Saturday, July 31, 2010
I'm just so excited about it I can hardly stand it.
I'm nervous about it too.
I was almost looking forward to a little hiatus from the keyboard. Almost. Even the mere thought of taking a break has made my brain start churning out more and more topics than I can normally think of. I have 6 or so waiting in the wings already.
Interesting, my motivation, don't you think?
Anyhow, I'm not about to squander this opportunity to be taken seriously by someone who doesn't even know who I am, who is willing to take a chance on me, who appreciates my writing from afar.
So, I will keep on keeping on.
Which is just the way my life is anyway these days. No break.
No downtime. No blank thoughts. No free moments. Nope.
One of my random gifts in this world is that I can juggle. I know, right?
Let's see just how much I can keep up in the air at one time.
Friday, July 30, 2010
It came in the mail from Netflix while back and it's been sitting on top of the tv. I avoided watching it for a while because I just knew.
It would touch a nerve. A raw one. It would be hard to watch.
Heartaching and heartwarming, all in the course of 136 minutes.
Don't misunderstand me....it's a good movie. Just hits a little too close to home right now is all.
It's the kind of movie that I think I just might remember for the rest of my life. Not just for the movie itself, but when and where I was when I saw it. What was going on in my world at the time.
There have been other movies like that. E.T., The Goonies, Ghostbusters, Ghost, Groundhog Day, and this one. (And no, I don't think it has anything to do with the unusual number of G named movies, though that is a bit strange now seeing it written out.)
Each of those movies remind me of a time in my life. This one will too.
Which is so clearly a lie. Everybody is most certainly not fine. Not in the movie, and not in my world. But the point of the film, so far as I could see though my tears is that even with all of our flaws and harsh truths, even with our failures and disappointments, family makes it better. Or at least it is supposed to.
It made me think about things. About my life. About my choices. About my relationships. About the complacency of people with the things that are really important until it's too late. About the consequences of our actions, our words. About what might have been.
It made me think about how I, as a parent, will look back on this time in my life someday and wonder if I did the best I could. Will I expect too much? Will I push them too hard? Will I be disappointed in them? Will they resent me? Am I making the right choices?
Part of the movie that touched my soul the deepest was that the father in the film envisioned his very much grown children as still being kids. He still saw them as children. And I wonder if I will do that myself. And I wonder how old they will be when I envision them that way. I wonder if Aidan is already past the age I might imagine him to be.
Then I wonder, and to some degree I know, whether my own father still sees me that way now. In his eyes, at least sometimes, I am still just a little girl.
Maybe it's better that way.
I think that it is.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
For instance, when you ask how someone is, but then are so wrapped up in your own thoughts that you stop listening as they are telling you...perhaps you never really cared how they were in the first place.
Or when you are giving your undivided attention to your cell phone, ignoring the living, breathing human beings around you after you'd told them just a sec, I have to take this.
Or when someone offers to help with something, except when it comes to the details they are suddenly too busy or preoccupied or scatterbrained to be of any use. That's not exactly helping.
Truth is that the vast majority of people don't really care how you are. Or if you need them to be present and engaged in the now. They are all too wrapped up in themselves. Too busy, with whatever else.
And just food for thought...when you say sorry to someone, it should never, ever be phrased as a question. Either you don't know what you are sorry for, aren't sure that you should be, or are just saying it because you think the other person wants you to. Clearly, you don't mean it.
So just don't bother.
Monday, July 26, 2010
Which made me chuckle a little.
It made me remember how I used to torture myself the same way that she did, even after I knew better. How I'd sit and watch those tv programs about pregnancy and labor. How I'd be on the edge of my seat as the mother started to feel the first twinges of pains, how I'd wait through the commercial breaks to see if the baby was okay.
Most women know which shows I am talking about. The ones with the cheesy music and the creative camera angles and the requisite drama in every episode. Those ones.
Here's the thing. Those shows are just that. Shows. Real labor isn't like that at all, even though the shows supposedly are portraying real life. They aren't. They are heavily edited real life, which isn't real life at all.
How do I know? I mean, aside from being a mother who has birthed four children and a doula who has witnessed the births of many more? Well, I know first hand, actually. I was taped for one of those shows.
