Sunday, March 12, 2017

Childism: Can We Please Stop Referring to Babies as Half People?

"Two and a half?" the waitress asked, after my husband, our baby, and I entered the restaurant.

I chuckled. Because she meant it as a joke and I was being polite. I don't want to be one of "those people" the world is rolling their eyes at because I'm too sensitive or take things the wrong way. But after a year of hearing this joke, I don't think I'm overreacting. I get that this is "just" a joke. Many family and friends and strangers have made this joke, and I'm not angry with any of you. You don't mean to play into childism, but you do. So here's my gentle plea to stop referring to babies as less than a whole people.

What is childism? 

First of all, let's define childism since it's a relatively new concept. Childism is a prejudice or discrimination against a young person based on their age. (Just like sexism is prejudice/discrimation based on sex, racism is prejudice/discrimination based on race, and ageism is prejudice/discrimination based on mature age.)

What does childism look like? 

Childism looks like adults ignoring a child's attempt at adding to a conversation "because the adults are talking."

Childism looks like hitting a child in the name of discipline even though it's never okay to hit any other person.

Childism looks like making a child sit at the kids table during Thanksgiving even though the child feels more comfortable eating and talking with the adults.

Childism is forcing affection (hugs, kisses, etc.) even though it's never okay to force affection or touch on an adult.

There are endless examples, but at it's basic root, childism looks like treating a child with less respect than we would give an adult.

What if we treated other people the same way we treat children? 

Imagine you're talking with a group of friends, and another adult approaches and has something to add. Would you stop them and say, "Not right now. Go do something else. We're talking." No, right? Because it's dismissive, rude, and shows you don't value that person's thoughts. If you were that person being turned away, how would you feel?

Picture you're having a bad day. Maybe you're tired and hungry, so you snap at someone or forget to take your coffee mug into the kitchen. So, to show that you need to be kinder or more responsible, someone hits you. Not okay. Never okay.

Your Uncle Harvey comes over and, for whatever reason (any reason at all), you don't want to hug him. You tell him no, but he wraps his arms around you anyway to hold you against your will. When he lets you go, you're upset, but everyone else in the room tells you not to be so rude. That's so messed up.

Now let's go back to the restaurant scenario. Let's call a woman half a person. Let's call a black person only half a person. Let's call Great Grandpa half a person. "Two and a half of you?" No one would chuckle. We'd be outraged. We'd talk to the manager and take our business elsewhere because sexism, racism, and ageism are unacceptable.

Yet it's okay and even funny to do this to young people? I do get the joke. Babies are small and cute. They can't talk yet. They'll throw more food than they eat, and they think fart noises are funny. But...none of these things make babies less than a whole person. This joke is a tiny tip of a giant iceberg called childism.

So just like I did in the restaurant yesterday, if someone asks me, "Two and a half?" I'll say, "No, three of us."

More on Childism

If you're interested in furthering your understanding, some other bloggers I love talk about childism too. Check out their posts!

"Childism: Not a Call to Action, Just a Beginning" by Our Muddy Boots

"We Need to Talk about Childism" by Happiness is Here

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

I'm a Mom, so I'm Going to be Late. To Everything.

This is a public service announcement.

I'm going to be late. To everything.

And, yeah, I get that it's rude to be late, and timeliness is important. But...maybe it's not the most important thing.

See, I used to get embarrassed when I was late to something because it showed the other person, "Your time isn't important to me." Pretty rude, right? And it showed, "I'm not responsible enough to manage my time well." Like, hey, I'm bad at adulting!

But something has changed in my life recently. A new little person with curiosity in his eyes and wonder in his heart has come into my world and shaken up a few things: pace, priorities, and pride. (Three Ps because I'm a nerd for alliteration.)

If you have children, you understand how time changes. All at once, you experience the fastest year of your life that was filled with the s_l_o_w_e_s_t days of your life. Right from the start, everything slows down because all your new baby does is eat and sleep, and while those things sometimes happen on the move, most of this takes place while you're on your bottom. You've never sat around so much before while also doing something so important. And then before you even finish alternating between staring at your baby and binge-watching Lost again, you're chasing a crawler or a toddler. Right before you're supposed to leave the house, they poop, or ninja past the bib to smash banana in their shirt, or bump their head and need cuddles. Everything is moving, but the clock isn't yours anymore. Your kiddo holds the clock.

