Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Great Love Stories and the Long Lived Relationships

Dear Kids,

There’s something that you need to understand about the great love stories that you read about and that you hear about and that you see in the movies.

They’re wishful and wistful bits of imagination crafted by people who have had quite a few love stories in their life, none of which have lasted past that initial rush of feeling. They’re the people out in Hollywood where there’s a divine new love story every few years. Most don’t last. Because after the love story is the stuff that comes after the love story. Which doesn’t have quite the same rush. And which feels all wrong because it’s not as intense as it was when you just met them. And real love should feel more intense, not less.. Right?

I don’t have a great love story with the man that I’ll be spending my life with, Alex. Aka “Daddy”. Although parts of our relationship can be told that way, like a great love story.

I fell in love with him when I was seventeen. He didn’t love me back. I never fell out of love with him. And it was very intense (for me) and not so intense (for him) and then there was the time we briefly came together where we both felt everything so very deeply. There was this one kiss in the rain under a tree that I will remember for the rest of my life. Mostly because we were young and stupid and naive and it was a mental image that I held onto for a long time like a piece of comfort when we were torn apart shortly after that for a year and a half.

A few moments early on could be extracted and put into a movie if we glossed over a lot of other details. We grabbed each others hands and swung around in circles in a subway station while I laughed, afraid that he’d let go of my hands and send me flying. I think we ended up hugging instead. Maybe that would go well in a movie. In a movie we’d have definitely ended up hugging. And maybe declaring love for each other there. Instead of my telling him later and being met with awkward silence and the truth which broke my heart for a while. That scene would have been cut. Or maybe not. Maybe it would add to the poignancy of us later falling truly deeply madly in love for a little while at least. Before we reverted into the lukewarm stuff that happens after the “happily ever after” part of Hollywood love stories.

Now the early intensity has worn off and we’ve settled into a life that is composed of many other types of details that don’t look like what you’d see in a movie. We’re consumed with sleeplessness, and small non-romantic child-oriented details. We make each other tea when we’re sick. We bicker over little things. We are learning to balance ourselves with each other. But for now we do a lot of things that feel like the simple sharing of space. And sometimes I look over at him sitting next to me in bed, and I’ll see him for who he is. Flaws and all. And I’ll know he sees me for who I am. Flaws and all. And sure, it was more comfortable back at the beginning of our relationship when all those things were masked by “love” which makes you blind.

It’s not often that the blind are unhappy to recover their sight. But that’s what happens with love. That which made you blind fades away. And then you learn to love what you see. Or you break up with that person and try again. And again. And again. Because somewhere out there is a love so brilliantly dazzling that it will poke your eyes out permanently.

No thanks. I’ll take this type of love.

Beautiful imperfect.

It’s tempting sometimes to say “THIS ISN’T WHAT I WANTED OUT OF LIFE!” and wish for all those romantic things that society has conditioned me to want. The flowers (that I don’t actually like because they’re dead things in a vase.), the anniversary presents (that will never be exactly what I want or exactly how they want. Or I’ll wish that they were like last year. Maybe he loved me last year because last year he did something more special than this year. And it’s like this never ending arms race of special). Or maybe I want him to be more interested in spending 100% of his time with me instead of ever playing that video game of his. Because nothing says true love like undying obsession.

During those times I think back to the true great love story that I have in my life.

You see… I do have a great love story in my life. An erratic love story with many breakups and reunions. A love story with a man who watched too many Hollywood movies and who never managed to figure out how to do something permanent because when that rush wore off it was something that needed to be recovered otherwise it didn’t feel like love. And his type of love was the type of love that demanded I be a Hollywood starlet. Which I wasn’t. The type of true love that had to burn bright at all times and which broke up repeatedly with me because it didn’t burn brightly enough. And then it burned brighter and we came back together in a beautiful movie like moment that was entirely… Unstable. Yes. That’s the word for what that True Great Love Story was. Unstable. It was the type of love story which made me go looking elsewhere for the type of love story that I was really looking for.

This one.

The type of love where you drift apart and come back together. The type of love story where we can fart in front of each other and laugh. The type of love story which is comfortable. The type of love story where we’re best friends and can talk about anything. Not just the deeply impersonal things that new love bonds over. But really anything. The boring and mundane. The annoying. The difficult. The types of things that aren’t difficult with new love because we were too busy being all giddy.

