Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Keep The Authority Where It Belongs: The Case For Parental Rights

You may have heard about the Stanley family by now, as their story continues to gain more publicity. What is being reported is that the authorities investigated their home after an anonymous caller told them that the children were running in the snow barefoot. The children were then taken into custody upon the discovery of a 'dangerous' mineral supplement in the home, one that the father claimed he used as a water purifier.

I do not know this family personally. I've never met them and know very little about them, only what has been written about this incident. I also don't know if there is more to this story than what we have read, and there very well could be. I feel it's important for me to mention that because it's frustrating when people jump all over a news story and make decisions about it based on the very little information that the media supplies. Tried and convicted in the court of public opinion, so to speak.

That being said, I also know this is not the first time I have heard of a family being ripped apart based on someone else's poor judgment. This story comes on the heels of yet another story about parents who are under investigation for allowing their two children to walk HALF A BLOCK alone to a playground. And these two stories come on the heels of numerous other incidents of parents being accused of neglect because they left their kids alone in a car for two minutes while they ran into a gas station or had the audacity to disagree with their pediatrician. Considering over 3 million children are 'checked up on' by CPS annually, it's no wonder these stories are so common. DHS and CPS appear to wield an awful lot of power. All it takes is a phone call from a nosy neighbor. Maybe one day the authorities will show up on your doorstep.

Is there anything in your parenting someone else might disagree with? Have you ever done, said, or allowed anything that would be deemed questionable by the cranky lady down the street, or even your own friends? I don't doubt the way I run my household is a little different from the way you run yours, but I bet you love your kids. I bet they love you. Chances are we're both doing what we feel is best for our individual families.

But when it comes to these types of investigations, where the lines are drawn appear to be so discretionary, based on the whims of whomever is involved in the case. Who do you think deserves to be investigated? Or even deserves to have their practices outlawed? Deserves to have their children taken away?

Families in a polygamist community? A family who practices alternative medicine? A family whose parents spank their children?

There have been plenty of times when I have felt sorry for other kids and the way they were being raised, but I also recognized that they weren't my children. When it comes to issues of personal liberty and parental rights, you are not the authority on my family, just as I am not the authority on yours. At least, that's the way it should be. But as the state receives more and more power and more and more funding to place itself in the middle of our daily lives, it can't come as any surprise that this continues to happen. And it won't stop, not as long as we continue to wage war on each other's ideologies.

Ours has become a culture of self-righteous finger wagging. All I have to do to see that is read through a few threads on a parenting website. How dare you mutilate your child with circumcision! Breastfeeding your 3-year-old is abuse! You should never feed your child McDonald's! Spanking is the same as hitting!

That's precisely where this gets uncomfortable. Should your standards be applied to all people? Of all backgrounds and religions and cultures? Which perceptions should we allow to dominate as we apply arbitrary rules to how people live their lives?

Because that's what human beings do best – decide they're right, and then decide that everyone else should live accordingly. That's why we're now under the thumb of so many laws and why children are getting ripped away from loving homes. But I'm here to say that your parenting choices should remain precisely that – your choices.

It's horrifying to hear of tragic cases of abuse and neglect. There are some cases of severe harm, sexual trauma, and death that I've heard about that stick out in my mind and sicken me to my core. But one has to wonder if these cases would be fewer if less time and money were spent on investigating ordinary people just trying to live their lives and more attention was given to real problems.

So to the nosy neighbors who like to make reports, I'd like to ask you to consider these things: Consider striking up a conversation with the family instead of reaching for the phone. Consider that you are about to step on the constitutional rights of those parents AND CHILDREN in that household. Consider that the strange family next door just might be good people who simply do things a little differently than you do.

Consider that you're taking away help from a child who actually needs it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Taking The Leap: Third Baby Fears

It feels kind of weird announcing this on here since I announced it on social media so long ago and am only just now getting around to blogging it, but that's what happens when you've got a sweet little thing inside of you that's been making you feel a little icky. Yes, that's right - it's official. I am pregnant with our third child.

It's fascinating how different the reactions to the third are from the reactions to the first or second. It is less 'yay' and more 'whaaaaat?!' I can only imagine what the reactions will be like if we ever spring for a fourth. You'd think we were Duggaring it up over here. (Side note: I think the Duggars are lovely, but I don't think we'll go for nineteen.)

I have always loved the idea of having a big family and would love to have even another one day, but you guys, pregnancy is no joke. It has been a rough few months in our household – lots of gagging and wretching on my part, and lots of TV watching and self-entertaining on the kids' part. I'm at 16.5 weeks now, and the morning sickness ('morning' – ha!) is definitely better, but there is certainly some lingering queasiness here and there. I think this baby is plotting. (“YOU SHALL HAVE NO MORE AFTER ME, BWA HA HA!”) Meanwhile, the crazy husband is already planning the fourth...

Going from one child to two felt easier to me than going from zero to one. When you have a first baby, especially when you've had a loss prior, everything is terrifying. From worrisome ailments to inexplicable crying (both child and parent), caring for your very first newborn is quite the trial-and-error phase of life. But with the second you actually feel like you know what you're doing. That was especially true for me since they were so close in age – I never actually left baby mode. It's a little different now that the age difference is slightly larger, and that's just one of the many things I get nervous about. I'm starting over in the baby phase. Yikes!

It would be easy for me to fear all the unknowns about this new endeavor. What's going to be different with three? Am I going to be overwhelmed? Will this baby sleep? What if something goes wrong?

