The Thin Line

When you have little baby children, you think that things are very difficult.  You have to feed them, change them, and suck the boogers out of their noses with those little bulb things.  They cry and vomit and don’t sleep.  Life seems like one endless sucking maw of baby bodily fluids.  Oh, when will they grow up?

Then they become toddlers.  I’m far too tired this evening to recount the joys and horrors of raising toddlers.

Then they kind of go through a cool phase.  They get to be around, oh, seven or so, and from then up until around ten or eleven, or even twelve if you’re lucky, you get to interact with what appears to be an actual human being, in miniature form.  You do fun things together and talk about everything.  You are buddies.  You are best friends.  Furthermore, you are the coolest parent in the world.

Then they become teenagers.

Jack Sparrow Screaming

 

 

 

 

 

Suddenly, you find yourself looking back wistfully on those diaper changing days.  Needs of the body are easily met, but meeting the needs of the teenage mind is a problem that is unlikely to ever be solved.

My son is fifteen years old.  I know the child I gave birth to is in there somewhere, but some days I wonder if that little boy hasn’t been replaced by some alien from Planet Attitude.

Teenagers know everything. I mean, when did I miss the class in middle school that taught literally every thing about every topic and every possible scenario in the history of mankind?  Because teenagers certainly seem to know it.  They can argue about anything. They can argue with you if you tell them it’s raining outside.

Now I am starting to run into the real difficulties of raising teenagers.  Sure they are obnoxious and know-it-all and they never listen and the eye rolling thing, oh LORD don’t get me started on the eye rolling thing, and they are so dramatic that they could give acting lessons to soap opera stars, and they think their lives are just so tragic and no one understands them and their parents are totally lame and old and —–

Whew!

Sorry, I got carried away there.

My point, in case you forgot, was that raising a teenager has to be the most difficult parenting stage, hands down. The issue that I have been struggling with lately is privacy.

I’m an advocate for privacy.  I love my own.  I want my son to be able to have his space and set his boundaries and know that no one is messing in his personal business.  I can truly see it from that point of view.  It’s part of treating our children like adults.

But…….

Where is that line?  I want my son to be responsible and be able to have his personal space, but I cannot allow myself to forget that this is a fifteen year old boy that I am talking about! His decision-making capability at this stage is right on par with that of a hamster, or maybe a really smart potato.  I’m not singling him out!  I’ve known his friends since they started kindergarten, and they are all the same.  Remember when I said I thought maybe they had been abducted by aliens from planet attitude?  Actually, I think they have been abducted by Hormones, and the Hormones don’t care about consequences or mistakes or grades or anything like the future.  The Hormones care about one basic topic–sex–with many sub-topics, such as jokes, tv, games, videos, movies, all related to the main topic, which was, in case you forgot, sex.

So, what do you do?  Do you read all the texts?  Do you stalk the email and the Facebook pages? Do you snoop in drawers? Do you hire private detectives to track your child’s every move? (Just kidding.) ((Sort of.))

Help me, dear readers.  How far is too far?  My job is to be his parent, and I am going to push into those boundaries all the time, much to my son’s distress.  At what point do I officially become a stalker?

I’m all ears.

 


 

 

The Pinto Bean Fire Hose

I think my daughter is trying to kill me.

Melodramatic? Maybe.  But the fact remains.

It started off innocently enough.  She came home from school and things were as usual.  She ate when she got home, and she ate at dinner time.  She ate pinto beans, her favorite.  She ate a lot.  A lot. She ate some other stuff, too, but primarily it was beans.

I noticed she was fairly quiet, but it was close to the end of the week, and sometimes she is pretty much worn out by the time the end of the week rolls around.  Fine.

Let me offer a brief preface before continuing.  I have one rug in my house.  One rug. I have no carpet.  I hate carpet.  If I was ever to be elected as the supreme ruler of the universe (unlikely, my college days would haunt me) my first official act would be to ban all carpet from the planet.  I figure we could reinstate the space program just long enough to launch all carpet (especially shag) into outer space.  Anyway, there is no carpet in my house.  One of the primary selling features of this house was that it was one hundred percent carpet free.  But I do have that one rug, right at the top of the stairs.

(Note: I like to show off my literary chops whenever possible.  Have you picked up any foreshadowing yet?)

Bedtime rolled around, and I remarked on my daughter’s paleness.  My husband uttered the now infamous words: “I hope she’s not getting sick.”

She was.  She did.

At the approximate moment her feet felt the rug at the top of the stairs, her digestive system shifted into Full Reverse Thrust Mode.  Remember the pinto beans?

Yeah.

If you ever have the opportunity to see semi-digested pinto beans shot at high velocity from a fire hose, don’t.  It isn’t as fascinating as it sounds.

When my husband cried out “Bring a towel!” I knew we were in trouble.

As it turns out, one towel wasn’t quite enough.  The rug was a write off, as was every article of clothing both my daughter and my husband were wearing.  If I may, I’d like to pause for a moment to offer a little advice to all you new or soon-to-be parents out there.  You know how parenting is depicted on television commercials (usually for diapers) as this warm, fuzzy experience, with lots of smiles and gleaming white carpets and shiny counter tops?  And how even a “dirty” diaper isn’t really dirty?  Well, watch those commercials closely.  Hold on to them.

