Friday, November 20, 2015

How does it all come together?

*Disclaimer: I am not trying to add to the Mommy wars, but am simply trying to make sense of what is in my head.

I read a book for a book club I was part of until recently when I decided it wasn't for me, it was called "Everything I Never Told You" and it was about a biracial family in a time period when that would have been thought of as not okay and a lot problems that stemmed from that. But besides that it featured a woman who was trying to be a medical doctor because she strived to be everything different than her mother a home-ec teacher. She wanted to stand out and break the mold in a field dominated by men at the time. A very women's equality situation. But then she fell in love, got pregnant, married and never finished and it hung over her head every day. There was even a one liner about birth control being developed around the same time, eluding that maybe this woman's life would have been everything she wanted because her children were a burden and derailed her from her dream. But honestly there were deeper issues with the characters in the book that birth control would have just masked instead of solved.

I have to say that this book made me anxious for a while. I had to sort through a lot of insecurities of my own. One being that I chose to be a stay at home mom for the most part (I teach part time now). I went and got a doctorate and then stayed at home. Most people might wonder why I did this, or maybe they don't care and that's okay too, I can be a bit boring I admit. :) But one of the main things I remember is that my own mom was a stay and at home mom for most of my child hood and I liked her being home with us. I liked that she was available and that she was engaging with us. And granted the latter probably doesn't have to be associated with at home moms, but for me, most of my positive learning memories came from her interactions with us and it made me not only want to stay at home but to want to homeschool. And I know she thinks I'm a little crazy sometimes, and we don't have the perfect relationship, but this staying at home with us and being there and engaged, well that was big to me.

For most of childhood me, I wanted to always prove that I was better than the boys. I played on the boys soccer teams, I did science Olympiad and any kind of activity that proved that I could be equal to a guy. And there was some underlying issues there too, but what was interesting was that I wasn't the only girl doing this. In some ways girls dominated the higher sciences. The girls were the presidents of the science clubs and the pre meds and the highest achievers of the crews. It never occurred to us for it to be different or for science to be a man's thing, very different world from the novel mentioned previously.

Even in grad school, in chemistry, the amount of women equaled the amount of men and it didn't feel like much was that different .... until you wanted to have a life outside of school. Wanting to get married, have children, those, well those were not talked about within the department or dealt with. And while every so often you might have a family friendly advisor, it wasn't normally so. I remember going to a seminar on how you could potentially have a family and remain in academia. Certain times were listed as better than others for having babies, but the consensus was that a lot of advisors frowned upon it because, well, it meant that it would take away from your research. Research meant money potential, research was supposed to be your life, family was second not super healthy family environment.

So growing up I told myself that I wasn't going to get married or have children because I was going to do something, in some ways I reminded myself of one of the protagonists in earlier mentioned book. I was set on working for NASA, I loved everything about space and space travel. I also very much enjoyed my small stint at NASA and hoped to make it career worthy. But deep down, I had something in me that wanted something different, deep down I wanted to get married and perhaps have children some day.

And what do you know, I found this guy the first week in grad school that kind of turned my facade on its head and made me think about my true feelings. And I wanted him and this all to stick. But it was scary because for so long I had put up this front, I went after guys that I didn't have a chance of having anything lasting before. But this one I married him, and I don't regret it one bit. And those children we have, well, they are amazing and so  challenging and yet so beautiful.

But there were many obstacles to climb, because I did condition myself to think elsewise, and I didn't want to let anyone down that I had told elsewise, a fault of mind. I want confident in my decision. I felt like I was a disappointment. So much money and time was spent on me to succeed and I wanted to run the other way. I think the only person's words that stuck with me in a positive way, oddly said to me when I still had my façade about career versus children and I had just put down someone for choosing children over a career, were simply that she wasn't wasting her education on her children, but instead was truly using it, it just might not look that way. Those words stuck with me and made me say to myself it's okay to want this.

So it's interesting now when I think about the struggle of career and children. I think I chose the right path for me. It's not that it's been all smooth sailing. For me, being a stay at home mom has been harder than getting a PhD. I've spent about the same time on both now, and its feels so very true to me. And then I've chosen to homeschool, so I'm probably just clinically insane for all this. But this craziness, this is right for me for right now.

