Hey Men, We don’t need your protection

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During all this useless uproar over a stupid man fight at a boring awards show, I find myself irriated at Americans’ ability to be wholly obsessed with celebrity, even in the midst of international tragedy and strife. That said, it’s hard to escape, and I find myself bristling at the constant posts about how Will Smith was “protecting” his wife from Chris Rock’s words.

What century is this where women need protection from another person’s statements? Have we lost our voice? Are we still allowed to vote or go out in public? Should we be stoned for wearing lipgloss?

Were someone to insult me, I assure you, I would be the first voice in the room standing up for myself. I’d be horrified if I were such a shrinking violet that I had to send my man in to speak for me. I can do that myself, thank you very much, and further, I will be the only one to decide if it’s required.

I had a similar “offer” of protection recently, from a wayward school board member who was put into office in my city through a bizarre right wing group. This person, reacting to what he took as a threat (from a local black man), claimed he would bring a weapon to future schoolboard meetings and he’d offer his protection to “any woman who requires it, to include you.” Now, mind you – this individual is a portly 70-year old man with questionable mental capacity and an even more questionable grasp on reality.

The offer made me feel ill. First, I feel compelled to state that there was no threat against this man or anyone, other than his own fear of different races. But what I found myself asking is – what in the world does this man think he posesses that would make him qualified to “protect” me, other than his Y chromosome?

Look guys – I’m all for an opened door, or the offer of an umbrella in the rain. That’s chivalry. Puffing your chest out and pretending women can’t stand up for themselves, or speak their own truths, and attempting to speak for us, is disrespect.

Slap That.

Taking Back “Mama Bear”

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Stop saying the Mama bears won the school board elections last night. We didn’t. And You certainly didn’t. It’s insulting, and it’s inaccurate, so just stop.

A mama bear mom is a woman who fights tooth and nail to protect her offspring. The term can easily be applied to a woman with a special needs kiddo, who learns as much as she possibly can about the disability and fights tirelessly for her baby to have the best. The term might apply to a mom in an abusive situation who musters the courage to leave – at long last – not for herself but because she is fearless for her children. A mama bear may be someone who steps up when times, or economy, or job is really tough, but she figures out – against all odds – a way to make it work for her kid. THAT is a mama bear mom.

A mama bear is not a manufactured politico who suddenly finds her own self-worth in an infusion of dirty political money tied to little other than her pledging her undying faith to a poorly researched, scientifically misguided and perhaps racially motivated doctrine. Stop given them our title. They are not nearly worthy.That’s not a mama bear. That’s a pawn. And THAT is who you put into school board power, America. Well done.

Many of us have been REAL mama bears through this pandemic. We have talked to our pediatricians. We have sought out credible information (i.e. not on facebook). We have made balanced decisions during uncertain times that took into account the ever-exhausting balance of our kids’ mental health, social needs and medical risk. We have made hard choices, and sometimes unpopular ones. Because that’s what you do as a Mama Bear.

Please don’t mistake some blonde, mealy, bored, uninformed woman who just wanted her name on a sign for a Mama Bear. She’s not part of our pack. Some of the “winners” – and BOY do I use that term loosely – from our local races last night boasted things like a “Christian voter guide,” and proclaimed that teachers should ignore children’s chosen pronouns, and let parents (who may be totally uneducated) decide what kids should learn. (I sort of thought they should just learn facts)

Others, like Lauren Nelson pictured here, grasped her pearls screaming shrillry (Caps were hers) “CRT MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO GRAB HOLD IN THE K-12 SCHOOLS. Teaching this ideology will bring about the destruction of our country, driving us towards socialism and away from personal liberty, free thinking, and personal responsibility.”

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Contact Laura Nelson at ElectLauren.Nelson@gmail.com

The destruction of our country, YOU GUYS!!!!

Maybe these false mama bears are pawn-a-bears. Put into place by those racist agendas that found homes in terrified, suburban white women. Maybe the sheltered and uninformed looked just unthreateneing enough that the malicious intent of the hate agenda thought they were a perfect nesting place. You can think what you like. I think that’s true. But what I know is – that’s NOT a Mama Bear. #TakingBackMamaBear

COVID-PTSD

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“No matter WHAT happens today, we aren’t cancelling our trip to Oregon, right?”

It was the third time my son had asked this nonsensical question. We were almost late for the dentist. I was rushed and somewhat annoyed.