You’ll need some sort of pleasant memory to focus on when your child vomits into your cupped hands.

(Why do I do this?  When I see she’s getting ready to puke, why do I try to catch it?  Do I think, somehow, by holding out my hands I can actually stop the puke from hitting the floor?  Please, please tell me I’m not the only one who has this reflex reaction.  Some of you out there have done it before, right?  RIGHT?)

Anyway, the carnage continued throughout the night.  I did laundry all night long.  Once, I heard this lady I know talking about how all of her grand kids had a stomach virus at her house at the same time, and they were getting to the point where they thought they were going to have to start using curtains as blankets.  At the time, I thought this was a little odd, but after the other night, I see her point.  The puke mechanism was working much faster than my washing machine.

Also, my daughter has this uncanny ability to completely miss whatever pad or towel I put down in a vain effort to catch the mess (which had also migrated south, if you get my meaning.)  Seriously, there will be mess on every other available surface except the towel.

We survived, and the symptoms were actually pretty short-lived.  Of course, I suffered from PPSD (Post Puke Stress Disorder) for a day or two.  You know what I’m talking about–every time someone coughs or burps, you twitch.

And if you’re like me, you hold out your hands.

 

I’m linking up this week with a group of outstanding writers over at Yeah Write. Go check it out!

 


 

Why I’m Pro-Life (Put Away Your Labels)

I’m getting ready to break one of my own blogging rules.  I’m going to talk about one of the three forbidden (by me, anyway) topics.  I feel like maybe I should put some sort of disclaimer on here, but the fact is I believe wholeheartedly the things I’m getting ready to say, and I’m not going to start by offering conditions or exceptions to keep from offending someone.

I’m going to talk about abortion, and why I am against it.

Now, one of the reasons I don’t like talking about abortion is that it’s a very frustrating subject to talk about.  Why? Because as soon as I said I was against abortion, BAM!, many of you slapped a label on me.  You immediately assumed many things about me that, in reality, may or may not be true.  You probably assumed that because I am against abortion, you know how I feel and think about everything.  You probably called me a conservative, and you probably accused me of being in a “war on women.”

Let me start by saying I absolutely am NOT in a war on ANYBODY, and especially not women.  I am, in fact, a woman myself. (Who knew, right?) I love women’s rights.  I believe in equal pay for equal work, equal educational opportunities, whatever.  In fact, I truly believe that ALL people should have equal opportunities, just like those PC disclaimers say on job applications.  You know, “regardless of gender, race, religion,” etc.  I consider myself a very open-minded person, but sometimes I think you SHOULDN’T be open-minded.  In fact, when you know something is wrong, it’s okay to be close-minded.  I can be open-minded about having equal rights, because having equal rights is not wrong.

What I don’t understand is why we, as a culture, think that a woman having equal rights means she has the “right” to have an abortion.

There is really only one major reason I oppose abortion, but I’ll get to that in a minute.  For now, I’ll give you the minor reasons.  For starters, if you believe in God, can you honestly say He would support abortion?  This usually brings up the argument of when life begins, and therein lies one of my biggest complaints about the pro-choice argument.  Consider the following: if I was 26 weeks pregnant, and my baby died of natural causes, it would be a family tragedy.  The baby would be delivered with the utmost reverence and sensitivity.  There would be a funeral, and for the rest of my life I would speak of my deceased child.

Now, let’s look at this scenario in a different way.  Let’s say I decided to have an abortion at 26 weeks.  The baby would be aborted, and tossed out like a ball of used paper.  That’s it.  It’s over.

So it logically follows that, based on this example, it is the choice of the mother which decides whether the baby is, in fact, a living human or not.  This is quite a power given to mothers!  In fact, we are almost deifying women, because ultimately they are deciding if this baby is worthy of life or not!  I can’t go along with this.  It makes no sense.  We can’t have it both ways.  Be honest with yourself.  Is it a baby or not?

Another example for you to consider: if someone kills a pregnant woman, and the baby dies, too, our judicial system will charge the killer with TWO counts of murder.

This is why the pro-choice movement is lost on me.

Every single pro-choice person I have ever spoken to is so versed in political bullshit that it is frightening.  They start in on how it is impossible to legislate, and how pregnant women would have to register their pregnancies or some kind of crap like that.  They want to argue with you about contraception and sex education.  Smoke and mirrors, people.  That’s all.  Abortion is not a political issue.  It is a moral one.

And there is another problem.  People say you can’t impose your morals on others.  Okay.  Let’s talk about that.  What is ANY law but the imposition of the morals of others on the citizenry at large?  Marijuana is illegal, right?  It’s illegal to smoke it, grow it, and sell it.  However, there is a whole population of people who feel like this is ridiculous.  It’s my body–if I want to light one up, why is that anyone’s business?  Right?  The only difference is that the “legalize it” group doesn’t really have time to organize big demonstrations or anything.  They are all at the 7-11 buying pop-tarts.

But I digress.

My point was we all live by laws that are based on a certain moral code.  We all know you shouldn’t kill others, or cause them harm in any way.  So how can we exempt our most innocent from this basic right?  Don’t believe in God?  Fine.  Forget the “moral” aspect of it.  Let’s talk science.  A woman’s body, from top to bottom and all the way around, is designed for one purpose–to conceive, give birth to, and subsequently nurture offspring.  Sorry if that upsets you.  Blame millions of years of evolution.  Or God.  Or whatever force to which you attribute creation.  We are the only species who systematically destroys our own young as a matter of convenience.  The survival of any species hangs on the raising of its offspring.  Didn’t any of you ever watch “Wild Kingdom?”