The type of love where if we need some excitement in our lives we’ll go skydiving together. You know. When you kids are more grown up and we have the time. And where we can go all these years of sleep deprivation with all of you as little ones. And we can look back on it and be like “holy wow. We did that together.” And where we sometimes might go a while without having a real conversation, but we’ll come back to it and it will feel like no time at all had passed.

The other day I was whispering to Little Miss One that one day she’ll find someone who makes her happy. And I realized that. No. She won’t. You won’t. One day you will find someone whose existence makes you happy. But will that person “make her happy”? Has my Alexxen “made me happy”? No.  Another person can never be accountable for your happiness. Never should be.

Real love is where you share happiness, just like you share a life and a family. Not where one person is the source of your happiness.

That’s a Hollywood love story. Not something real.

Look for the real, not the story. The story ends and credits roll. The real continues on.

This continues on. And this is a lovely hodgepodge mishmash of things that no director can cut into something perfect and that no one will take out moments for if they fail to develop the plot.

In any other letter I’d come up with some sort of way to tie this all together.

Not this one. This one doesn’t end. I’m not going to tie this letter up or make it into a neat package.  I’m not going to end it neatly. No credits roll.

<3 Mama

Written in celebration of the “Boring” Relationship after reading this:

Seriously. Don’t run after me in an airport. If I’m leaving I’m not worth it. And if you’re leaving I’m not running after you either. Adults don’t pull that shit.

Creating a Clingy Child through Parenting

Mammals naturally attach to their caregivers and naturally detach from their caregivers as they mature. A young child when scared by something will run towards a caregiver even if running towards the caregiver brings them towards the frightening thing. As they get older they naturally change to the adult fight or flight response which is to run AWAY from the frightening thing even if that involves running away from the caregiver.
Insecure attachment creates attachment issues not secure attachment. It makes it so that the child has to seek out and cling and manipulate in order to get the comfort that they instinctively need but that they are not able to get in any other way. Children are resourceful and will find ways to have their needs met if their needs are not being met. It’s an excellent survival trait.
When they have to work so hard to have their needs for attachment met they don’t go through the natural and healthy peeling off phases the way a securely attached child will because they’re WORKING for what they need.
A child who has an abundance of healthy food available at every point in time doesn’t become a food hoarder. A child who knows that food is scarce becomes a food hoarder. Survival trait.
So why does a securely attached child look like they have an attachment issue at different points? Why will a nine month old freak out when left at daycare? Why will a child cling to their mother or father and be fearful of strangers? Because that’s what normal childhood development looks like. And it’s healthy. It only looks like an attachment or fearfulness issue if their developmental phase isn’t being respected. And since often this developmental phase is addressed as an issue that the child needs to be “broken of”, it often becomes a prolonged phase that parents vow to never repeat with a future child.
My 15 month old daughter walked into the YMCA childcare center all on her own and didn’t look back. When she was ready to come out she walked over to the door and threw herself up against it with a funny tongue-out smile and patting hands because she knew that I was there and ready to be responsive. I have had to leave her with other caregivers. But I make sure that when I come back I work on repairing our attachment and making sure that she feels secure. I don’t expect her to bounce immediately back to normal. I expect her to act like a child that has gotten lost and then been found. And she does. And I reassure. And then she toddles off again when she feels secure.
When she gets older she will understand that she can ask the caregiver to come find me in the YMCA and she’ll be fine with being there because she knows who to ask. And then I’ll leave her there while I go work out or swim alone in the pool for some “me” time. Until then it’s just a fun experience for her where she’s experimenting with independence. I’m “waiting out” the developmental phase and letting her move rapidly ahead of where she would be if I was trying to ‘train’ her into comfort.
Children’s instincts have them prepared for a world where it’s easy to get lost in the forest and not be able to find their way back to their cave. Where they can get eaten by lions and tigers and bears if they are separated from their caregivers. They need to grow enough for their understanding and mental capacity to catch up to the fact that they live in a world with telephones and GPS systems and door locks and very few wild tigers.
Pushing them away before they’re developmentally ready triggers panic upon separation.

In some kids they’ll process that it’s fine to be left alone and that mommy will come back to get them. When mom HAS to go back to work, there’s sometimes no other way. And they do learn. Different kids at different rates depending on their personalities and the caregivers they are left with and how their parents approach the separation.

