Tag Archives: support

Why I Nurse in Church (Without a Cover)

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I’ve been working on this essay, off & on, for several weeks. I’m pretty proud of it, although I’m still tweaking it. I think that, despite needing further detail edits, my voice is pretty strong here. I’m satisfied enough to post it.

I realize that someone my read this who could choose to be offended by it, either the subject or my attitude regarding it. However, I feel strongly that breastfeeding in church is a pertinent issue affecting moms today, and that it is relevant to my personal life, to the breastfeeding world at large, and to the strangely oversensitive Christian church & culture, in general. I won’t apologize for these personal beliefs.

So if breastfeeding offends you and you have nothing nice to say about it, please disregard this post and seek your mental nourishment elsewhere.

I’m sad that I even have to say that. :-(

For those who will, enjoy my recent essay. :-)

Read the rest of this entry

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Letter to My 16-year-old Self

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Dear 16-year-old me,

You’ve already gone through some hell, & right now, you’re trying to cover up the heartache. I know. It’s ok. Things happened. The people who were supposed to treasure & protect you, well, they failed. It wasn’t your fault. It was theirs. Don’t let it define you, b/c you’re so much more than any of those things.

And that feeling you keep having, that desire to be part of nature, listen to it. It’s legitimate, it’s real, it’s worthy. And so are you. You were made beautiful. You were given a light that shines through your darkness. Don’t let anyone snuff it out.

Oh, the boys. I promise you, their opinions aren’t worth even half what you think. What happened to you 7 years ago, that thing you don’t ever allow yourself to remember, it changed your perceptions. It made you think that a boy’s opinion mattered. It defined you. It stole from you, your family, relationships, self-worth, & dreams. It wasn’t your fault, & it really is as bad as you think. Deal with it now. Remember it, feel the anger & pain, talk about it with your therapist. I promise that nothing bad will come of talking about it. You will cry & rail & break down, but you will heal so much faster, allowing you to recapture your dreams & let go of the fear that haunts you.

Don’t let your mother’s disregard stop you from pursuing your dreams. Fight for them. Her problems do not have to be yours. Some day you’ll understand what’s wrong with her, & you’ll be able to forgive her.

And whatever you do, don’t cut your dad out of your life. I know he scares you. I know you don’t understand him. But I also know that he loves you so very much. He will die before you’re ready, & unexpectedly, at that. And your heart will break, b/c no matter everything that’s happened, he’s still your daddy. Let the hate go. It will poison you & steal your light, your love.

The truth is that your parents are afraid. Your light intimidates them, casting out shadows they hide in, unintentionally illuminating truths they don’t want to see. You are their mirror, & they fear you doing what they’ve done. They struggle to see you as you are, free of their self-imposed filters. They are wounded & have wounded you without knowing. They will grieve this. Do not punish them. Forgive them. Heal.

Try harder. Do your homework. Help around the house cheerfully. Be home by curfew. In only a few years, you’ll be free. If you can learn how to discipline yourself  now, you’ll succeed when you leave. Learn how to make a budget & manage your little income. This will save you a huge lesson & tons of money when you’re 18. Go to college, & try harder. If you don’t, you will find yourself in your 30s with no degree & few options.

Finish what you start. No matter how insignificant. If you can discipline yourself to finish things now, you will be able to look back  on it with self-satisfaction. If it matters to you, then it matters, period. And it is worth finishing.

Worry less about what others think of you & worry more about what you think of yourself. You’ll have to live with yourself. They won’t. And they probably won’t be around in 5 years to have an opinion anyway. Don’t live for them.

Listen to your gut. It’s a lesson you’ll learn eventually anyway, but it will save you so much grief if you can learn it sooner. You can trust yourself, young though you are. Despite what others say, your youth is not a handicap. You are trustworthy & intelligent. You’ll still make mistakes, but you’ll make fewer of them & learn more quickly in the process.

You are worthy of love. You don’t have to earn it. You do not have to be someone or something you’re not to have it. You do not have to compromise your values or beliefs or your very self to deserve it. You are already loved by your Maker, although you probably won’t really grasp what kind of love that is until you have children.

And you will have children. Two amazing, beautiful girls who will benefit from all the things you have gone through. You will be better able to protect them, love them, & cherish them b/c of your past. But learn from it first, so you’ll be ready. These girls will completely alter your view of your life.