By the way, please, please PLEASE don’t insult my intelligence or yours by saying “What about rape and incest?”  Look up the statistics of abortion and tell me what percentage of abortions are performed for those reasons.  Let me know what you find out.

Also, I’m not going to address people who think it’s okay for a woman to get an abortion because she finds out she is carrying a “defective” baby.  I have no use for this argument, and if someone believes this, I don’t want to talk to them, I don’t want to see them, and hopefully they won’t ever bother reading this blog again.

To make this a little shorter, I think we are on a dangerous, slippery slope.  We think we are qualified to choose who gets to live and who gets to die.  And what’s worse, we have allowed ourselves to be numbed to the horror of abortion by years of political language and media distraction.  We are inoculated against reality by phrases like “reproductive choice” and “the war on women.”  The truth, though, is that abortion is ugly.  It’s barbaric.  Look up partial birth abortions, which are perfectly legal in this country.  They aren’t common, it’s true, but they are still legal.  I won’t put the graphic pictures on here that show what abortion looks like.  It makes people angry, and disgusted.  It’s upsetting.

As it should be.

So here it is, after everything else I’ve said, the real reason I’m against abortion: it is murder.  Period.  Life begins at conception.  If not, when does it begin?  At birth?  Well, then we go back to that previous scenario I described.  And since I believe life begins at conception, I have to believe that the purposeful and willful stopping of that life is murder.  That is the most basic definition of what murder is–the destruction of life.

Don’t kid yourself.  The 55 million babies that have been aborted since Roe versus Wade were alive.  Way back in the beginning of my first pregnancy, I remember laying on the little table and listening to that thumpathumpathumpathumpathumpa that was my son’s heartbeat.  Make no mistake–that was my son in there.  The same one who is sitting over on the couch now, eating lunch.  The one with the coarse, curly hair and the gap between his front teeth.  That was him.  And if I had “chosen” not to have him, if I had “chosen” to get an abortion, it would have been no different than if I pointed a gun at his head right now and pulled the trigger.

Look at your own child–it’s the same.  Your spouse, partner, best friend, mom, dad–all of them, they all started just the same.

To those of you who don’t support abortion, but who feel like you shouldn’t tell others what to do, I would offer you this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from his Letter from Birmingham Jail:

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.  Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

And this one:

“More and more I feel that people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.”

For me, it all boils down to one thing.  Thirty six years ago, my mother was pregnant.  She was fifteen when she found out.  Abortion was legal.  She could have done that.  She could have finished school, went on to who knows what.  Instead, she quit school and got married.  She ended up divorced.  But still, she chose life.  She chose me.  That’s not all–the notion that our choices affect only us is self-centered and absurd.  Her choice has trickled down through the years, right up to this very moment.

133

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so glad the choice she made was the right one.

 

 

********I welcome and enjoy discussion and even debate.  But to all you trolls and antagonists, don’t waste your time and mine. 


 

Welcome to the Short Bus: No Jerks Allowed

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about people, and how they think, and what they think about others.

I’ve also been thinking about the short bus.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been reminded that being told you “ride the short bus” is an insult.  It means you are stupid or crazy.  But my daughter rides the short bus, and my sister always rode the short bus, and neither one of them is stupid or crazy.

So I started thinking, as I was standing outside and waiting on the aforementioned short bus with my daughter, that riding that diminutive mode of transportation is awesome.  Way more awesome than, say, riding a regular bus.  As proof, I have compiled a highly scientific and accurate list of reasons why the short bus is the coolest bus in the fleet.

  • The short bus has adult supervision.  My elementary age daughter is being watched over by qualified adults, not high school kids with piercings and dirty mouths.
  • My daughter wears an actual seat belt.  If the regular bus has an accident, your kid is going to be bouncing around like a pea in a can.  Sorry!
  • In general, the short bus drivers are kinder, more patient, and far more accommodating than regular bus drivers.  Sorry again!
  • Sure, the kids on the short bus have problems, but I’ve met the regular ed kids on the regular bus.  I think you’d better be more worried than me!
  • Yeah, some of them might lick the windows.  At least they aren’t making out with each other and “experimenting!”
  • Lots of them still color with crayons.  But they aren’t smoking cigarettes. Or drinking.  Good luck!
  • Most of the kids are dressed pretty conservatively, but I’d take that over the “gangsta” look, male skinny jeans, or the little girls who look like they got their clothing out of the discount bin at Hal’s House of Hookers.
  • The kids on the short bus have lots of issues, but my daughter will never tell me she hates me, hit me, roll her eyes at me, or call me a bitch.
  • Also, I don’t ever have to worry about my daughter coming home with a guy who looks like he just escaped from work release, telling me they are in LOVE and they are going to have a BABY!
  • Likewise, I don’t have to worry about her becoming the most “popular” girl in school, if you get my meaning.
  • I ALSO don’t have to worry about naked pictures of my daughter popping up on the Internet because of “sexting.”
  • My daughter and her peers on the short bus don’t judge people.  They don’t make fun of others because they are different, or use them as the butt of a joke.  They aren’t racists, bigots, or just general assholes.  They aren’t bullies.  In short (get it?), they aren’t jerks.