Because I have a choice I’m choosing to wait it out and take the slow gentle road.

Children learn better with consistency than with inconsistency. So I try to be as consistent as I can and when inconsistency happens then I make sure to put in more work to repair the inconsistency. Just as I would with any other area of parenting. Insecure children are created by insecure attachment, not by secure attachment.

What a lot of parents see is the impact of “creating a monster” by allowing their child to be securely attached and then panicking and pushing the child away when they’re naturally more clingy as they go through a developmental phase. Yes. That will create a very clingy child. Pull ’em closer when they need to cling. Reassure them that it’s okay to go be independent and it’s okay to cling and that they’ll go be more independent again when they’re ready. Because it’s normal. And they will be ready. Because independence is FUN.  

Stay Afloat Mama, Learn to Swim, Teach Others.

Dear Daughter,

When I was a first time mom I struggled. Badly. That was with your oldest brother. Then another brother came between. With you, I found out that I was having a daughter and I wanted to write about all of those Very Important Topics that were near and dear to my heart so that I could convert you the way I tried to convert many others in the debates that made up the mom groups that I found myself a part of. It is just what mothers seem to do. We join groups. We debate stuff. Instead I realized that I don’t want to debate anymore. I don’t want to clamber on top of another mom’s head when she’s struggling to stay afloat just so that I can float a bit higher for a bit.

We all struggle in the early days. Fact of life. Having a baby is hard. It changes things in ways that nothing can prepare you for.

I wanted to share my accumulated wisdom with you in case you one day decide to have a child of your own.

Fingers to the keyboard I started to type and the things that I found my heart wanting to say didn’t contain a debate or cold hard facts. The things that I found myself wanting to say only contained reassurance.

The early days feel like drowning. Like impossible. Like failure that you can’t succumb to because for the first time in your life it’s really not about you. It’s about this small new human being that you hold in your arms.

When someone is drowning you don’t lecture them about the proper technique for swimming. You hold their head above the waves. You let them catch their breath. You let the panic drain away.

It’s okay. You’re not alone. You’re not drowning. It’s scary. It’s new. It feels impossible. It’s hard. Breathe. 

Thinking back to the earliest days of my motherhood it wasn’t the debates that helped me stay afloat. It wasn’t the minutiae of the choices that I made as a new mother. It was the gentle voices scattered among the chaos. “You two make a good team.” “You’re doing a good job.” “It’s hard, but you’re doing great.” The information helped me make the choices that were possible, but the gentle supportive voices helped make things feel possible. They helped make life seem achievable. They helped me realize that I was treading water just fine.  And that the earliest days of learning don’t look like a graceful swan dive. They look like a belly flop and frantic splashing.
I have shared some of the letters that I have written to you. Other mamas have reached out to me. I have seen strong women struggle and question their abilities. I have seen strong mamas conquer colic and reflux and hang in there with their babies, holding their babies up above the waves even when they felt as though they were going to be sucked under.

They weren’t. These mamas who struggled so badly, I see them now holding the heads of other mums above, helping them to relax as they hold their babies near. They struggle still, sometimes. And I hope that they know by now that it’s okay. It’s okay to fear your ability to stay afloat. It’s okay to feel sucked under. They’ve learned to breathe. To relax. To float. To reach out for the helping hands of others when it feels too hard. And even though they still struggle, they reach out their own helping hands to lovingly catch the mamas around them. I see their weakness, sure. But more overwhelmingly I see their strength. Their tenacity. I see how determined they are. Not just to stay afloat, but to help make sure those around them stay afloat as well.

If you one day have a child of your own I hope that I’ll be able to be there for you in those early days to tell you all the things that I want to tell you about how awesome you’re doing even if you feel like a complete wreck. I hope that I’ll be able to be there for you to help you hold your baby and to help you learn all the tools that you can use to fill up that toolkit of yours. I hope that I’ll be right there with you helping you keep your head above the water. I know that life has a way of making the wishes of our hearts impossible sometimes, though. And of fading memories… So I want to write to you from the here and the now and tell you this thing: 

Stay afloat. You won’t drown. You’ll learn to swim and you’ll help teach others.

