Tuesday, August 18, 2015

To my Alpha Phi sisters at UA

Dear Alpha Phi Sisters at University of Alabama,

I write to you as an alumnae of Alpha Phi to share some wise words in light of the negative media blitz occurring around your recruitment video.  Please do me the honor of listening to what I have to say and understand I am coming with some years under my belt and I hope you take my words to heart:

You rocked that video. Period.

Shame on the media for turning an innocent recruitment video of some girls (who happen to be lovely) showing off their sisterhood in different locations, into something vile, racist and degrading to all women. SHAME ON THEM.

You should not have to apologize or hide something that you obviously took a lot of time and effort to produce.  You should not have to apologize that a lake shot included girls in bathing suits. You should not have to apologize that even strong, smart women like to be silly and have fun with their sisters.  You should not have to apologize or hide a video that you should be proud of.

The continual argument for/against Greek life is never ending.  It seems easier for us, as Greeks, to understand that maybe it's not for everyone.  While we will defend our sorority or our choice, it is not a type of cultish thinking that we have to convince everyone that going Greek is the only way. Why so many who choose not to go Greek feel that they need to demonize these organizations is beyond me.  Why they have chosen to single out you, and this video is even more baffling.  They obviously don't understand and have proven that they have no intention to understand, just to judge.  Let them have that, you can't change that, but you can and should be proud of what you did because you did nothing wrong.

The "feminist" who started the media storm certainly has no pictures of her and her friends laughing or hanging out, she dare not show herself in a swimsuit or worse yet have a pic snapped of her, enjoying her friends must not be allowed and remembering times they shared in video or pic is obviously completely unacceptable and a true mark of anti-woman power in her book.  If I'm wrong then I hope she pulls out some college pics and remembers what it's like.  What it was like to be young and independent for the first time.  What it was like learning how to juggle responsibilities with fun. What is was like going through some of the toughest experiences you were yet to have and finding true friends who would help you come out the other end.  What it was like to work hard and play hard.  What it was like to be a woman and feel smart and pretty and empowered all at the same time. What it was like to find your voice. What it was like to find yourself.  What it was like to share those experiences with the friends who you lived, ate and breathed with.  If she has no pictures to look back on then the shame isn't on you, the shame is for her...what a shame.

Being an Alpha Phi is nothing to be ashamed of, it is something to celebrate, as you did, as you should. So I hope that you ladies feel nothing but pride for that video. I'm glad you have it to look back on, when college is a memory and one you miss.  I'm glad you have a video of your smiling faces and closest friends, having fun, feeling good about yourselves, making memories, promoting your sorority.  Promoting Alpha Phi.

I wish you an amazingly successful recruitment. I know how it works, The video was for fun, but recruitment is where the true meaning of our sisterhood is shared.  The high GPA standards, the huge philanthropic events, the values we were founded on by the women who weren't allowed to join the boy's fraternity...so they started their own.

Best of luck to you all.  I will now reminisce over my college pics, which were thankfully taken before social media, and I will smile, because my Alpha Phi memories are some of my favorite and always will be.  Because, as we like to say, Forever a Friend. Forever a Sister. Forever an Alpha Phi.


Pledge Class '97
Beta Omicron

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

In sickness and in health

I felt like something needed to written to honor a marriage that has lasted almost 64 years.  My Granny and Grampsy will have been married 64 years on May 21st.  It's something that just brings admiration and awe when spoken of.  In a time where 50% of marriages end in divorce, to hear of one lasting so long is almost shocking.  But they are of a different generation and mindset and with that came some really long marriages that only ended with a trip to heaven. That will be the case with my grandparents and unfortunately may be sooner rather than later.  My Granny has been rapidly declining with dementia.  It's been a struggle and I could blog for pages on it, but ultimately what would come out of a blog like that is dementia sucks.  Really really sucks.

Watching her decline has been hard but what has been really tough is watching my Grampsy deal with it.  This blog is a tribute to him and his devotion as a husband to his wife who has sadly come to forget him most of the time.  This is a tribute to the vows, in sickness and in health, that he has stood by and never wavered on.