“Of course not. Worst case, we set an appointment for a filling.”

“But, like, it wouldn’t be when we were in Oregon, so we wouldn’t have to cancel?” His voice was pleading.

And then it occurred to me. Jesus. My kid has PTSD from COVID. And not because people we loved got sick (thank God). But he was scarred by all the cancellations, the disappointments. The entire loss of his second grade year. Isolation, distance from friends. Try as we did, he felt the loss, and it manifested itself as terror, uncertainty, fear of pending disappointment.

I felt badly at my impatience with this new perspective. Hadn’t we all felt this way? How many times did we schedule something with the words, “Well, hopefully we can still do it.”

Of course he’s scared. Yes, kids are resilient. Yes, my first-world problem of my kid being afraid of missing family vacations is recognized as such. But it’s real to him, and it’s a consequence of this pandemic, and if nothing else will make people realize that it’s time to take this seriously and do what we can to return to normalcy, maybe a little red head, eyes big, hopes just waiting to be dashed, will do it.

So wear your mask. Keep your kid home when he has the sniffles. Check temperatures here and there. And wash your dang hands. It’s not asking too much after all we’ve asked of them. The next generation thanks you.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you

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I should have told you before you married him, but you wouldn’t have listened. And if I hear my friends’ advice around me, it wasn’t my job anyhow. So why do I feel like such a hypocrite when I pop from one domestic violence chat to another, pleading with friends on facebook to be aware of the warning signs, lecturing kids about the dangers of those who abuse power and control?

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.

I knew what would happen to you before you married him. To be honest, I know what would happen to “you” before you existed in my reality, I could have written a book on what a danger he was. Lord knows I read enough. Did I not leave to save my own life? Did I not leave when I saw the trauma impacting my children? So when you strolled in, righteous about how wrong I must be, and how wonderful he was, I knew what he was doing to you, and I was silent.

It was better, I thought, not to get involved. I’d earned my escape from his chaos, and I’d be damned if I was walking back in voluntarily.

Today I know your life. I know all about the long silent treatments, the crazy-making – your days of lonely tears, your terror at new motherhood without a partner. And you’ve never been so much as civil to me, but I know that shouldn’t matter. I would tell a thousand gymnasiums full of high school girls that no one deserves to be treated the way you are.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.

Late at night, my conscious objects. What would you have done if I’d told you? Would you have walked away, left him and saved your own soul? Would you have listened to me, his “crazy” ex wife? If I’d told you about the cheating, the abuse, the lying – he’d have just as convincingly told you it was all in my mind. Telling you may have eased my conscience, but I doubt it would have changed your decisions.

Still. Mother to mother-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.

Then there was the hard evidence that he was cheating on you, early into your relationship and long after I was gone. I never sought to be the custodian of that information. But I held that close too. It wasn’t my place to tell you. It wasn’t. Right?

I pride myself on being an ally. To my black friends, my LGBQT friends, to any friend or stranger who is or could be victimized or unjustly marginalized by our society, I stand ready to be a support, a stronghold, a voice, a listening ear.

But what about you?

You aren’t my enemy – you never have been. And the reasons I withheld the truth from you are complex and multi-faceted. They’re twisted tightly around a mess of PTSD, self-preservation, trauma, anger, fear and hurt. But if I were able to untwist them, and remove my own interests, it would be clear.

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.

Venturing Into the Caverns of “Then”

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Christmas 2019. 

I have come a long way in the six-and-a-half years since my extremely contentious divorce. I’ve done a LOT of healing (thanks, therapy). I have increased greatly in confidence as a mom. I have learned to accept my faults, and celebrate my children. I have found a healthy, supportive and respectful new marriage. I have read and read and learned techniques upon techniques on how to battle my ex-husband’s constant attempts at parental alienation.

But sometimes, I long to venture into the dark caverns of the past.

You know the ones. Those dark, sad, scary and angry times that came before; sometime between becoming a new mom of twins and daring to escape an abusive and unhealthy marriage. That time when I was a broke and terrified single mom desperately trying to find my rhythm and wondering how the heck we were going to make it work in a city with no family.

I don’t totally understand it, but I’m hoping I’m not alone. Perhaps it’s normal mourning to “go there,” every once in a while; like visiting the grave of a long-deceased loved one.

Perhaps it’s processing. I hope it’s not self-pity.