Throw the damn cigarettes away. You don’t even like them. They will take over your life & leave you feeling guilty & ashamed. Save the drinking for later. Otherwise, your 21st birthday will be kinda lame. Go ahead & smoke pot when you’re offered it at 17, tho. That’s the only one you won’t regret.

Don’t do the Lupron treatment!!! You’ll understand when you get there.

Save your virginity. It is valuable, & your heart will crack if you give it to someone you don’t love with all you have. Remember, you are worth loving. You don’t have to sell yourself out.

You’re not fat, no matter what your parents say. You have an amazing body that can do amazing things. Dance. Your body loves it, & your soul thrives on it. Focus your energy into creating what is beautiful. Your body will respond to & exceed the challenge, & you will be amazed. Try belly dancing. You have a natural affinity for the sensual. This is not wrong. It is a gift that was given to you from birth. Use it wisely.

Be kind. Do not make fun of others or worry what others will think of you. Just be kind. Stand up for the underdog. You have a passion for justice. Do not let it be smothered by your need for acceptance.

Love openly. Love freely. Love everyone. You understand them, better than most. Learn how to channel your empathy, otherwise your heart will grow hard. If you allow that to happen, you will lose a large part of who you are. And you will miss yourself.

You will meet a man. I won’t tell you when, b/c I don’t want you to focus on it. I just want you to know that it will happen. And you will bring him hope. Tread carefully. He’s a beautiful, f’d up man. You will recognize him instantly, & he’ll own your heart. Love him. Take care of him. But see him for who he really is, not who he could be. Accept his flaws & forgive him. Be real. And be honest & up front with your demands & expectations. He will rise to them, if only he knows them. But don’t expect too much. He’s only a man. He’s your other half, & your souls knew each other before you met. Wait for him. He’ll make you his.

But more important than anything else I’ve said here, please love yourself now. Not what you’ll be, not what you can do, just for who you are right now. The beautiful, loving, funny, busy girl who’s dreaming big, impossible dreams. This confusion you’re lost in will pass, & you’ll remain. Sift through the influences, & toss out the bad advice. Whatever does not resonate with your spirit is not worth holding onto.

Your family has hurt & betrayed you. You’re still here. The church has failed you. God is still here. Your friends will come & go. There are a few who will always be here. Cling to these truths. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are worthy. So be at peace with your present, & look with joy to your future. It’s going to be amazing.

Love, Me (age 31 years & 11 months)

Children need to be liked

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“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

That’s what my dad told me when I was in my early teens, & it still rings in my ears to this day.

I don’t remember why he said it or how the conversation came about. What I took away from it is that my dad didn’t think I was a good person. When I’m feeling insecure as an adult, which is more often than I like to admit, his voice & those words still echo in my head. They make me question my value, my worth.

If my own dad couldn’t like me, why would anyone?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Especially as I’ve gotten older & had children of my own, I think I can understand what he was saying. He didn’t like choices I was making. He didn’t like attitudes I displayed. He didn’t like how I treated others at times.

But what he told me is that he didn’t like me.

So obviously, there is something wrong with me. I am defective in some way.

He never told me why he didn’t like me very much. If he’d tried, I’m not sure it would have mattered. The fact is that, according to him, anything likeable about me was negated by the rest of me.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Those were his exact words. I still remember his exact words. They’ve defined a part of me that I’m not sure will ever change.

Most of us take our parents love for granted. Most of us assume that they like us, too.

Can you imagine if your parent(s) didn’t like you? What kind of hit to your self-esteem do you suppose that would be? Would you wonder how in the world they could love you if they couldn’t even like you? Would it make you doubt their love? Would it make you wonder if anyone ever truly liked you if your own parent didn’t? How important would it be to you, then, whether or not other people liked you? What would you do to get someone to like you?

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

As parents, we are the creators & protectors of our children, from their physical bodies to their emotional development, even down to influencing their personalities. We help them define who they are and how they see themselves.

We wield so much power.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

Even though I now think he really meant that he didn’t like certain things I was doing or saying, a part of me can never say for certain that my dad actually liked me. Since he died seven years ago, I can’t ask him either.

