Saturday, May 28, 2011

6 months and 1 day: A Letter To My Daughter:

Sweet Elsa:

Your 6 month mark nearly passed without notice as your brother got his tonsils out the day before.  He's a big ball of hurt and energy and he occasionally pokes at you in passing.  Please know that this violence is a form of love - unrestrained interest wrapped up in boyhood.  Also understand that the really big but not as big as Mom and Dad person who tries so hard to care for you exactly like we do - she's your sister.  And yes, she let you fall backward and bonk your head, but she loves you with a depth I don't quite understand.  And it, too, is awesome.

The cat has just taken notice of you - likely because he's an old man and only wants to be loved. He walks past you on the floor and dips his head down to rub yours and it's so cute I want to snuggle you both, but I realize you're all spit and he's all claws and that's a very dangerous combination.

Today I want to thank you.  Not for sleeping through the night or what have you - but for making me realize, through our journey to get you and through these last past six months - what luck - what a random lightning strike parenting is - and how I ought to be damned grateful for it.  My other two children came easily to me and my biggest failing as a parent, probably, was taking that for granted.

Of course this doesn't mean you'll be showered with gifts or spoiled rotten - but you might well be gifted with a mother who seeks daily to make herself worthy of this crazy random happenstance.  I want to be a good mom to you - and your siblings - now that I realize what a randomly assigned miracle you all are and how many people in this world would give anything to have just a small piece of what I have.

So thank you.  I'll never say that the long journey to you was a fun experience - but I WILL say that it was good for me in that it made being a mom matter to me in ways I never really anticipated.

So here's to the first six months.  Let's push on into the next half of the first year and please, as you grow, remind me of all of the growing that I need to do.

Friday, May 27, 2011

When Facebook goes wrong. . .

Awhile back, I wrote this post wherein I identified our family's new mission statement as: To be focused on peace, discipline, and simplicity. I continue to struggle with what it means to act under this new mission.  How can we focus our lives on peace, discipline, and simplicity?

Recently, based on some interactions I've had on Facebook, I've gone through a bit of reflection on social media and the internet as a whole - what it contributes to my life and whether, in the end, it's good for me.  Obviously, blogging and interacting online is a hobby of mine, but in the end - does it contribute?  How so?  Can it be better?  Can I ensure that it only adds to the peace, discipline, and simplicity in my life?

I have long been a member of a private group of ladies who came together with common loves:  Parenting and Debate.  They are a fantastic bunch who have, over the years, grown to be much more than internet friends.  Real friends.  Several years ago these real friends came to me - many of them privately and gently encouraging me to reflect upon my online persona - and how that online persona handled and treated them which was - I'll admit it - very poorly.  Our mundane conversations about how to hang the toilet paper or children's developmental milestones unfolded for them one side of me - while our conversations regarding potential hot topics unfolded an entirely other me - one who was combative and rude, that made personal attacks rather than focusing on ideas.  This persona was doing grave damage to my friends' ability to enjoy my presence in their lives - and many of them encouraged me to do a little soul-searching. Awhile later, after we experienced our first of what would come to be four miscarriages, I began to engage with another group of awesome women - ladies who held my hand and walked me through one of the toughest periods of my life.  And Facebook - a whole other world of positive influence, allowing me to foster relationships I'd let die on the vine and unearthing new commonalities among old friends.

Unfortunately, over these past few years an uglier side of social media has come to my attention - one that greatly disturbs the peace in my heart, mind, and household.

The uglier side of social media - of course - that negative online persona rearing its head among those I love.  My friends encouraged me several years ago to remember that if I would not say something to a person's face, I should probably not type it and let it loose on the web.  And they are right.  I try hard to abide that now - particularly when I disagree with someone.  This has allowed me to deepen and expand friendships with ladies with whom I have serious political and parenting disagreements - but with whom I have other awesome connections.  But not everybody follows this rule.

Some people seem to be more open with their judgement, meanness, and bigotry online than they ever would admit to in real life. Or worse, our conversations simply haven't covered that material and they might actually say some of the horrible stuff they post on Facebook to my face. 

Of course the solution to that is obvious:  on internet message boards, utilize the "Hide" feature and eradicate that person from your internet life.  On Facebook, simply defriend them.

But what do you do when those people are family?  How do you interact with them on the behemoth that is Facebook without taking some of the things that they say personally, particularly when those things are meant to be taken personally or violate what you consider to be some basic rules for living?

And ultimately:  How do I reconcile those interactions with my quest for peace, discipline, and simplicity?

So, you know, THAT happened. . .

(Please note, this post was originally written on 5/5)

Last weekend, THAT happened.  And please don't misunderstand me when I say that while good is not the adjective I would use, I think necessary is the right word.  His presence on this planet increased the likelihood of bad things happening to the people of the world and his absence makes that a little less likely.

So, you know, cool.

But now I struggle with how to reconcile my internal fist-pumping "YAHOO!" with what I want to teach my children about people, about forgiveness, about being a good Christian - or not even from a Christian perspective - about being a good human.  About the root of goodness.

Believe me when I say it's a struggle to reconcile that initial jubilant feeling with the subsequent moral heaviness of what it means to be a person who joyfully celebrates the ending of another life.  It's led me down a road wherein I examine my current stance on, say, the death penalty.  Even abortion.  And I think that a little moral inventory is good - necessary - and important for human growth.

While I was doing all of that and exploring the moral issue of torture (which inevitably arises in the wake of this event, thanks to "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"), I was told by someone who I love very much that my cynicism in the face of torture is "pathetic. Sometimes you guys make me just want to throw up."

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm cleaning the basement . . . so. . . NEW RULES:

If it's on the floor of the basement in a messy pile, I don't care how much you *say* you love it.  I get to trash it or give it away. Precious things are treated with care.

If it's broken?  Trash.

If it was produced before 1990 and it's NOT memorabilia?  Trash or Goodwill.

If it was produced by you, I'll take a photograph of it before I trash it.  I love you and I love the things you make.  I love them more on photo DVD.

If it hasn't fit for one full season?  GONE.  Also?  Those tattered princess dresses are only going to make your baby sister feel like a loser.  Let's start over, ok?

And for the rest of the world:  I. Hate. Our. Basement.  'Nuff said.
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