At some point, probably while your baby is still new, you're going to realize you can't go about everyday life the same way you did before kids. Not everything happens smoothly anymore. Sorry, let me rephrase. Nothing happens smoothly anymore. It's decision time. You have to choose between getting to church on time, (which, at this point, would already take a legion of angels carrying your mini van over the slow drivers) and comforting your crying sweetie who just wants to be held (and not crammed into the car seat while you swear at the straps for being tangled). Before you decide between rushing to church or embracing lateness for the sake of cuddles, remember there are little eyes watching you. Little eyes learning what's most important to you by what you choose to prioritize. Suddenly, you look into the eyes of the person whose only need is YOU, and you know without a doubt what your priorities are.

You've already let go of most of your pride. How much of it can you hold into when you haven't showered in five days so you smell like warm milk, B.O., and spit up? How much pride is left after a friend surprises you with a visit and sees things growing in the pile of dirty dishes that have covered your entire kitchen? Or how about right from the start when you spread your naked self in front of a room full of people and pushed a human being with all the guts and glory through your vagina? So maybe after all that, it's not so hard to let yourself "look bad" because you're late.

That's where I am now. I'm pretty comfortable making this mass announcement: I WILL BE LATE. I'm letting you know upfront. If you need me to make a commitment that requires me to be on time, that'll be a no from me. You can't count on me to be on time because there's a little guy who's counting on me to take it slow. There's a small person who picks up a block and studies it with such wonder and curiosity that I don't want to interrupt his learning to rush off somewhere. There's a little boy who needs to nap after all his exploring and growing, so I'm going to let him finish his nap. There's a child learning patience and the importance of relationship and nurturing, and I won't compromise those things in order to force us to be on time.

I'm not trying to be rude or irresponsible. It's just that my family is a unit. If one of us moves at a slow pace, we all do. My priority is my family. And I'm letting go of any pride that tries to convince me otherwise. I'm putting time on the back burner to create space for the most important stuff...before it's too late.

Thanks for reading! You can find even more stuff about momming with faith, gentleness, and boobs on Her Arms Are Strong's Facebook page!

Friday, January 27, 2017

This is What Gentle Parenting Shows My Child

I had someone tell me once that I have my head in the clouds about parenting and that I would see just how much this gentle/peaceful approach doesn't work when my "easy" baby is a difficult teenager. They said gentle parenting "let's kids walk all over you."

And, yeah, okay, maybe I don't have experience to back up my belief that gentle parenting is the bomb. But here's why I basically can't stop posting and talking about it...

Is there a more beautiful way to raise a child than to show him:

I fully respect you. You don't deserve less respect because you're less grown. You deserve full respect because you're a whole person. Having a lot to learn doesn't diminish your right to respect. Every single adult I know has a lot to learn too. Just like adults don't like being talked down to, belittled, embarrased, or isolated, neither do children. I'll treat you with utmost dignity.

I will take care of you. Taking care of you means your needs are filled--your need for food, shelter, clothes, affection, understanding, and safety. Not only will I never let anyone lay a hand on you to harm you (physically or emotionally), but I'll never lay a hand on you either...unless it's a pat of encouragement on your back.

I'll always love you. I'll love you when you're smiling, when you're crying, and when you act out because an emotion feels so much bigger than you. It doesn't matter if you're having the best day or the worst day or if you tell me you hate me. I love you.

Your emotions aren't bad. Don't stuff them down. Not for me. Not for anyone. Let's look at the tough emotions together. Feel them, work through them, find a way to cope with them next time.

I will teach you. I will teach you to brush your teeth, apologize, treat people with grace, bake good food, step out of your comfort zone, forgive, write a letter, ride a bike, love yourself. The best way I'll teach you is to show you by example.

I'll set limits for your safety and the safety of others. If you don't understand the limits, I'll explain them. I have no problem with your questions. Here's another learning and connection moment. And if you disagree with the limits after you understand, I'll listen to you. Because your voice matters. To me. To this family. In the world, your voice matters. You may not get your way still, but the door is always open for conversation.

I'll give you freedom. I'll give you the space to grow, play, make mistakes, fall down. I'll give you the space to find out who you are and to work through life in your own timing. I'll give you the space to not need me. And the space between my arms for when you do...any time, any place, kiddo.

