Thursday, September 26, 2013

Disgruntled Customer

I got to watch my friend's funeral today, thanks to modern technology.  

I couldn't help but wonder how many of the tears we shed at funerals are really about ourselves.

It is terrifying to think that we are so vulnerable and small, and that we could simply drop dead one day, with no warning, before our babies are grown and safely navigating the waters of the world.  

Listening to the commonly-spoken words of the pastor offered no comfort to me.  

"Jesus has conquered death."  Yeah, except no.  Because my friend is dead and her son doesn't have his mother any more.

"Your mom will be with you all the days of your life."  Yes, everything she imparted will be there, but there is still going to be a cavernous void where a loving mother should be.

"She is home where she belongs."  Yeah, except no.  Mothers belong with their babies.  Children need their parents.  Frankly, if I die before I get to see each of my children safely grown, I will be one seriously disgruntled customer!  I will not be home.  I will have been painfully severed from my home and my heart.  Honestly, I cannot imagine heaven being good enough to warrant calling me off the job of motherhood.  I am already doing what I was made for.  Eternity can wait for me.  I'll catch up eventually.

"She has started *her real life*"  Frankly, if someone were to tell my children that I've gotten to start my REAL life once I was removed from them, I would be pissed.  THIS IS MY REAL LIFE.  This is the life God gave me.  This is what I do.  It is real.  Really, really real.  And it matters.  It matters a lot.  The here and now is our space, people.  Why are we encouraged to think otherwise?

I think that, though well-meaning, so many of these sayings end up diminishing the incredible loss that people have experienced.

A child is now motherless.
A man is now a widower.
A sister has lost her sister.
Parents have buried their child.
Friends are left with a huge loss.

No talk of "our heavenly home" can diminish the depth of the loss.  I feel concerned that perhaps the children of dead parents hear these things and feel that their loss doesn't really count, in light of eternity.

Honestly, hearing cliches and platitudes at funerals make me think that if I die young I better DIY like I always do, because that's the way I roll.  "If you want something done right....."  Seriously....everyone would walk into my funeral and they'd get a big screen of ME telling them what I actually think.

Death stinks.

I have not had enough time.

At the very least, I want to finish the job with my kids.

I am a disgruntled customer.  I want my money back.

Heaven is great, but I would have rather been on the 90-year plan for getting here.

Now, if I do get to be on the 90-year plan, I'll be ready with a different message.  OK?

Sunday, September 15, 2013


After our terribly sad news of our friend's death, it felt even harder than usual to push on with school.  Particularly since we don't really want to be doing this type of school any more.

We had a gorgeous fall day.  While we had one child just about spitting nails over his Latin assignment, my husband whispered to me,

"What if we ditch school and go to the apple orchard?"

You're talking my language, honey!

We loaded everybody up and headed out.  

It felt great.  This is what life should look like.

Not crying over stinkin Latin.

Tomorrow we will "pay the price" for our day of fun and our busy/relaxing weekend.  I don't know if we will be able to get everything done.  -sigh-

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mothers: Love Your Kids With Wild Abandon.

Someone posted on facebook about her child losing a tooth.

Someone else responded that her child had just lost his first tooth.

She told how she had told him to wash it in a bowl of water, but the child had instead tried to wash it in the faucet, and the tooth had slipped away down the drain.  She proudly told how he had cried for two hours over his loss, and she had no sympathy for him whatsoever.  Instead, she made him write a letter of apology to the tooth fairy, saying he was sorry for disobeying his mother by not washing his tooth in a bowl.

My thoughts?  Not very charitable.  And they included a not nice word for the mom.

This mother was a major Ezzo/Babywise enthusiast back in the day when she was pregnant with her first child.  There was a lot of fallout in the relationships at our church due to that crap.

So it was not surprising to see that, just as she was taught to be disconnected, rigid, and cold with her babies, she continues to do the same with her children as they have grown.


Another friend on facebook was asking for suggestions of mean things she could do to her daughter to make her get up more quickly in the mornings.

Suggestions like: ice cubes, loud music, jumping on the bed, putting her hand in a bowl of warm water, strong lighting, etc.

This is a homeschool mother.  I assume they don't actually have an emergency need to get out the door by a certain time most days.

While many people gleefully added their cruel and rude suggestions to the list, I told her my belief:

For all of my parenting career I have held the belief that I want every day to end with peace and love and security, and I want every day to begin with the same.

