Make the Change, BE the Change

Retard (noun):  a contemptuous term used to refer to a person who cognitively impaired, or a person who is stupid, obtuse, or ineffective in some way

At some point in our lives, we have all said it.  We may have been young and dumb, maybe we were at a party with friends, maybe it was yesterday and it just came out in casual conversation.

Instead of saying something along the lines of ‘that is so DUMB’.  We said it.

When our friend did something incredibly stupid.  We said it.

Maybe we saw someone in a public venue that was acting out of sorts and our first reaction was to say that they must be it.

Like many words throughout history (the N-word, the B-word) this word has morphed.  It has changed in meaning from a common term used by many without offense, to a word that is no longer considered socially acceptable.  Yet for some reason, it is still widely used.

It’s time to make a change in the way we talk about others.

This is Cody.

YKIHAYHT: Take the Pledge, Show Respect

At first glance you probably see a boy in a wheelchair. A boy who can’t do many things for himself. A boy who some would say is retarded.

I see a boy who has endured more in his seventeen years of life than I have in my thirty-eight. He has a steel rod in his back and he takes a pharmacy worth of medications every single day just to make his body work.  A boy with the strength of Hercules and a heart of pure gold.

A boy who loves going to the pool in the summer and for strolls around the neighborhood to feel the sunshine on his face.

A boy who loves to watch Spongebob or the Minions in Despicable Me as he receives his life-saving infusions once a month.

A teenager who can eat you under the table if it involves pizza, hot dogs, or cheeze-its.

A boy who knows how to get your attention by giving you a pinch on the arm and will certainly laugh at you when a scream comes out of your mouth.

I see a boy whose laugh is contagious and loves being the center of attention.

I see a boy that is caring, funny, intelligent, and strong.

I see love and a smile that can light up a room.

I see my nephew.

Meet Kathryn and her brother Evan.

Siblings that love to talk to Katherine’s guinea pigs named Leo and Georgie.  Evan loves to feed Georgie carrots and it bothers him that Leo likes to climb up the walls of the cage.

Siblings that love to listen and dance to Dynamite by Taio Cruz and Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 together.

Siblings that love to perfect the art of the selfie with a little help from the PhotoBooth app on Katherine’s Macbook.

Siblings that love to laugh together.  Play together.  Love together.

You see Katherine wanted to do something important. She wanted to make a difference.  She wanted to initiate change in her community.  She wanted to step up and show her classmates that when they use the r-word in conversation, it hurts.  It hurts not only her, but it hurts Evan and it hurts their entire family.  Take two minutes and thirty seconds to watch her video.  Please. I’ll wait:

Today I ask you to take the pledge.  It only takes a few seconds to visit R-Word.org and sign your name.  Promise to make that conscience effort to show respect to everyone and stop using the r-word.  Then share.  Share it on Facebook.  Share it on Twitter.  Share it with everyone that you know.  Change your cover photo.  Place a badge on your site.  MAKE THE PLEDGE.

The only way to make the change, is to BE the change.  I did it and I hope you will join me.

Take the time and make the pledge.

Take the time and make the pledge.

A huge thank you to Katherine for being a shining light.  Your future is bright my friend.  xoxo

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What Do We Do Until?

As I read the news (AKA my Facebook and Twitter feeds) over the last couple of days, all I could think about was this:

WE ARE SO FUCKED.

Seriously F-U-C-Ked.

Until we have the desire to change.

Until we have to desire to care.

Until my friend Keesha can tell her son that the color of his skin doesn’t matter.  That he can walk down the street and be seen as a BOY, not a brown boy.

Until I can confidently tell my daughters that society doesn’t really give two shits about what size they wear.

Until my bestie can take her bi-racial children out in public and someone doesn’t ask her “what are they?”.  They are children you tool.

Until we actually care about a cause before a tragedy happens.  Not just after.

Until my friend Bliss can get the insurance coverage she needs in order to help her Autistic son get the therapies that he needs to succeed instead of a constant stream of “we don’t cover that, it’s not necessary”.

Until we can take our kids out to the park or to the movie or to the grocery store and don’t have to constantly worry about who is lurking in dark corners.

