A recent Facebook post grabbed my attention. It was written by a brand new mommy who was headed back to work after her maternity leave. Referencing leaving her little one she stated something like…”No one prepared me for how hard driving away would be!” The string of comments that followed were peppered with both words of encouragement, polite judgement or at least insinuated disapproval. All responses had an opinion. Oh–friends. This is one of those super sensitive hot buttons that fill women with a great deal of stress and drama. No matter what decision is made and for whatever reason–there are differing opinions on what SHOULD be done. I have had the awesome privilege over the past 12 years to become the mom of 3 beautiful kids AND I have a passion to lead and inspire those around me. I hold a necessary position of helping make ends meet financially for our family…so this has personally plopped me in the middle of several hot button discussions.
So I see this as a blessing and a curse. And it is probably a combination of nature and nurture generating my hypersensitivity to the feelings of others. Sometimes I am paralyzed as I don’t want to say something to offend…or do something that might hurt your heart. (I am not perfect at this and am sure I have hurt many–but I can assure you it was not intentional as I have spent the better part of (almost) 40 years doing my best to be very very very sensitive to the hearts of others…especially surrounding delicate topics like this one!) So on a day like today as much as I would like to post a picture of my babies (and there is NOTHING wrong with doing this)…or a picture of my mom (and this is also to be celebrated)…I pause. Because this day can be hard.
This weekend I made the intentional (and what many would say extremely selfish) decision to not go away with my family to one of the most magical places on earth. I intentionally decided to hang back, to be alone. Because I simply could not go.
Actually I could go…but I really didn’t want to.
(Insert Jim Gaffigan’s voice here) How can she do that? How can she be so selfish to miss out on Family Camp at Windy Gap? She will miss out on the horse rides, ropes course, music, skits and games. Won’t her husband the be Lone Ranger in the hoe down? (Louder and more high pitched:) Doesn’t she know her kids NEED her? Doesn’t she know her children live for this weekend each year? Shouldn’t she choose another weekend to be so selfish? Why? Why would you not go with your family to family camp this weekend? Why?
Because I need a time out.
Did you ever put your kid in time out because you needed one? Who knows what might have happened if you hadn’t put him in time out? A few minutes more without the time out and the neighbors would be bringing social services to your front door?
What appeared to be punishment for the child was actually for their protection.
(No? Just me then.)
FLEXIBILITY. The best laid parenting plans will not go exactly as you had hoped or envisioned. Your baby may insist on sucking his thumb when you hoped to introduce a pacifier. Your may have serious mastitis or your milk may not come in as you had hoped and you may not be able to breast feed. Your sleeping plans for the child may fail and you will have them sleeping beside your bed for much longer than you originally planned. Your perfect “birth plan” may end in an emergency C-section, but remember your world will not end–instead a precious new life WILL begin.
The moment I whispered the words, “I’m pregnant,” I was bombarded by loads of unsolicited advice. I was shocked by the number of stranger “belly rubs” and random people approaching me at Target curious of my plans to breast or bottle feed?
On our last trip to the grocery store my eldest son announced he had to poop...immediately. We pulled to the side of the road and Chris ran to a secluded area and proceeded to hold the boy like a chair to allow him to relive himself. Minutes later Kylee pleaded for us to stop as she felt carsick. (Knowing this is never a threat but always followed by vomiting, we practically threw on the e-brake.) She and I rushed out of the van barefoot in an attempt to not defile the car. The youngest had complained about a stomach ache for the most of the trip and though I thought it was nothing–I crawled lovingly back in the backseat to rub his tummy. Moments later I was quickly awakened to the fact that he was not fully aware of his body’s signals as he yelled, “Stop the car NOW I have to go to the bathroom!” He too was ushered out of the car to take care of business. 3 children 3 stops…and copious amounts of hand sanitizer and wipes later we arrived at our destination. (I guess I should mention it takes 5 hours to get to the grocery store–there are NO sanitary bathroom stops and there certainly was no option at the moment of their emergencies!) We were quite the spectacle as many folks have never seen a white person “bare all” in the middle of the town or village in the attempt to not mess their pants and keep the car clean. Bless! After the 3rd stop, and hundreds of eyes staring wide at the crazy white bottoms flashed and the panicked parents wiping and washing and sanitizing…Chris and I both looked at one another and all we could do was laugh. We even felt like we might have a new perspective on public restrooms in the US. We thought the bathroom with the huge wooden key, a stall that doesn’t lock and the cloth hand dryer would be a dream compared to all of the options with no sinks, no toilet paper, squatty potties, and bathroom debacles we have encountered over the past year!