When you’re helping them you’ll recognize the strength that you had when you felt that you had none. You’ll see another mama struggle and you’ll recognize the flailing. You’ll whisper in a non-believing ear “It’s okay”. Not because you’re trying to convince them of something. But because you know it really truly is okay. You know how ridiculously strong they are, even if they can’t see it yet. And you understand how ridiculously strong you’ve been.

It’s okay.  This passes. You learn to swim.

Breathe deep. Kiss the baby in your arms. Feel your love deeply.

You’ll look back on this and you’ll say “Holy shit, I did it.” Because you’re DOING it, baby girl. It’s hard, but it passes. Look at you swim. You’re doing great.

<3 Mama 

A Garden of Analogies

I’m not growing vegetables in my garden, I’m growing analogies.

I’m growing the understanding that it’s okay to be imperfect, you can be beautiful anyway because you’re alive and thriving.

I’m growing the understanding that all living things need care to thrive, but that living things are strong and resilient and can survive even the most difficult of things and go on to thrive again.

I’m growing the acceptance of failure. When a seed you plant fails to sprout you try again. When a seedling fails to grow you try again. When a plant fails to thrive you try again. When a plant is happy in one location and unhappy in another you solve the problem by figuring out the difference and you learn more about the plant.

I’m growing the understanding that even a stunted plant can give fruit.

I’m learning how to look at something that cannot speak to me, and see what is wrong because the things we see speak to us even if there are no words.

I’m learning how to watch. To understand when things can become stronger without being helped and when things need help in order to not fall under an assault of poor conditions.

I’m learning that things can survive catastrophe. Things can live through floods, through trees falling on them. Things can survive being dug up if they are lovingly re-planted.

I’m learning about resilience and the desire to survive and thrive.

I’m learning that even plants give priority to their young. A stunted plant in the most adverse conditions will give everything that it has to bear fruit. Even a single fruit. And even if it means that the plant itself will not grow much more.

I’m learning that it’s okay to start things without fully understanding them. And that you learn as you go.

I’m learning that the presence of weeds does not always interfere with the growth of a plant, and that sometimes it helps the plant in unexpected ways.  And that weeds are only bad if they compete with the plant.

I’m learning that plants will find a way to climb. And that if they can’t find a way to climb they will try to put out roots where they touch the ground.

I’m learning that you don’t have to be perfect.  Nothing has to be perfect. Nothing has to be easy. Life isn’t about easy. Life is about survival and finding ways to thrive.

Growing up deaf outside of the Deaf culture I learned a lot of negative things about myself. I learned that if you’re broken in some way you’re “disabled” and that life becomes about trying to live around that disability and trying to be “normal”. Or that you can eschew what you grew up with and choose another culture that seems so reactionary from the outside. My garden is teaching me that isn’t true. It’s about growing explosively in every direction that is still an option. It’s about existing to the point where that tiny thing about you is so overwhelmed by the rest of your existence that it barely even exists as a point of interest.  Yeah. Sure. I can’t grow watermelons. I’m a cucumber plant. Yeah. Sure. I can’t hear. Hearing doesn’t define my life. I’m all these other things.  I’m not the normal collection of attributes. I’m the collection of attributes that I am. And those attributes don’t revolve around this one tiny little thing that I can’t do.  Plants have taught me that you’re not defined by the things that are missing. You’re defined by how you grow. And if something is missing you grow differently but you grow. And grow. And grow.  Did I die when I lost my hearing? No. So that means I’m not the type of plant that dies easy. I’m the type of plant that grows around the missing thing. Great. Moving on.

Having a garden is teaching me about growth. You grow when you have the opportunity otherwise the opportunity passes and winter comes and you die. Which sounds like a horribly depressing understanding. But it’s not. It’s carpe diem. Grow while you have the chance. Grow with everything you’ve got. Grow. After the winter your children will grow without you. But this is all you’ve got. If you spend your life planning for the “next time” you lose all your chances. Grow. Now.

Having a garden is teaching me about the beauty of growing to form. Cucumbers look different from tomatoes which look different from greenbeans and which are different from lettuce. A plant that is beautiful to eat is beautiful when it has gone to seed. There are many different types of beauty. And a plant is beautiful when it is happy and healthy and in an environment where it can thrive. A pumpkin does not envy a carrot and a carrot does not envy a cucumber. The beauty of a daisy doesn’t steal from the beauty of a rose or the beauty of the flowers of a potato plant. I’m no more beautiful than you and you are no more beautiful than me.