The holidays seem to bring this out more than any other time. Maybe it’s the early darkness that is already present when I leave work. Maybe it’s the cold temperatures that urge you to stay inside in a blanket. Maybe it’s the lurking holiday season ahead, 1212015 613when family dynamics seem to take center stage and joy and jubilence is an absolute requirement, especially in Christmas card photos and facebook posts.

But in spite of (or maybe because of) the turkey and tinsel, the mistletoe and snowflakes – I just want to wallow.

I want to take the long winding corridors to the dark places I haven’t visited in almost seven years. Maybe this is a positive. Maybe it’s because they’re finally not too scary to visit. Maybe I let myself wallow now because I am confident that I can pull myself out. That wasn’t always the case.

Maybe the urge to explore those places has been there all the while, masked by busyness and shopping and chaos and momming as gosh dang hard as I can. Maybe I’ve flooded those caverns with guilt and overscheduling and loving hard enough to make up for any difficulties the divorce has caused. Maybe Netflix and chardonnay have distracted me from the danger.

So why go into the depths now?

Maybe I’ve finally become brave enough to be still. Maybe the trauma has quieted. Maybe I’m finally strong enough to face them once and for all.

Regardless, I’m going. Wish me Happy Trails. I’ll surface again soon.

 

Today, I wear my Wonder Woman socks

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Today, I put on my Wonder Woman socks. Why, you ask? As though one really needs any reason, but today, it’s because the twins are turning eight.

As I was getting dressed to drive over to their dad’s house to pick them up, I fought my usual fight with the mirror, seeing only the imperfections of my belly and thinking only about putting on a swimsuit for our trip to the water park later.

And that’s when I decided to put on the socks.

Look, there is no shortage of memes, giphys and inspirational quotes out there, reminding us what our bodies have done as mothers, encouraging us not to compare, not to judge.

Let me tell you this: they don’t work.

I know I’m not alone here. We may even repeat these pearls of wisdom. We may pretend we believe them. We certainly want to.

So today, my socks are my silent protest of the self-judgment we all live with.

This body began creating two incredible lives, 8 years and 10 months ago today. This mind has spent the last 2,920 days teaching, reaching, and hoping I’m creating wonderful tiny humans. This heart has ached, laughed, and worried deeper than I thought it ever could over the last 70,080 hours.     

Yesterday, I struggled with a parenting decision I made and regretted for the whole day.  Now, it wasn’t malicious, but I felt like in that moment, I didn’t make the right choice for my kid.

I spent the whole day with that one decision.

Nevermind that the night before we’d spent an entire “date night,” together, my son and me. We played like children. We talked, we bonded. We basked in rare one-on-one time. In the morning, we snuggled on the couch watching TV. We exchanged ‘I love yous.’ After that, he went to a work event with me where he got to see me girl-bossing it up during a speech.

But you know how it is.

None of that stuck with me until this morning, when I put on the socks.

I don’t always get it right. Sometimes we eat fast food. Sometimes I have my head too deep in my phone. Sometimes they say, “look mama!” and I mutter, “oh, wow!” having not seen a thing.

But I also love them with my heart and soul. I give them my love, my time, my heart.

I try and try. I admit when I make mistakes.

And for that, I think I get to wear the socks.

Put yours on too.

A Church Brave Enough to WRITE BACK

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Well friends, after my anger mounted (especially as a comms professional), with the church for failing to address my question, imagine my (pleasant) surprise in receiving this personal correspondence from the national UMC this morning.

It’s important to note that we DID go back to church on sunday, where my pastor gave an incredible sermon that elicited tears from me and applause from my church family. The theme was that we would continue being “radically inclusive” in our church, that despite the decision made primarily by the African and Eastern Europeans (it’s probably time for factions), FUMC in Colorado Springs will continue loving and welcoming ALL people. For it’s not OUR table, it’s GOD’s table. And our God loves.

Below is the personalized email I got this morning. I want to thank Reverend Burton-Edwards from the national offices in Nashville, for the response.

 Thank you for writing.  Your message reached our offices at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. And sorry for the inconvenience of a delayed reply. As you may imagine we have a mountain of questions related to General Conference to which we are also seeking to reply as quickly as we can at this time. Your patience is appreciated.

I hear you.
And you are right, you have a gift for words. 

I don’t have an answer for you. These are matters you must discern for yourself, with the support of others sisters and brothers in Christ. I trust you to make the best decision for yourself and your family.

And yes, this is hard. 
What I can tell you is only an explanation, and only one. 