When Granny first went into the hospital, we were at the beginning of the decline. She fell and had to be admitted, which seemed to be a traumatic enough experience to set those awful wheels of dementia into motion.  We had already started seeing significant changes and as my aunt was relaying the unfortunate information to the doctor, regarding the anger and paranoia, my Grampsy very calmly made a comment about her still attempting the bridge game in the newspaper.  It was said in a way that didn't seem to be trying to argue the information my aunt was giving but rather a glimpse into his loyalty to her.  He knew everything my aunt was saying was true, but he still felt a need to be on team Granny and stick up for her, or just be on her side.  It touched me. It could have easily been overlooked, but there was something about the tone and the way he touched her hand after saying it that just struck me.  As I remember it, I don't even think he had any ulterior motives to that comment, that is just what comes with being married to someone for almost 64 years, and it was amazing to see.

Granny did come home, but it got very bad fast.  I went to stay for a couple nights to try to provide some relief for the all night episodes they were experiencing.  It was exhausting both physically and emotionally, but the one night I heard her yelling and I went in to check on her at 1:30am I found Grampsy sitting on the bed.  She was calling for him, but couldn't register he was there and he just sat on the bed holding her hands, trying to calm her and saying "I'm right here Hon, Nancy you have to calm down and rest."  He would stroke her hair and ear lobe and keep grabbing her hands, trying to soothe her. It was futile and he knew it, that is why he let me send him back to bed and I said I'd take over, but he still was in there when I got up, he still went to her, he still tried even though he knew it didn't help.

She has since been moved to a nursing home facility and he goes to visit her every day. He is 87 years old and still works at Kroger's, bagging groceries to stay active, but as soon as he gets off work he drives the almost 40 minutes to go sit by his wife, who is slowly forgetting him.  But sit he does.  Not for the conversation, or because he needs to, simply because he made a vow that he is choosing to keep, no matter how hard it might be on him.  He married her when they were "kids" and they have been together almost 64 years. Because he loves her and wants to be with her. Because he is the epitome of a true husband and man.

I drafted this blog over 2 years ago and remember needing to walk away from it, because it was an emotional one for me.  I have chosen to leave it alone, because I remember writing it with a lot of raw feeling for what was going on, I didn't want to loose that with edits, so I will provide the updates here.  Sadly we lost Granny in April of 2013.  She went peacefully and hopefully is in a place with all her beautiful memories that had left her in this world too early.  I miss her all the time, but see her in the cardinals that will visit our yard from time to time.  Grampsy will be celebrating his 90th birthday in August and still works 3 days a week at Krogers. He will be taking the Honor Flight this summer to commemorate his service in WWII and visits Granny's memorial every week.  He is something else and I am a lucky girl to have him for a Grandpa, this one was written for him.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

I didn't give "Birth" I had a C-Section.

Has anyone else seen that Facebook page floating around tauting C-section mothers didn't give birth, they caught a lucky break?  After I did a little research, it is speculated to be a satire page, however, someone somewhere had this thought, made a page and created lovely images to post and then hid behind the guise of a religious organization...so I direct this blog to them, and the over 900 people who have liked the page, satire or not.

I would first like to provide to these enlightened people this little piece of wisdom...it's called a definition:



an act or instance of being born:
the day of his birth.
the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring; childbirth;parturition:
a difficult birth.
lineage; extraction; descent:
of Grecian birth.
high or noble lineage:
to be foolishly vain about one's birth.
natural heritage:
a musician by birth.
any coming into existence; origin; beginning:
the birth of Protestantism; the birth of an idea.
Archaic. something that is born.

While I do not see the word "vagina" or "vaginal"  in these definitions, your page has obviously applied that necessary attribute to support your banter. So you know what, to make this easy on your very narrow minds, I say this to you: I will let you be right.  You can have the word "birth", you keep on ignorantly using the word incorrectly and try to peddle around your ridiculous rhetoric. You know why? 

Because having that word is just semantics.