When I was in labor with Ashley, they were filming Maternity Ward at the hospital I delivered at. I wasn't so much in labor as refusing to leave the hospital until the baby came out, truth be told. I'd been contracting all night and I knew that if I left, labor would fully kick in at any moment, and that when it did, I'd have to be at the hospital already or I'd be giving birth on my bedroom floor or in the car, neither of which sounded appealing.
I'm known for fast labors with insane progression and almost no time pushing. When a baby wants to come out of me, it wants out now.
So, given my history, the doctor opted to keep me there and break my water since that was safer than the alternative. Of course, I was deemed high risk since I had gestational diabetes (diet controlled) and she was a little less than a month early. Que up the dramatic music...will this mother get through labor safely? Will the baby be okay?
I was settling in to my room and not particularly uncomfortable when the producer for the show came in. He was all excited, since my labor was sure to be a dramatic one. With risks and speed, it had to be, right? For some reason I don't fully understand, I agreed to let them film me. Maybe deep down I knew that the shows were misleading and maybe, just maybe my labor could help communicate more reality in their show. Who knows?
The doctor broke my water and not much happened. They hooked me up to pitocin (the devil's contractor, I call it), and within mere seconds full blown labor arrived. I was talked into sitting on the birth ball and was managing the contractions fine. Never mind my friend sitting in the corner eating a sandwich and Tom doing squats at the foot of the bed to make me laugh...they sure weren't helping, those two.
After a short while, the contractions got stronger and closer together. I was still fine. I warned the nurse to prep the room and she looked at me like I was crazy. Then she checked me. And then she believed me. Asked if I needed any pain medication. Nope. Even on pitocin, she asked? Nope.
Chaos ensued. The doctors and nurses came in, the techs prepped all the stuff, the transformer bed transformed and in came the camera crew. At some point, my parents arrived and were trapped in the room by the onslaught of other people. Plus, I'd drawn a crowd. Every free nurse on the floor was peeking her head in the door. It's not every day you see a mom on pitocin go without an epidural.
I remember telling them to hurry up. The baby was coming, and I wasn't waiting to push. I was breathing and talking and not freaking out. I did yell/scream that one time, when she crowned, but that was about it. She was fine, though they took her to the NICU because of her gestational age for observation. I was fine.
Later that day, the producer came in and broke the news. I wasn't going to make the show. Though I'd had great potential, I hadn't come through for them. I didn't scream and carry on like a woman without an epidural was supposed to. I didn't have birth trauma, and the baby was fine. I had a fairly uneventful labor, and apparently that isn't tv worthy.
Normal isn't worth watching, at least not in the eyes of the producers. By extension, the only stories that make it on to those shows are the ones that aren't normal. Think about the ramifications of that for our generation of women, those who have sat and watched these shows with our first babies thinking they would tell us what to expect.
So, to all the women out there watching these shows now, keep my story in mind. The shows aren't really an accurate picture of reality. Normal and uneventful aren't exciting enough to make the cut. It's no wonder most women go into labor nervous and scared. When you look at how it is portrayed as compared to how it really is, there is a huge disparity.
Reality isn't exactly reality. I know, first hand.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
In my prior life, I worked in risk management at a large teaching hospital. I did a lot of physician eduction. One of the topics I researched for that was antenatal, perinatal and postnatal death of the baby and the traumatic impact on the mother. I found repeated studies citing that the emotional devastation for a mother is roughly equivalent no matter whether the baby passed in utero or within the first six months of life. I can't speak to that comparison personally, and I don't know how anyone could even quantify that kind of thing, but the studies were consistent. Mothers mourn the loss of their babies deeply, wholly, universally.
As a doula, I have helped mothers through losses. As a friend, I have listened as others cried on my shoulder or on the phone. And as a woman, I know how that void in my heart aches.
I've written here about the fact that I consider myself to be the mother of five, not just the four children here with me now. Before all of them, there was another. My first.