I try to consider how he treated me to give myself some perspective. That’s a tough one, since he crossed over to the dark side (in other words, physical & verbal abuse) on several occasions. It’s hard to not believe that he wouldn’t have beaten me if he’d liked me.

What did I do to make my dad not like me?

I’ve answered that question in a hundred different ways over the years. None of that made me feel any better, nor did it “cure” my battered self-esteem.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’ve spent most of my life since that day trying to fix myself. I’ve done things I’m ashamed of in order to “earn” someone liking me. I’ve changed my personality, altered my physical appearance, participated in risky behavior, all to earn that elusive “like” of which I’m so undeserving.

It affects almost every relationship I’ve had since, even my marriage. I doubt almost every person’s claim of love. I analyze every compliment. I worry any time someone is “busy” & can’t spend time with me. I question whether people really want me or just want something from me. I accept every criticism in complete & utter humiliation as just more proof of how worthless I am.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

It became the defining statement of my life.

“I love you, but I don’t like you very much.”

I’m now a mother. I look at my children. I’m filled with the most ferocious, overwhelming love that often threatens to swallow me whole. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to preserve their physical safety, their emotional health, their mental development, their sensitive spirits, their very souls.

And I like them. A lot.

I like their inquisitive minds. I like their questions. I like that they call for Mommy when they’re scared or hungry or lonely or bored. I like their intelligence. I like their smiles. I like their view of the world. I like that they don’t fear me (or much of anything else, for that matter). I like to be there for them, to calm them down when they’re overwhelmed, to share in their simple triumphs, to watch as understanding dawns across their beautiful faces.

I like them. I like who they are. I like who they will become. I like how I feel when I’m with them. I like that they came from me. I like that I see the future in them.

I like them, & so I tell them.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

It’s the only way I know how to quiet my father’s voice. Whenever I sense its presence, I pull whichever child is nearby and handy into a big hug and whisper those words. The words I wish I’d heard instead.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

I say it often. No one ever sees us. No one ever hears it but my girls. Sometimes, they don’t even hear it except in their dreams. But I’m imprinting it on their souls.

To me, they’re the most miraculous part of life. They are a wonder. No matter where they go, what they do, who they become, they will always amaze me. I will always love them, & I will always like them, too.

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

If I don’t like something they’re doing, then I have to look at myself & figure out what I’ve been teaching them.

If we don’t like our children, who learn from & mimic us, then really, isn’t it possible that we just don’t like ourselves? And is that really their fault? And are we really so unlikable? Really?

“I love you, and I really like you, too.”

Our children take our love for granted. I want my children to take my like for granted, too.

Because ultimately, while we all want to be loved, don’t we all really want to be liked, too?

I like my girls. I bet you like your children, too.

You should tell them.

The Importance of Connection for Moms

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I joined a local moms group last year in an effort to expose my eldest daughter to children her own age. My concern was that we didn’t know very many people with young children, & as she began talking about having friends, I didn’t have anyone toward whom I could point her. So we joined the group. Until then, I hadn’t realized how much I missed connecting with other moms.

I have other friends, but they have either already been through the infant & toddler years, or they don’t yet have children. I didn’t have any friends who were in the same place in their lives. No one with whom to discuss the frustrations of potty training & discipline & the death of nap time. And I didn’t realize how refreshing it would be to connect with other women who are dealing with the exact same thing.

There’s a whole group of us, & we coordinate a monthly calendar of activities to fill our weeks with socializing & constructive play. It’s a totally different experience heading off to the zoo with four other moms & their kiddos instead of just me & my offspring. And with our combined children, it’s no problem to set up activities like a tour of the local fire house.

While I’m able to gain much-needed support & encouragement as a mom, I also get ideas for how I can better mother my children. Whether it be an idea for a fun activity or a potty training tip or just a reminder of how I look when I finally lose my temper with my toddler, I’m getting a clearer picture of the kind of mother I want to be.

No, we don’t all agree with each other, but no one criticizes anyone else for our differences. Granted, I’m probably the crunchiest mother there, from what I’ve gathered, but I’ve still connected with AP parents & breastfeeders & non-spankers. Everyone has their own style, & when we find common ground, we quickly combine forces to learn as much as possible from each other while reminding ourselves that we’re not the only ones.