What you saw in the vote is largely about the shifting demographics of our worldwide denomination. And the fact that the US and Western European memberships and so delegations are generally shrinking while others, especially in Africa, where homosexuality is often criminalized and almost always stigmatized, are growing.

Your local church is still your local church. They haven’t changed. The people who love you and have nurtured you there haven’t changed. Nothing in the legislation that was passed requires them to change. 

The good work your conference does in Colorado and throughout the Mountain Sky region, and the good work of The UMC worldwide, also has not changed at this point, and nothing in this legislation changes it. Anywhere.

What you rightly perceive, however, is this General Conference has signalled that change is likely to come at every level of denominational life, and it is change that will be hard for many American and Western European United Methodists to deal with.

I hope you will be in conversation with your pastor and others in your congregation about what your next steps may be as individuals and as a congregation. Perhaps this article may be helpful as you enter more deeply into this time of discernment in this Lenten season: http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/general-conference-is-over-what-happens-now

I hope this is helpful.

Peace in Christ,

Rev. Taylor W. Burton-Edwards

Ask The UMC

United Methodist Information Service

infoserv@umcom.org

www.infoserv.umc.org

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When Worship and Motherhood Collide

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Yesterday at it’s annual conference, the United Methodist Church – a denomination I chose for its openness, inclusiveness and commitment to acts of service – voted to disallow gay and lesbian clergy unless they are celibate or vow to reject gay marriage.

My shock probably comes from my own failure to keep up with church issues. That’s on me. But this morning, as I process the move, I find myself in a very uncomfortable place.

Our pastor, who did not support this move, pleaded with his congregation last week to stay and seek unity, and to work together from the inside. In what I now recognize as foreshadowing, he also gave us blessed permission to leave.

I have served on the contemporary worship team for 10 years. I remember being 9 months pregnant with twins and getting up to sign Hillsong and Michael W. Smith before a small crowd of contemporary-minded Christians. When my children were born, we found fellowship, education and family in a new congregation and new band.

My kids run around the church like they own the place. When it’s children’s time on the alter, they are the first up the stairs, sitting next to the pastor like they are entitled to first class seating. They are known by name by the band and many in the church who have giggled at their antics, especially when mom is on the alter, microphone in hand, and a safe distance away from their mischief.

During those times, I have found no judgement. I have found acceptance of my little Single Mom family, my sometimes naughty children, our usually late-to-rehearsal routine, my “we’ll brush your hair when we get there” approach. I want to remain a part of that family.

If it were just me, I’d stay and seek change from the inside. But as a mom of 7-year-old twins, it’s not just me. 

Kingdom City – the loving and creative Sunday school where I send my kids for most of worship – is an integral part in their spiritual development. As a working mom, I admit my teaching on the Bible and Christianity is basically limited to insisting we pray before dinner.

So this morning I find myself wrestling with the question: “How can I send my children to learn lessons on love from a church that has chosen bigotry, judgement and exclusion?”

Do I give it a year and seek the activism I failed to find before this monumental decision came down? Do I take Pastor Kent’s advice and stay through the conflict, communing with those who hold different views (even those I viscerally reject); counsel my church on its backwards-looking, out of date view? Do I shout to the leaders that many of us left the Catholic church for exactly these reasons?

Or is it too great a risk to continue my children’s formative education in a group that has chosen this direction, if by a small margin? Do I leave the church as a statement that this family will not let hate win; that this family believes in love and inclusion and rejects wholeheartedly the false judgement of the human race?

As a woman steeped in secular moral principle, a lover of people, a fan of the open-minded and a christian who believes in the Greatest Commandment above all, I am stuck. I am hurting. Mostly, I’m saddened that this world – even those within the church family I’ve chosen – continue to choose hate over love; judgement over acceptance; righteousness over right.

I don’t have an eloquently worded conclusion for you here. Through prayer, introspection and research, I hope to have one soon.

 

 

 

Goal: One, Happy, Cohesive Unit… Reality: Not That. Blending A Family is Not for the Faint of Heart

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In the early days of my twin pregnancy I spent hours daydreaming of the life to come. A perfect little family going on ski trips, taking walks, maybe incorporating a golden retriever as we laughed through family vacations on endless beaches. When my marriage dissolved 15 months post-partem, all those dreams seemed to dissolve with it.

But little did I know, there was an Act Two coming in my life. A family 2.0, if you will; complete with all the upgrades and improved functionality and, yes, glitches … serious glitches.