As part of the roller coaster that was my life in the year 2000, I lost a baby. At the doctor's appointment that should have reassured me that everything was okay with the pregnancy and the baby was healthy, the opposite was confirmed. A day shy of 12 weeks along, I was told that my baby had died.
My experience with that loss was a terribly isolating one. Even if you know in your brain that pregnancy loss is something that happens often, and chances are that it has happened to someone close to you, it doesn't matter. When it happens to you, you feel like the only person in the whole entire universe who has ever felt this way.
You feel like no one could ever understand.
And there are days and nights when you aren't sure that you can go on. For me, it happened more at night. Daytime was bad enough, but nights were endless torture. In my dreams, I'd hear the baby crying and wake up to the reality that she was gone.
The truth is, every loss is different. Even if two women lose a baby at precisely the same stage of pregnancy, even if they both deliver stillborns, even if they both lose their precious babies after birth, they will never ever experience the same loss.
Every single loss is painful and real.
We might be able to describe how we felt when it happened to us, but we cannot know how someone else feels. We may be able to sympathize with them, but we will never feel the depth of their sorrow.
I know that many well-intentioned people tried to help me back when I was going through it. I wanted to be left alone. I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't want people to look at me with their sad eyes. I didn't want people to feel like they couldn't laugh around me. I just wanted to be left alone.
I suppose that the point of my writing this is to give advice to those out there reading. Intentions are all well and good, but please be aware of every single word that comes from your lips. As someone who has been there, I can tell you that the vast majority of things people said to me felt like salt being rubbed into an open wound. Offer to listen, offer a shoulder. But don't offer advice.
When the heart of someone you know breaks this way, there are some things you should never ever say to them.
- Don't tell them that this is part of God's plan. You might think that, and they may even on some level, but right now they don't need someone else telling them this. It opens the floodgates for all kinds of angry feelings, and questions...like why wasn't God's plan for this baby to be with me?
- Don't tell them about every person you've ever known who had a loss. They don't care. It doesn't matter right now.
- Don't tell them it was better that it happened now, versus later. It isn't.
- Don't tell them that it is good that they are young and can try again. That doesn't make it hurt less.
- Don't tell them that they will have more babies someday. None of them will ever replace this one.
- Don't try to console them with medical terminology and reasons why it happened.
- If you have had a loss yourself, realize that their experience is different. Don't compare them.
If you find yourself experiencing a loss, know that however you are feeling is okay. There are many stages of grief, and none of us spend the same amount of time in any one stage. We all cope in different ways.
If you need help, reach out to someone. More women than you can imagine have been down that painful road.
People really are trying to help, and they don't know the ability of their words to hurt.
Having been through a loss myself, I know that it fundamentally changes who you are as a person. As a woman. As a mother. In some ways I think it makes you appreciate everything a little more, to have lost before.
Understand that men deal with a loss quite differently than we women do. Like, night and day differently. It cannot ever be the same. It isn't their body. And though it may have been their baby, it will never be as deep of a loss for them as it is for you. I found it hard not to be angry about this distinction, but with time I accepted it.
My angel baby would have been ten years old next week. Everywhere I go, she is with me.
In my heart, I am the mother of five.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I also lack the ability to say no. I'm trying to learn, but it's hard.
Usually, it doesn't bother me. I really and truly believe that if you need something done, ask a busy person. I happen to usually be busy, and I usually get things done.
I've put a lot on my plate lately, which isn't really anything new and different.
I'm just in a different place right now. And I don't much care about a lot of the things I need to be caring about. That I'm in charge of. That other people are depending on me for.
I've been this way before, once. I can remember with vivid detail the first day I went back to law school after Tom had been diagnosed with cancer and had emergency surgery. I walked into class, criminal law, and I just didn't care. Life was different now, more important. And the rest of it, the stress of school and everything, it just seemed manufactured and artificial.
I no longer worried about being called on by the professor and not being prepared to answer every single possible question they could have posed. I didn't stress about getting a certain grade. If I didn't get my assignments read, I'd catch up or I wouldn't. But the world wasn't going to stop turning either way.
I got over it eventually, to some degree. I never went back to the person I was before though. And in a lot of ways, I wish that I would have just stopped going to school all together.