Until….

Until we can use our words to help each other instead of to constantly attack/belittle/discourage each other.

Until my friend Courtney can tell her kids that their dad is going to be just fine.  That they’ve found a cure for cancer.

Until our nightly news actually contains more positive news stories than negative.

Until it isn’t about white/black/hispanic/asian/gay/straight/purple polka dots, but instead it’s about us as human beings.

Until those that work “for the people”, actually do work “for the people”.

Until my nephew can get the life saving medicines that he needs without a battle with the insurance company, because contrary to what they may believe it actually won’t be better if he is no longer with us.

Until we stop fighting against each other and instead we work with each other to make a difference. To encourage change.

Until us mothers can put down our mops, toilet brushes, and baby wipes and quit fighting over who is a better mother and just be. Well, just be mothers, friends, supportive and encouraging.

Until our kids can go to school and not worry about what Snotty Sally or Jackass Joseph are going to say (or do) to them during the day.

Until our news feeds are no longer filled with Amber Alerts and posters of missing adults.   Abused animals and murder suspects.  Bombings  and shootings.

Until…..

 

 What Do We Do Until?

 

 

 

 

It Really is OK to Just Say NO

Early on in childhood we are taught to say no. Say no to strangers, say no to drugs, say no to peer pressure. Even as parents we drill the same skill into our own little people. We stress to them the importance of using the word when something doesn’t seem right. That it is okay to give their friends a nice firm NO when they are being pressured to do things that they know are wrong.  To say NO if they don’t want to do something.  Makes you wonder why after all the years of being told to say it, we are so scared to use it as adults.

I’m do know that I’m not afraid to use it with my kids:

Mom, can I have a cell phone?  No, you are ten.

Mom, can I have candy?  No.  I ate it all.

Mom, do you love me more than the others?  No.  I love you all equally, just some days I may like one of you more than the others.

Mom, do you have a wiener?  Thankfully, no.  If  I did you wouldn’t be calling me mom.

Smell my feet mom!  Not just no, but HELL NO.

Did you fart mom?  Nope.  Not me. I would never do that. <ahem>

While I love to piss my kids off on a daily basis by reminding them who is the boss around here, I often forget when approached by adults that I even know that the word NO is part of my vocabulary.  Why do we have such a hard time saying that one little word to other adults, are we afraid of looking like we can’t handle it?  Scared that we will be considered less of a woman/man/parent if we just say we can’t do it right now?  Maybe it’s a little bit of mom guilt mixed in with that middle school mindset that we won’t be accepted if we don’t agree with every offer that is thrown our way.

This is extra difficult when the offers involve our kids.  Sitting on the PTA board or coaching a ball team.  Going on that field trip or making those cookies for the program.   Never able to say no.  Always willing to adjust our schedules to do what needs to be done.   Never able to just walk away.  Feeling as if we don’t say ‘yes’ that the job won’t get done.  Forgetting that in most instances that one little word could alleviate so much stress from our lives if we would just use it.  Just once it would keep us from trying to squeeze in one more meeting in an already over-packed day.  Stop us  from making just one more trip to the store for supplies.  Give us an evening to reconnect with our already over-scheduled families.

Maybe it is that part of our human nature that has this desire to constantly please others.  The feeling of never letting someone down.  What happens when we become so overwhelmed that we forget to make those cookies or that meeting slips our mind?  Disappointment and guilt.   That’s what happens.  Then we sit in the soup of despair and shitty feelings kicking ourselves in the ass for not being organized to write something down.  For forgetting that we received that reminder call three days ago while we were juggling fixing lunch, finishing folding that load of laundry, and wiping the three-year-old’s butt.  It is hard to believe that we, the uber-involved incredibly organized, could possibly overlook one little thing.

Here’s the deal, we ARE over-scheduled.  We do strive for the acceptance of our peers, even as adults.  We always want to appear as if we have it all together, even though we know in our hearts that we are falling apart and will be hopping aboard the crazy train any day now.  In all reality, no one really gives a shit if you say “no, sorry, I just can’t make it to that meeting.  I haven’t had dinner with my kids all week and I promised them that tonight was the night”.  No one is going to think you are a raging bitch if you turn down that seat on the PTA board.  OK they might, but if they do then maybe they are the bitch.  No one else but us is looking our for us and what we need.  What our families need.