See, riding the short bus isn’t so bad.  It doesn’t make you stupid, or crazy.  You won’t catch a disease from riding it.  In fact, I’d take the short bus any day.  I’d climb on, and sit in the back, and as we passed the regular bus, I’d hold up a sign:

 

SEE YOU LATER, LOSERS!

middle-finger-retro

 

 

 

 


 

Mainstream Consequences

Have a look at this recent story on Nightline.  Even if you’ve already seen it, watch it again.  Please.

Since you hopefully just watched that, I won’t waste our time by going over all of it.  But I will recap.  Concerns are arising over some of the disciplinary measures being taken in public schools when dealing with kids who have various behavioral problems, usually kids on the Autism Spectrum.  The word “barbaric” gets used a few times, as you might have noticed.

As I was watching this, I was shocked.  And since I try to always be as honest with you as possible, I’ll tell you something else: nothing good could come from a teacher, or anyone else, using those methods on my daughter.  If someone shocked her as a punishment, I would have no choice but to do the whole Terminator thing and drive my f****** van right through the front of the school.  That’s all. Ditto on tying her to a table.

I try very, very hard to be an open minded person.  I know how difficult it can be to deal with behavior problems.  I know how impossible it can be to control these kids.  Some of them are big kids.  They try to hurt others, and they try to hurt themselves.  Even Evelyn, limited though she is, can really kick up hell when she wants to.  I know sometimes the only way to deal with her is just to not deal with her, if you follow.  She has to just sort of let it out, and I know the more I try to intervene, the worse it makes her.  You know how, when you are trying not to cry, and someone pats you or talks to you in a soothing voice, it makes you cry even more?  Same thing.

Anyway, as I said, I am trying to understand the thinking behind these extreme measures, and I always treat everything reported by the media with great suspicion.  I know a story can be twisted in many ways, and I know that we don’t know the back stories to these situations.

But they shocked that kid.  They shocked him.

I’ll tell you another one that got me: when the man was holding the little boy, and the boy’s mother was trying to get the man to let the boy go.  Ha, ha.  The man would have let my child go.  Oh yes.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not one of those people who think I can whip everyone’s ass.  Far from it.  I’m getting older and squishy and I’m getting arthritis in my fingers.  If I punched someone it would probably hurt me more than them.  But make no mistake–I’m not pushover, either.  I would get my child out of the arms of anyone restraining her against our will, or die in the attempt.

So, what is my point?  Good question.  After my initial emotional response passes, I don’t think those people using those methods are intending to be barbarians.  It seems to me like they are uneducated and inexperienced. They lack the knowledge, patience, and understanding required to deal with these kids.  Did you see the other school?  The Centennial School?  The one with all the kids with behavior problems?  Did you see how good the teachers were at dealing with the kids, and how caring and informed the administrator was?  If you missed it, watch the video again.  Pay attention.

Has anyone caught up with me yet?

Want to know how we go to this situation?  Want to know how things got this far out of control?

Mainstreaming.

They even mentioned it in the video, though they never addressed it directly.  But it’s there.  I’ve talked about this before, but I think it bears repeating.  Let me make it as clear as I can: this is the kind of shit that happens when you put special needs kids in a “regular” education environment! Regular ed teachers cannot provide the attention needed for a special ed kid and the other fifty kids they have to teach to take tests.  It’s not possible, and I don’t care how fabulous the teacher is.

You know what it is?  It’s babysitting.  That’s all it is.  Glorified, really expensive baby sitting.  A bunch of politically correct bullshit that makes everyone feel “good” that these kids aren’t being segregated or made to feel different.

Here’s a frickin’ news flash, which I have flashed previously: they ARE different! All of the wishing in the world won’t change it.  I can put Evelyn in the regular ed classroom until the end of time, and she still won’t be a regular ed student.  What could she possibly get out of a regular ed classroom?

From what I can tell, about 60 volts.  Or maybe tied to a table.

I find it amazing that my own state of West Virginia is among the seventeen that have laws in place to protect children from this type of extreme discipline.  Maybe there is hope for us after all.  Otherwise, there are no federal guidelines.  I guess it’s a sort of “anything goes” type situation.

But the bottom line is this:  it will only get worse.  The increase in behavioral disorders is astronomical.  Where do we go?  What do we do?  I don’t know the answers to those questions, and I don’t pretend to, but I do know one thing.  The answers will not be found inside a mainstream classroom.

And remember, if you hear a news story about some parent parking her van in the principle’s office, send me a prayer.


 

Equal, but Different, Part 2 (Finally!)

I’ll just jump straight into it, shall I?

When you start talking about what a woman should and shouldn’t do, and Feminism, and Equality, you’d better be ready to make some people mad.

I’m ready.

This post is not about what I’ve read or what science or statistics tell us.  It’s about what I’ve observed during the course of my life, and what I believe.  I already told you what some statistics suggest and what the various arguments are.  I’ve had some wonderful comments, all of which were honest and adult, and all made excellent points.

First, I’ll start by saying that I think equality is very important.  If I decided to go become, say, a college professor, then if my experience and qualifications are equal to my male counterparts, I should get paid equally.  We should be treated equally.  This seems like common sense to me.  Equal pay for equal work and all of that.

