You pray for rain, you gotta deal with the mud too.
That’s a part of it. – Denzel Washington
“It’s comforting and a bit sad because it means we’re having the same conversations over and over, yet it shows we still miss each other enough to say it. It’s hard to constantly find a different way to express emotions through texting, though I have been known to send him photos of Legos in compromising positions that have made him literally laugh out loud at work. It’s the creative spirit in me.” – Little Miss Wordy
I am featured at The Good Men Project with a piece titled, “Technologically in Love – How Tech Affects Our Marriage.”
The Good Men Project is a diverse community of 21st century thought leaders who are actively participating in a conversation about the way men’s roles are changing in modern life—and the way those changes affect everyone. We explore the world of men and manhood in a way that no media company ever has, tackling the issues and questions that are most relevant to men’s lives. We write about fatherhood, family, sex, ethics, war, gender, politics, sports, pornography, and aging. We shy away from nothing. Our content reflects the multidimensionality of men — we are alternatively funny and serious, provocative and thoughtful, earnest and light-hearted. We search far and wide for new stories and new voices from “the front lines of modern manhood.” And we do it without moralizing and without caricaturizing our audience; we let guys be guys, but we do it while challenging confining cultural notions of what a “real man” must be.
He wasn’t my first-born, but the moment they placed the sweet little bundle of boy in my arms I knew there would be different challenges in raising him. He was a healthy baby and thankfully those challenges wouldn’t be of the medical sort, but the difference in raising a boy are always present. As he entered the years of playgrounds and sandboxes, there began the instances of little boys wanting to play a bit rougher than I had witnessed my daughter and her playmates at that age. Pushing and shoving, sticks in the air, and mutterings of “boys will be boys” filled the playground and my little guy’s world. They also filled my heart with trepidation and a little despair as I wondered how I would raise the kind of man I wanted my son to be, the kind who was compassionate to others, who was aware of someone’s need and was willing to help them, the kind who would be strong yet gentle.
Inevitably, my sweet little boy gravitated toward sports, specifically football, and I was faced with yet another challenge. Raising a boy to be tough in sports can be a double-edged sword. Even with the best of coaches, and he’s had some amazing ones, the sidelines are filled with shouts to “tackle harder” and “get that guy” and “you’re tougher than that” none of which are intended to encourage aggression off the field, yet teaching them to leave it all on the field takes constant reminders and discussions I wish I didn’t have to have with my son at such a young age. A love of sports comes with an interest in professional athletes some of which didn’t learn to “leave it all on the field” and are in the news for domestic abuse, animal abuse, and other behaviors that maybe stem from a belief that they are invincible and will hear the cheers no matter what they do. It’s not that I don’t expect to have these tough conversations with my kid, but having the “when a girl says no, it means no” conversation was one I thought would come a bit later in life.
5 Things I Want My Gentle Giant To Know:
1. Being a great athlete is more than being great on the field. The world is your field and when your days of sports come to an end, it is on this field where your performance will truly matter.
2. When a girl says no, it means no, but she shouldn’t have to say no. You should be aware if she’s uncomfortable and back off. Truth is this goes for anyone in any situation.
3. Always be the guy who stands up for what is right instead of the guy who lingers in the background, knowing he’s witnessing something very wrong, but is uncomfortable speaking up.
4. Don’t get caught up in messages like “man up” and ” real men don’t cry” and the idea that men are superior to women or that being part of a wolf pack ups your cool factor. Be you, whatever that looks like.
5. Be aware of your surroundings in all you do in your life. Being present and being aware of those around you will make you the best person you can be as you will be truly in touch with others and those who might need a little compassion in their life.
As a mother of a daughter and a son, I share this advice with both and try to raise my children equally. The truth is the world still demands differences from each, sometimes subtle, sometimes not. I encourage my children to be the best they can be in all they do, including sports, and I am always their biggest cheerleader. However, it is my job as a parent to have the difficult conversations, to constantly remind them of what is truly important, to raise compassionate human beings no matter their gender.
I’m raising champions, but I also choose to raise gentle giants. What do you choose?
This post was part of this month’s #1000speak. Add your post by following the link below.
“If I close my eyes, I can see her sitting on the brown velour seventies couch in our living room wrapped in that ugly green sweater, relaxing with each passing minute as though cocooned in a blissful state of peace.” – Little Miss Wordy
My little tribute to my own mom is featured today at What The Flicka?
I hope you’ll check it out and remember a little something special about those who’s motherly
role in your own life made a difference.
The days are warming up as the sunshine begins to grace us with its presence, but it feels like we’ve just wrapped up the holidays chockfull of picture worthy dining rooms photographed as proof that we are capable of dressing up our tables as much as our bodies. As Easter approaches, we are presented with another occasion to pull out the fine china and gather round the beautifully set table with family and friends. Each place setting lovingly set with items that were pulled out of their resting places in dark corner cabinets, washed, and given a prominent place on the table.
