Sunday, May 31, 2015

I'm, Confused

Are there certain things that just concern you and make you feel totally powerless? I have a few thing that, lately, are actually getting to me. I find myself feeling kind of PO'ed lately and that's just not me, you know? But something is on my mind this week and it I can't stop thinking about it.

I think of myself as generally positive most of the time, but I'm allowed to have my peeves.
  • When people act as though they know it all
  • Rude tailgaters
  • When people with dogs allow the dogs to jump on you and they say "they just want you to say 'hello'."
  • Inflexible belief in what is "right"
  • Center-of-attention types
  • When people confuse cutting sarcasm for humor
  • Parents who cannot/will not/do not parent lovingly
  • When parents slap their children in public
One of these things has absolutely annoyed and upset me this week...enough that I'm actually writing about it, though annoyed might be the wrong word. The thing on my mind is a thing that we have all probably seen before.

I was at an event where a young mother was slapping her small child for a reason that eluded me. The child was a small little thing, hiccuping with tears, licking his teary lips. I sat nearby and watched this affair fairly openly. Several times this child was slapped for some small sound or movement.

Look, it's difficult being a young mother and having a fear that people are observing you with censure and judgement. Though no one was actually observing this young mother with the slightest disapproval. It was her fear, though. 

I did not intercede.

I've seen scenes such as this time and time again. I wonder, is there is a meaningful way to trespass on this small family?

Other posts you may enjoy: 
Rebirth, Renewal, and Renaissance
Dear ME: Being the Mom
I Dunno, What's a Motto with You?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sometimes You Have to Say "No"

My daughter is so upset that we can't send her to Los Angeles to go to a convention for lovers of Korean pop music. But MOM, it's only $1200!!!

As much as we would love to send her to meet her favorite singer on the planet, it's just unreasonable to spend that much money in that way. Every single parent will have an evening like this one; I promise you will have an evening like this if you are a parent. I remember the one that I put my dad through.

In the end, she was able to get some sleep and to express her understanding that, in reality, the request was kind of preposterous.

UGH. It was a very unfun and exhausting night here in the house. 

Aaand we have two guests staying overnight.
But it could have been worse.

Anyway, tonight, as I think about this daughter of mine, I am awash in love for her. She is fierce and sensitive. She is perceptive. She is unique as hell. She is breathtaking. She is electrifying. She is eloquent. She is strong and delicate. She is so exceptional. She is a freaking work of art! She has made me into the parent that I am today. 

In fact, she has made me into this person. Because of her I understand that beneath strength one might discover patches of exquisite delicacy. I have learned that the roaring storm of an exchange can be harmonized, moderated, beatified with an expression of pure love. An explosion and flash are covers for sensitive, discouraged, or contemplative. So much of these discoveries were news to me at one time.

Me learning to be gentle and observant and respectful of her needs has taken many of her childhood years, and she is aware of this. She knows that I try very hard to understand and respect her need to express herself in honesty and integrity.

My husband and I tried to help her through this discouraging night...I'm not sure we helped much. Sometimes you have to say No, even when you would love to say Yes. At the end of it all, I am sitting here feeling so proud of this young woman who calls me Mama.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like:

Challenging Teen, Redux
Proud Momma Moment:  My Daughter's Rant 
A Parental Confession

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Heart Outside of my Body

they growup too fast. parenting
Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.
~Elizabeth Stone

The other evening John and I were driving along quite late at night; he was nearly asleep leaning on the door. I asked him to check the lock on the door to make sure that the door wouldn't open suddenly. Instead of checking the lock, John opened the door of the car as I drove!

He was fine; he knew what he was doing; he had set out to scare me. It took me about twenty minutes to get my heart back to normal, John laughing at me the whole time.

It is an unexpected thing, really, to discover the immeasurable depth of love one has for their child. Becoming a parent is, in fact, a journey, a journey of unknown dimension.  Depth and breadth. 

In the beginning is that boundless fear of an unknown future looming over an uncommunicative infant. An infant who does not respond in any meaningful way for months on end, an infant who is take take take. 
A parent who feels abandoned of sense and reason. Then the moment, a sudden moment, an infant who laughs at some obvious stimuli. Everything changes that moment.

Life speeds up. Most steps are away. Life feels like spinning.
The heart of a parent speaks these words.

Can I read this poem to you. Let me cut your wisps of hair, worshipping the curls. Is there more to say? I will cut your dinner and clip your nails. I will hold you tight when it rains. Let me speak to you in the voice of your stuffed pink baby and we can discuss life and light. I will lay my cheek on yours and feel again the to and fro of the swing set. Gaze into my eyes with your secret smile. Sing with me in the words of childhood verse. Curl up in front of me and lay your head on my arm; I will comfort you and give you shelter. Be as free as a drop of water Let me say things that open your heart to something anew. Return again to the day when you jumped without looking. Grasp my hand and we will walk over the hill. I will lend you my courage.