That place I was in then, it's a lot like the place I am in now. Difference being, back then all I really had to worry about was me. And Tom. And school.
Now there are so many other things.
And this time, they matter.
Friday, July 23, 2010
It's a good one.
It's a dual speed glass canister shiny red metallic Oster. Damn.
If blenders can be sexy, and I will make the argument that they can, this one is wearing stilettos.
I got it as my Christmas gift from my brother a few years back when my cheap pathetic excuse for a blender died. It didn't go out as dramatically as my cheap pathetic excuse for a hand mixer....that one was thrown out the door into the snow bank one winter afternoon after it caught on fire.
Lesson #1 to be learned here: don't buy things with cheap motors in them that you plan to use a lot.
Lesson #2 (and no less important than lesson #1): you can put just about any liquor and any juice in a blender with ice and make an awesome drink.
Have I told you how much I love my blender?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Everyone, it seems, needs something from me. Needs me to do something. To be something. To fix something.
And then there is the matter of all of the things that I wish I had the power to change.
That list, it grows.
I posted on facebook a few days back that I wish that for a day things could go back to the way they used to be. But then I would miss them more than I already do. God, is that the truth.
What I wouldn't give to turn back the hands of time. To un-do things I have done. To un-make choices I've made. To right the wrongs of the world. To warn my past self of the things that would come.
I'd like to have the chance to spend more time working on relationships, some of which have suffered as of late, others which have been made stronger by the cruelness of urgency.
I'd go back and tell myself to worry about the things that matter. Forget the rest.
But I can't go back in time. Even if I could, I'm not sure that I'd want to. Especially if it really was impossible for me to change the course of events. Then I would just miss it more.
My way of dealing with all that I have on my plate right now is to imagine embodying the concept of serenity.
I've been repeating the Serenity Prayer to myself a lot lately. Not because I am a terribly religious person, but because it brings me peace. I think one can be wholly spiritual without the building and rules, but I suppose that is a topic for another day.
God grant me the serenity to change the things I cannot accept, to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Sometimes this comes to me in the middle of the sleepless night. Sometimes as I stare off into the glorious sunset. Sometimes when I am rocking my baby to sleep.
Sometimes it comes to me in peace. And other times I feel like I am screaming it, much like they used to on Seinfeld.
I have to keep my sense of humor.
Serenity now, insanity later.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
It doesn't take much to make me happy, really.
I'm not needy. I'm not terribly picky. I don't need fancy things. I don't need gourmet meals. I don't need expensive bottles of wine or $10 martinis.
Don't get me wrong, I like them and all. Won't turn them down. (especially the $10 martinis....seriously, they are divine.)
But I don't need them.
Give me a chair and some sun and a nice cold beer.
I got me some of that today.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have only about a million things I want to write about but won't.
And sometimes it's hard to think about anything else.
In the spirit of won't, here's something else I won't do. I won't eat anything without smelling it first. Nothing. Nada. Just. Can't. Do. It.
I think that it's a survival mechanism I developed as a baby. When I was about four months old, I spent quite a while in the hospital. I got food poisoning from a jar of Gerber baby food and just about died. There were many babies that didn't make it.
I say that this quirk of mine is attributable to the food poisoning incident because I have had it for as long as anyone can remember. Like, even as a baby I did it.
It isn't something that I developed when I got older and became aware of food borne illnesses. It isn't something I started doing when I realized where meat came from or when I started cooking for myself, though those are both pretty good times to pick up a habit like mine. I've always done it.
It's something that anyone who has spent any measurable length of time with me has noticed. It's pretty obvious, I suppose. And it's not just the first bite of something, the rest deemed safe in my head. It is every single one.
It's also something that drives my husband crazy. I'm always throwing food out. The second anything upsets my olfactory sensibilities, it's outta here. Even the food that he and his nose deem perfectly harmless. Out it goes.
I know I'm strange. But at least I can make the argument that I have a good reason. I did almost die once.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
That's a lot of lies.
If you really think about it, you quickly realize how much we require lies to function as a society.
Of course, it could just be that I am sitting here watching The Invention of Lying right now. The somewhat amusing premise of the movie is that the world is full of people incapable of lying. No one, no how lies. Ever.