Having a garden is teaching me about preference and the security of different choices. My daughter loves cucumbers. My son loves tomatoes. My daughter will not be as happy with a tomato, and my son will not be as happy with a cucumber. My partner would not be as happy with someone else as he is with me, just as I would not be as happy with someone else as I am with him. He sees in me all of the things that he loves just as I see in him all of the things that I love. I do not need to be insecure of this love just because I do not prefer myself over all the other alternatives. He prefers me just as I prefer him. And just as my children prefer the different fruits from different vines.

Having a garden now when my children are small teaches me different things than having it when they are grown. I learn to let go of the notion of perfection when my child pulls up a plant and holds it up to me like trophy. Instead I learn what there is to learn. I didn’t know that the plant had such shallow roots. No wonder it wilts in the heat, it cannot reach any deeper water. It will be happier with mulch. I didn’t know it smelled that way when its leaves were crushed, now I know how to identify it from the weeds. It helps me learn what weeds can co-exist happily, and what weeds kill plants.  When I can’t water the plants one day I learn which plants do better with less water and which plants truly  need water every day. 

I never had the opportunity to go to college, having dropped out of high school when the school system did not provide me with any accommodations for my deafness. It is tempting to say “I cannot do this because I have not been taught how to do it.” Oh but the best way to learn is through doing. I do not need to learn before I do. I can learn as I do. I can learn by doing. I can learn by being imperfect and flawed and by trying and reading and researching. I can leap in and learn.

And my children learn all of these lessons alongside me.

I don’t grow a garden for the vegetables. I grow it for the things that I learn about life.

This is why, when a tree falls on my garden I’m only momentarily upset. It is why the upset passes and is overtaken with fascination. It’s not often that you get to learn what happens when a tree falls on resilient things.

It’s one of the reasons why I wasn’t too pleased when the yard care people kept running over my plants at the beginning of the summer. Metaphors. The people in charge of helping the plants destroying them through a lack of knowledge and an unwillingness to care. The case worker in high school whose job it was to make sure accommodations were in place for my hearing loss so that I could succeed, but who instead told me that I was taking myself too seriously when I talked about my concerns that my falling grades would impact my ability to go to college.

My garden has confirmed for me that I do not like people who have a job that they refuse to do because they are just there for the paycheck.

That, too, teaches me a beautiful valuable thing. I will not simply “do my job at a minimum” when it comes to raising my children. I will not follow the poor examples given to me across my life. This is my job. I am not going to do it to the bare minimum. I’m going to be like the teachers that I saw who were deeply invested. I’m going to be like the guidance counselor that truly cared.

I garden because it lovingly rearranges the things inside my head that make me sad and depressed and confused and anxious and upset and angry. I garden because it reaffirms the positive and the beautiful and the strong.

If I wanted vegetables there’s a store just a mile away that sells more than I could ever grow. And it would take far less time to walk there. But I’d learn a lot less, too.  

For the Mama Who Says “Gentle Parenting Doesn’t Come Naturally to Me”

Dear Mama,

“Gentle parenting doesn’t come naturally to me.”

Maybe you’ve written me a letter saying this. Maybe I’ve seen it in a comment here or on Facebook. Maybe you’ve said it to me as an apology when you have sought advice. Maybe you’ve thought it as a reason why you should just give up. It doesn’t come naturally. It’s hard. It is a lot of work.

Shh.. Shush. Let me give you the words that you’re looking for. “This is a conscious choice.” Do you feel the power of those words? “I am making the conscious choice to parent gently.” You may not be a natural at it. You may not have had the role models for it. You may struggle. But you are making a conscious choice.  You are choosing the road that stretches your abilities. That is not easy or simple for you. You are making the conscious choice to parent your children gently.

You are making the conscious choice.

You are learning new ways.

You are trying to give your child the things your heart says are best.

You have put aside your fear of “failing” and you are doing something that comes hard.

Fill your toolbox up with the tools that help you along.

Don’t apologize for not being a ‘natural’.

Be proud, instead. Be proud of the conscious choice that you are making. Of the progress that you have made. Of the beauty of the feelings that you have overcome, of the hurdles you have conquered. Recognize the little seeds of gentleness that you have sown and watch them grow.