I have my experience, which is my own, no one else's, as is every birth story.  Some go perfectly, some go horribly and most don't seem to go as expected.  That's the funny thing about having a baby, it's really all about the baby at that point and any picture you have in your head gets thrown out the window to bring this little life into the world safely.  My story was less than ideal and actually I had a lot of guilt about it.  I wanted more than anything to have a natural, vaginal birth, you know, the "real way" as you so eloquently put it...more than anything.  But Piper had other plans, with her ginormous head and sunny-side up placement.  So give "birth" I didn't do, as your page so kindly points out. I did, however, do something, because babies don't just poof into existence, if they don't come out of your vagina, so here is what I did do:

I created a human being, in my body for 9 months. A wonderful, spunky, stubborn, funny little girl.  I nourished her and brought her to the point of birth.  I labored for 19 hours, intense, induced laboring that brought my will to it's knees.  I went through almost 4 hours of active pushing. I was hanging from the rafters trying to get her to pass through my canal, but that wasn't going to happen, my birth canal just wasn't big enough to let through her 98% head. So you are right I "didn't have what it took to get the job done".  Oh, I also don't have what it takes to be a man, because my body wasn't born with a penis...boy does that sound stupid and irrelevant? Hmm. Anywho, so I then had to go through prep for a c-section, while still in active labor to then be wheeled to an operating room so my daughter could join our family.  I didn't "give birth" in your very skewed depiction of the experience, I had surgery, full blown, cut open on an operating table, surgery...oh and by the way, I was awake.  Laying there as they pushed and pulled and moved my organs around to get to my baby.  All the while waiting, like every other mother, for that baby to cry. Cry she did, but I couldn't bend over or sit up to grab her and hold her and cuddle her immediately, no I was strapped down, because I was shaking so bad from the surgery and the cold (god it's cold in those rooms). So instead I lay there waiting to just see a glimpse of her, which took, what seemed like forever, waiting for them to weigh her and clean her and wrap her up, and even then, I didn't get to hold her, she was handed to my husband and all I could do was turn my head and gaze upon her beauty.  So when you say, I "caught a lucky break," you're right there too. I was super lucky to be in a wonderful hospital, with trained people who knew what to do when I "couldn't get the job done" so that Piper would live. I was very, very lucky that I had an option before things got dangerous for my baby. But, my experience wasn't done yet, no, I then had to lay there while they continued to press and remove air and then go through the long, long, long process of being sewn back up.  I didn't get to stay in my room and "birth" my baby and then enjoy.  I had to go into recovery, because as I stated before, I had full blown surgery.  The reality is I was going through this amazing experience and I was recovering from a very invasive procedure. But I did it, because that is what becoming a mother is about.  Selflessness, and putting my needs aside to tend to this little life that just ended up in my arms and built our family +1.

So you can say I didn't give "birth", I'll let you, because I know what I did.  What I won't let you do is take away the "experience" every mother goes through to bring their child into the world.  That I won't allow.  I also will not agree with any type of comparison or claim that one "experience" is superior, harder or better than the other. Because what really happens when a baby is delivered is a world-changing, life-altering, amazing, wonderful experience that brought me my child, that grew my family and created a love I never knew was possible. That is what almost all mother's walk away with, how we got there is details, and with your thinking, semantics and frankly none of your business.

So, that is it! Giving "birth" is a word. And we, we as mother's who support each other and are there for each other, we are above a word. So you can have it. Because what you will never be able to have is our experiences. 

And now a note to any Mommy reading this:

No matter how your baby came into this world, I salute you. That is some experience you had and I hope you never let anyone or group take away an iota of what you went through! 

Because no matter what your experience was, it was real, it was valid and it was amazing!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

There are some F'ed up children's books out there...

And I'm not talking about Go The Fuck To Sleep by Adam Mansbach (hysterical). I'm talking about some of the quote unquote classics (that's right I spelled it out so you can actually read my sarcasm)  Trust me it's necessary for this post :)
It's a busy baby season for me, some friends having their firsts, so I happened to have two showers within a month of each other.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the give a book instead of a card idea! Cards are so expensive and just get thrown away or take up a ridiculous amount of valuable space. We actually keep little colored moleskin books for each person in our family and instead of cards we write notes in them on special occasions (or just because).  I think it is so much nicer to have something you will actually keep and is all bound in a little notebook to look at down the road, rather than a drawer full of cards--which I also have down in my basement, except it's like three of those plastic drawer things and they're warped and i can't even get the drawers open anymore, but I digress.  Cards are a waste of money, so I dig the book thing.  This, however, is what brought this post about.  Now my husband and I have joked about this for a long time and I know some friends have touched on it with me briefly in conversation, but after attending these baby showers and seeing the "classic" baby books and hearing the oohs and aahs and nods and whispers: "I love that book" as I sit there thinking, "That tree is an enabler and the boy is an ungrateful, selfish douchebag."  You know what I'm talking about. YOU. KNOW.