Here’s the thing–equality is great, but just because you can do something, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do something.  I could go to work tomorrow if I wanted to.  But I don’t.  I want to stay home and take care of my family.  Why?  Because–gasp!–I think that is my job.

I said it.

I am a woman.  I don’t think my husband is better than me, but we are different, and I don’t just mean in all of the obvious ways.  Some of the comments suggested that they didn’t want to go back to the little wifey being tethered to the house, but it’s not about that. It’s about responsibility.  When I elected to become pregnant and have babies, it became my responsibility to take care of those babies.  I’m sure someone will say they have ten kids and all ten are by different daddies and they were all raised in daycare and now they are all attending Ivy League schools.  Great.  But the truth is that no one can take care of my kids the way I do.

No one.

Every time I go to the store, I see some little old lady with a little kid.  When Evelyn had her last 24 hour EEG, there was a three-year-old little boy having one in the next room, and it was his grandmother who stayed with him.  Now, I don’t know what the situation might have been, and I guess I’m passing judgement, but the fact remains that if I hadn’t been able to stay with my daughter during that test, well, the test would have been rescheduled until I could have.

I know some people need that second income,  but let’s be honest–sometimes it’s to maintain a lifestyle, not to provide necessities.  And sometimes, it’s just because a woman couldn’t imagine being “tethered” to the home.

That’s what pisses me off the most–the fact that somehow working women are more impressive than me.  They are juggling a career and a family.  But sometimes, I think they are dropping the ball.

Even as a wife, I find myself in support of a more traditional role.  I do most of the cooking and cleaning and laundry.  My husband is a wonderful partner, and all of my teasing is just that–teasing.  He is a wonderful father who has never turned up his nose at a poopy diaper or a vomiting child.  He is an excellent cook, and he enjoys cooking from time to time. We are a team, and I couldn’t function without him.  But ultimately, he’s the provider and I’m the stay at home mom.  And I like it like that.  Know what?  I’m better at being the wife and mom, because for whatever reason you want to believe–divine design, evolution, whatever–women are made for that role.  It fits.  I feel very comfortable and safe with my husband.  It’s silly, but I feel like nothing bad can happen when he’s with us.

For some reason, the family seems to be under attack in our society.  It’s no big deal to get a divorce if things get tough.  It’s perfectly acceptable, even desirable, to have sex with as many people as possible, with no attachments or responsibilities.  If you wait to have sex until you get married, people make fun of you.  Women are constantly lamenting that there are “no good men” to find, but I wonder if they ever stop and realize why.  I would love to know their definition of a good man–it seems like it might be a man with no opinion of his own that cleans, cooks, and expects absolutely nothing in return.  Conversely, I think men are so disillusioned that they want a hot little woman who also has no opinion and waits on them hand and foot and has sex whenever he wants with no physical expectations of her own.  It’s not so hard to figure out why half of all marriages end in divorce, is it?

(There is a whole other topic here, about how in our modern society we are raised to be always right, and how we cannot bend even a little, and so all of our relationships tank.  I’ll just skate on past that for now.)

I see husbands and wives who not only don’t get along, they seem to actually hate each other.  The way they talk to and about each other is mind-boggling.

Then there is this whole other topic of teen pregnancy.  I live in an area where this is a huge problem, and it was even when I was in high school a hundred years ago.  Scroll back up and read about granny taking care of the babies–that’s generally what happens.

I’m not even going to touch on the pressure that is on women to look a certain way.  I wonder what modern Feminists think about that?

This has been quite rambling, and I’m sorry.  Here’s the heart of it all–modern women are supposedly enlightened, empowered, and ready to take over the world.  The crux?  Just about every modern woman I know is unhappy.

Out of all the women I know, I would say 95% of them take some sort of mood stabilizing drug.  That’s a conservative estimate.  Many are unhappy with their relationships, they can’t control their kids, they’ve been divorced, they hate their jobs, they are totally unsatisfied with the way they look–the list goes on forever.  So if we are so empowered, why are we so unhappy?  You’ll have to figure that out for yourself.

I’m not going to kid you–sometimes I get unhappy, too.  I have a naturally dark, moody type of personality.  I always have.  But the things I worry about are different.  I worry about my kids, and if they are going to be okay.  I worry that I won’t be able to protect them forever.  Some people might think I’m overprotective, and that I hover over my kids.  An acquaintance of mine made the comment during a soccer game a couple of months ago that I was a little overprotective.  I bit my tongue and just smiled, but what I wanted to tell her was that I thought she was little too permissive, and that I wasn’t comfortable dumping my kids off somewhere and then heading in the opposite direction as fast as I could go.  But I digress.

So–long, long story a little shorter, I do think women are selling themselves short by trying to do everything.  I think it’s okay for a woman to stay at home and take care of her home and her family, and she should be able to do that without feeling bad about it, or feeling unimportant.  I think it’s okay to embrace being a woman.  I don’t want to do everything that a man does.  I think my job is just as valuable, maybe more so.  I’m better at it.  Sure, it’s hard sometimes, but that’s okay–I was made for it.

What about you?

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Gotta Go–My Shows Are On

Well, it happened again.  I watched the news.

