Monday, October 21, 2013

It really is the little things

This morning Julia did something amazing. She linked two signs together to form a request.

Six years, three months, 30 days of life leading up to two signs:

More + glasses = I'd like my glasses please mom!

My cup overflows, my heart is bursting with pride. Hugs and tears were shared,  texts were sent, a Facebook status was updated and a blog was written. This was big. Two little signs rocked our world.

You get a diagnosis of "special needs" and you have two choices - to measure everything by what she won't do, or to celebrate every single little tiny and yet humongous thing she does do. By the grace of God we were funneled into the latter option right from the beginning and as a result have basically been celebrating every single day since.

I've often felt really grateful that Julia's diagnosis is "unique," meaning no other cases like hers. It has allowed us to write our own story, follow her lead, and drop every single expectation for what she will or will not be able to do. (I wish this for all of my parent friends, it's so freeing.)

Will she walk? Well, we aren't sure, guess we will see! But have you seen how fast she scoots?
Will she talk? I don't know, but she sure does find ways to communicate!
Will she be okay? Oh friend, she is already there.

Our parenting approach may have been different had there been 900 articles to read about what kids like her can or can't do - we may have felt the pressure or responsibility to "help" her achieve a certain standard. We may have been sucked in to agreeing to set goals for her to walk by 2 and talk by 3 and feed herself by 4 - but these would have been artificially set for our comfort.  In reality we don't know if God has made her to do any of these things or not - so we refuse to make unfair goals in the first place.  

Instead we feel we've been given a gift as parents, the most amazing gift - to sit back and cheer our daughter on, all the while saying "who knows what she will be able to achieve, but lets watch and see!"

Had you told me roughly six years, three months, and 30 days ago that I would have a six year old who doesn't walk, doesn't talk, and only knows 3 signs I might have been devastated. I would have fixated on these BIG things she won't be able do and I wouldn't have been able to imagine the little things that would make our hearts soar or dream of celebrations that would ensue over something like: "More glasses."

You can miss the little things if your sights are set above them - but every ounce of joy in my life comes from these subtle, tiny, easy to miss if you aren't patient yet amazingly huge, and life changing little things.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Hey Fellow Moms: Good Job!!!

It’s Saturday morning and I’m up early with our daughter trying to let my husband sleep in. I made the mistake (because now I’m all worked up) of checking Facebook and reading a blog that’s been circulating all week written by a husband defending his wife who “just stays home.” (youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day?)  After reading it I am fighting the urge to run upstairs, wake my husband up and demand he write a blog about me, a “working mom.”  (gasp!)

I hate that my reaction to this man’s blog is to want to defend myself – he was just trying to defend his wife which is cool of him - except that he is perpetuating what he is writing agains - judging others - and polarizing women.  Commentary on this topic (stay at home vs. work outside the home) always seems to do this – polarize us.  Put one side on the defensive.  In this particular blog the author was very clear: one side (staying home) is better, one side (staying home) is preferable – the other side (having an outside job) is tolerable BUT ONLY if it is out of pure necessity for survival, otherwise it is petty, selfish, and damaging to both our children and society as a whole.  Really? All that?  Shoot, if that is the case maybe I should be locked up.

I don’t understand why it has to be this way? Why these “mom” topics have to be so black and white. Aren’t we all moms? Aren’t we all trying? Aren’t the majority of us madly in love with our kids and doing the best we can for them?  Aren’t we burdened with massive amounts of guilt already just as a function of being a mom?  Why aggravate further these insecurities that already cause us to constantly compare and then feel the need to defend?

Why have sides? Let’s be on each other’s side!  It takes a village right?

How about instead of my side vs. your side, we do this:
You stay home with the kids? Wow, that’s admirable and I’m sure really challenging! 
You work outside the home?  Wow, that’s admirable and I’m sure really challenging!

I have many friends who stay home with their kids. I KNOW they work hard! Friends who stay home, you work HARD! I admire them and at times am jealous of them.

And while admiring them, I'm also proud of the job I have.

In my job I think I help people in some small way. I don't define myself by my job,  I don’t think I’m irreplaceable at my job – I know I am replaceable, but that doesn’t make my work meaningless.  I have many friends who work outside the home and are really good moms. Friends who have jobs outside the home, you are GOOD moms! 

For my job, I work from partly from home and partly in an office.  My daughter stays with my mom while I work. Sometimes I hate it because I want to be with her more and sometimes I think it’s a pretty fabulous gig to get to drop her off with someone who adores her and go use my brain for work I enjoy.  This is pretty similar to my friends who stay home with their kids full time and sometimes love it and sometimes admit to fantasizing about getting an outside job.  We aren’t that different – whatever we choose there are days it works and days we want something else. That's called being human!  Why make it a fight?  Why make the two sides such opposites to be defended?  When we do this we just make it that much harder for mom's to be open and honest with each other about our struggles.  It doesn't help any of us be our best if we have to hold back about our challenges out of fear of being judged for our job or lack of job.  

I want to be able to say to my friend who stays at home with her kids that at times I really want that too and that my job is kicking my butt. I want her to be able to tell me that she sometimes wants to go back to work or that there are moments she might pull all her hair out if she doesn’t get away from her kids.  I don’t need her response to be “Well maybe you shouldn’t have a job!”  And she doesn’t need my response to be “Well maybe you should get a job!”  We both need to hear, “You are amazing, you are doing SO great, and I will bring you chocolate immediately.”  That’s what we need from each other – honestly being able to share that motherhood in all forms is hard and we need each other.

So, this is my bottom line in this debate: whether I work outside the home or stay home full time, my kid is loved. If that is the case in your family too
then we are both doing a pretty flippin’ fabulous job at this mom stuff.  The logistics of our daily schedule may look different but when we put our kids to bed at night they know that in this crazy messed up world they are fiercely loved. That's what matters.

Judgment from either side of the stay at home vs. work outside the home debate (especially from those NOT EVEN ON ONE OF THE SIDES) is not helpful in our quest to survive and thrive in  motherhood, which I think we can all agree is the toughest and most incredible job on the planet.