Imagine what the world would really be like if that was the case. Scary, really.
If people asked you how you were, you'd have to tell them. For real. Without sugarcoating or hiding behind fines and okays.
If someone wanted to know what you thought of their new haircut, good lord, you'd have to be honest. You couldn't just say that it looked great while you secretly made a mental note never ever to go to that salon again.
If someone offered you cake at a party and you tried to tell them no, that you didn't really want it because you were on a diet or whatever, you'd instead be cramming that delicious combination of sugar and butter into your mouth. Because you know you want it.
If people asked you to do them a favor and watch their rotten little demon children, you'd really tell them no. And then you'd tell them why.
On a larger scale, we would really know what happens in our government, and those around us. We'd know who did what to who and why.
We'd have answers to all the questions asked by conspiracy theories.
Our history books would actually contain history, rather than the version of events that the writers thought best, or the school board approved of.
The world would be a very different place, that is for sure.
In a twisted way, as this movie points out, lies help our society run a little smoother.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Since we've been in Colorado, it's been in town a couple of times, but we've never really entertained the idea of taking the kids. Back when we were in California, it came around more often, but we stayed away.
There are lots of reasons I don't like the circus, not the least of which is that I don't like how the animals are treated. I suppose that an argument could be made that the animals are used to performing and being poked and prodded, being confined in tiny little enclosures and all that. I'm sure they are used to it. But that isn't a justification in my opinion.
The circus has lots of animals performing silly tricks, dangerous stunts, things that make you say wow. I sensed, even as a kid, that the animals probably weren't very happy there.
There are always allegations against circuses for the mistreatment of animals, and every so often an animal rebels. Like the time that elephant killed her trainer then took off running through the streets of Honolulu. Apparently, she had enough. For a little while, society decides that maybe circuses aren't a good idea. But it seems like people always start to go back eventually.
We humans have terribly short memories.
So I don't much like the circus. As a result, I don't want my children to like it. I don't want them to see what is done to the animals and believe that it is acceptable and normal. I don't want them to think that people should be able to put their heads in lions mouths or that elephants like to dance.
I want them to appreciate the beauty of animals without seeing them turned into sideshows. I want them to learn to quietly watch deer and moose in the mountains. I want them to stare up at the sky in wonder as hawks and eagles fly overhead. I want them to learn about the power and grace of animals as they are in the world, not as humans would make them be.
As if the whole animal treatment issue wasn't enough to keep me away from the circus, there are so many other reasons. So many.
Like the smell.
Seriously, who likes clowns? I mean really, who? Maybe from a distance they can be amusing and silly to watch, but up close...they are just creepy. Even the ones that aren't intending to be creepy are creepy. I've never understood the appeal of them. I don't have an irrational fear of them or anything, I just don't see why they can't be funny without the strange makeup.
You don't need gobs of goo smothered all over your face to make balloon animals, do you? 15 people in a little car is funny just on the merits, so why the costumes? Walking a tightrope takes skill that people appreciate already, why make little kids have nightmares about your face?
There are a lot of people with an actual, diagnosed fear of clowns. Coulrophobia. Experts think that it might be something that starts in infancy or very early childhood. When children are that young, their growing brains are still trying to sort out expressions and human emotions. The exaggeration of a clown's makeup, and the fact that their expression often is the opposite of the emotion they are portraying just confuse babies and kids. The youngest kids know instinctively that there is something very wrong there. It can be downright terrifying.
Sometimes scary people pretend to be clowns, which just lends more credibility to the fear. The Joker portrays himself that way in the fictional Batman stories. Steven King once wrote about a monster named Pennywise. John Wayne Gacy pretended to be a clown in real life.
Clowns are scary. My kids don't like clowns, and I can't say I blame them.
Just another reason not to go to the circus.
Don't send in the clowns. We're good, thanks.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
F. I. N. E.
It's not a bad word, but it's about as bad as one could be without technically fitting the bill. It's used probably every day by most of us. It's a harmless little word, really. It's definition conveys that things are okay, that though they might not be great, they aren't terrible either.