This morning I had the great joy of hearing that some Democratic strategist has criticized Ann Romney for being a stay at home mom.  The strategist, Hilary Rosen, said that Ann could be of no use on economic issues because she had “never worked a day in her life.”

Now Rosen is trying to backtrack.  Apparently thousands of stay at home moms have tracked her down and left their children with her.

No, seriously, Rosen is backtracking because even the president stepped up to defend Ann Romney by saying that being a “housewife” (my word, not his) is a tough job.  Now Rosen is saying that she only meant that Ann Romney was a wealthy woman who had nannies and such and so never had to deal with the real economic and social concerns of the typical American woman.

Too little, too late, bitch.

The truth is, she’s trying to cover her own ass now because she is getting such a backlash, even from the president of the United States.  I feel quite sure, as a working woman herself, Rosen absolutely believed what she said.  She thinks that because a stay at home moms like myself don’t contribute to the economy, we don’t know anything about it.

This is a very sensitive subject to me.  With the modern economy, it’s very hard for a lot of families to make it on just one income.  I realize that.  We were in that situation a long time ago–before we had kids.  Once I found out I was pregnant, I decided that being the primary caretaker for my own children was more important to me than maintaining our lifestyle.  We downgraded our vehicle and tightened our belts (which were already pretty tight.) I haven’t been back to work since.  I always thought that when the kids were older I might go back to work, but then the reality of Evelyn’s life came up, and then I started caring full-time for my sister, and there you go.

But this isn’t about the fact that I have to stay home now.  It’s about the fact that I wanted to stay home to raise my kids.

I think lots of people actually believe stay at home moms are less than their working counterparts.  They think we don’t have a real life, and that we don’t contribute to society.  I wonder how many people still have the notion of the old-fashioned “housewife?”  Since I love lists so much, allow me to demystify the life of the modern stay at home mom in list form.

  • I am the money manager in this house.  I have a great grip on the economy, although I apparently don’t contribute to it.  I buy the groceries, make the payments, and balance the checkbook.  Even though my husband earned the money, we both still take care of it. (See the next point.)
  • My husband and I don’t have “our own” money.  If we couldn’t trust each other with money, then we had no business getting married.
  • I have never had to worry about what my kids were being exposed to and who was taking care of them.  I’ve never paid for child care.  Here’s another little myth imploded for all you working folks out there: my kids are not so attached to me that they can’t be separated from me.  They have never slept with me.  My son had zero anxiety about going to school, because I raised him with self-confidence.  He has never been afraid to spend the night with a friend.  So there.
  • My husband and I are partners. I don’t serve him because he brings home the paychecks.  He has always been an active parent–he changes diapers and bathes and feeds.  Yes, I do most of the housework.  Know why?  Because I want it done a certain way, and the best way to ensure that is to do it myself.  Also, I do happen to think that because I’m the one who is here all day, it’s my fair share to do it.  It doesn’t hurt me.
  • I don’t get to sit and watch soap operas all day.  In fact, I don’t sit much at all during the day.  I do most of my sitting at night, after everyone is in bed.  I would imagine that’s when “working” moms get to sit down, too.
  • I do get stressed, and sometimes I feel isolated, but I’m not sure going to work every day would alleviate either of those problems.  I would go out on a limb and say that it might even make them worse.

I could rant all day long about this, but I won’t (you’re welcome.) The short version is this: forget about June Cleaver, and forget about the housewife laying on the couch, watching “General Hospital” and eating bonbons.  Also, I’m not going to make rude generalizations about working mothers, although I certainly could.

I have a great job.  I get to care for the people who mean the most to me.  Maybe I don’t get to dress up every day and go out and “contribute” to the world.  Instead, I contribute to my family.

I think that’s okay, don’t you?

Not So Qualified

*In honor of my one year blog-a-versary, I decided to share some vintage (not so) Special material.  This was my first official post of the blog.  Maybe my new readers will enjoy it, as they surely haven’t gone back this far into the archives.  And if you’ve already read it, maybe it can make you smile again!  Thanks to all my faithful readers!

 

The Grandmother occasionally reads little tidbits out of the newspaper to me.  The other day is was a piece about some woman who had been arrested for doing some ghastly thing to her own child. The Grandmother made the comment, “People should have to take a test to make sure they’re qualified to be a parent!”

A few days after that, upon hearing that I was homeschooling, the comment was made to me, “Oh, I don’t know if I’m qualified to teach my own child.”

That got me thinking…….

Qualified. Webster defines this as “fit; competent.” That got me thinking even more–am I qualified to be a parent? Consider these following points about yours truly.

  • I once searched for almost forty minutes for my cell phone. My son, upon realizing what I was looking for, told me to call it and listen for the ring. I did, and I heard it ringing……..from inside my pocket.
  • I have served, as the main course of a meal other than breakfast, Lucky Charms.
  • I have told my children to shut up.
  • I have lied to my children because a) I wanted them to do something they didn’t want to do, b) I didn’t want them to do something they wanted to do, or c) simply to get them to be quiet and leave me alone for a few minutes.
  • I have let the television babysit my children.
  • I have a drill sergeant’s philosophy about shouting–I never shout, I just speak in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear.

I will not even get into the background stuff before my children were born. This is a blog after all, not a confessional.

