Sunday, January 17, 2016

Blog-o-phobia

I have blogger block. Oh my goodness. My fingers are tapping on the table, wishing to be keying out words, sentences, paragraphs, and glorious complete thoughts! At one time blogging was my artistic outlet. Recently I feel very self conscious. So, as an exercise, in hopes of getting through this, I will tell you why- or what I think is why.

Last year I started going to therapy. My thought was, I'll go to therapy, talk about how hard Royal is, get some tips on how to deal with him, and learn how to be an amateur therapist myself.  That way I could be a therapeutic parent and not have to take him to therapy (something he hates). 

But oh, the best laid plans... A proverbial expression used to signify the futility of making detailed plans when the ability to fully or even partially execute them is uncertain. (wiktionary)

What really happened was, within five minutes I burst out crying and listed off all the reasons why I shouldn't be seeing a therapist: My life is really great! I have everything I've ever wanted! I'm a great mom! I'm a smart person! I love Jesus! Is this some sort of mid life crisis? Does being 40 suck this much for everyone?

Phase one: Over the next few weeks I blamed everything on my mother- because, you know, it's therapy. Then my therapist quickly (and gently) diagnosed me as lacking "empathy."  She said, "Of course this is hard for you, you need to use empathy everyday with Royal and Ena. This doesn't come naturally to you so that makes it exhausting." Oh! Yes, true.

Phase two: I blamed everything on my husband (sorry honey). If he weren't so (fill in the blank), I'd be so much happier! Now up to this point I'd mostly avoided talking about Royal (my reason for therapy). I just couldn't, I was really good at avoiding. And anyway, I had so many other previously unknown issues to talk about, there was no time.  

Phase three: I finally got around to talking about Royal and Ena. I think part of my avoidance was that I thought she'd say all the same stuff I already knew (about attachment, and trauma, blah blah blah) and then I'd be frustrated. Instead, because she'd gotten to know me pretty well by then, she was able to talk about how we could function better together. She did give me some tips on how to help them and how to be a therapeutic parent. Goal achieved!

(Keep in mind phases 1-3 never really ended, new themes wove in, old themes resurfaced, but overtime I definitely saw progress! Which brings me to phase four.)

Phase four: Facing myself. "If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change." So true Michael, so true. The reality is, I can't blame my mom. I'm a big girl now. My mom, like most mom's, did the best she could and she loves me. She's a great mom! I also can't blame everything on my husband. I try, but know I'm responsible too. The biggest and most dramatic progress I've made is learning to be empathetic. I love the definition of Empathy from Psychology Today, "Empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling."

It struck me a couple months ago that when Jesus said, "Love you neighbor as yourself," he was asking us to put ourselves in our "neighbor's" shoes, to not judge them, to just love them where they are. This is empathy.
 
I'll admit, my new found empathy (desire to love others just where they are and constantly remind myself that each person is doing the best they can) hasn't been easy. I've always been an avoider - conflict avoider, emotion avoider. I didn't even know this was a problem. I thought of it as one of my strengths! Anyway, now I find myself crying, and wanting justice for the underdog, and wanting equality, and having my feelings hurt, and wishing people were just nice to each other, and getting angry when I just want to be kind, and not knowing what to do with it all. I'm like a toddler learning to walk, all wobbly. My hope is that with practice I'll have strong empathy legs that can walk and run without all the stumbling.

And this brings me to my writers block. All the stuff I so adamantly, loudly and confidently proclaimed (often on this blog) now makes me feel yucky and small. I've acted like such a know-it-all. My world is not so black and white as it once was. I don't have all the answers anymore but I'm doing the best I can. I like it a lot better this way.

“...sometimes when we are beating ourselves up, we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, "Man, I'm doing the very best I can right now."  ” - Brene Brown, Rising Strong
 



 


Monday, December 14, 2015

My Year in Books

This year I discovered Audible (audible.com). I love escaping into a good book but have found it hard these years to sit long enough to get through a single page without interruption or falling asleep. Now I play my book on my phone, put it in my pocket, and go about my work.  When I'm caught up in a good book I look forward to dishes, laundry, and driving kids around because these are all times to listen! Harrison said, "Mom, you've become a caricature with your self-help books constantly playing..." Ya. So?

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
I love how Cheryl tells her story.  She's completely vulnerable and unapologetic about her journey, her past mistakes, her life. If only everyone had the confidence to be so truthful.   

The Girl on the Train, By Paula Hawkins
I listened to this totally inappropriate-for-a-13-year-old book with my thirteen year old on a road trip to Oregon. I said things like this to him while listening, "Why did K------ think this book would be okay for you?" "Consider this your education on bad adult morality." "Omg, this book is addictive!" And it was and he agreed so we kept listening. We still talk about how annoying Anna voice was, and what a great plot twist the book had. 

For the Love, By Jen Hatmaker
Why does Jen not live next door to me? She's funny, has adopted kids, drinks wine, and likes decorating. We'd be great friends. This book was a great reminder to take life one day at a time, be kind to yourself, and put effort into friendships. I really want my very own Super Club. Looking for members. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,  by Marie Kondo
This was easy for me to love. Anyone who says, "Throw it away!" is my friend. I'm always at war with our material goods. Marie gave me that extra push (and step by step plan) to organize once and for all.  I'm not yet done with my de-cluttering- it will take more that the prescribed six months because I have seven other people in the house who need to deal with their own stuff (It's a rule. I can't get rid of stuff that isn't mine).