“I am making a conscious choice.” There are no words more powerful than that.

<3  Sarah

What Can I Find in the Moment That Sleep Didn’t Come?

“What am I looking for in this moment, my daughter in my arms?” Yes. Sometimes the answer is “sleep”. Just sleep. I want to be alone in the quiet. To do the things that I need to do before she wakes again.

“Am I finding it?” Sometimes yes. And sometimes no.

“What else can I find in this moment?” Sometimes that is the question that saves me.

Sleep will come eventually. She will be a preschooler, a gradeschooler, a teenager, an adult.. I will sit beside her as she learns to write, to draw, to create. I will sit beside her as she does her homework. I will sit beside her as she talks about boyfriends or girlfriends and heartbreak and hopes for her future. She will be sleeping then.

So what now? What can I find in this moment when that sleep isn’t coming anytime soon? When she is small and dimpled with only eight teeth?

Surely there is something in this moment to breathe in. Of course there is. There’s my pigtailed kicky-footed daughter here in this moment that we can never live again.

Hello little one. Hello little fingers that dimple at the backs of your hands. Hello little toes that barely find room for themselves on your little baby feet. Hello whispy flyaway pigtails. Hello deep blue eyes that search mine and that light up with a spark when you see that you have one hundred percent of my attention. Hello slobbery kisses and head-bonking hugs.

This wasn’t what I was looking for, but I found it in this moment where sleep didn’t come.

We laugh. We snuggle. I tell her that she is beautiful and strong and funny looking and sweet and marvelous and that I am happy to be spending this time with her.

Then when she starts rubbing her eyes I whisper softly that she is tired and that it’s time to sleep. She whines at the thought but then lays her head against my collarbone and drifts off slowly.

That was what she was looking for in that moment, and now that the moment has passed she succumbs peacefully to the sleep that her little body needs.

And I have what I was looking for, too. Just a little bit later and with precious moments that I would have otherwise missed.

Grow Like A Garden (Even Crushed by a Tree)

Dear Kids,

The year is 2013. The year that a gigantic horking tree crushed the garden that we had been tending to lovingly since spring. It was a huge tree. And it fell perfectly over the garden as though it had been perfectly designed to fill the landscaping timber rectangle with the heaviest part of its limbs. I saw one lone tomato plant off to the left that possibly had survived. Everything else seemed crushed.

That was Saturday.

Today is Monday. We went out to explore the impromptu leafy fort that the tree created. Bark benches and leafy canopies that had just recently been high up in the sky and that were now child-height and ripe for climbing.

As the three of you played I noticed that the pumpkin vine that had wilted in shock had sprung back to life and was growing rapidly out from under the tree in search of sunshine. The cucumbers that had been partially ripped from the ground and shriveled in the heat? They were putting out new roots and new new growth and trying to right themselves. The tomato plants that had been bent under were standing straight again, curved a bit at the base from the weight of the tree that still rests on them, but using the tree as their new trellis instead of staying crushed. And sunflowers which had been bug-eaten had decided to bloom.

Life is beautiful and resilient and it finds a way to continue on.

Grow like a garden when it is bathed in sunshine, kids. But more importantly, grow like that garden when it was crushed by a tree. Don’t be content to simply wither when life comes crashing down. Seek that sunshine. Put out those new roots. Grow strong again.

On Saturday I was disheartened by the loss of all the hard work that I had done. Today I am reminded that I can breathe. I can wait. I can ask myself the bittersweet question of “what beautiful new things will come from this?”

Because when given a chance.. Beautiful new things do come even when it seems like everything has been destroyed.

Grow like a garden crushed by a tree. Grow faster. Reach for the sunshine again. Have faith for what is there, even if you cannot see it yet. Thrive.

<3 Mama

Moments before it all came crashing down:

Seemingly Nothing left:

Self Discipline

The most important form of discipline is self discipline.

Self discipline is the internalization of what we are taught as children.

Do we want our kids to yell at themselves and beat themselves up when they make a mistake or do we want them to approach situations proactively? Do we want them to understand what not to do, or do we want them to understand the things that are to be done?

Do we want them to be able to say “Yes. I made a mistake. And I have to fix the mistake. What needs to be done?” Or do we want them to hide from their mistake and hope that no one notices?

Do we want them to view us as givers of advice or as dispensers of punishment? Do we want them to view us as people to talk to about paths to follow and avoid, or do we want them to view us as people that refuse discussion?