Therefore, I have never been willing to have my children cry themselves to sleep, and I do not allow people to be rudely awakened in the mornings.

Amazingly, my older children have been able to get themselves up and out the door in the early mornings without any help from me at all.  The younger ones don't need to yet, but I trust that when the time comes, they will be able to as well.

My goal is for home to be a safe, loving place where people feel accepted and cared for.

Not everyone wakes easily in the morning.  Different ages and stages require different amounts of sleep.  Homeschooling allows us the freedom to be gentler most of the time, and that is a beautiful thing.  But even without homeschooling, you can allow people the opportunity to wake up in a way that isn't rude.

Children deserve our respect, just like everyone else does.  You wouldn't wake a visiting guest with an air horn or ice cubes.  Why treat your precious children this way?

Sadly, the ice-cube-wakeup-mom is also an Ezzo/Babywise supporter.


I strongly, STRONGLY believe that the way we approach welcoming pregnancy, birth, and nurturing our babies informs our parenting through all the ages.  Sure, you can make changes and improve (and don't we all need to, on some level?!).  But, the mother's heart (and father's heart) that you have for your children, and the relationships and trust (or lack of) and memories and goodwill are all forming the foundation of a lifetime (and for generations!) with your children.

My oldest child is 21.  I still see the power of the love and attachment between us in our relationship.  He has traveled around the country, lived away from home for quite awhile, paid his own bills, gotten good employment, and had healthy and successful relationships with others.  Extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, not letting him cry it out, not sending him away to school when he was young....none of these things seem to have done anything but build positive things.  He exhibits none of the nonsensical traits that people like the Ezzos warn will come of parenting with deep love and attachment.  I am seeing the positive results of loving with wild abandon, and choosing to not violate my own conscience in my parenting choices.

I'm on the tail end of my parenting journey now.  The "baby" is 10, and we'll be seeing 5 more of our chickadees flying from the nest on a regular basis over the next 8 years or so.  It is good to have so few regrets.  (and exactly -zero- of those regrets come from loving with wild abandon.  They come from the few times that I allowed someone else to sway me into something I knew instinctively was not right for us.)  I wish other parents could feel the same.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My friend died

My friend died last night.

It was sudden.  There was no warning.

I'm in shock.

Reminders of our mortality can be so harsh.

One of the things I am thinking about is:

If I knew I was living my last days, am I spending it as I would wish to be?

That's a tough question, because there is so much about going onward in our everyday lives that isn't necessarily charmed or inspired or especially meaningful.  We go to work to earn the paycheck to pay the bills.  We do the school to get the education to go forward from there.

This school year has already found me feeling at odds with what I feel I must do, and what I really want to do and feel would be better for us.  Today's news of the loss of my friend brings this to my mind again.  It makes my everyday life feel like a gamble:  If I stay the course, if I'm fortunate, eventually we will be through this season and free to do something that we'd rather be doing.  If I don't stay the course and jump ship now, some money would be "lost" but freedom would be gained.  It would also be unsettling for some of my kids, though also a blessed relief for others!

If I knew I was coming down the home stretch of my life right now, I like to think we'd ditch the schooling situation we're in and head to New England to see the fall leaves, and I'd spend time with the kids bundled up in cozy blankets around the living room while reading them Little Britches, Kildee House, and Sign of the Beaver.  We'd finally get around to having that Harry Potter movie marathon day, and the LOTR movie marathon day.  We'd play Guitar Hero, and I'd remember to buy the replacement Wii remotes.  We'd take a school day to go to the apple orchard and pick apples and buy cider to fill the downstairs fridge.  I'd have time to cook nicer meals, and we'd get out Gram's china plates and enjoy having everything look nice, and we'd talk around the table more.

Unfortunately, most of us can't really "live like there's no tomorrow."  If we did, tomorrow would eventually be a shambles.  I guess the trick is to find ways to continue to focus on the important things, to live with purpose, and to enjoy the blessings that we have all around us each day.

I know my friend would agree.  She was a really special person.  What a huge loss for all who knew her.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

10 years ago this is how I felt

When my kids were all fairly little and I had multiple babies, I had a vivid dream one night that I was driving across a bridge near our home, except I was trying to drive two cars simultaneously.  Of course I had all the kids with me.  The car with all the kids in it went over the bridge into the river below.  I went with it, and as the car was underwater I was wrestling to get car seats unbuckled and get kids to safety.  Some of the seats couldn't unbuckle for some reason, so then I somehow had the strength to just wrench the whole entire car seat up out of the car and bring it to the surface.  So, I single-handedly saved all six kids, got them to shore, and we sat there shivering til my husband arrived.  I told him what had happened and he was like, "Well, it's not really *that* big of a deal.  Let's just go home."