The best way to change a harsh world for peace, love, and humanity caring for one another is to gently raise a generation who respects, values, and loves people because they were raised respected, valued, and loved.

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Big Trick for Avoiding Mommy Grumpies

Most of the time, momming has me all...

But sometimes, I have moments when I'm more like...

This should come as no surprise because:
1. I'm human.
2. If you're a human mom (as opposed to a robot mom), you're the same way. We all have our triggers.
3. I already told you I have to do these 4 things to enjoy being a SAHM. Even though being a stay-at-home-mom is my dream.

Aside from those four things, I have this trick. And it might sound kind of sad at first because when I told my husband about it, he said, "Well, that's the saddest thing ever." But it's really not!

My trick is...

to push my own wants to the side.

The first time I started implementing this trick was in the summer of '16, when Pokemon Go was the big thing. My husband (Gary), our baby (M), and I went out to the park to enjoy the sun and catch some Pokemon. Only, as soon as I started playing, M got the crankies because he needed my full attention. At first, I got irritated, and my thought was, "I can never do anything I want to do." Now that is sad. Because it's not true.

What I want to do more than anything is raise my son/have a family. So already, every day I'm alive, I'm doing a great big thing I want to do.

That day in the park, I had a choice. I could either wallow in the fact that my baby needed all my attention, or I could embrace and enjoy that my baby needed all my attention.

I embraced it. And found out that my Grumpy Mommy Trigger is M's whining while I'm trying to do something else. Since he can't self-regulate yet, he's going to whine for me when I'm not paying attention to him. That means I can keep getting irritated every time I try to do stuff, or...I can push my own wants to the side.

Since implementing this trick, I've happily sat on the sidelines during a family mini golf outing, set aside DIY projects, and "missed out" on small chunks of things like family Christmas. Keyword: happily. It's not always an automatic happy, but it's an intentional happy. I have the privilege and honor of raising a child. I don't want to take it for granted or miss out on all the little moments that matter because I was distracted or gritting my teeth, wishing I could be doing something else.

Now, I'm not saying you should never take time for yourself! Get your husband/parents/sibling to hang out with your cutie while you nap/read/shop. Do it, do it, do it. But this trick is meant to be applied when your baby needs YOU. Which is a lot because, honestly, no one is quite like Mommy.

And, yeah, it does help to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. M won't always need or want my full attention all the time. As he gains more independence, I'll have more time and space to do other things I want to do.

For now, I can set aside projects and games and whatever else so Mommy Grumpies don't take away from our fleeting time together.

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Friday, December 30, 2016

I Actually Loved 2016

2016 has a rap for being the worst year. Like, ever. But I actually loved 2016. This might not be a popular view considering the world lost a lot of beloved celebrities, violence and injustice ravaged our country, and we had a polarizing, brutal presidential election.

It's important to give these things their place in the spotlight. To honor and remember those we've lost. To show compassion to the hurting. To speak up for what's right, even when people don't like what we have to say.

But I don't want to say goodbye to 2016 on that note because I actually loved the heck out of this year. This is the year my baby boy, M, was born. 2016 is the year my husband and I, and our families, welcomed a fuzzy, wrinkled little baby into our arms. Our hearts stretched as we loved more deeply than we ever knew was possible. We watched him grow chunky and healthy on breastmilk. We delighted in his squeals of laughter and cheered him through each milestone. I've memorized M's smiles and the smiles he's caused in his dad, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. This was a year of joy.

This is the year I found out who I really am. In becoming a mom, I've learned I can face confrontation, set boundaries, do whatever it takes to protect my cub. Because 2016 is the year I became Momma Bear. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and joined mom groups. I learned to trust my instincts, question the status quo, and advocate for my child's health and for breastfeeding. I've learned that to be strong means to ask for help when my own strength runs out. To give myself grace, let my husband and family play with M when I need a nap, and rest in my Savior for replenishment.

I've watched my husband grow from a loving husband to a loving dad. I've seen his tears of joy, shared in his frustrations, and counted on his daily sacrifice to provide for our family of three. Our marriage has felt both stronger and weaker than ever as we've tried to navigate our new family dynamic. But in the easy, fun days, and the days we don't even recognize each other, we've still honored our sacred words...I do.