I'm talking about the kids books that not only are quietly teaching our already difficult three-year-olds to be even bigger assholes but are kinda downright fucked up. I thought about using F'ed up again but we're talking about a creeper of a mom that involves a ladder, window and rocking a grown man while he sleeps, Fucked up is perfectly appropriate! So here we go:

Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow
There are many versions of this book; this happens to be the one we have.  I have been guilty of singing this song to The Stin when he was little and to The Ster recently.  I have avoided the glaring inability for these damn monkey's to learn a lesson from their siblings and focus on "Oh, but it's teaching my kid how to count backwards." No it's not.  The Ster doesn't look at numbers and sing Five little monkey's, or use her little fingers to show how she understand the relation or even tries to apply it from a different amount of monkeys...no this book (that we all sing) rears it's head when she is, wait for it, jumping on the bed or couch or any other piece of furniture she shouldn't be jumping on. And it's not like you can reference the book and point out that they don't want to bump their heads, because the book goes through five monkey's who apparently see their siblings bump their head, and cry and get scolded by mama and the doctor and then get all bandaged up... it doesn't stop them! No lesson just ideas, that's what this book provides. Glorious monkey's jumping on the bed and getting hurt and continuing to do it anyway, all while singing.  Awesome.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Ok, I admit I like this one.  Probably because I can appreciate a parent that doesn't let their child win....Buuuuuut, Big Nutbrown Hare is kinda a one-upping asshole. I mean of course your arms are longer and you can stretch higher do you have to jump higher and basically destroy this kids will, so much so that he is exhausted from it and even when that sweet Little Nutbrown Hare comes up with one more very clever way to demonstrate how much he loves you before he passes out in defeat...to the moon...you can't even let him have that, you just gotta throw in "and back"! This book actually taught me to restrain from collecting all those matches in My Little Pony Memory-she's only 4, I gotta give a little bit...for a little bit anyway. So I guess "Thank you Big Nutbrown Hare for your dickheadish ways that allowed me to learn how to let my kids bask in a victory against me...for a little bit anyway."

If You Give A Cat A Cupcake by Laura Numeroff
This book is just ADD in a feline form. I can't even read the other ones cause I assume they are exactly the same just with different animals jumping from random, obnoxious, absurd act to another while a child follows them around helplessly trying to keep up. It actually sounds a lot like my afternoons when The Ster was two and had the attention span of my neurotic chihuahua.  I just watch The Ster nodding when I read this book and all I can think is "oh God, we are going to be all over the place before I can turn this page.....PIPER come back over here and finish this book-no you cannot have a cupcake!" I rest my case.

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
This one is on the fence.  It makes me cry, but not in a sweet good way, more like I'm-horribly-sad crying.  This bunny is bullied and then abandoned, and it isn't until a fairy comes does it's life turn around...that's reassuring. And what about the asshole bunnies, who wants to read a story to their child about a bunch of bullying bunnies? I mean there is magic and pixie dust and fairies all over the place these days--especially with girls--I get it, but having the only thing save this poor little velveteen rabbit from it's horribly depressing situation, be a nursery magic fairy (whatever the hell that is) this book is just sad.  The only thing I get from it is to vaccinate my children.  I don't even know what the poor kid has but I sure as hell hope that all the shots my kids get are protecting them from the stuffed-animal-throwing-away illness! The thought of throwing away The Stin's Beary or The Ster's beloved Snowman is so upsetting that this book is almost unreadable for me.  