I will leave the light on. Let us lay beneath the blue, blue summer sky and read poetry and prose together. Tell me all of your secrets. Put your head beneath my arm to hide from the fireworks. Believe again in the power of your dreams. Tangle your legs with mine as we read beneath the comfy coverlet. Believe again that I am omniscient. Can we catch fireflies and release them into the cool of the night? I will comfort you in the depth of your joy and your sadness. Can we talk long into the night and I will go into my room, close the door, and sob at the preposterous beauty of the past hour to your daddy? 

You grow up. You drop my hand.
I find it hard, the letting go.

You may also enjoy these posts:
Shooshy: Raising My Daughter
I'm the Good Enough Parent
Do You Know Who I am?
Moving Into the Light 
One of my Worst Days as a Parent

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Secularity and Sexuality and My Family

atheist pareting, daughters, sons atheist parent atheist parent
I've got to tell you, this is a subject I've been thinking about so much lately. Most grown ups grew up with had so many weird and awkward issues around sex. I, myself, had the virgin/whore dichotomy to deal with, which is fun. Also in the house that I lived in as a little girl were stacks of pornography in the house and magazine photos of naked women on the walls...but women were to remain VIRGINS.  So,  yeah, my understanding of healthy sexuality took me years go figure out.

Actually discussing sexuality was simply not done when I was a kid. Maybe it was the same for you.

And there is more. But that's all I'm going to say about that except for how determined I was to do it right for my own kids. 

I know you know what I mean.

While I was involved in the church I was always questioning things and I was always confused about why the authority of the church tied women's hands so much. I couldn't understand why only a very narrow definition of sexuality was considered OK. The church organizations that were important to me back then were incredibly rigid and prudish anytime the issue of sexuality was on the table. It kept me in the closet completely.

I remember one time I was working for the Catholic family services organization in pregnancy care and adoptions. The diocese newspaper called me as an agency rep for pregnancy care and asked me questions for a story they were writing. The story was about child care in high schools for teen girls who have babies, seems the caller was looking for the church's authoritative stance on the issue. So the reporter was asking me about it and I thought, HEY, great idea for those girls!  lol

A few days later I get a call from the director of the organization asking me to never speak to a reporter again.  LOL...sometimes I forgot that request and took several more calls from the diocesan newspaper office.

Leaving the church was a tremendous boon on my sexuality work. Figuring out that the church was the source of so much confusion and shame and absurdity actually made it so easy to question everything and to begin to work through so much of the crap in my head.

Move forward a decade or two and I'm married to an absolutely wonderful man who is on the same page with me. We are all for sharing knowledge with our kids as fully as possible with respect for their age...

Turns out I need more time to write about this important subject...stay tuned.

You might also enjoy these past posts:
Sex and God and Shame

Sex Ed
Why Do You Hate God?

Friday, May 1, 2015

To My Friend Jane, With My Apologies

atheist blog
In college I made friends with a young woman that I will call Jane. She was a perky, smiley person and her personality attracted me immediately. She had such confidence and this sparkle in her eye. We laughed constantly! We were very close in those days.

As the years moved forward life happened, stuff happened, crap happened. Both Jane and I had our life challenges. She was quite lonely for so long, sad and lonely, that is, and I was surprised and thrilled when she reconnected with an old friend and married him quite quickly. 
From my end I was thrilled for her. 

Those lonely years for her had been dreadful and painful and I watched her become more and more cynical, more and more angry, more and more bitter, really, more and more depressed. She was angry and hateful at times and I didn't understand that. I admit that there were many months when her negativity was so heavy and relentless that it overwhelmed me; I felt powerless to help her. I was going through my own difficulties and I chose to place distance between us at times.
Now all I can think of is how heavy and relentless that depression must have felt for her, rather than for me. 

Along came that brightening summer when Les (as I will call him) reentered her life. For the most part she was buoyed and renewed. Things were looking up for Jane but I don't think the depression really went away. She couldn't seem to enjoy herself. It seemed to me at the time that she wouldn't allow herself to see the good in life. She had a glass-is-half-empty way of looking at things. She would say: Life is always crap and it always disappoints you.

About this time my husband and I were planning our own wedding. We were blissfully looking forward and we felt that our relationship was a special one. We were tremendously optimistic.

Jane got pregnant about a year after she and Les married and they were quite happily anticipating their child...when the unthinkable happened. Les had a sudden heart attack and died, leaving a pregnant Jane on her own.

Jane's first words to me when Les died:  
See, I told you that life is crap and it always disappoints you.


I'm telling this story here because I failed my friend Jane.
I stuck around for another month or two after Les's death, then I disappeared. I told myself that it was because I didn't want to deal with her depression anymore. Inside I knew that a part of me was superstitiously fearing that I could experience the same loss, that maybe her loss could rub off on me. Whatever the reason, I disappeared from her life when she really needed her friends.

I often think about her and will, on occasion, look for her online. I don't know how to reach her. But, honestly, I feel that I don't really deserve to find her. 

It's one of my deepest regrets and one of my deepest shames.