Anyway, would I qualify? Let’s just say it’s a good thing there isn’t a test. The stuff back there is just the tip of the iceberg. I have a list of faults a mile long. Yet, somehow, I have been entrusted with not one, but two little people to raise into functioning adults. Better still–one of them is a special needs child who is dependent on me for everything.  Needless to say, it makes me nervous.

It doesn’t help when I am confronted with the uber-mommy. You know the ones I’m talking about. Where do these women come from? They always have their hair fixed and their make-up on, and they are always dressed in cute little outfits that have those sweaters with no sleeves or whatever.  They craft and scrapbook and they fix three nutritious meals for their families every day. I expect they churn their own butter.

Meanwhile, I’m home pouring Lucky Charms into a bowl and yelling at my kids. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? And yet…..my kids seem pretty happy and well-adjusted.  We’re a pretty close family, and there really isn’t a whole lot of drama here.  I don’t seem to embarrass them too much yet.  I think the key might be love. More than that, I think the key might be loving your children more than you love yourself.  That is where a lot of people fall short.

I’m almost absolutely certain that I wouldn’t officially be called fit or competent to raise another human from birth into adulthood, but I’m struggling along every day and doing the best I can. It’s worked out okay for me so far.  I’d love to share with you some of my success stories, but right now I can’t. I’ve got to go look for my cell phone.


 

The Apple Has Fallen

Parenting comes with lots of responsibilities.

They can range anywhere from minor (getting them to guitar lessons) to major (trying to teach them right from wrong.)  I homeschool my son, but in a sense, all parents are teachers.  From the moment your child is born, you are teaching them.  If you stop and think about it, it’s pretty scary.  Especially when you consider the fact that some of us aren’t really qualified to teach a dog to heel, let alone teach a child to live!

Regardless of qualifications, here we are.  I’ve been trying hard for the last twelve years or so to raise children that don’t cause people to run and hide in their closets when they see them coming.

I’ve been thinking about all of the similarities between me and my kids, and especially me and my son.

He and I spend a LOT of time together.  Literally almost ALL the time, really.  And it occurred to me that it doesn’t really matter what you try to teach–your children live their lives based on how you live yours.

And I thought just teaching them was scary!

I won’t say my son is exactly like me, because that wouldn’t be true.  He has so many good things that I don’t have.  Some of the things I’ve tried hard to teach him have stuck.  He is almost unbelievably open-minded and accepting.  He has great compassion.  One great aspect of his personality is that he has a tendency to see things in a very black and white way.  He doesn’t let people be wishy-washy.  He has this, “Okay, what’s it going to be?” thing that I can’t really explain.  And yet, he also has the ability to be very diplomatic.

Sometimes, though, I look at him and it’s like looking in a mirror.  It’s not looks I’m talking about–people say he looks like me, but I can see his dad in so many of his features.  He was spared my nose, thank God, and has his dad’s mouth (literally–figuratively it’s mine, believe me.)  But his mannerisms and expressions are so like me.  The little things he comes out with sometimes shock me, not because they are shocking, but because they are exactly something I would say.

In short, I’m a role model.  If that doesn’t alarm you, then nothing does.

While seeing my little expressions on my son’s face is amusing, it makes me hyper-aware of all those faults that I desperately hope don’t become a legacy.  I so much don’t want him to suffer from the same self-esteem issues that I’ve suffered all my life, so I have to watch making negative comments about myself.  My tongue tends to be sharp, and bitterly sarcastic at times, and already I’ve had to call him down for that.  I tend to worry obsessively over things, and agonize over decisions.  It can be crippling.

One of the worst things I see–a corpse floating to the surface of the old gene pool, if you will–is my supernatural ability to hold a grudge.  Oh! How I’ve tried to let this go over the years.  Though some would disagree, I’m sure, to me this is my worst quality.  I sometimes walk purposefully into  a room only to realize that I have no idea why I went in there in the first place, but I can tell you with photographic clarity some mean thing someone said to me in elementary school.  Really.

And I can see my son doing this, as well.  I can see the way he holds on to things that people do or say to him.  Heaven help you if he washes his hands of you, because he will never let it go.  When he’s finished with someone, he’s finished.  Period. I can’t imagine a greater motivation to improve my own life.  I never cared much about myself and how I turned out, but I’d do anything–even change my old hard-headed ways–to make my kids into decent people.

Of all the responsibilities of parenthood, this role model thing is by far the most serious.  Our children absorb everything we do or say.  Others will influence them throughout their lives–peers, teachers, relatives–but never doubt that you are the one.  Take a good look in the mirror–that face you see looking back out at you?  That will be your kid in a few years.

You’d better make sure you like what you see.

 

The (not so) Perfect Comeback

Don’t you hate when you can’t think of a comeback to some jerk until long after a confrontation?

Most people who know me would probably imagine that I don’t have any trouble snapping back at someone who snaps at me.  They would be right.  Most of the time, I don’t.  I have my share of flaws, but I’m usually pretty quick-witted.  I can give a snappy answer when it’s called for–and sometimes when it’s not!

But I’ve had my weak moments.

I don’t know why I started thinking about this story all of a sudden, but it’s been on my mind all day.  I guess I’ve just been admiring all the things my daughter can do now, and how far she’s come, and it made me remember a man who told me none of it would ever happen.