The definition is wrong.
When someone tells you that they are fine, they almost never are.
But it's easier to believe that we are. It's easier to let other people think that we are. Life is messy enough as it is, so why make it more so by being honest about how we really are feeling?
Sometimes we are fine. And sometimes we aren't. But we, as women in particular I think, tend to use that word far too often. Someone asks, we tell them. Sometimes we grit our teeth together and hold back tears and we force a smile when we say it, but we say it nevertheless.
Why do we do this?
I suppose the simplest answer is that we do it because we have to.
I have too many little people depending on me. I need to be fine. I need to be okay. I need to function. Even when I want to curl up into a ball and cry until there aren't any more tears left. Even when I want to scream at the top of my lungs and throw things. Even then, I am fine.
I need to be strong and steady and constant. For them.
So I am.
I am fine.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I'm not so sure about that.
I think that particular belief is something that we have conjured up to make ourselves feel better when really terrible things happen. To soften the blow. To make it hurt less.
Here's the thing though, I don't buy it.
Because, honestly, so many things just don't make sense to me right now. And there can't be an explanation in the universe that would suffice.
People I love are hurting and scared. And there is virtually nothing anyone can do about it. What reason could there possibly be for that?
People I love are mourning the loss of a child, which is probably the most heartwrenching thing a human being could endure. There is nothing that makes sense about that. Nothing. I don't care what you say.
I'm in a bad place right now.
Whatever you do, don't try to reassure me right now. Don't try to tell me that everything happens for a reason. It doesn't.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Tomorrow may be a better day. One can hope.
Thanks for understanding. xoxo
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Can I just say YAY and thank you!?!? And I love that you even used the little button on the top of the page to do it. :)
So, being as I have a herd of children, I've had a fair amount of experience with sibling rivalry. It's one of those unpleasant realities in life. As soon as you have more than one kid, it is absolutely, 100% inevitable. It just is.
Sure, there are things you can do to make it worse. Things you can do to make it better. But you can't ever make it go away. It just is.
I'd like to make the argument, though, that it is better to have siblings than not. Not just for children when they are children, but for children when they become grown ups. For all kinds of reasons, having a sibling is just a good thing.
Sibling rivalry is one of those things that evolves with children as they age and mature. It ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes. Sometimes it seems to be virtually nonexistent. Other times it seems a constant, nagging force in the universe, persistent and cruel and unfair, dictating everything about their relationship with one another.
Not that I claim to be an expert by any means on the subject of parenting, I have learned some things along the way. I haven't parented teenagers yet, particularly of the female variety, so I know that I will learn many more lessons in the years to come.
Having said that, I am a sibling. I have a brother. Save the 16 months and 9 days at the beginning of my life, I've never been an only.
Here is what I've learned so far.
* You cannot treat children the same. The reason for this is that they are all so very different from one another. What you can do, however, is treat them fairly. It takes practice. A lot of practice. It really is all about perception. Fairness cannot be measure in dollars, minutes or rewards. It's more abstract than that. Again, it's about perception.
* Older children get more privileges and responsibilities. Not because you love them more or like them better. Because they are older. Period. Realize that the more kids you have, the more relaxed you will be about time frames for things with the younger ones.
* Younger children get more attention from mom and dad because they need it. Babies and toddlers aren't functioning independent people. Older kids might not like this reality, but it is what it is.
* Share or put it away. This goes for just about everything. If you bring something out into the common areas of the house, the expectation is that you will share. If you do not want to, go play in your room.
* Each parent needs to have some special bond with each child, independent and away from the others. Whether you have two kids or six, you need to do this. It gets hard when a parent and a child have nothing really in common. This is where you, as the conscious adult, need to find something. Whether it's a hobby, a sport, a craft, a chore, a trip, you need to find something. Then you need to do it. Not just try. Do it. Wishes and hopes and promises are negative in the eyes of a child unless they are fulfilled.
* Spending special time with each child needs to keep happening, even when there aren't obvious tensions between the kids. When the ones not included feel excluded, reassure them that you will have your time with them soon. And stick to it.