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is a doozey. You can love someone too much and this tree is so sadly and pathetically guilty of that it is almost infuriating.  You've got a boy, who at first seems sweet enough but boy oh boy does the douchbaggery come out at he grows up. Not only does he conveniently visit the tree when he needs something, he is such a passive aggressive asshole about it.  I don't want to swing in your branches I'm too old, I want a house. Can you give me a house?  ASSHOLE. But that damn tree always figures out a way to provide something that will give that boy what he wants.  This tree is literally "the shirt off my back" type of personality and it's pretty painful to read. Worst part is the boy never says thank you, he just takes and takes and takes.  Not. A. Fan.

Goodnight Moon by Pat Hancock and Margaret Wise Brown
I have friends that looooove this book.  It's fine, it is probably the least problematic, but this book also has it's issues.  It's not a goodnight book, it's a teach my kid how to stall book.  First we have to say goodnight to everything in the room including inanimate objects.  It's like Brick from Anchorman, "Good night lamp."  The Ster is always looking for ways to elongate that light being on and us being in her room and this book provides her with a wealth of ammunition and I'm not just talking about all the "goodnight's" going on.  The mouse.  You know.  Your settling down for bedtime, goodnight this, goodnight that, goodnight goodnight goodnight, turn the damn page..."Wait Mommy go back....I have to find the mouse, hmmmmm where is he?" She knows where he is.  They all do after the first two times you read the book, but it sure takes an awfully long time to find him everytime, everypage...YOU KNOW WHERE IT IS!  And it isn't until after the page is turned and you think you're in the clear that they call out...."Wait Mommy," and you know, you know whats coming.  Enter Go The Fuck To Sleep by Adam Mansbach.

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
Ok, this is THE book that makes my skin crawl and everyone seems to swoon over it.  Have you ever read this book?  First of all the little chorus part "I love you forever, I like you for always..." Stop. Right. There.  I do Not always like my kids.  I admit it.  Love them forever yes, like them always...you can come to my house at around 5 pm on a day The Ster gets up at 5:45 am, plays all morning, doesn't nap, has preschool, almost falls asleep on the way home, but doesn't and then turns into a mandrake/gremlin at the dinner table...I don't know if "liking always" would feel fitting.  Ok, but aside from that, have you read the book?  Like all the way through really read it? Here let me cut to the end:
An eightyish year old woman drives a ladder and climbs through her sons second story window to rock him while he sleeps. 
No wonder he's sleeping in a twin bed alone! 
I mean this mom is creeper all throughout this book, like crawling on the floor while her teenage son sleeps, grade A creeper.
It's not until she is obviously very ill and in a home that he can get married (can you imagine the momma's boy drama that wife will need to deal with Yikes!) and have a child of his own, who will very obviously have to experience this viscous cycle come full circle, but on a Daddy/daughter level which is probably more of a series rather than one book! Yikes! Therapy anyone? No. Thanks.

I'm sure there are others, I bet you have some that you read to your kids at bedtime and immediately regretted it, or after the first page you're like, "Maybe we should pick out a different book," but you can't.  Once you start reading, you're locked in! You know it!  They won't let you out, so I'm here to help you avoid a couple of those uncomfortable situations.  

I'm not a book hater either, I love books.  I think it's hard to find good children's books, it's tricky.  But here are some of my favorites that don't make me throw up a little bit in my mouth when someone swoons over them:

Anything Nancy Tillman--love her themes, love her rhyming rhythm, love love love.  These are my go to's for baby showers!

The Simply Small Series by Paola Opal-There are sweet little lessons in these board books. Saffy can be a bit bratty but her ingenuity prevails and she does learn lessons.  Cute illustration style.

The Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle-Cute Cute Cute.  I love good rhyming books and this one is sweet as can be.

Pete the Cat by Mr. Eric-These are just fun to read/sing to your kids.

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love-The title says it all.

So snuggle up and share a good book with your child.  I just happen to prefer some over others, because if I'm going to read something roughly 20 times in a month, I would like to think that something positive is being taught or a moral is being shared or a lesson is being learned so when I kiss The Ster on her sweet little head I know, to quote Pete the Cat, "It's All Good"!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

It was a Big Deal.

