?  Then, when they need help, I’ll be refreshed and energized to do so.

Americans, it is time we started to live in community, as God intended, and from it, be happier, more joyful, more able people!  From where I’m standing, it doesn’t look like individualism, independence, or the “American dream” has led to satisfaction, peace, or a high quality of life.  I choose fellowship, a reduction in stress, and joy.  When assistance is available, and I don’t feel like I’m being a sponge simply for being a sponge, I’ll choose to use what has been given to me, with gratitude and subduing my often anxious spirit.

I’ll lay down comparing myself to others, I’ll stop trying to do it all, and as a result, be the calm, encouraging, and community-oriented person I am, and we all are, designed to be.

A letter to my firstborn

I’ve been scouring articles from Scary Mommy lately.  This website is full of parenting advice, opinion, and jest.  One article I read was a mother’s letter to her firstborn child.  It expressed her emotions to her firstborn that she missed him.  She loved having two kids and wasn’t regretful, but she missed the two-of-them moments.  As I read the article, I wept bitterly.

Cocoa Bean was a surprise.  Now. please understand a surprise doesn’t mean something unwanted.  A surprise, especially a child, (at least for us) is a gift from God.  He is showering us with the children we wanted to fill our home with. After years of infertility, we feared we might not have the privilege of raising the children we desperately wanted.  God has granted our requests to be parents and we are forever grateful.  The timing of welcoming these children hasn’t been on our time frame, but God has provided every step of the way.  God has given us the children we wanted and needed at exactly the right time.  I know this.  Anyways, I digressed a bit.

I feel like this letter might be preemptive.  Secretly, I wonder if we’ll meet Cocoa Bean.  It is likely we will.  However, whenever you endure a miscarriage, there is trepidation in expectation.  People comment on your growing girth.  They ask questions about your anticipation.  They don’t mean any harm.  Most don’t even know your history.  Still, after enduring that loss, I fear I might be writing this a bit early.  Regardless, I still feel another sense of loss that this letter elaborates upon.

My beloved Willow,

You are a curious girl.  I admire your persistence and tenacity in reaching for items you desire.

Sometimes you do the most hilarious things without even realizing it.  My laughter spurs your giggles and the amusement is a continuous and contagious cycle.  The other night, you were intrigued by my teeth.  Yours are coming, albeit painstakingly slowly.  To relieve the pain you used your gums to chomp on my teeth.  Most people are disgusted at this.  Since you roared with laughter after doing this, I couldn’t help but peel my own squeals of laughter out.  You have a great sense of humor.

[I know some might raise eyebrows at my analysis of your personality.  You’re only one.  Yet, even as it has yet to fully mature, I can and am getting great insight into your traits, ones that I am astonished and amazed by.]

I have to work.  I hate that.  I want to be home with you.  I can’t protect or shelter you forever.  You’ll make mistakes.  Mistakes help you learn.  I’m here when you need to be picked up and assured that it is worth it to press on.  There will come a day when you don’t need me as much.  That day will come all too quickly.  Right now, you rely on me (and your father) to meet your every need and want.  When I come to retrieve you after work, you want to snuggle and nurse.  I love that bond.

I’m tired though.  I want to continue nursing.  It is a special union between the two of us.  Yet, my pregnancy with your brother or sister is draining enough already.  Nursing requires even more energy, more caloric output.  I don’t really have the zeal to maintain this form of nourishment for you.  I know we can bond in other ways.  Other means exist by which to comfort you with.  I need you to wean, but you aren’t ready.  I’ll let you continue until you are willing to stop.  People think I’m crazy for extolling such energy when it drains me so much.  I am a little crazy.  However, forcing you to stop might cause more hurt in our relationship when I can simply pray for an extra dose of strength from God.  (He has granted me supernatural energy before when I requested it.)

You share mine and your father’s bed.  We don’t mind it.  Your father and I enjoy the extra cuddle time since we both work (praise to God on that front since Daddy was laid off recently, but has been able to find work even if it varies day-to-day).  Our bed isn’t big enough for four.  We could potentially make it work, but it would most likely be tight and slightly stressful.  Having you in our room and our bed gives us comfort to know you are near, snuggling next to us.  These snuggle times are so fleeting.  We want to take advantage of every chance we can have for these times now.  It is contrary to Western culture to want this attachment. (Westerners fear dependence and needy children, however in trying to foster extreme independence in our infants, it seems we’ve perpetuated adolescence in later years and allowed adult children to be extremely dependent.  Note how Japanese families bed share and nurse and their adults are often very independent.  I’m not saying there are exceptions for individuals, but societal trends in each culture seem to back up this claim.)  Anyways, transitioning you to your own bed needs to happen and sadly, faster than we anticipated.  It is occurring faster than you might be able to comprehend.