I can’t say that I want to be close friends with every mom in our group either, but there’s no one I actively dislike, which is a blessing. It makes the group that much more pleasant. Sometimes we even set up a moms night out, & we go to dinner with each other sans children. (It’s a real treat to occasionally not have to share my food.) Some even swap babysitting to get an occasional night out with the hubs.

So my one piece of advice to any mother, if I were to ever be asked for advice, is to try to connect with other moms who are in the same place in life. There is so much to be gained from the relationships one builds in these groups, & chances are, there’s a moms group in almost every town across the USA, from a formal club (like MOPS or MOMS Club) to an informal group that utilizes evite.com or some other organizational tool. So far, I’ve found four such groups in my small town.

A moms group is as much for yourself as for your children. It’s networking, socialization, education, & entertainment all in one place. It’s an opportunity to connect. It’s important, because it reminds you that you’re not alone.

To find a formal, local chapter, check out:

  • MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) – An international, Christian organization for mothers with preschoolers. Other age groups available.
  • MOMS Club – A national, secular organization for mothers.

I’m Better Than You, or Why can’t we all just get along?

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No, I’m not.

I probably got your attention, though.

I’m not better than anyone, & I know this very well.

Yet there seems to be an issue with parents in claiming superiority over other parents because of parenting choices, & it’s on both sides of the fence. I find it annoying. Sometimes, it’s downright dangerous.

Because I attachment parent & try to keep things natural & organic (read “I turned out to be crunchier than I or anyone else expected”), which involves following my instincts to encourage a safe, secure, confident relationship between my children & me while constantly researching & learning about everything, I’ve come under fire many times from all different directions, including family, friends, the medical industry, & more. I’ve gained support from other parents who also follow attachment parenting guidelines through friends, blogs, Facebook, & various online sites. I’m confident that the decisions I’m making for my children are the best ones…for MY children.

I’m not going to tell you that you’re making the wrong decisions for yours. I’m not going to accost you with studies & evidence & whatever else, then beat you over the head with it. I believe you love your children, as I love mine, & you will make decisions based on what you know & believe is best. If I disagree with you, I’ll usually keep my mouth shut & try to continue to offer my support. If I disagree strongly, I might respectfully offer my own view on things. But I’m not going to try to make you feel bad. I’m not going to try to change you or convince you that I know better. Because I don’t.

You know your children best, while I know mine best. You love your children more than anyone else does, just like I love my children more than anyone else does. You worry about your decisions regarding your children, & I worry about mine.

Whether it’s to vaccinate or not vaccinate, to spank or not to spank, to breastfeed or formula feed…the decisions are endless. The information available, overwhelming.

This month’s cover of Time.

Time Magazine made Attachment Parenting its cover topic this month, & while I found some of the articles to be rather positive, on the whole, I was disappointed to see the inflammatory approach straight from the cover.

First, there’s the picture, which is completely unnatural & which I think is intentionally sensualized. From the discussion I’ve seen in the AP community, moms are torn. Some of them love it, others hate it, & some are trying to see it positively. I’m just not impressed.

Then there’s the caption: “Are you mom enough?” Ummmm…so when did AP become a the scales by which we rate motherhood? And when did AP become a solely mother-based parenting style? And how is a non-AP mother supposed to not feel judged? This just fuels the disconnect between parents who go AP & everyone else. And it makes me mad. Or disappointed. Or both.

It’s things like this, the misrepresentation of AP, the encouragement to judge & deem lacking, that continues to divide us as parents & erode our support systems.

I’ve left AP boards because they attacked anyone who dared spank their child. Even though they had some good, evidence-based arguments to back them up, their volatile response to those who spanked was not only completely inappropriate, but it alienated a parent who might have been interested in the studies against corporal punishment otherwise.

I guess what I’m getting at is that we should all be working together, not being divided by our differences in style. We should be sharing information, educating each other, defending each other, praying for each other.

The fact is, for every study you find supporting something, you can usually find another opposing it. The fact is, many happy, productive adults with good family relations were spanked as children. The fact is, we are all doing the best we know how, & we all love our children.

There is so much information out there, so many things to consider, that no one can be expected to get it all right. We don’t have to expect it of ourselves, & we don’t have to expect it of others either.

Let’s just all play nice.

That’s all I’m saying.