I love a magazine worthy table as much as the next person, but I’ve come to accept that we are living what I refer to as the Paper Plate Years. The truth is with active young children, dogs, work, workouts and only twenty four hours in a day, paper plates have been a life saver at our house on many an occasion. The benefits of a quick table setting, less dishes to wash, and guilt free recycling currently outweigh a pile of dishes in the sink battling for attention with nightly tooth brushing and tucking in services.
And, I’ve begun to use the term Paper Plate Years in other aspects of our lives too.
The lack of dishes in the sink, makes for quick clean up and more time for my husband and I to enjoy some evening quiet time, watch a show or catch up on our day as date nights during the Paper Plate Years often consist of evenings in rather than evenings out.
The Paper Plate Years may also come in the form of carpets that are showing wear and tear and are in need of being replaced or a car that may have run its course but the money is more wisely spent elsewhere for now.
Dreams of fine china vacations may currently be replaced by staycations during the Paper Plate Years and laundry may not get the attention it needs in exchange for loads of family time instead.
Homework is a large part of the Paper Plate Years as school projects need supervision and little readers need encouragement.
The house may not be as pristine during these Paper Plate Years, but life is messy when you’re living it to the fullest.
Intimate moments may often feel impossible with toddlers in the house, but your creativity will surprise you (and your partner) during the Paper Plate Years.
We’ve all experienced the Paper Plate Years at some stage in our lives. Some of us may still be living smack dab in the middle of them. Each phase of our lives brings with it a set of challenges but also a set of dreams. When the kids are young or money is tight it’s easy to lose ourselves in wishful forecasts of what awaits, but the Paper Plate Years are the memories we will look back on and cherish when we have plenty of time, money, and energy for date nights, vacations, new cars and clean homes.
The most important thing is to be fully present in the here and now as you pull up your chair to your family table and make it a fine dining experience filled with love, conversation, and of course, paper plates.
In what aspect of your life have you experienced the Paper Plate Years?
Bullies are all around us. They come in many forms, making us victim to unspeakable feelings, but the worse kind of bully is the bully within, the one that resides in your mind and heart. Don’t give in to self-hate, doubt and regret. You deserve a little self-compassion.
“Anti-bullying starts by facing the bully within.”
No name, no sex, no gender, no race
Anonymous lurking in every face
Out of dark, dusty corners evil shadow to defend
At your side push, push until you bend
Innocents dismiss its presence
doubts seep in become their essence
Sinking through layers of confidence it sets
the table for second guesses and regrets
Unwelcome dinner guest feeds without restraint
on self hate, past failures and pain
Cozy on up, pull up a chair, make yourself at home
Not in this heart continue to roam
No solicitors, don’t want what you’re selling
Your sales pitch is convincing but also telling
Of your own demons hiding within
inviting others to join in
Dinner party pity party the more the merrier
Guest list with no barriers
Come one come all
Clock ticks Last Call
Open your eyes, turn on the lights
See what’s right before your eyes
Turn the lock, flip the sign, closing time
Don’t give in…not this time.
This post was part of this month’s #1000speak movement where bloggers all over the world come together to flood the internet with compassion. This month’s topic is “Building From Bullying.”
Link your post here.
The internet is a funny thing. It can suck you into a time-consuming black hole of social media, leaving you informed on news you could have lived the rest of your life not knowing. Last year, I wrote “When 547 Facebook Friends + 832 Twitter Followers = A Negative Number.” It was about a beautiful friendship between two men who started their journey as childhood friends, sharing treasured experiences throughout the years, only to have that journey end tragically with a cancer diagnosis. In that post, I touched upon the fact that I believe real life friendships, the kind that allow for eye contact, hugs that stay with you forever and the day-to-day that comes with it are unique and can’t be experienced in internet friendships. I don’t mean a real friendship can’t exist, but in my opinion it’s not the same. There’s something to be said about holding a complete conversation with your best friend without saying a word because you know each other so well that one look is all the communication you need or how one little squeeze of the hand can give you the strength to face your biggest fear.
However, a movement called #sogladtheytoldme, by blogger Stephanie Sprenger of Mommy For Real has stirred something within me that wants to address this in a whole new light. Sprenger wrote a response post to “They Should’ve Warned Me” about motherhood and the warnings or lack thereof that new moms are given by experienced moms in their lives. In her article, “I’m Glad They Warned Me” Sprenger spoke in detail about the fact that she respects experiences such as the one Jenny Studentroth Gerson had as a new mother where all went smoothly and she simply embraced motherhood like a natural and felt they should have instead warned her of all the positives of motherhood. More importantly, and the reason I believe Sprenger’s post went viral is her focus on making sure all readers, especially new mothers, understand it is okay to have a different experience.
Motherhood is a very personal journey and no one should feel pressured to have a storybook pregnancy or feel like a failure when the whole nurturing thing doesn’t come easily. Colicky babies, postpartum depression, raw nipples, and sleepless nights are a reality many mothers face.
#Sogladtheytoldme is allowing mothers everywhere to know they are not alone. And, if you’ve ever felt truly alone in your plight as a new mother then you understand the magnitude of Sprenger’s movement.