To the two gentlemen in the Green Jeep Wrangler, on Winton Avenue today, Feb. 5th at 11ish am, who stopped in the middle of the street, threw it in reverse, waved me off and plowed the end of my driveway...

I thank you.

It only took you, maybe 1 minute to back up and make those 3 passes to get that snow out of the bottom of my drive.  You probably thought it was a nice thing to do for the girl shoveling... it was.  You probably thought it was no big deal as you waved and said "Have a nice day." before you drove away.  But here's the thing, it was a big deal, and at that moment it was a very big deal, because here is what you didn't know:

That snow was deceptively heavy!  I went out thinking I'd push through in 20 minutes and I had been shoveling away for over an hour and still not done.  
You didn't know that I have been sick for going on 2 weeks, a terrible cold that I can't shake that had me dripping and hacking and sweating the whole time I was out there. 
I don't know if you saw my daughter, my sweet little girl who was so good and playing so wonderfully in the snow for so long but who had started feeling the effects of the cold on her "tootsies" and was really ready to go inside, but was sitting so patiently on the steps waiting for Mommy.  
You probably didn't see the heavy sighs and slumped shoulders as I stood in my driveway watching the city truck drive by and push all that heavy, Heavy, HEAVY snow in front of my driveway, and me knowing it had to me moved because my husbands car was not getting over that pile! 
You definitely didn't know that your good deed was absolutely going to be paid forward because my neighbor was just diagnosed with lung cancer and we have been shoveling for them also, in case they need to get to the doctor or the store and I was going to be heading over there next.  

By you stopping and reversing and doing that kind act that took such a short time, you were able to give this mommy time to have lunch with her daughter before pre-school, let this lady take a breathe, get a 3 1/2 year old little girls tootsies warm, keep a small car from getting stuck and provide a little extra strength for a neighbor who could use the help.

So dear sirs, I just wanted to let you know that when you thought you were just plowing some snow for a girl on the street, you were really moving some mountains for me and my family and neighbor.  

Sometimes you just don't realize how something small and easy for you could be really big and difficult for someone else. That's why I felt compelled to let everyone know just how wonderful what you did was for me.

So thank you for taking the time to help.  It was and is so appreciated. And now you know just how big of a deal it was! 



Friday, April 19, 2013

Danger is very real, but fear is a choice

I have heard two news stations, one considered liberal and one considered conservative, comment that the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing succeeded in instilling fear since the city has been shut down.  What?  How can we give them this credit? How can they say that for any other cuckoo bird listening to hear and possibly get motivated? How can they even think that?

There is a quote in a movie or show (I'll be damned if I can think of it) that I used as my title:  Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.  Boston may be dealing with danger and that would be why the government and police have chosen to shut down the city, but fear is not something they chose after this tragedy.  If that was the case then the city wouldn't have had to be shut down by the government, people would have already been holing up in their homes with their doors locked.  If that was the case then companies wouldn't have had to notify employees to stay at home, people wouldn't have been showing up to work.  If that was the case than the Boston Bruins hockey game would have been empty...but on that last note, it was the exact opposite.  Not only did that game look like a full house, but those people in the stands stood up during the National Anthem and belted out the words as loud as they could which said one thing to me-We are not afraid of you! You did NOT succeed.

Cities shut down for numerous reasons, hell, Boston was basically shut down a month or so ago because of snow, not because of fear, but rather because of safety.  I feel quite confident that even though people are heeding the warnings and staying in because they want to let the police do their job and they don't want to get in the way.  They want their families to be safe. I know some Bostonians, and I bet there are plenty biting at the bit to go outside and help bring down this asshole, but instead are letting the authorities do their job!  And their job they are doing.  The police aren't hiding or quitting their jobs, they are actually flocking from other districts to help.  They aren't afraid of these maniacs, they are on a mission to bring them to justice and keep their city safe.