* Try not to compare the kids to each other. They are different, and any comparisons just set them up for conflict. Never ever use words like, "Your sister doesn't do this", or "your brother was younger than you when he...". It is one thing to reference their behavior with your expectations for their age or grade, but another to hold them up against one another.
* Give them their own space, and let them use it. My girls shared a room out of necessity for a little while. It was a horrible mistake. They couldn't be more different than night and day. It was bad for everyone in the house when they shared the same four walls. We sacrificed our home office and bonus room to give each of the kids their own room. If you truly have no other options but sharing, make sure to set clear boundaries. What must be shared, what may be kept separate. Ensure that each child gets personal alone time without being bothered by the other.
* Vice Versa. If your kids are engaged in any kind of sports or activities, the others will inevitably spend lots of idle time waiting and watching. Make sure the waiters and watchers aren't always the same kids. Give each child opportunities to participate, and make all of them take turns with idle time. Teach them to watch each other, to cheer for each other's teams, to be interested in what the others are doing.
* Let them sort out their own disputes. Really. Micromanaging is exhausting and pointless. Worry about the big stuff. Set general rules about arguing. For instance, I have a rule that if they can't agree to take turns on the swings, everyone is off the swings for ten minutes. I don't stand there and time them, telling them when to switch.
* Help them help each other. A little sibling might be able to reach something under a cabinet, an older one might be able to sound out big words better. Encourage them to ask one another for help, they will surprise you.
* Don't expect too much from anyone. They are kids. No matter how old they are, they will have times when they don't listen, get moody, and so on. Again, it just is.
* Worry more about teaching them kindness towards one another than anything else.
* Realize that acting out, including towards siblings, might be a cry for attention. Your kids are most assuredly not being bad just for the sake of being bad. Negative attention is attention none the less, and kids often resort to that when nothing else works.
* Understand that no matter what you do, there will always be issues between them.
Even with all the conflict, it is worth it. Even if there are days that you are convinced that they will grow up to hate one another, chances are better that they won't.
Without siblings, we would all be on a journey through life as the only child of our parents. And that's a journey I know that I wouldn't want to take.
Monday, July 5, 2010
We all drove over to the other end of town, not sure whether the city would go forward with the fireworks show as planned. It was raining pretty steadily.
At some point, prematurely, we decided it wasn't worth waiting since they weren't going to shoot them off. And we left. Of course, we had just pulled away from the fairgrounds when the first one went up.
Rather than just going home, I thought maybe we should try to get a spot really quick up at the golf course. There is a little secluded driveway through it that overlooks the town. It was a long shot, but worth a try. As luck would have it, there was room up there. Technically we were in a no parking zone, but since it was pouring we didn't even turn off the engine, let alone get out of the car.
We sat there, listening to the distant booms and echoes, the rain hitting the roof of the car. For almost thirty minutes. It was beautiful and peaceful, though a little surreal to be watching fireworks in the rain.
I don't know what it is about fireworks. They make me cry. Always have. You should see me at Disneyland. I turn into a sobbing mess. It's that bad.
And this year, like so many others before, I cried.
Sitting in the rain. Wishing that someone far away could see what I saw.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
It was actually one of the things on his list of reasons to move to Colorado.
I'm not quite sure how fireworks came to be associated with the 4th of July, but it seems the two go together like peas and carrots now. Really flaming hot peas and carrots. According to wikipedia (which I sometimes doubt), they had fireworks at the first Independence Day back in 1777. I guess the men of our great nation have always partnered celebrations with blowing stuff up.
I'm a bit partial to the holiday myself. Up until they banned fireworks in California, my Dad liked to blow stuff up too. Then we would have BBQs and make the trek to the football field at the school. We'd sit and watch the same exact show year after year and it never got old. Same dancers, same music, even the same skydivers. There was the one year a skydiver landed in the crowd. That was different, I suppose.
We'd spend hours standing in line just so we could sit out there roasting in the sun to get the best view of the fireworks. Which, by the way, also was the same show year after year. So much so that the recording got a bit harder to understand each year.
Tom and I met just a few weeks before July back in high school, and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I fell in love with him on the field that night.
