Anybody knew that no two men were alike. You could measure cloth with a yardstick, or distance by miles, but you could not lump men together and measure them by any rule. Brains and character did not depend on anything but the man himself. (from The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder)
Owning a nanny goat August 21, 2011
Owning a nanny goat can change your life in District 12. The animals can live off almost anything, the Meadow’s a perfect feeding place, and they can give four quarts of milk a day. To drink, to make into cheese, to sell. (from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)
When I read this quote, I thought immediately of an organization that recognizes the life-changing possibilities of owning a single animal for people living in poverty around the world, and I wanted to share it with you. It’s called Heifer International, and this organization allows people to donate money to purchase an animal that will be given to a family in need, along with training about caring for and utilizing the animal. As they say on their website, “By giving families a hand-up, not just a hand-out, we empower them to turn lives of hunger and poverty into self-reliance and hope.” And that empowerment is then shared because the families who get an animal agree to give one of the animal’s offspring to another family.
By donating funds to purchase an animal, you can very tangibly change a family’s life. I hope you’ll take a look at their website, and consider making a donation in honor of someone you love or as a gift for someone.
Before you can rise August 20, 2011
For before you can rise, you must drop;
If you haven’t hit bottom, you can’t reach the top.
(from “I Feel Awful” The Collected Poems of Freddy the Pig by Walter R. Brooks)
All kinds of courage August 18, 2011
“There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)
Protection forever August 17, 2011
He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. Not a scar, no visible sign…to have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)
Learning to fly August 16, 2011
This was something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book–not that she hadn’t tried. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)
I love this little tidbit about Hermione in the scene in which the Hogwarts students are first learning to fly because I so identify with her.
I have always been a by the book kind of gal. I love to read, I love to follow directions and then see things turn out as promised. I love the details and the extras. I almost never skip the acknowledgements, afterwards, or forwards of books. I am not one of those cooks who can just throw stuff together and make something marvelous–I am good at baking because if you follow the directions exactly, it turns out so perfect. I am uncomfortable with cookbooks and recipes that say things like, “Salt to taste.” I want them to tell me down to the quarter of a teaspoon how much salt.
Naturally, when Jon and I first decided we were ready to start having babies, I picked up books about getting pregnant and when we found out we were expecting, I had no fewer than seven pregnancy books stacked up on the bedside table. I followed all of the rules. No hot tubs, no lunch meat, no caffeine. I slept when my body told me to sleep. I exercised regularly but not too hard. I took my vitamins.
And then I had a miscarriage anyway.
For the first time in my recollection, the books let me down. I followed all of the rules and it didn’t guarantee a healthy baby in the end. It was something completely outside of my control.
So when I was expecting Benjamin, I didn’t crack a book for months. I listened to my doctor. I prayed a lot. I realized that people have been doing this for centuries all over the world without books. If I had an unusual symptom, I would look it up in one of the two pregnancy books I kept just to see if it was something that warranted calling the doctor or not. I stayed far away from Web M.D. In this way, I maintained my sanity throughout the wonderful months of pregnancy.
And when Benjamin was born, I had to learn everything from scratch. Breastfeeding. Bathing a baby. How to sit up by myself after a c-section. How to arrange my day around his needs and still get a shower. They do have books on all of these subjects, but I found myself unable to learn anything from the how-to variety parenting and baby books. Rather, I was fascinated by watching other mothers and by reading mommy memoirs detailing their triumphs and mistakes in the journey of mothering. I had read a booklet about how to swaddle a baby, but I learned how to do it by watching the nurse in the hospital room. And a few weeks later, I learned how exactly my son liked it by paying attention to his cues. It was wonderful.
The parenting books are so different in their instructions and opinions that it’s hard to know which ones to follow. It’s a “to taste” kind of thing and that makes me uncomfortable at times, but if I buck up and do it, I end up with something that works for us. I have a friend on facebook who frequently asks for baby advice from any moms who happen to be out there. I really admire her willingness to ask and sometimes I cringe at the vehemence of some of the opinions expressed. I always want to remind them that it’s not like baking. Everybody is different. We all like different amounts of salt. Some of us like to schedule strictly from day one of a child’s life and some of us like to let them nurse and sleep whenever they seem to need it. In the end, they all turn out pretty much the same. The only difference I can see is in what it does to your own stress level and the relationship you develop with your child. Trying so hard to follow someone else’s method is fruitless if it makes you crazy regardless of if it works for a dozen others. When you find what works for you, you find peace and joy in motherhood.
For those of us who like the rules and the guarantee of getting it right if you follow them, it can be uncomfortable to learn things by experience instead. But it is the kind of uncomfortable that is so wonderful because in the end, it feels like flying.