The key is to find our balance.  To find what is truly important to YOU.  You want that seat on that non-profit?  Grab it.  You want to be the room mother for your kid (s)?  DO IT.   You want to run a bakery from your kitchen?  Good for you.  Do you have to do it all ?  No way.  Find your passion and do that.  You aren’t telling the others to piss off, you are just saying that you want to be able to be fully invested in what you are doing.  There is only so much room on our plates.   To be truly involved with your whole self may take a little more effort  but the rewards are ten-times greater than only being involved with just a piece of yourself.

We can no longer look at  ’no’ as a word worthy of being placed on George Carlin’s list of dirty words.  We can’t be afraid to say it to our kids, we know they aren’t afraid to say it to us.  We can’t avoid it just because we are afraid of not being accepted into the cool kids club.   If that club looks at you differently because you have priorities and can make a decision based on what is best for you, then maybe it isn’t as cool as you thought it was.  There comes a time where that one little word can make the difference between spending time with the family that you love and adore or spending it doing something that makes you miserable.  The choice is yours.

Find your true passion

Did you buy the book yet?  PLEASE don’t tell me NO.    Get all the details right here.

The Evolution of a Talker

Talking.  One of the milestones that as a parent you look forward to.  That moment when your offspring can actually tell you their problem instead of just standing their crying, whining, screaming.  You can ask them a question, they can give you an answer.  It may start as a one or two-word answer, but it still beats the hell out of whining.  Funny thing about this talking milestone is that  once they start, you find yourself wondering exactly why you were so excited for them to start in the first place.  It is quite the process, one that takes years to develop.   I now have kids at all different levels of the talking ladder and after thinking about it  I am amazed (and scared) at  the evolution of a talker.

You bring home your sweet, precious, quiet newborn.  He sleeps 20 hours a day and eats on a regular schedule.  Baby keeps eating, growing, starts staying awake a little more, a little babble, a little more crying.  Months pass, you spend your days playing and talking in one word sentences with the hopes that baby will catch on to a word here or there.  Ball.  BA-BY.  Dog. Cat.  Ma-Ma. Da-Da.  Toes.   Finally baby mumbles a word.  Ma-Ma.  You get SO excited because you just know that he is speaking months ahead of all other babies and he will be a genius.  You are pissed because you didn’t get it on video, but that’s OK because now that Junior is talking you will have so many opportunities to catch him on video.  Just to spite you, baby doesn’t form another intelligible word for months.  Damn it.

Finally baby grows into a toddler.  Walking, screaming, throwing shit, climbing, more screaming.  Life is great.  You think to yourself that now is the time, this kid is gonna start talking.  I can NOT take anymore of this grunting, pointing, screaming.  Oh GOD the screaming.  After more intensive one word at a time therapy, Junior speaks.  The moment you have been waiting for…an intelligible word. You never thought you would be so excited over one word.  The word.  NO.  Oh, it’s so cute.  Junior, you want a drink?  NO.  You want to play blocks?  NO.  You want to eat lunch? NO.  You want to go the park? NO.  Son of a….If this kid says the word “no” one more time, heaven help me.  I have GOT to teach this little munchkin some more words.

Toddler starts turning into quite the talker.  He progresses past the word “no”, not that he quits using it, but has developed a bit of a vocabulary so he has other words to help him pass the time.  This is the “cute talker” stage.  Everything they say is cute.  Awe, he said “twuck”, isn’t that sweet?  He wants a “dwinky”, that is so cute.  Hey mom, he said my name!  Isn’t that cute?  What’s that?  You want a…. WHAT DID YOU SAY???  Oh God. It’s a FORK, FFFF-OOORRRRRRRR-KKK.  FORK.  Oh crap, so much for going out to eat in public.