The thing is that I don't think there is a one right path for everyone, as in a one size fits all kind of measure. In our insecurities, we want to know that what we chose is best, but to enforce that on another? I'm not sure that's best. And the culture may promote one choice more than another, and it may make us feel inferior for choosing differently, but that's not truth or love. And maybe if we remember just that and try to be us, the person God created us to be, maybe this world will be okay.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

And there are good times too.

I have a personality that can easily be caught in the bad.  I have to remind myself that there are good things often or I get very whoa-is-me the world is ending or is hating me. So this post is to remind me of a few of those.

First, I've been enjoying lately all the kiddos crowded on my big bed reading bed time stories or telling bed time stories.  The kids have been into hearing stories about when they were littler, and I'm having to think how to make their lives into interesting stories for them to hear, and when I am able to do it well, they love it.

Next, its so good to have friends that you can talk to and don't mind listening and you in return don't mind listening to them.  Friends that understand that you are a sensitive soul and want to build you up instead of tear you down.  They are worth so much.

And despite the bad about the incident last week, I'm so thankful for good neighbors.  Ones that invite you into their home unannounced and share a peanut butter cup with you and let your children play freely with their own.  Ones that when you call them in a pickle they help you out of it by lending you a car seat so you can get to co-op and the doctor because your baby ended up with a double ear infection.  Or that the folks at the corner produce store know you well enough to feel comfortable giving you hand-me-down clothes for your children because they see you as a friend and they are watching your children grow right along with you.

And last, this.  The opportunity just to play and love.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

To the person trying to illy do good

At 9am yesterday, I had two unexpected visitors.  Two police officers showed up at the side door.  They had gotten a call about suspicious behavior of a man in a red car talking to my children.  A concerned citizen thought that this dangerous person was trying to lure my children away from me.  But they weren't, in actuality, it was just my husband leaving for work and my children interacting with him in doing so.

So you see someone made a judgement, and said this looks not right, and thus called the police to intervene.  And while that would have been nice if there truly was something wrong, there wasn't. And honestly I think at least 9 times out of 10 (probably more like 999 of 1000) this has got to be the scenario. And it sheds a light on our society a bit, that we live in fear. To me that is unfortunate.

First, I want to say I wish I knew this neighbor better, because then they would know which cars we drive and who my non-scary husband is. But unfortunately, our world does not allow these types of interactions.  Instead we hole up in our houses and call police over a kid saying goodbye to his dad. Please dear neighbor come out of your house and come talk to me, I would love to know your story. And I do think that I have gotten to know quite a bit of my neighbors, we live in a highly walkable neighborhood full of people who do just that, but apparently not enough to prevent this.

Second, this bugs me so much in the extent that I feel like it plays into several mentalities that are wrong with America.  One, we value our freedom, but we don't value our neighbors freedom.  We would rather hide behind walls, and call in the authority and over-legislate to get what agenda we desire to accomplish.  Two, we feel the need to instantly judge. We are a land of impulse people.  We don't know what it is to wait for things, to really be patient with something, we instead think: Act fast, act now! despite how illy formed our judgement may be. We see someone disciplining their child differently than we would, and out comes the camera to shame this person and make their life hell.  We see someone being awkward and we snap photos and blast them on the internet.  Really people, stop it already.  Remember we are all humans, we need mercy and kindness, not shame.

Last, stranger danger is overblown.  That one case in a million people, we think that will happen to us, and instead of saying I'm going to be confident and trust God, we instead live in fear and fear monger those around us. I mean there's a whole website that is supposed to be centered around neighborhood folk getting to know one another, but stems down to the latest house break-in or car theft. I mean by all means, don't be stupid, because yes there are desperate people out there, but do we act like everyone is bad and we can't chance getting to know them, or do we live in a way that we see the good in everyone and try to establish a community where we truly help one another. I would much rather that, that one where I feel like I can't venture out of my house or let my kids play in my yard without a police call, wouldn't you?