When we lived in San Diego, before we had little people, we did some cool stuff on the 4th. My personal favorite was the year we took a dinner cruise and watched the fireworks from the water. After Aidan came along, we would take him down the embarcadero and watch the fireworks in the harbor. There were about four or five shows, all synchronized to music. It was pretty awesome. Man, I miss San Diego.
The year we moved here, five years ago this week, there was no 4th of July. We had other things to do. That first year after we moved, we were actually back in California for the 4th. And we went to dinner with my family, then we all sat on the top of the hill together and watched the same show we always had. My kids (some of them anyway), saw the show I grew up with. And I cried tears of happiness that night.
Since we've been in Colorado, Tom has gone out to buy something to light on fire every year. Whether we watched a professional show or not, whether we were home or with family or friends, it makes no difference to him. He just wants to blow stuff up.
I swear it must be a guy thing. I just don't care.
His brother, TJ, is a firefighter. And this happens to be his very most favorite holiday. Not because he is getting paid overtime to work today, though I am sure that has something to do with it. He loves it because it's his job to collect illegal fireworks. And all that illegal stuff has to be destroyed by responsible members of the fire department. You get where I am going with this, right?
Even the men trained to put out fires....they still like to light em.
Happy 4th of July. Stay safe. And keep all of your fingers.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Nothing is further from the truth.
I know it won't last for long. At some point, my children will decide that the opposite is true. That I know nothing. That they know everything. It's an inevitable part of adolescence, and not one I am particularly looking forward to.
Back when I was in that stage where I thought I knew everything, I was a real hand full. I questioned everything, challenged constantly. I'm sure I drove my parents crazy. I am sure that I looked like a fool back then. Pretty sure I was one.
The thing about life is this: the more you see, the less you know.
Maybe that is why people who've never had kids are so damn good at giving out advice about them. Maybe that is why people who've had very few struggles of their own in life seem to be the most flippant about those that others endure. Maybe that is why it seems like you have to be young to be idealistic.
Once you've been around the block a few times, it gets harder and harder to be that way.
I've seen enough that I have learned to embrace the fact that there are a great many things in this world I don't know anything about. I've learned that all the knowledge in the world sometimes cannot make sense of the things that happen. I've learned that the things I most often know the least about are ones that I once believed I knew.
Someday, eventually, my children will figure this all out. I don't know how long I've got left before they doubt me. Until they decide that I know nothing and they know it all. Probably not as long as I'd like.
Then, for a while, they will believe that they know it all. Until one day they realize they don't. By then, though, they will probably have children of their own. That whole circle of life thing.
I think in a lot of ways, having children has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life. Someday, for them, it will be too.
In between though, for a while, they'll know everything.
Friday, July 2, 2010
My front porch. My refuge these days. I always wanted a house someday with a big giant wrap around porch. The kind with a swing and tables and chairs and plants and latticework. With flowing vines and pitchers of lemonade. Somewhere that I could see myself growing old someday.
My porch now isn't the one of my dreams, but for now it'll do. It has come to serve an important role in my life.
For it is here that I sit, more and more often these days. Alone.
It is here that I ponder my universe. Where I think and over think. Where I try to find answers to problems without solutions. Where I dream of what might be. Where I wish for what should be.
Here is where I have watched a mother bird try build a nest. She moved on from my porch, but built somewhere nearby, and today I watch as she teaches her babies to fly. There are five of them. Oh, that mama bird. Sometimes I think she was sent here for me. I think in some ways she is me.
Here I sit now, listening to the gentle rustling of the leaves. Amazed at how fast this cottonwood tree we planted four years ago has more than doubled it's height. The plants I skeptically put in the earth as tiny bits of nothing now fully grown and mature.
Here is where I am now, alone. Waiting for another storm. The storms that seem to come without regard to what I want or need. The storms that, at least so far this year, have not been followed by a rainbow.
I can handle the storms. But I need the rainbows too.
Here I sit. The wind picking up and changing directions. Swirling around my head. Forcing the mama bird to reign in her babies. The storm that was just trying is now doing. And here I am. Waiting.
I can face this storm. I just pray and I hope that there is a rainbow on the other side.
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