A strong will

“He’s strong-willed,” his teacher says.

“Thanks, we like him that way,” I reply.

Not obedient, passive, a pushover.

You, a toddler who is assertive, stands up for himself, and one day, stands up for others.  A boy who shares his ideas, defends classmates against bullies, befriends the unpopular kid.  A man who asks for what he wants, isn’t afraid to say no, never turns a blind eye, and risks humiliation and failure in finding and following his path.

Your dad once carried a stranger out of a bar because he was harassing a woman.  Be like your dad.  Not because you think the woman incapable of caring for herself, but because you have the wherewithal (infused with the right number of beers) to aid another.

Be a mix of compassion, confidence, and competence.

Be strong-willed.

Just don’t be an asshole about it.

 

 

On hitting kids

One of my biggest regrets is hitting one of my children.

Another is not saying anything while someone else hit her child in my house.

According to surveys, the majority of American parents hit (or spank, if you prefer euphemisms) their kids (and sometimes even babies).  The following video is a summary of the research on spanking, which overwhelmingly shows it to be damaging to the child.

Sickeningly, nineteen states still allow corporal punishment in schools.  See if your state is among them at stophitting.com.

(Yes, you may have been spanked and “turned out fine,” but how much better might you have been if you had never been hit at all?)

Finally

Looking up and peering outward she sees all is arranged in proper order.  Perfection does not exist, but maturity and gratitude whisper that she has arrived in a place as utopian as any.

Finally.

Finally.

If she knew then what she knows now she would be foolish to bear children.

If she knew then what she knows now she would be foolish not to.

The mindless ordinary, the kind of mundane rooted in the deepest desires of many.  She has wallowed in it, face-down, tear-stained, and in deep recesses, ever-grateful.

The bubbling resentment and defeat of a lioness confined to a cage while life in the savanna, broad and stimulating, continues.

The awakening of purpose beyond pleasure, beyond companionship, beyond mothering.

The surge of a soul who is more.  More power, more richness, more kindness.  More who she might be in her winter years.

The feel of the pieces slipping into place on a timetable of neither her design nor her desire.

Finally.

Waking up each morning in content anticipation of the day’s unfolding.

Of her life’s unfolding.

Of their life’s unfolding.

Finally.

Showing love

I gave away the last of our cloth diapers.  The Ache washed over me as I looked at them boxed and ready to move in with a new family.  A period in my relationship with my children has come to a close, and while I am thrilled to no longer be responsible for diapering, I cannot help but ache for the loss of this way in which I’ve shown my children love.

Yes, I have shown love through diapering.  Carefully fastening cloth to small bodies.  Scraping and swishing and washing and line-drying and stuffing and placing in the brown wicker basket with the cream linen liner.  Until it is time to carefully fasten them again.

Likewise, breastfeeding has come and gone.  Unmedicated births happened two and four years ago.  Even the Ergo has not left the closet in months.

How will I now show love?  Now that the time for these expressions has expired?

Through lunches packed for school;

Hikes to Castle Rock and “turtle rock” and “whale rock” and any other place where boulders are just the right size for scrambling;

Waking to take a small boy potty;

Trader Joe’s yogurt smoothies;

Bedroom reorganization;

Tales from babyhood;

Actions expressing love for their father;

A part-time job and relinquishing care to others.

The ways in which we show love are ever-evolving.

The Ache stays same.

The rest of my life

Yesterday afternoon I poured myself some champagne, flat from being open since New Year’s Day, and celebrated life.

Monday was the first day of the rest of my life.

Have you ever had that feeling?

For the first time a week passed much like I envisioned when, last spring, I wrote an outline of how I would ideally spend my days.  Time with family, time alone, time to write on this blog (or at least think about it), time doing a job I like, time interviewing for a job I love.  (And no time changing diapers–not part of the plan but important still.)  I’d been anticipating this particular week since mid-December, and although there was one piece missing, I’m optimistic we’ll get there.

Watching portions of the Mom is in Control Telesummit I was struck by the messages of some of the speakers.

Live life by design not by default.

True self-care is fulfillment not pleasure.

True self-care is lighting up not numbing out.

How many times have I said I became a stay-at-home mom by default?  And many times have I gone to Target alone in a pleasurably hollow effort to care for myself?  And how many times has logging on to Facebook to promote my doula business or my NOCIRC chapter, both fulfilling endeavors, morphed into using Facebook to numb myself?

Shamefully too many.

Change is slow.

Glacially so at times.

But greeting the first day of the rest of your life at long last is thrilling.

I must drink champagne more often.  It may not always be bubbly, but life is always worth celebrating.

Melting Points

Through three months of 24 hour a day co-parenting, I watched an emotional balance scale on which my husband and I rode.

In the beginning, my side was heavily weighted.  His rose high above.

Over time I became lighter–more patient, more kind, more content.  Over time he became less patient and less kind.  I was not always patient, mind you, and he was not always unkind, but a shift did occur.

Frustration got the best of me at times.  How can you be so short with the kids when you’ve been home with them for just a few weeks and I’ve been doing this for years?!  It’s not fair!  Not to me.  Not to them.  My expectations were high.  Perhaps unreasonably so.

A co-worker tells me neither he nor his wife could be stay-at-home parents of their two-year-old son.  I think, Why couldn’t you?

A friend tells me I am the strongest person she knows.  I think, If she’s referring to parenting strength, she obviously hasn’t heard of Michelle Duggar.

What I realize is that everyone has different melting points.

I have a high melting point when it comes to breastfeeding through excruciating pain caused by tongue tie.  (Three and a half weeks between two babies.  Like fucking razor blades on my nipples, people.)

But I have a low melting point when it comes to satisfaction with stay-at-home motherhood.

It’s not that my husband intended to short-change me.  It’s not that he hasn’t parented to the best of his ability.

It’s that we have different melting points.

And not just when it comes to parenting.  Physical labor, tedious tasks, essay writing, friendships or lack thereof, housecleaning, dog walking, grocery shopping.  Everything.

As a doula, part of my job is to trust the mother.  Trust that she knows what is best for her and her baby.  Trust that she’ll tell me the truth.  Trust that the choices she makes will take her where she needs to go.

If we apply this attitude to others, if we trust that when they show their melting point it is real, not laziness, not disrespect, not a desire to be anything less than their best, but rather their own unique self doing all they can to navigate the world, then we can empathize.  Then we can be patient.  Then we can be kind.