There are so many things in life I could fear, but when I consider all that's taking place in the world, that seems to put it into perspective a bit. Having a baby shouldn't be toward the top of that list of things to be fearful of (although, having recently been in the throes of first trimester woes, I will say that three months of consistent nausea is a totally legit thing to fear). In every new phase of life there is room for fear, but I've got to cast that aside and embrace and enjoy what's in front of me.

Whenever I start to feel apprehensive about adding to our brood, I start reminding myself of the facts. Yes, kids are a lot of work, but they are the kind of work that is worth it! They are fun. And they are family, and who doesn't want more family? I mean, if Tori Spelling can have four, why can't I? Maybe she didn't feel like barfing the whole time though...

Anyway, there is much to celebrate. What I am looking forward to most is watching my two older babies gain a sibling and experience the joy of a new life. I'm excited to meet this new person and learn all about him or her. I'm excited to watch them all grow together and love each other. And that's the key right there - love conquers fear.

Some parents say that going from two to three was huge because they became outnumbered, while others say that it was a natural transition since they were more laid back. I can't be sure of what's to come, but what I can be sure of is that no matter what, we'll always have a lot of love in this house.

Fears about having a third child

Sunday, December 7, 2014

To A Daughter On Her Birthday

Sweet Girl,

On the early morning when you were first placed in my arms, we were both so exhausted, and neither of us knew what was to come. Life in those first newborn days did not get off to an easy start – they were days filled with tears, anxiety, struggles, and certainly not sleep. As it goes for many new mothers, those first few months I spent with you were intensely difficult. But the one thing I want you to know is this: you were worth every bit of it, and I would do every second of it all over again to secure your place in this world.
Letter To My Daughter
For the past five years I have had the great pleasure of getting to know you, and I have already caught glimpses of the woman you will become. You are so loving and kind, and you have already learned the value of having a beautiful heart. I pray you never forget that lesson and become a blessing to everyone you meet.
The Hopes I Have For You
You are tenacious in your pursuits, from planning impromptu backyard parties with your picture lists to showcasing your entrepreneurship with your grand schemes of selling your old toys door to door in the neighborhood (someday you'll understand why that wouldn't have worked out). You are full of creativity and big ideas, and I hope you'll always have the courage to chase your great adventures.

Raising A Child With Courage

I love how bright you are. I love the questions you ask and the answers you give me, the stories you tell and the laughter you bring. You've been speaking in complete sentences since before you were two years old, and you've never run out of things to say since. In many ways, you are how I wish I could have been. Never lose that spirit. I want you to always have that thirst for knowledge, and more importantly, wisdom.

What I Love About My Child

Our time together may not have started out perfectly, but you have been my little buddy for five years now, and I know I could never have imagined a better companion. I often find myself thinking back on these years, each memory rich with pure joy for the simple pleasure of spending it with a child like you, and all I can think about is how they have been the best years of my life. I pray for many, many more just like them, and the hopes I have for you are too many to count.

How To Pray For Your Child

Ever since you were tiny, all I've ever wanted to do is be the best mama I could possibly be for you. There aren't enough words in the world to tell you how much your daddy and I love you. All I can tell you is that you and your brother are the greatest treasures we could ever ask for.

Raising A Sweet Kid

Happy Birthday, Hannah Cabana Kabookie

Love, Mama

Saturday, November 29, 2014

To A Son On His Birthday

Baby Boy,

I never thought I'd have a son. When I was growing up, my world was always filled with females – sisters, stepsisters, mostly girl cousins...we would often joke that our family just knew how to make girls. I always knew that I wanted children, and I always felt that I would like to experience having both a son and a daughter, but I kind of prepared myself for the continuation of the trend. Thankfully, it was not to be as I imagined.
How To Be A Man
The day we discovered you were a 'he', I teared up with joy, for you had become a reality that I dared not hope for. I was raising a daughter, and I would also have the privilege of raising a son. It is not a task that I took lightly then, and it's one that I feel the weight of even more strongly as you grow.

How To Raise A Son

You are blessed in a way that many little boys are not. I look around at the world, and I see too many poor examples of what a man should be. I see men who refuse to fight for their families, men who do not love their wives and children, and men who lack the integrity I so long for you to have. But you are blessed, my son, because you have examples in your life who show you the way; men who live their lives for others and are willing to do whatever it takes to run their races with honor. You have your daddy, and he loves you and me and your sister endlessly and sacrificially, and you will grow up knowing what it means to be loved and love others. Not every little boy has that. Take advantage of that blessing because if you learn to do it well, you will have the opportunity to give that gift to someone who needs it someday.
Growing Up To Be A Man

I wish I could hold on to every part of you that won't last. The way you sound French when you say the word 'door'. You caressing your 'comfy blanky' that is wrapped around your face when I check on you as you sleep.  Your silly antics. The big tears you cry over the littlest things, and even your surly facial expressions (those might last a while). Though you will one day grow up to be a man, you will always be my sweet little boy. You will always be the little fella who wraps his arms tightly around me and puckers up big for a kiss. I will always hear your little voice say, “I wuv you, Mama.”

Funny Looks Kids Give
I want you to know all of this so you understand when I get a little blurry-eyed at times in your life. I can't even think about how much I love you for too long without the tears welling up. But as you grow up, I take comfort in thinking about the man you will one day become. The world can never have too many of the good ones, my boy. You are three today, but you will be 33 before I know it. You have many more years ahead of you for learning and having fun and driving me crazy and holding my heart, but it will all go by too quickly. These past three years already have. 
Raising A Son
During the first hour after you were born, I watched you intently, unable to process the love and awe I felt at your presence in this world. I will never stop marveling at you and all that you have brought into this life.

Hold on to what Daddy and I teach you. We love you more than you may ever know.

Happy Birthday, Biscuits.

Love, Mama