Please understand that we aren’t trying to replace you.  In fact, you are the child every parent dreams about having.  (Although the one thing most parents might change is the fact that you don’t sleep through the night.)  You are such a happy and laid-back child.  You nap, even if it is brief.  You travel well.  Whenever you meet a new person you say hi repeatedly.  There are very few people you cry at.  (I am confused as to why you cry at Paul, but you have your reasons, even if I find them unjustified.  You can’t quite yet convey why you don’t want him, specifically, to hold you.)  You are always smiling and giggling.  Rarely do you fuss.  (You really only cry when you are hungry, have a soiled diaper, or are overly tired.)  We adore you.  Willow you are a prayer come true.  Every personality trait I prayed you would have radiates from you.  You are the epitome of my prayers.  I am so blessed to have you as my daughter.  I’m privileged to be your mother.  Having another child is by no means an attempt to replace you, even if you feel that it is.  It most assuredly is not the case.

I love Cocoa Bean too.  As much as I do love this second baby, there is something special about the two of us.  I am going to miss it being the two of us and getting to meld our characters as just the two of us.  I was looking forward to doing mother-daughter dates.  I know we still can.  We can have moments that are just ours, but it’ll be different.

Sadly, you’ll probably be hushed as you want to squeal.  You are inquisitive.  You will probably want to poke at and pull at your sibling the way you do our dog.  Mitzie is patient with you, thankfully.  We are trying to teach you to be gentle and it is a learning process.  We will not be as calm or patient when you are shoving your sibling, even if it is unintentional and merely a result of your inquisitive nature.  Please forgive our impulses to rectify the situation if we are gruff in how we solve the issue.

I miss it being just the two of us.  I know I still have some time, but I do notice my body changing.  You have too.  (Oh my goodness, it is so funny that you want to play peek-a-boo with my protruding belly button. You have also been known to try and suck on it.  No, you aren’t getting milk from that protrusion my dear.)  I miss not getting so drained when I nursed you.  I miss not having to worry about how we’ll finance daycare for multiple children.  I will miss the carefree and quiet times with just us.  You are really good at independent play.  You aren’t extremely demanding.  You and I mesh well.  There is no guarantee how Cocoa Bean and I will get along.  He or she is my child too and I will love him or her equally.  I know this.  The fact still remains, so far, you and I know each other well.  I understand your personality and it works well with mine.  You are a daddy’s girl.  (He’s able to quiet you down sooner and you generally gravitate to him.  That’s okay.  I understand.  I was a daddy’s girl too and I don’t mind this.  In fact, it gives me time to be still before God more often than I might otherwise be able to.)

I miss you and I alone already.  I love you Willow.  You are my first and while no longer my favorite child (you all will be that), you are my favorite Willow.  As my firstborn, you will always hold a special place in my heart, reserved for you.  Only you have been able to fill the void intended for you to fill.  Only you have been able to enrich my life in the means God intended.  I love you little one.  That will never change.

Your father and I just had more love to spread, it appears.  You will always be our firstborn. (That we physically met anyways…Teddy Graham was lost at 5-6 weeks gestation, sadly. If we hadn’t bid adieu to that baby though, we never would have been blessed with your presence.)  We love you so abundantly my dear.  You’ll never fully grasp how much we do, I’m sure.  May you always know how much I treasure the times when we are alone, just the two of us.

Love always,

Mommy

Parental Notes: Opinions and Ideals

“Opinions are like butt-holes.  Everyone has one and they stink.”- Frank

Ah the wise words of my husband.

I’m pretty sure he heard this quote from another source, but he is the one I heard it from so I’m attributing the quote to him.  Oh how true this is.  I’ve never known this to be more true than as a parent.  If your kid misbehaves, everyone has a thought on how to solve the issue.  If your kid doesn’t sleep, everyone has a suggestion on something that will surely work.  If your kid is well-mannered, individuals will offer praise or ideas on how to maintain this behavior.  Sadly, we’ve lost sight of how intricate and complex humans are.  Personalities and temperaments are not just a source of nurture.  Nature plays a role in behavior development as well.

Some kids are just difficult.  Mine is easy.  My daughter is carefree and easy-going.  I’d like to take credit for that.  I guess I can, to an extent.  I prayed heavily for her personality.  However, I am fully aware she was born this way too.  Based on personal experiences, I can attest that nature does play some role in temperament.  My sister and I have the same parents but are completely different individuals.  We have varying ideals and senses of morality.  I can say it is a result of her being coddled and I was instructed to be more independent.  I know that as infants, she was fussier than me.  My sister has always been more strong-willed than myself.  Yes, kids are born with some traits and others are learned.  I’d just like parents and non-parents to agree on this fact.  Let’s stop tearing each other down with opinion and bias.  Instead, it would be more productive to offer support to sleep deprived adults, struggling single mothers or fathers, and floundering parents (which, if we are honest, we all are).

I had so many theories about being a parent.  I knew exactly how I would handle a situation.  Then I had a kid.  My parents always insist that their methods are full-proof.  [To which I wonder due to my struggles with depression, anxiety, and self-deprecation.  I know that my struggles are largely a response to my choices, but how we are treated by our parents, siblings, and peers can affect response too.  I have good parents, flawed as we all are, but overall, decent and loving parents.  Still, no method is full-proof.]

