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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Expectations for the Grieving Soul

I have two dear friends who have both, sadly, lost a young child. You're probably familiar with them. If not, you can read about Rissa, Jessica, and Rocky HERE and Patrick and Julie HERE. And you should read about them.

Julie and Jessica grieved and continue to grieve, but they do so differently. What isn't different, though, is what I've noticed about those around them, which is the inspiration for this post. I've noticed that we, those around the grieving, place impossible expectations on them that I'd like to point out here:

- grieve the way I want you to grieve, the way I would grieve
- don't grieve for too long
- don't grieve too little
- be soothed by what I'd be soothed by
- be thankful for the time you had
- be angry for the time you didn't
- be grateful for everything I say
- let me do whatever I need to do for you
- help me feel better about your loss by saying "thank you" and "it's OK" a lot
- comfort me while I'm comforting you in the way that I want to be comforted
- fall apart, so I know you really care
- don't fall apart more than I deem appropriate
- come up with something for me to do for you, so that I can feel better
- don't ask for too much, though, because my empathy only runs so deep and stops when it gets inconvenient
- answer all of my questions, however prying they may be
- come to me with your feelings, because I need to feel like I'm the special one you lean on
- believe as I believe regarding God, gods, the Goddess, reincarnation, etc., so that I can comfort you as I wish

The list goes on and on.

Stop it.

It's likely you don't see yourself in this post. I don't believe anyone places these expectations on the grieving soul purposely, but I do believe the majority of folk do, indeed, make this grave mistake. So before you write this post off as not pertaining to you, as being for "those other people," reflect deeply on your interactions with those who grieve and maybe, just maybe, make a few adjustments as needed for them and the next grieving person you encounter, because, sadly, there will be another...and another and another and another...and what they need from us is whatever they need, which has not a thing to do with you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One of the Many Ways We Dismiss Kids as Less Than

My son has thick, curly, red hair. It's stunning. That on top of his gorgeous face makes for a very outwardly pretty kid. Strangers regularly comment, point, and do that little squeal-y noise. We smile and thank them. Strangers don't know him, so they don't know all the other things that make him so much more beautiful than what they see.

This is all fine and good until they cross the line into touching him. This also happens with disturbing regularity. And it pisses him off. I can't say as I blame him. It pisses me off for him.

Most strangers would never dream of coming up to an adult and tousling their hair. Likely, this is out of fear that the person under the hair would break the stranger's arm as the first finger came to rest upon them. Yet, this is done to kids with wanton thoughtlessness and a gross dismissal of the fact that they're people, too, with the right to bodily autonomy and personal space that the rest of us claim and expect.

If you wouldn't do something to an adult or wouldn't want it done to you, don't do it to a child. Simple. Respectful.

Now, I get a lot of flack for complaining about this on my son's behalf. I'm supposed to excuse it, because "it's always old people who do it and they come from a different era" or "some people can't help themselves around such cuteness" or some other flimsy excuse. I'm not here to advocate for those who cannot think through their actions to the consequences they might have for others. I'm here to advocate for my son. As such, I'm here to say:

Stop petting my son as you would a dog. He is a person. He is not an animal. He deserves the respect you would afford anyone else. This goes for his peers, as well.

Kids learn respect by observing it. Give it to everyone, yes, even kids, and we'll be well on our way to a more respectful world. Funny how that works out, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Can't" in Seven Sentences

There's a scene in Mr. Peabody & Sherman in which Sherman wants to fly a Leondardo DaVinci machine, but he's sure, though, that he hasn't the ability to do so, since Mr. Peabody has told him as much on many occasions. That voice is in his head, paralyzing Sherman even as he finds himself in the sky, plummeting to his certain death, while he repeats what he's heard so many times, "I can't fly."

Until he does; he flies.

Then Mr. Sherman calls up to him, afraid, of course, "But you can't fly, Sherman!" And all of a sudden, Sherman can no longer fly.