Toddler turns 4 and overcomes the small problem he had with the letter R.  At least now the kid can form a complete sentence.  It may not always make sense, but at least it is a sentence. “I have crunchy peanut butter in my eye”  WHAT?  This age becomes difficult because the words are there, but they are still unable to put them together in logical sentences.  Why are you mad Junior?  ”Johnny took my underwear and ate them for lunch”  Excuse me? Do you mean you went to CHANGE your underwear and Johnny ate your lunch while you were gone?  I’m pretty sure that Johnny would NOT want to eat your underwear. That would cause many problems that I am not ready to discuss with you.  This age also presents the problem of too many words, not enough brain space.  The moment when said 4-year-old gets so pissed at a sibling that the words just won’t form so Junior just resorts to the high-pitched scream, grunt, and toy chucking.  Not an enjoyable time, you pray that this stage passes quickly.

The four-year old turns into a five-year old, starts school, and gains not only intelligence points but gains better control over his vocabulary.  They become more inquisitive about the meanings of words, which in turn begins testing the intelligence of their parents;

“Dad, what do you mean by absorbs?”
“You know, sucks it up.”
“You mean like a butterfly’s proboscis?”
“I don’t know what that is, but I was thinking more along the lines of a sponge.”
“Oh”

(This was an actual conversation that occurred between Farmer Bob and the Boy.  I can’t make this shit up)

It is at this point you really start to not only question; A. exactly what ARE they learning in school? and B.  am I a complete dumb ass?  You start reading books other than Dr. Seuss with the hopes of increasing your vocabulary, and you do it quickly.

My eldest spawn is now 10.  There are days when I would pay thousands of dollars for a roll of duct tape in order to not listen to her mouth.  I have been told; ohhhh, just wait.  It will get worse.  To that I say this…UGH. Seeing as she is not only the oldest of five, but she is only at the ripe old age of 10, holy schmoly I have a SHITLOAD of years left to deal with these types of quality conversations:

“Please go water the flowers for me”
“But Grandpa said it’s gonna rain”

“Turn off your light, it’s time to go to sleep”
“But I’m still reading”

“Your hair looks really cute”
“But my bangs are sticking out”
“I was really just hoping for a ‘thank you mom’ there”

I am so damn tired of hearing the word “but”.  It makes me want to stick my foot in her butt.  I am convinced that she would argue with me over the color of the grass or that the strawberries are really grapes.  It doesn’t make a hill of beans of difference if I am right or not, she knows everything and I know jack shit.  I suppose I should attempt to get used to this, to just let it roll off of me, but we have loooooong road ahead of us.  A road that I hope will be lined with vineyards with a vat of wine at the end.

Here’s the thing, I am afraid that if I get used to it now what will happen when these kids are 18, 16, 14, 13, and 11? (Holy shit, that scares me just a little!)  I have survived this evolution up to this point and I am not ready to risk complete anarchy and the possibility of being overrun by a handful of smart ass kids.  I must arm myself and be prepared for this next step in the evolution.  While I am unsure of exactly what weapons I will need for this battle, I will force myself to think back to when I was that age.  It wasn’t that long ago, surely I can remember something.   Oh. CRAP.  I’m screwed.

* Originally published in August 2012


Have you read about Lilly and Hannah yet?  Read their story here and see how you can help one pair of slippers at a time.  THANK YOU!!!!

 

Talker

Do You Need a Day Off?

I am just going to admit it, I’ve been in a slump.  I can’t call it writer’s block because I actually CAN think of topics to write about, but it is the actually writing process that I am having a problem with.  I  am going to attribute it to the craziness that has been my life the past two weeks with back to school, starting back to work, and trying to find our “schedule”.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Well, I decided to take it to my friends, so I asked on Facebook on Sunday what the people who read what I have to say on a regular basis want me to write about.  I had great responses to my request, enough that I think I shall deem this Facebook week here on the ol blog.  The comment with the most “likes” (over 60 at last look) was from Andrea and this is what she wants to know:

How to get partners to participate more with their Children! Sooo sick of hearing “I work all day you stay home and do nothing” any SAHM knows its NOT easy! Especially when another is coming! Then on their days off they don’t want to help because it is THEIR day off. Where the hell is my day off?