So, God, I pray for the broken world and broken hearts of 2016. But for all the ways you've blessed our family this year, thank you. This year will always be a favorite of mine. Goodbye, 2016. May 2017 be full of joy, peace, and hope for everyone reading this. Amen.

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Friday, December 23, 2016

When Your Baby Takes You Away from Christmas Fun

This is my first Christmas with M (post birth), and as much as I expect this will be the best Christmas of my life so far, I also know there will be moments when my baby "takes me away from the fun." He still naps often through the day, and only in my arms, which means the two of us will be sitting in our quiet bedroom listening to all the fun go on without us. (We've been there before, just with a different occasion. There's a feeling of loneliness here.) And chances are, M will need a nap right in the middle of some fun tradition or my favorite board game. If this is us, I bet it could be you too.

There's something we mommas should remember in these moments.

A baby's basic needs don't change just because it's Christmas.

In fact, he will probably be clingier and needier than usual. There are more people than usual, and every one of them wants to hold the little cutie. Loud noises, new smells, so much activity. That can all get pretty overwhelming for a lot of adults, so how much more stressed out are our littles? The need for extra cuddles, comfort, and rest will be there along with usual hunger and wet diapers.

It's an honor to be the one person my baby needs to feel safe and comfortable. He grows so fast, and it won't always be like this. One day, he'll even find comfort in--gasp--another woman. So instead of surrendering to feelings of loneliness and like I'm missing out on the fun, I'm going to slow down--really slow down--with my kid. In his Christmas day, he needs rest. And I am his rest. So I'll hold him tight, tickles his toes, and soak up his milky smiles. Because while everyone else is carrying on with merry celebrations, we'll make quiet Christmas memories, just us. And these memories will mean the absolute world to me one day.

Merry Christmas, mommas! Enjoy your quiet Christmas moments.

Related posts:
Why Santa Won't Visit Our House
4 Truths We'll Teach Our Kid about Santa

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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Forgiving Myself for My Son's Circumcision (Kicking Mom Guilt)

In October, I wrote that my biggest regret is my son's circumcision.

Whether or not you agree circumcision is a mistake, it was my mistake. And I'm sure because you're human, you've made a mistake with your kid too. If you haven't, you will.

I've read about Mommy Guilt, but I didn't know how heavy it is until I experienced it myself. It's like regular guilt, but worse because your mistake impacts this little life who is counting on you more than anyone. And what if you directly messed them up for life?

The good news is that even though it's normal to feel this way after we've blown it, we don't have to live with the guilt. We have forgiveness.

The night I published the circumcision blog post, my husband saw that I was teary-eyed and stressed, so he suggested a bath. A hot bath all to myself while the guys catch up on some guy time? Yes, please! I didn't need any more nudging before I kissed my guys and made way for the bathroom. But my husband stopped me and said, "You should take a book."

"Yeah, I have Pretty Little Liars in the cupboard in there." (Yes, I said PLL. Don't judge me. haha)

"Not that book." And then he nodded toward the balcony where The Bible was sitting on a table.

Swoon. I love when my husband encourages me like this.

"Read about forgiving yourself," he told me.

Well, I was pretty sure there wasn't anything in the Bible about forgiving ourselves (correct me if I'm wrong), but there's obviously a lot about forgiveness. That's what Jesus is all about. So I settled into a hot bath with lavender salts. In the background, worship music played softly. I took some deep breaths, breathing in the life of the songs and breathing out all my stress. Then I cracked open the Bible to the index, found the "forgiveness" section, and picked Hebrews 9 and 10.

Hebrews 9 and 10 taught me everything I need to know about forgiving myself even though no part of those chapters says anything about forgiving ourselves. Let me explain.

"When Christ came as a high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not part of his creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" Hebrews 9: 11-14 NIV, emphasis mine.

The whole two chapters are worth a read, but that snippet pretty much sums up everything.

So what does this passage say about forgiving ourselves? Indirectly it says that the forgiveness of Jesus (because of his ultimate sacrifice) trumps ALL. Forever. No "making up for it" amount of being sorry can add to what Jesus did. How is there even room for me to forgive myself when I'm already so forgiven, there's nothing left to forgive!?

My guilt was washed away. Poof. Gone. I'm forgiven. Like, I can see a Facebook post about circumcision without feeling bad at all. This is new to me! I'm so free.

And whatever your mom mistake is/was, you're forgiven too. You're so forgiven, you can never add more to it.

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