This is my favorite scene for what it tells us about what fear and lack of confidence in both ourselves and others who look up to us can do. So, to myself and my son, I say, "You can do it - whatever it is."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Compassion in Seven Sentences

I don't need to have experienced someone else's hard times to feel for them. I don't need to have anything in common with someone to experience empathy. I don't even need to have met someone to love and care for them.

As such, I have put together an online silent auction for Julie from The Progressive Parent. We've never met, but we're friends; I've never lost a child, but I never stop hurting for her hurt; I've never been in the position of losing a car and being stranded, but I can imagine myself in her position and wouldn't want to be there. So, I gathered together a group of compassionate people who have donated their services and goods for what is turning out to be a wonderfully successful event.

Click HERE to start bidding in the name of compassion.

(A smattering of the items up for grabs:)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Birthdays in Seven Sentences

How is he four already? Time really does fly when you're having fun and I've certainly never had more fun than I've had being his mama. He was JUST born, it seems, and now he's this precocious, hilarious, independent, wonderful little weirdo.

He spent the whole day expressing his excitement through little jumps and wiggles, thanking us for his gifts and cake, repeating "best. birthday. ever." over and over. What more is there? What an amazing person he was even at birth, is now, and is growing into. I could spend time reflecting on what was or pondering what will be, but I think I'd rather spend now playing with, laughing with, hugging, loving, and enjoying my four-year-old best friend.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

30 Things Series #30: 10 Things For Which I Hope to Be Remembered

This is it. This is the final installation of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series. I'm so very glad I've written this all down for my son to read some day. Thinking of what he'll think when he does makes me smile and cringe equally. Knowing that he'll come away from it knowing me better so that we can know each other better makes me warm.

So, for the last time, I give to you:

10 things I would hope to be remembered for.

In no particular order:

1) being a good mom
2) being a good teacher
3) being a good activist
4) my willingness to try new tasks
5) doing what was right instead of what was easy
6) being good in a crisis/emergency
7) having a good work ethic
8) my intelligence
9) my willingness to change what I know is faulty about me, my thought processes, my values, etc.
10) my big laugh

I was going to expound upon each, but the great thing about this series is that, I think, if you've read them all along with knowing me throughout the years, you probably understand each one thoroughly anyway and without my explanation.

My sweet, if after reading these 30 posts, you take nothing more away from them than "I love you a million times infinity" then I have done my job, because I do. I love you. A million times infinity.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

30 Things Series #29: My Hopes and Dreams for My Prosperity

This is the penultimate post in the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series and it's one of the stranger, in my opinion. Perhaps the person who came up with the questions valued different things than I. Here we are, though, and here I go.

What are my hopes and dreams for my prosperity?

This is an odd question to me. I don't really care much about prosperity in the conventional way. I mean, money is great, but it's not much more to me than a way to pay bills and get us gas money as we travel and create memories. Wealth would certainly make things easier in those departments, but otherwise, I mean, I've never wanted a big house, a fancy car, or a bunch of designer clothes. I don't care about stuff for the sake of having stuff and I don't care about keeping up with the Joneses.

If I suddenly came into a bunch of cash, the first thing we'd do with it would be to pay off our student loans, our oppressive, oppressive student loans. (What are student loans, you ask? Never fear, we will never allow you to know of such things for yourself, but that's for another post.)

If your dad got a huge raise, we'd finish upgrades on our current small home, buy a small commuter car for your dad to drive without taking up as much gas during his two hour daily commute, and we'd put more into savings. I mean, that's really it.

I don't dream about being conventionally prosperous. Prosperity to me would be having a collection of memories, but we're collecting those anyway, without a lot of money and things. I want to be rich in kisses and hugs and love and laughs and beyond that, I'm not really interested in the things money can buy us, because money will never get us anything as valuable as what we already have. I'm not blowing smoke up anyone's butt here, either. I'm not saying what I think I'm supposed to say. I've never cared much about stuff and things. I've always cared more about going places, doing things, taking pictures, enjoying the world instead of worldly things.

So, my hopes and dreams for my prosperity? Does hoping we're all safe, happy, healthy, and together for the rest of our very long lives count?