Jesus Feminist, by Sarah Bessey
Sarah gives a whole new meaning to the word Feminist and I like it! She grew up in a remote town in Canada with newly Christian parents who didn't know anything about women submitting to men or women not being allowed to preach, or that a woman's place is in the home. She had quite a shock when she went to a conservative bible college in the USA. In her book she makes a great argument for why women are equally loved by God, are free to speak and preach, and that Jesus was the forefather of this movement. Right on Sarah.

Rising Strong, by Brene Brown
The queen of scientifically explaining the power of vulnerability did it again.  Read this book. I want to be a social scientist when I grow up.

All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
So I still haven't finished this and I started it before The Girl on the Train. The language is beautiful, the story is beautiful, but it's heavy and I have to be in the mood. I think I'll need a road trip to finish this one. 

Boundaries in Marriage, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
I would never have picked this up (except that it was highly recommended by my dear friend) because the website has a clip of the authors talking and they are so oozing with Christianese Cheese I can't even handle it. However, the book (even read by the author and his voice that literally sounds like he's mocking his own words) is packed with thought provoking ideas. I'm half way through and am sold on the idea that good boundaries is the key to all healthy relationships.

I've always been a fiction girl, so many of these are a new genre for me. If you've read a great book this year, let me know. I'm looking for a new one!

Never a dull moment.



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dedicated to the Guy in the Planned Parenthood T-shirt

I'd like to address the 20 something year old, usually long haired, most likely unmarried, possibly single, and I'm sure childless guys who stand outside expensive grocery stores (because wealthy liberal types and I shop there), and ask, "Can I talk to you about women's reproductive rights?" with his clip board in hand and Planned Parenthood T-shirt on.

Oh. My. Goodness. My blood pressure rises when I see these guys. Because they're guys.  I understand that it's possible for humans to "fight" for something that they are not. For example a non-dolphin can fight for dolphins. But, does a fisherman who accidentally catches and kills dolphins in his net work for Peta? Not usually.

I also understand that "women's reproductive rights" is supposed to be a term that makes you think of the health and well being of women, but we all know it's code for "keeping abortion legal" when one is wearing a Planned Parenthood T-shirt (go ahead and argue with me, but you know I'm right...).

I want to be clear that this post is not meant as a debate about "choice." People have the choice to make all kinds of choices. Choices are good. I just want the guy in the shirt to have a more well rounded view of the world. I may be assuming too much, but I'm pretty sure the kind of pregnancy he wants to sweep under the carpet happened with a girl that he wanted to have sex with but didn't want to build a life with.

Here are some points so you understand where I'm coming from:
1)When I was first married, I went to Planned Parenthood to get on birth control. I didn't know that "Planned Parenthood" meant anything (that was a long time ago, so maybe it didn't mean what it means now). To me it was cheap health care and nothing else. Maybe the shirt guy doesn't know either. Maybe he's never watched the news.
2) I understand that raising a child takes A LOT of work/money/commitment/support. I know.
3) I will not judge women who are victims of awful situations (rape, incest, prostitution, slavery). I have not been in their shoes. I know women will continue to choose abortion because some will feel they must. I don't think making it illegal will change that.
4) I firmly believe that having casual sex or serious relationship sex, or a moment of passion/you're drunk sex and oops, you get pregnant (and by YOU, I'm talking about both people who had sex), when you KNOW you don't want a baby, is not a reason to have an abortion.

I've come up with a rule for my kids to know when it's okay to have sex with someone. It's pretty simple really. "If you don't want a child with the person, or shouldn't have a child with the person, then don't have sex with the person." That covers it. Call me old fashioned, but I still hold the belief that there's a connection between sex, pregnancy, and children. Not that sex ALWAYS leads to pregnancy, or that everyone should just have dozens of babies, but you should know that it's a possibility.

Back to the guys at the grocery store- I'd like to see these guys talking to others guys (instead of me- the mother of six).  I'd like them to say, "Did you know casual sex sometimes leads to pregnancy? Are you ready to take on the responsibility of being a father?" Or, "Can I talk to you about how to use a condom?" Or, "If you know kids aren't your thing, have you considered a vasectomy?" Or, "Can I share with you some information on how much it costs to raise a child, as well as some statistics about how married men are healthier, and more financially successful?" (I know, married doesn't imply that you're a father, whatever).

Last week after being asked, "Can I talk to you about women's reproductive rights?" by a guy in a Planned Parenthood T-shirt, I said, "No." And then I went back and said, "Actually I do want to talk to you. I'd like you to meet my son. He was born in a country with no health care for poor single women.  His mom didn't have options when it came to her unwanted pregnancies and she found herself in a terrible situation. But, when I look at this boy and his sister, I see two people that are loved. They have worth, they've been given a chance at life and I'm glad for that." The Planned Parenthood guy fumbled for words, "I don't have any kids. Maybe I'll change my mind after I do." Exactly. Why is he there raising money for something that he hasn't even had the chance to form a valid opinion on?

No, I do not want to talk about "women's reproductive rights" with the guy on the corner.  The subject of abortion should not be hidden behind a phrase. We should weep when we hear the word "abortion." It should never be used casually or as a high school debate topic. We should think of the situation that occurred for a woman to find herself pregnant and not have the desire or ability to keep that child. We should remember the pain and agony this girl or woman will go through while deciding what to do, no matter how it happened.

If those who find themselves pregnant know they can't take care of this child, then they should consider that their "accident" could be the best thing to ever happen to a couple who is unable to conceive. And we should be standing outside of grocery stores praising these women for making the harder choice.

A million people would love to raise their baby. The baby would no longer be unwanted. Something that was initially terrible, shameful, and secret, could become selfless, and beautiful.  Isn't that how all the best stories go?

Happy National Adoption Month.