Blending a family after a divorce is not for the faint of heart. When the stakes are this high- emotionally, practically, logistically and even financially, there are bound to be some challenges. These are the challenges my little family is navigating now.

Nevertheless, I find myself back in the daydreams, hoping for the same gauzy family memories, but with a new family makeup. My partner Kelly, or “Papa” as they call him, has replaced the kids’ dad in my visions (though not in their life- that’s important and I’ll address it below). I still want the same things – in fact, now that I’m in a healthy relationship, I want that ideal family life more than ever.

But I’ve found, that a family doesn’t just blend like coffee and cream. It’s more like – mixing the powdered cheese packet into the macaroni before you add the milk and butter. Right?

Despite the lumps and bumps, the end result is hard fought, and worth it. So, at the risk of overplaying the analogy, where do you find the milk and butter to create harmony in a blended family? Here are three principles we’re trying on.

  1. Create expectations on how everyone (the kids and your partner) should treat each other. Then share them.

This one might seem obvious, I mean, you expect your kids to treat others well, and you give them specific guidelines on doing so. You insist they talk to grandma on the phone; say “yes, ma’am” to their teacher and share with their friends. So why on earth do we tiptoe around the relationship that’s probably the most confusing to a kid?

I personally didn’t tell my kids that I wanted them to treat my partner kindly until we’d been living together for eight months.

It seems ridiculous, I know. I certainly wanted it to happen. In those moments where he was giving my giggling daughter a piggy back, or teaching my son how to properly throw a Frisbee, I was downright euphoric. These are the daydreams! But I never verbalized that.  I just willed it to be so.

I had this epiphany during a particularly rough weekend between my son and my fiancé. My son was defiant and disrespectful. Our family camping trip was a nightmare.

As we crawled into sleeping bags that night, my fiancé lamented that he wasn’t treated kindly or with respect by my son. And he acknowledged that this didn’t motivate him to build the relationship. It was clear that we were going down the wrong path.

So a couple days later, staring at my 6-year-old across the breakfast bar, I leveled with him.

“Hey buddy, remember when Papa used to let you sleep in and take you to daycare late?”

His eyes lit up. (My kids are very treat-motivated).

“Yes!”

“Well, if you treat him nice, he’ll probably start doing nice things for you again.”

It registered.

After months of reminders, prayers, silent directives, frustrations, all it took was a simple explanation of cause and effect; basically, how relationships work.

Moments later my partner descended the stairs. My little guy looked at him with a bright smile and said cheerily, “Good Morning, Papa!”

And then he turned to me with a coy smile.

Agree on Rules you can both live with and empower your partner to enforce those rules:

My fiancé has spent 27 years in the military. He’s raised two wonderful, intelligent and respectful children, now in their 20s. I’m a bit of a hippy mama who prioritizes creativity and talking about our feelings.

You can see how those two parenting styles might not gel.

Common theory suggests that the stepparent should NOT be put into a disciplinarian role for at least five years.

But let’s be honest. In practice, you can’t leave a responsible adult unable to enforce any boundaries and expect peace (at best) or even safety (at least) in your home.

Yes, you’re the mom (or dad). But if you’re doing this whole family 2.0 thing, you have to create an environment where everyone’s needs are respected.

As a tiny example: my fiancé can’t stand clutter. I like my kids to play at my feet and want them to feel like this new home is their home.

So – after much discussion, the rule is that the kids can have their rooms as messy as they like, but if they’re playing downstairs, it’s one toy at a time. The one toy goes up before another comes down.

This probably sounds simple, but it took a lot of effort.  First, I had to diffuse my own defenses and hear him when he expressed concerns about my rules.

Next, he had to compromise a little on his ideal environment and hear what was important to me.

We agreed on a consistent consequence if the rules weren’t followed. (The offending toy goes away for a week).

Finally, I clearly set the boundaries with the kids. I did, not him. So they’re mom’s rules, but Papa can enforce them (as can grandma, the babysitter, Auntie). And no matter who’s in charge that day, the consequence for rule breaking is the same.

What this has done is taken my partner out of the role of enforcer and diluted any perception and related animosity about him being “too strict.” It presented us as a unit. He’s not the bad guy for requiring 60 minutes of calm down time when they hit each other. He’s just enforcing the family rules laid out by mom.

One little bonus: it’s harder for my 6 year olds to stay mad at me than their stepfather-to-be. It’s one of the fleeting blessings of the tender years.