That pretty much sums up how I felt about my life at that time.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

A Missed Opportunity

"Any prayer requests?" was asked, almost as an afterthought at the end of our quick tutor meeting this morning before CC.

I don't think there has ever been an opportunity to share prayer requests before in any of these meetings, but today there was, and one person had one.

While setting up her classroom that morning she had received a call from her doctor's office, saying that they needed to follow up on a recent mammogram by getting additional images of one of her breasts.  While this may be totally routine and insignificant, it felt scary and threatening to this woman.

As she told us this and started to cry, I was kind of shocked to see that although all the caring women in the room were certainly looking sympathetic, nobody moved toward her.  Sure, the two gals sitting on either side of her started patting her arm or whatever.  But all I could think was


but nobody did.  (We prayed for her, but we didn't gather around her.)

And then I sat there questioning myself.  Most of the women in that room know her better than I do.  I wasn't sure if her personality is such that she would find a group hug helpful, or just opening a floodgate of tears right before she has to walk out to teach a class full of children.

I could understand so well that thing that people do when they don't know what to do when hard things are happening.  I was doing it.  And I did very little.  She sat and cried, and I felt like she must feel so alone, and nobody was making her feel safer or less alone.

So I learned another lesson today:  Taking action to show tangible evidence of care and concern will not be regretted.  Taking little or no action will be.

I wrote her an email this afternoon and told her that I'm sorry that I missed the opportunity to show her more clearly that I care.

Next time I hope to do better.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Many Varied Wishes

As I've recently had some time to spend on my various business ventures, I've been reminded of how much I enjoy it.  Like so many things in my world, when I'm *into* something, I'm really into it, and when I'm not, I'm not.  (As in, sometimes I can barely remember why I was ever doing that other thing in the first place.)  Stuff that is on my front burner is often really important to me and making me happy in some way.  And stuff that is on the back burner?  I don't even remember to look.

So, good news!  I like what I do.

Here's the catch: I like to do lots of things.

Tonite we picked a laundry basket-full of June apples.  They are sitting in my kitchen now, smelling lovely, politely waiting to be turned into applesauce and juice.  Maybe tomorrow, I think to myself.  Though I didn't get any business work done today, so how can I let tomorrow go, too?

My mom tells me that there are zillions of wild blackberries all along the creek at her house, almost ready to be picked.  While blackberries are not my very favorite, how could I turn down the opportunity for FREE, ORGANIC berries of any sort?!  I can't.  That's what.  So I have no idea when I actually have time for this, but someday soon we are going to get our Snake Boots* on, gather up our buckets, and go get us some berries!

Some days I feel like I could happily spend my time baking, picking apples, freezing and canning food, and staying otherwise occupied in home and hearth activities.

Other days I feel like I want to go back to using Sonlight and reading books to my kids every day.  (and while away from CC I have a hard time remember what I love about it.  Thankfully I *can* remember that I do think it is a great program, and have decided to just stop arguing with myself about it since we're all paid up for the coming year and that's what we'll be doing. Right now I feel like I will be going through the school year with a critical eye of evaluation on everything, cataloging it away for future decision making.)

I'd like to curl up with some good books and have days and days and weeks and weeks to read.  I'd stay in my bathroom and never wear a bra.

I'd like to stay up late, take liberal naps, and sleep in every day til whenever I wake up.  I'd like to have the freedom to completely screw up my sleep schedule, never need to make my hair look presentable, and rarely leave the house.  I have an eccentric hermit fantasy inside of me, yes I do.  Maybe one day.....

*why Snake Boots?  Because they don't call it Copper Creek for nothing!
**Am I scared of the snakes?  Yes.  But I think if we mow the area first, watch where we're stepping, and bang around some sticks or something, we should be ok.
***I am becoming concerned that we might be risking our lives for berries.  Which seems stupid.  (How much are the organic berries at Trader Joe's???)
****Now I am re-thinking the entire venture.  Hmmm.......Doesn't really seem worth it, does it?  Assessing risk vs. benefit....