Our medical journey with my daughter has been a long one.  I won’t go in to all of that.  The abridged version is that we made several trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, and during the last one, we had our first appointment with a developmental pediatrician.  We had never seen one of those before.  I asked the neurologist out there why we had to see him, and she said, “Well, he specializes in development, so maybe he can give you some idea of Evelyn’s level of development and what you might be able to expect in the future.”  I should have been immediately skeptical, but let me give you some insight into my mental and emotional state at that point in time.

I was a wreck.

That was our fifth trip to Minnesota.  My daughter couldn’t walk or talk.  She was around three years old, but she had the cognitive ability of a little baby.  I was running out of options to find out what was wrong.  She had been tested for everything.  No answers.  No diagnosis.  Worst of all, no hope.  I didn’t realize it then, but I guess some tiny part of me was thinking that if someone could name what was wrong with her, maybe there was something that could be done to fix her.  All of that was coming to an end.  In addition to the Mayo trips, I had also spent a total of 31 days in Bethesda, Maryland, at a special therapy center that worked with non-verbal kids to try to train their brains to learn speech.  It was a wonderful thing for lots of people, but, naturally, it didn’t work out for Evelyn.  In short, there really wasn’t anything left for us to do.

So we went to the appointment with the developmental pediatrician.  I’m not going to name him, because in a minute I’m going to call him an asshole, and I don’t want anyone who might know him to find out he’s an asshole–you know, in case they didn’t already know.

I have no idea what the man’s face looked like.  I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.  I don’t think he ever looked me in the eye.  But I will never forget that room, or his stupid gray suit or his stupid maroon tie, or the stupid red leather couch in the office. He went through her chart and asked me a bunch of questions that had been answered eight million times already.  He asked me about the therapy in Bethesda.  Then he did some standard developmental pediatrician tests on my daughter.

He showed her shapes and colors and tried to get her to match them.  She couldn’t.  He gave her a pencil and asked her to write.  She couldn’t.  He watched her crawl, but not walk.  The best test, though, was when he showed her a block and then put it behind a little plastic wall on a table.  The idea was that she would reach around the little wall for the block–this is the concept of object permanence.  Evelyn tried to move the wall to get the block.  He had his hand on it, and wouldn’t move it.  Evelyn looked at me with that little look she has, like she was saying, “Can you believe this asshole?”

No, seriously, she just grinned at me then quit trying for the block.  She didn’t really give a crap about that block, so she stopped trying to get it.  He made another note on his little clipboard and went back to his desk.  He wrote for a few minutes, then gave me his expert opinion.

To paraphrase, he informed me first and foremost that therapies like the one in Bethesda were a waste of money and basically a scam for gullible people.  He also told me that Evelyn was profoundly retarded, and that she probably always would be.  She also would surely never walk.  My one and only contribution to this monologue was to squeak out, “But she’s pulling up to things now,” to which he replied, “Well, she may walk with assistance, but never on her own.”

And that was it.

Now, there are lots of things I should have said.  I should have told him to take a long walk off a short dock; to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine; to screw himself; to take a flying….well, nevermind.  I also should have told him that I didn’t realize developmental pediatricians could predict the future with such startling accuracy.  How could he sit there after fifteen minutes and tell me all of these things about my little girl?  There were lots of things she couldn’t do, but she had come so far, and there were tons of thing she could do.  Against all odds, she had learned to roll over, then sit up, then crawl, and she was pulling up to things.  Yes, it took her much longer than it took most kids, but that didn’t mean she would never do it!  Then I should have stood up, picked up my baby, tossed my head, and marched from the office.

I didn’t.

I didn’t march from that office.  I slouched out.  I skulked, like a beaten dog.  I felt like that.  He had just given voice to all of the worst fears in the deepest, darkest part of my heart.  He had crushed me–crushed the heart and soul right out of me.  I trailed all the way back to the hotel room, got Evelyn a snack, and sat on the bed.  It was a low place.  I was alone–Evelyn and I had flown out by ourselves, and she was already asleep.  I couldn’t tell you if it was raining, snowing, thunder, a tornado, anything.  I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t even do that.

I pulled myself together after a while, and talked to The Grandmother and Matt on the phone.  I told them the gist of what the DP had said, and we took turns abusing him verbally.  It didn’t really help, but it was nice to call him a bunch of dirty names.

I’ve heard the word “vulnerable,” but in all honesty, it’s not really a word that applies to me very often.  Looking back, I can see that it was appropriate then.  He was literally kicking me while I was down.  Once we got home, life went on, and I was able to start moving past all of the things he said.  Oddly enough, it was Evelyn’s regular neurologist that made me feel better.  Lots of people aren’t crazy about him, because he has a tendency to be very frank, but that’s the very reason I like him.  I admitted to him what the DP had said.  He snorted.  Literally.  He said, “How does he know what Evelyn will be doing in a year from now?  I regret you had to see him–developmental pediatricians are like tits on a boar.”

I swear, he really said that.  It made my day.  As time went on, I wished more than ever that I had told him off, and I even wrote a very strongly worded letter.  I never mailed it.  In a way, I didn’t want to admit to him how badly he’d hurt me.  But I think he did me a favor.  He gave a face to the enemy.  He gave us something to fight against, and, more importantly, something to fight for.

So, Dr. Barberisi? You can kiss my ass.  Oh, and Evelyn can walk now, so it should be pretty easy for you to kiss hers, too.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...