“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.
Gazing and listening August 14, 2011
I am very good at gazing. I am also very good at listening. Gazing and listening are all right for church, but they sure kill a lot of conversations. (from The View from Saturday by E L Konigsburg)
Like a sonnet August 13, 2011
“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?” “Yes.” Mrs Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.” (from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle)
Grey fluff August 12, 2011
People who don’t Think probably don’t have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake. (from Winnie The Pooh by A.A. Milne)
Just one kind August 11, 2011
Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. (from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
Have you ever seen something ugly in someone else only to realize you have a whole huge dose of that same ugliness in yourself? That’s what happened to me today.
I have this horrible, ugly tendency to be judgmental. Motherhood has cured a lot of this as I’ve been humbled over and over again to do the things I swore I would never do. But some of it still remains. A lot of it, to tell the truth. Today I was surprised and saddened to realize how much I still need to work on myself in this area. Before I was a mom, I used to shamelessly judge women who were mothers–in the grocery store, at the school where I worked, and so forth. I have come a long way since then. I’ve learned to look on other mothers with compassion because it is, as we like to say in Texas, dang hard. It’s dang hard to raise kids whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding, co-sleeping or scheduling, working or staying home. One of the greatest gifts of motherhood to me is the increase in empathy and compassion it has afforded me.
I am a member of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and a part of the leadership team of my local group. MOPS is really big on reaching out to moms of all kinds to make sure that no woman has to do this hard job without the support of friends. It has encouraged me to get to know women who are drastically different from me to see what we have in common–our insane, out of this world love for our kids. And I’ve come to realize that almost every mom is just doing the very best she can with the resources she has. I want to learn from and help these women.
The ugly I saw today was on facebook. Several mothers (not MOPS moms, though!) were grumbling about having seen a pregnant woman smoking a cigarette. I know. It’s an awful thing for her to do. But my growth in empathy and compassion for mothers allows me to look beyond the obvious mothering sin of smoking while pregnant and see the humanity of the woman who was doing it. I can think of a hundred possibilities. Maybe she’s been addicted since birth herself. Maybe she has so much extra stress in her life she cannot take on one more thing, such as the gargantuan task of quitting a lifelong habit as much as she may wish to. Maybe she honestly doesn’t know any better. Maybe the man in her life is horrible. I just think maybe she’s in a situation where it would have been easier for her to choose not to give life to this baby, but instead she decided to do the hard thing. To have the baby. Maybe she’s doing that hard thing alone. I know you probably think I’m horrible for even defending her, stranger though she may be, but I just wish I could give her a hug and invite her to MOPS. Maybe she has never had the resources to help her do the best thing for herself or for her baby. I mean, it was easy for me not to smoke while I was pregnant because I’ve never been a smoker. And I’ve known women who quit smoking because they were pregnant and it was hard, but they did it because they knew it was best. But they admit it was hard. And in the exhaustion and stress of new motherhood, a lot of them returned to the habit. These are women who have emotional, spiritual, and physical resources to help them and they still found it difficult. Imagine if you had none of those resources. How hard would it be?
I was moved with compassion for this unknown woman and others like her, wanting to give her the support and resources to help her do the very best for her baby and for herself. I know that when she comes face to face with that child she will be overcome by an unimaginable love. I also know that she will be faced with an unimaginable burden of responsibility. I hope she finds some kindness and some help along the way. I hope every other woman she meets doesn’t just look on her with anger and judgment, unable to see past the cigarette in her hand.
And yet, in all my compassion for this woman, I was brought to the painful realization that I very recently passed just so harsh a judgment on several people at a bluegrass festival. I am actually pretty sensitive to cigarette smoke and it gives me a powerful headache, sometimes resulting in not the most pleasant of moods. I got so irritated at the people smoking right in front of me and I kept making comments about it to my husband and my friend. I know I said that I couldn’t think of a more inconsiderate people as a whole than smokers. It pains me to even recall that I said that, but I did. And it was truly very recent–just this past May. My friend, a physician in residency, has had the opportunity to meet and work with lots of different people. When she saw these smokers, she felt compassion for them and saw their physical ailments made worse by the addictions they would be hard-pressed to lay off. I just saw how they made me uncomfortable. Shame on me.
I hated to see my friends on facebook judging another mama but I hated even more to realize how quick I am to judge anyone who makes me uncomfortable. I hope I can grow more and more in compassion and decrease my tendency to judge others harshly. I hope I can do like Atticus Finch suggests and walk around in someone else’s skin long enough to realize, as Scout did, that there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.
Liam’s Wells August 10, 2011
A while back I told you about Liam and you all helped me send some Christmas books to him while he was being treated for Leukemia. Well, now Liam’s leukemia has returned and he is again undergoing treatment. I know that most people in his situation would take the time to really focus on themselves and their own needs in a trying time. And no one would blame them. But that’s not what Liam and his family have decided to do.
Instead, they are focusing on being thankful and on reaching out to help meet the needs of others. Liam is trying to raise money to dig wells for clean drinking water in the developing world. Isn’t that awesome? At six-years-old, it just isn’t enough for Liam to be an inspiration for many in his courage at facing this grueling trial. It isn’t enough for him that the details of his spirit and his attitude that come through in the stories his mother shares are raising spirits and encouraging faith. Liam is a world-changer and he has decided to take this time to change people’s lives through the gift of clean water. Amazing.
Here is the link to where you can join Liam in his efforts: http://thewaterproject.org/community/profile/amy-lowe
Thanks for taking the time to follow the link and consider if you can help.
My computer monitor is broken and my quote collection is on that computer, but I will try to find a quote for you later today somehow. Thanks for reading!
I’ll do August 9, 2011
“Well, I am pretty,” replied Charlotte. “There’s no denying that. Almost all spiders are rather nice-looking. I’m not as flashy as some, but I’ll do.” (from Charlotte’s Web by E B White)