Lisa – She can’t keep her eyes open after weeks of sleepless nights with her newborn baby girl. She has finally gotten her down for a nap though has failed at getting her to sleep in her crib yet again. As she tries not to disturb the baby, asleep on her chest, she gently shifts her body on the couch and reaches for her phone. She knows she should sleep when the baby does, but she’s also desperate for some adult interaction even if it is online. Lisa scrolls her Twitter feed coming across the same hashtag time and time again. Mother after mother shares a story, a photo, a simple line, all conveying the same message, #sogladtheytoldme. And, with her newborn snuggled to her chest, Lisa no longer feeling alone, drifts off into a peaceful sleep…if only for twenty minutes.
Like Lisa, I can’t help but wonder how many other mothers are being touched, saved, by knowing they are not alone in wanting to run away some days or wondering if they just aren’t equipped to be a mother. Single mothers, working mothers, first time mothers and mothers of three can all relate to navigating the course of motherhood like a newbie at a Spartan race. I wonder what they feel like when they come across another mom online admitting they are so glad to have been told it’s okay to not be a perfect mom all the time or even half the time. It’s okay to cry because you feel like you are failing this precious gift you were given, yet maybe don’t truly deserve. You’re not the only one.
I still believe there’s nothing like having a friend that can show up on your doorstep when you need them most. I still believe there are certain experiences only to be shared in person, but I think I may have been wrong when I said, “The internet won’t catch you when you fall.” Stephanie Sprenger has proven just the opposite.
Some people are hard to love. Some people’s choices differ from ours. Their actions don’t make sense to us. Their beliefs are foreign to us. Some people are hard to love.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to love them anyway. It doesn’t mean they don’t deserve our love, our time, our compassion.
When my daughter was one, we took her to see her first movie, Disney’s Finding Nemo. She was mesmerized by the giant screen which transformed before her eyes, when the lights dimmed and the movie started, into an aquarium larger than life . There’s a scene in the movie where the seagulls are all intent upon eating Nemo and his friend Dory, repeatedly claiming their prey with an incessant chant, “mine, mine, mine, mine.” To me, it is the funniest scene in the movie. My daughter is now twelve and I still laugh at that scene.
The thing is, I’m not sure if it’s the scene itself or the fact that it reminds me of our own human behavior. It seems to me we’ve perfected this seagull mentality in our own lives as we build walls around our yards and ultimately our lives, as we claim our prey in the form of a new car, a promotion, a cool friend before others do because how would that make us look after all. Many of us, blinders on, choose to ignore the signs when someone needs help, dismissing it with a “it’s not my problem” attitude.
If you’ve ever been around a toddler for any amount of time, you know it is much like this scene in Finding Nemo. Compassion begins at home. It is our job to teach them to be aware of other’s needs as well as instill in them compassion when it comes to those around us. I’m not going to get into a political debate here because that’s not what this post is about. As I stated above, we all have our own beliefs, etc. I believe if I worked for something, I earned it. I don’t expect some greater power to demand I share what’s mine with someone else. What I do expect is for me to help someone less fortunate in my way when I see a need. I am raising my children to do the same. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, compassion should always be present.
Life isn’t a fairytale or a Disney movie with a guaranteed happy ending. As I like to say, we each have our own once upon a time, our own unique upbringing, our own cultures, our own personal experiences that make us who we are today. However, we can all come together to write the next chapter. We can reach out and help someone close a hurtful chapter and begin a new, more promising one. In the simplest of ways, we can make a difference for someone by simply showing compassion whether in person, in writing, online, with a comment or even a smile.
Teach the children in your life to be aware of the needs around them, to be kind, to love those who are hard to love, and to show compassion in all they do. It has been said it takes a village to raise a child. Do your part to raise a compassionate child for that same child will grow up to have a role in the very same village some day.
This post was written as part of an initiative that is near and dear to my heart, 1000 Voices For Compassion.
I invite you to join 1000 bloggers on February 20, 2015 as we flood the internet with compassion in the form of blog posts, videos, photos, etc.
Write a post about compassion on your blog, join our Facebook Group, invite others to participate.
You don’t have to be a writer to submit a post to the website or simply post a comment on FB, share a post or tweet something compassionate with the hashtag #1000speak then sit back and see how one little blog post has become a movement.
The preparation of this event is already connecting people across the globe. It has taken on a life of its own which to me simply means a little compassion goes a LONG way!
The day each of my children was born was life-changing for me as it is for many parents. I believe in celebrating their birthday special every year as much for them as for myself. Through the years, after the kids go to bed, I have spent many a night creating a cake for the occasion. Amid yawns and stretches, I relive each moment of my pregnancy, each memory of their birth. As I bake, ice and decorate, I imagine the look of joy on their sweet faces when they lay their eyes on the finished product. It may not be Cake Wars worthy, but I know they will remember these cakes and the love I poured into each one for many birthdays to come.
Do you have a special birthday tradition for your children or loved ones?
For more Finish the Sentence Friday and diabolical ideas of what to do when the kids go to sleep, check out