I must first say that I will not refer to moms or dads, only partners, during this post because I have gotten to know quite a few stay at home dads that work their asses off on a daily basis as well.  When thinking about how to attack this post I kept thinking about my This Journey Called Motherhood post from last month.  I think it is so hard for us stay at home spouses to juggle it all.  Cooking, cleaning, homework, changing diapers, take one kid here, take one kid there, pay the bills, you know what I mean.  It seems as if the list never ends.  I decided, for just a minute, take that list and forget about it.  Now imagine that you are the one getting up every morning. You leave behind your little people and your home, and you head to a job that at least 3 out of 5 days you do not enjoy but you go to because your family is depending on you for survival.  If it isn’t for that job you have no home, no food, no car, no money.  The pressure is really on.

For me, I will take the cleaning and the “menial” work that comes with staying home over the pressure of providing all the financial support for my family.  I know how stressed Farmer Bob gets at times, especially since we have been in a drought, and I feel so stressed for him.  I would understand to a point why he would need a day on the weekend to decompress, but he also understands to a point why I need the same thing.  It wasn’t always this way.  We have had our moments of disagreement and selfishness, but we have learned that parenting is also a sacrifice.  Parenthood is such a learning process and I can remember Farmer Bob and I having this same lively discussion about who really needs a “day off”.

When you bring home that first baby, you have this picture of perfection in your mind.  I will wake up every morning with a smile on my face, send my spouse off to work with a kiss and a smile just like a 1950′s housewife.  I will spend my day teaching my baby everything he needs to know and when he naps I will clean the house, do the laundry, and cook supper.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!  Seriously, those pregnancy hormones can do crazy shit to your brain.  Those first few months when baby sleeps most of the time and you actually do get things accomplished are so deceiving.  Before you know it all hell breaks loose and you realize that maybe, just maybe, raising this little person is not always going to be all peaches and cream and that you can NOT do it alone.  You find yourself  deeply conflicted about your decision to stay home and raise the babies.

Hands

Not only are you learning how to be a stay at home parent, but your spouse is learning how to be a working parent as well.   They are learning how to balance being gone all day and playing catch up when they get home.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that there would be a small amount of guilt felt by them for missing out on all the things that we stay at home parents get to witness.  Those first smiles, those first giggles, those first steps, that first time they find a pair of scissors and cut out a chunk of hair.  Just as we have moments of jealousy that they get to leave the house ALONE every day, they have those same moments when they walk out the door.  Maybe not every day, like when the kids are screaming at each other as they are heading out, but I am sure that they have them.  You will never know if you never ask.

Your partner, the financial provider, goes to work every day.  They have no idea what you do while they are gone they just know that they come home, the house is clean, dinner is cooking, and they have clean clothes to wear.  They have no concept of exactly what type of miracles you had to perform in order to do those tasks.  Communication is key in sharing with them exactly what it took to get it all done.  They don’t know that you had to hold a screaming baby in one hand while running the vacuum with the other.  They don’t know that you had to keep a busy toddler from throwing all the laundry on the floor before, and after,  you had a chance to fold it.  They don’t know that you were busy body blocking the kids from touching the oven while trying not to burn the hamburger you had cooking on the stove.  Your partner will most likely tell you about their day, shouldn’t you tell them about yours?

Parenthood is such an ever evolving process.  Just when you think you have found your “comfort zone” something changes. A new job, a new milestone, a new baby.  Communication is essential to your emotional survival.  If you cannot communicate about how stressed you are and how you need a “day off” as well, your relationship and your kids are going to suffer.  Yes, it is so important for both partners to have time alone. I look forward to it, even if it is just to go grocery shopping or to go to school to volunteer.  When I am gone, I find myself looking forward to returning home…later.

More importantly, it is imperative for you to say to your partner; hey, I know you are tired after a long week of working, I’ve had a long week too.  How about we go do something as a family to unwind?  Go to the park, go to the zoo, just go out and do something that you all enjoy.  You may be surprised how quickly both of you forget about how stressful your week was and exactly how wonderful your family is.