Our children are small for such a short time and they will be adults for most of their lives. Is it important that we control them in their childhood, or is it important that we teach them the tools that they will need to control their lives?

It is important for children to have boundaries. How do you go about establishing boundaries for your children and how do you go about enforcing them? Discuss. :)

Accepting the Soft Skin of my Belly That Used to Be Your Home

Dear Babygirl,

You like to roll the soft skin of my belly between your fingers as you gaze up at me and crinkle your blue eyes with happiness. When your daddy touches my belly I tend to push his hands away, self conscious of the skin that used to be taut and socially acceptable. Society has filled my head with nonsense about how my body should look. With you, though, I smile back and say “Yes. It’s soft.” I know it is because I’ve pinched it myself and felt the softness of it. So different from its former texture.  I’ve let go of the dismay and have tried to feel it the way you must feel it. Soft and pliable. Thinner closer to my belly button with that funny little wrinkle where I used to have a navel ring.

I know that to you at this age now I am nothing short of perfect. I am lovely. I am beautiful. I am comfort. I am everything that you need. And it feels so funny and strange to say this and to just accept it. You see, babygirl.. So many women are so full of self loathing and after we have babies our bodies are “damaged” and we have to get ourselves back to what we were before our babies were born.

You know none of that. To you my belly is just soft and wonderful, a sweet comfortable part of your mommy. It is perfect. It is beautiful. It is where you used to live. It stretched out as you grew. And now it is something to knead and play with the way you might play with a soft blanket.

How can I dislike something that you love so much? Something that you find so much comfort and joy in? How can I take the opinions that others write down in magazines as something more important than yours?

Yes. I love my body and the softness that you have given it. I love the reminder of where you grew. I love that this softness is your safe place in the dark of the night when you are having a hard time sleeping. I love that you find comfort there.

As you grow older you might choose to change your views to match the way this culture thinks. You might tell me that I am ugly and you might fear that your body will one day resemble mine. I won’t mind, because I held those same thoughts in my head before my first child was born.

One day if you choose to have a child.. You’ll hold that child on your belly and you’ll breathe in a startling deep truth. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And no beholder is more important than your child. You’ll realize that no other opinion matters as much as that of the little human in your arms.

Yes, little one. It’s soft and wonderful in your hands. Yes, little one, it squishes as you push your feet against it while you nurse. And yes, it’s beautiful to you. And it’s beautiful to me as well, because it brings you joy.

As you grow you may find me less than beautiful. That’s okay. That is how this society works, there’s a single “beautiful” stage that you grow into and that you swiftly pass out of. As a baby you taught me that this is a lie. You are beautiful as you are born-wrinkled and covered in vernix. You are beautiful as you grow, small and uncoordinated. You are beautiful as you toddle about covered in jam and sand. You are beautiful when you are young. You are beautiful when you are older and softer with bags under your eyes from long nights with a child that you love. You are beautiful as your children grow. You are beautiful as you hold your grandchildren. And you are beautiful as they grow.

The thing that makes you beautiful isn’t taut skin and dark eyelashes. It’s not smooth hair and dimples. It’s not the flawlessness of youth nor the marks of age.

Joy is what makes you beautiful. You have given me this.

<3 Mama

Upcoming Co-Ops – Comment if interested

I’ve been asked to run a few co-ops.

Comment if interested, let me know which co-ops you’d be interested in, how many/what type, and I’ll email you with the details and order spreadsheets. Price breaks will depend on the number of people interested in each co-op. 

WIO Bracelets
(Closing August 1, shipping time depends on vendor.)
Options will include a rubber style band bracelet and a stamped metal bracelet with a suede, silk or vegan cord. Voting will take place for what to have on the bracelet. “WIO” or a WIO phrase/reminder.

Alva Pocket Diapers
(Closing July 26- shipping 1-2 weeks after closing if in stock.) 

Custom Embroidered Cotton gauze fabric for DIY projects  52″ x 52″, 26″ wide 5, 6 and 7 yards, or 52″ wide 5, 6 and 7 yards. 
(For use in DIY projects such as wraps, swaddling blankets, cotton “play silk” style cloths, curtains, etc.)
(Closing July 26- shipping 1-3 weeks after closing. Limited availability)