If we want to talk about instilling fear, the only fear that has been successful is the fear in the bombers.  They are the ones afraid.  Afraid of the city they thought they'd defeat, afraid of the authorities they thought they were smarter than, afraid of the consequences they know they will have to face when they are caught.  One has already died in a fear induced panic and the other is not holding strong, outsmarting and taking down America-he is running and hiding like the coward we have all come to know him to be. He may try another desperate measure to try to make his mark, but his mark will never last.  It will be blown away with his homemade bomb, that anyone could make if they googled it. He's average, sloppy and we know who he is.  And now the only choice he has is to run, and not like those marathoners who ran for pride and health and charity, but because he's afraid, he's the one who has to fear now...not Boston.

The bombers left no mark of their own, the only mark left from this tragedy will be a heart shaped mark that has been floating around facebook in support of Boston. The memory of the victims and the heroes. Because in the face of tragedy, the one thing this country is good at is rallying and the biggest mark that comes out of uniting together is not fear, but rather the mark of love.

We love you Boston and know you will stay strong.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Hypocrisy Of It All...

Being a mom that is.  Don't you find that so much of what we teach our kids is shrouded in hypocrisy...do as I say, not as I do!  Don't smoke or do drugs, as I tuck my Camel's deeper into my purse. Don't lie, but wait, Santa is real and you better behave for the next 2 months or else you'll get coal.  The list goes on and on.  But, with that being said, it's done with the best intentions.  Of course I have bad habits and if my kids happen to point them out, I of course will tell them to not pick them up themselves...just like with smoking and drugs.  I hate that I smoke, especially since I had quit so easily when I was pregnant, but I'm working on it and I definitely don't wish it upon my kids. I also get the Santa thing, I love Christmas and the "spirit" of the season, I'm not saying it's wrong, it is just a fact that most of us are hypocrites.

That leads me into my latest conundrum of hypocrisy, and it lies with The Stin.  Raising a child with Aspergers is a task, to say the least.  I scream, I cry, I coerce, I bribe, I set up consequences and I set up rewards all for little input and small incremental achievements that seem to be erased quickly with the blink of an eye.  We're good, we're good, we're good, I tell him I'm proud of him, we're back at square one.  That's how it goes and I kinda know why, but that doesn't make it any easier.  Lately we have really been trying to work on the "friends" stuff and that is where the true struggle with my hypocrisy has come to the forefront.

It's a fine line we walk, a thin string--hell, dental floss--that we toe every day and with lots of insight from groups, the Internet and professionals the consensus is pretty clear.  Our goal is to help The Stin "fit in".  Now at first glance, that can make sense...it did to me.  Of course we want his peers to think he's "normal," so they will want to hang out with him, and he will begin to build the friendships I know he wants so badly.  But with that comes the hypocrisy-aren't we as parents supposed to support our kids individuality, let them be who they will be and be their safe place to land?  Isn't that what most of us strive for.  If The Ster went goth, I would cringe and cry at night but I would probably help her dye her hair and tell her how beautiful she is, while folding her black clothes...but with The Stin, it's different.  Most kids who flex their independent muscles, get that they are being different, that is a lot of what motivates them.  They want to buck the system or get under their parents skin or simply are choosing to not follow the crowd.  Not so with The Stin.  He is very clueless to the social groups that are forming and his "different" is of no choice to him, it is just simply him. He has the humor of a young child and The Ster only helps to validate that behavior...because if his almost 3 year old sister thinks it's funny then it will certainly kill with the middle school boys...right? This is how he thinks.

I read a lot of posts on Facebook about wanting to put our children in a little protective bubble to keep them safe and protect them from all the bad stuff.  With The Stin, I feel like he came out in a steel bubble that I am standing at with a sewing needle, trying to pop. Not because I want him to be unprotected or unsafe, but simply because I want him to be able to live.  I want him to feel things, true emotions.  I want him to understand the bad with the good.  I want him to learn lessons.  I want him to understand that everyone is not his friend and that there are people out there that are not nice and I want him to be able to recognize this stuff so he IS safe, because the reality of it is...a bubble won't protect him, he has to learn how to protect himself.  That is what I want for him, I want him to be able to stick up for himself and protect himself. But teaching this lesson, without it slowly coming naturally or even the little we do usually have to teach, not sinking in-ever, is far more scary to me and a lot harder than I could ever have anticipated. I want him to be able to experience life as "normally" as possible.  Letting him live in his little bubble could actually do more harm, be unsafe and set him up to never truly be able to experience the ups and downs that we call life and that helps us become who we are.