I didn’t anticipate on sharing a bed with my infant.  Why would I share my bed with my infant?  Babies sleep in cribs.  Then I brought my daughter home.  The first night I stumbled around my bed as I cradled my fussing infant, trying desperately to instill sleep.  I laid her back in her bassinet after swaying her back and forth.  Upon setting her down, she would flail and scream.  I picked her up.  Groggy and desperate, I crawled into bed with her.  Resting against my chest, she settled down and we finally slept.  I now share my bed with my infant going-on-toddler.  It has become comforting to me.  I giggle at her sleep talking (hi is her favorite word…even in sleep, it is hilarious).  I am able to soothe her quickly when teeth pains startle her awake.  Now, I’ll confess, it is beginning to be draining.  She wiggles and kicks far more now than she did when she was a newborn.  I’m beginning to think it is time for her to transition to her own mattress.  She is.  It is just a SLOW process.  I’d like it to go faster.  Then my mom guilt for working late or wanting time alone without my daughter, be it with my husband or entirely solo, sets in.  Bed sharing helps assuage the deep-seated guilt for not being as present as I’d like to be, or how I feel I should be.  We’ll get to the independent sleep arenas soon enough.  One thing I’m pretty sure about is that one day I’ll wake up and she’ll want nothing to do with me, asleep or awake…ah teenage years.  As such, I’ll choose the sleeping positions that are conducive to our current situation.

My child would not have much sugar.  Healthy eating would be enforced.  Then I had a kid.  I have to work.  I have babysitters.  Coming home from work, I’m exhausted.  I want easy meal preps.  Sometimes dinner isn’t prepared in time to satisfy the impatient and screaming infant who simply wants to eat.  To stave off increasing hunger, a quick snack of cheerios or a cookie before dinner is granted to the inconsolable child.  Ah, silence…well more accurately, the soft sound of munching and sighs of relief replace ear-breaking wails. Babysitters purchase an endless supply of puffs.  Sweet treats are offered to the endearing and begging child.  It shouldn’t continue to the extent that my daughter is spoiled, by me or her care providers.  Occasionally though, we can’t refuse the smile and outstretched hand.   Plus, if I’m snacking on it or they are, am I not, and them too, guilty of instilling bad habits?  We should practice what we preach.  Yes, there are certain things adults are privileged to that kids are not and that is part of the maturing territory, but overall, shouldn’t we be agents/ vessels of the practices and behaviors we’d like to see in the next generation.  We learn best by modeling.  Isn’t now the time to start?

Technology should be minimized.  Kids are meant to play outdoors.  Screen time should be limited.  Oh theories are nice so long as they remain theories.  I became pregnant with my second child far sooner than I had anticipated.  I work and my plan wasn’t to do so once I had children.  Life isn’t always what we expect.  I get home from work after a long day (not so much stressful as I’m an extrovert toiling in a laboratory…a predominately introverted position which leaves me drained) and want to disengage from reality for a brief moment in time.  (I’m sure that is selfish.  I’m a sinner in process of refinement.  That statement might seem heretical and anti-biblical to some.)  I turn on the TV when my daughter is still awake.  I am sick on the weekends and have little to no energy for anything but flipping stations on Netflix.  We watch more TV than I anticipated.  Her sitters have TV constantly streaming.  It isn’t my preference, but I can’t stress so long as I find a balance occasionally.  As a kid we watched TV frequently, but I’ve become an adult that is inclined to limit screen time when I have energy to do so.  Technology doesn’t have to destroy my child if I ensure that there is at least some face-to-face interaction and meals without screens.  Screen time as a kid didn’t ensure I’d be a lazy couch-potato.  Instead, it probably made me realize that media can leave us disillusioned.  Perhaps it made me question opinions rather than merely accepting them.

Everyone will have opinions.  I know I do.  (Sorry for times when I’m overly judgemental.  I’m working on this.  What works for me might not work for someone else.  Please understand that I am in no way promoting relativism.  I believe that there is such a thing as truth.  I just think that in terms of parenting, life is more nuanced than Western society has deemed it to be.)  I thought I would parent one way.  I am parenting differently than my theories.  We are all just trying to figure out what works best with the tools and resources at our disposal.  Let’s lend encouragement and support when things are tough rather than unwarranted and several times, unhelpful, non-constructive criticism.  If we are going to offer advice, may we do research that comes from reliable and credible sources, not just culturally “normal” practices.  Some cultures deemed child sacrifice as acceptable.  Just because culture says something is correct doesn’t make it so.  May we find research that uses an adequate and sizable study pool for analysis.  We must have data that is accurate and precise.  We will not gain such data if our sample size is not representative of the study at hand.

In terms of parenting, sometimes instinct, prayer, and a heaping dose of humility work best.

Hopefully this is coherent and flows well.  I’m writing this on minimal sleep while at work.  Don’t worry, my instrument performs automatic analyses so I’m not technically slacking off.