Also, establishing these rules and consequences took away the sting of surprise or the feeling of injustice. The rules are clear. The consequences consistent, regardless of the caretaker.

We screwed this up for awhile. Papa’s rules were different, so the kids were constantly getting in trouble on his watch and feeling blindsided. By having the difficult conversation with my partner, then clearly communicating the result to the kids, everyone feels a lot more certainty. Life is more predictable and there’s no “bad guy.”

Be aware of what you say (and what you don’t say) about the other biological parent:

The first thing to consider with this principle is that your child is probably 30-40% more astute and aware than you realize. They are picking up what you’re putting down, whether that’s verbal, non-verbal or simply through omission. As our family therapist says, “The walls have ears.” This is co-parenting 101 for the bio parent, but it’s just as important, if not more so for the new partner, and that’s a point often neglected.

Books on parental alienation (my favorite is Divorce Poison) harp on alienation. Here’s what it recommends for the bio parent:

  • Don’t fail to talk about the other parent
  • Don’t interrogate
  • Allow your child to talk freely about the other parent and say positive things about the other parent

The natural tendency, especially for step parents is just to avoid the topic. After all, they likely only know the other parent through your eyes, which, the situation would suggest, is not an attractive view. But refusing to talk about them can be just as damaging as making negative comments.

Kids hear what you don’t say, too.

My son struggles mightily with a loyalty conflict. No amount of talking about it has helped. My partner has expressly told my son that he’s not trying to replace his dad, and that he just wants to be buddies. But the guilt my son wrestles with is practically visible, and it’s a real obstacle in their relationship.

So my partner has started to be vocally supportive of dad. It’s not easy, knowing how dad treated me in the past, but he’s a strong person who puts on a smile and says things like, “I bet you had fun with your dad last weekend!” or “I heard your dad is really good at hockey!”

It’s a little thing, but it gives my son permission to love his dad and it makes it safe to love this man who isn’t his dad, and isn’t trying to replace his dad.

The two-minute action plan:

  1. Contemplate: What are your expectations for how your child treats your partner? Have you told them? How about for how your partner treats your child?
  2. What are your family’s boundaries and does everyone have the same understanding?
  3. How do you and your partner talk about the other biological parent around or to your kids?

I hope this works for your family. It’s important to remember that this journey isn’t linear. We’ve made some big progress. But in the span of typing this article I got a phone call from my partner describing my son’s temper tantrum this morning. We’re still working on it.

It’s my sincere hope that as we stick to these principles we’ll put our family squarely on the path to a peaceful, cohesive life. But we know there will be bumps along the way. Changes in age, milestones, puberty, etc. will bring their own new challenges.  Hopefully with these principles squarely in place, we’ll be able to weather the storm as the new and improved Family 2.0.

Let me know how it goes. I promise to do the same.

Aw Buddy. You’re 7!

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I’m a little late on this one. The last couple days I’ve been too upset about the gender inequality in our nation to really be able to focus on the topic – and the boy- at hand.

So here’s my celebration of you, buddy. Happy Birthday!

To my son,

Never have I encountered more enthusiasm than in many, many experiences with you. You are simply unbridled in your energy, your joy, your pure exuberance. It’s contagious.

I would like to say it’s only on the positive side, but your feelings are just that big across the spectrum. I pray that some day you find a productive and meaningful outlet for that natural and abundant passion. You, son, are nothing short of extraordinary.  Hold on to that love for the world. Hold on to that passion. Grow it, don’t edit it. 

In the midst of those big, loud emotions, you have the softest heart I’ve ever known. You get such joy out of making other people happy. You embrace surprises and excitement on behalf of others as you do for yourself. Which you do in a big way, as I already addressed.

You are wild and silly. You are emotive and curious. With enough focus, you can solve almost any puzzle, deconstruct any problem. These skills will serve you well. 

Your mind is busy, so busy. I love its power, I worry that it never lets you rest.

You know how to use your words to express love. Words are your love language. Never stop offering them. They are precious to those who receive them. 

The challenge for those who are driven, like you, is that they are hard on themselves. Be as gentle and affectionate to yourself as you are to those who love you. Surround yourselves with like-souls. Those who can strive for greatness but love and respect you for who and where you are. 

For I love you so truly. I am in awe and in admiration of you. Thank you for blessing my life. May you bless the world you will inherit just as much.