What is so hard, is that the lessons aren't prompted, like they are with most children.  Today The Ster came up to me crying because one of her friends said they wouldn't be her best friend...she's almost 3, and this little girl has happily accepted in the past.  The Ster just keeps asking, so a lesson could be taught..."she already said she would be your best friend so there is no reason to be so sad.  You don't need to ask her anymore, just remember that she already said she would be your best friend.  It's hard for her to play with you when you are crying. Lets stop crying or you won't be able to play with your best friend" Crying stopped, lesson learned-well until the next time we see them and she asks again, but at that moment it seemed to sink in and they were off and playing again. But she's 3! 3! I may have to go through this again, but did I mention she's 3, and I know that she'll get it. I don't get those moments with The Stin, because frankly he wouldn't ask and if he did, the answer wouldn't bother him.  He would politely make up a reason in his head as to why they said no and just ask again later or just make an assumption later, without ever asking again.  The Stin's greatest gift is his inability to understand when people are being rude/mean to him and his worst enemy is his inability to understand  when people are being rude/mean to him.  When he leaves messages on friends phones to hang out, and no one calls back, he always has an excuse or assumption as to why they didn't call.  This might be OK the first time or two, but we are about two years into this behavior and it has never dawned on him that maybe these kids just don't want to hang out with him...and there it is.  What has he done, has he done anything, how do I find out, how do I approach it, how do I correct it, should I correct it???? Welcome to my mind.

Then don't forget the fact that The Don and I are probably considered strict, or lame, or both.  He doesn't have a Facebook account, he is not allowed to play Call of Duty or games rated M, he doesn't have a cell phone...I know we're awful, huh.  This is where the true struggle comes in!  I will not compromise these rules.  I believe in them. The Ster will have the same rules, but it sure throws a wrench in our problem when all the other kids seem to be allowed to do/have these things.  It's funny how the hypocrisy branches out...our ped psychiatrist told us that we should get The Stin a cell phone, because boys his age communicate better via text.  What? I get it, but shouldn't we focus on getting him good at the conversational communication before we insert a crutch, like texting. Isn't that why we take him to your social skills group, so he can get comfortable with starting conversations and actually talking to kids? 
Don't get me wrong, he does get ahold of kids once in a while and hanging out does occur.  It's just few and far between. The Don and I can only be hypocrites, and make the assumptions we tell him not to make, that the kids can take The Stin in small doses. His teachers insist that he gets along with everyone, he seems to joke and talk to kids on his soccer and baseball teams.  We know that the kids don't hate him, it's just like he's on everyones "B-list". They get along with him, he might be a little annoying sometimes but overall he's a nice kid, but when it comes to actually hanging out, he's not top of mind...for anyone.

So here we are.  I've wrapped myself around being a hypocrite, I've come to terms that I have created some of my own obstacles, with our rules, but those stay so where now?  All I know is that I want him to make friends, I want him to fit in.  I do. I said it.  Scorn me if you must, but let's be honest, don't we all want our kids to fit in to some degree?  I'm not declaring which crowd I want him to hang with, I am just declaring that I want him to find a crowd...that isn't committing felonies or getting expelled from school, so I guess I have some parameters...hypocrite? The truth of the matter is, I don't know if there is a crowd at The Stins age level that he will fit in with.  That's the struggle. 

So to social skills group we go.  Role playing occurs.  Lot's of questions and probing on conversations. Lots of supplying conversation starters before school.  Lots of repeating. Role playing. Lots of questions and probing on conversations...did I mention lots of repeating.  All we can do is keep drilling holes in our Corkstin and hope that some of it soaks in.  With all this being said and a lot of it possibly coming across harsh, I love my Stin.  I love his sweet nature, I love the big brother he is to The Ster, I love that he wants to have friends, I love that he reads and reads and reads and enjoys school, I love that he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt...I just feel like I need to help teach him some "reality", which ultimately might change some of these wonderful traits, to help build the social skills he "needs" to be "normal" in middle school, and our society....and that is the true hypocrisy of it all.