Children, Life

The Right Choice

Roe vs. Wade. The ultimate decision that gave women the Choice to navigate the difficult waters of facing child birth. How long must we row before the light dawns and we wade out into new waters for our women and our children? Is the problem the Choice? Or is it about the conditions that lead a woman to Choose?

I was there once. A young 19 something with an aspiring career before me… and pregnant. It was clear to me that if I wanted the child, I would have to do it alone. The father wanted no part of the child or raising it. He already had 3 children and wasn’t doing much financially, emotionally or physically to provide for any of them. I KNEW it was going to be solely on me as the bearer of the child.

I saw no way for me to provide for the child. I mean, I could have given up my job, the only source of income I had to give the child an adequate future. Then what? Struggle to survive and provide some semblance of a poverty-stricken future for the child? It seemed irresponsible for me to choose to bring the child into such an existence. I chose to abort. I regretted it Deeply.

The problem was not that I didn’t want the child. I truly did. The problem was societal systems were not designed with a mom or a child’s need in mind. That needs to change. I watched my daughter raise her baby girl the first many months of my granddaughter’s life without any physical, financial, or emotional support from the father for reasons that are not important to go into here. I witnessed her reach a Choice point.

She was pregnant with a second child. I watched her tears of fears of how will she possibly do it with TWO children?!?! Despite those tears, I heard her say I cannot possibly give up this child’s life! Why? Because of LOVE. She so loved her own brother and appreciated all of their memories together as small children. She could not possibly selfishly steal the experience of a sibling from her daughter. She did not make the same mistake as me and I am proud of her Choice! I would not have this beautiful baby grandson had she not made the Choice for his life.


Here is the Right Choice. We can CHOOSE to do better for our women and our children. We can CHOOSE to make it affordable to raise children. We can CHOOSE to develop systems that are supportive financially and emotionally to the raising of a precious child’s life.

It is NOT an easy choice to stay at home and raise your children, struggle financially and often times have no other children to interact with unless you have another. Nor is it an easy choice to send your child off to day care to spend the majority of their day with another woman, or man, while you spend the majority of your time working to financially support the child with BASIC needs with the astronomical cost of daycare. Never mind all the extras we want to give our children so they can be well-educated, well-rounded children with a strong sense of WELL-BEING.

I once witnessed Marianne Williamson give an informal poll to the listeners at one of her campaign talks. She asked the question… “How many people in this audience are not having children because they cannot afford to?” The hands that went up were overwhelming to me. My heart broke for the women in the audience and men who also raised their hands alongside their partner whose other hand they held endearingly. We come here to experience the beauty of Life and to expand that experience for others. Yet the current environment is so difficult we have people whose only heart’s desire in life cannot even be realized… to have a child. I FELT the weight of their longing.

I think a “formal” poll needs to be administered posing the same question Marianne asked, along with other questions, such as what are the barriers to your ability to provide for and raise a healthy child. Let’s focus on the solutions to those poll questions. Let’s stop focusing on band-aid laws put into place to avoid lives being lost through illegal and legal abortions. Face it! They were happening illegally because women were facing a choice that seemed an irresponsible and impossible choice to make. Well, the SAME conditions exist today. Let’s BE responsible and make it Possible for families to flourish!

Transformation

Transforming Anger with My Children

January 2, 2011

… and that’s what I did this morning.

Our household was like a war zone last night.  My kids were treating each other absolutely atrociously.  They were screaming at each other at the top of their lungs and calling each other vile names.  It was so upsetting.  In an attempt to regain order and peace in the house, I stepped in.  Much to my regret, I added only more anger to an already chaotic situation.

When all was said and done, I grounded them and told them if they could not communicate with each other properly, they could not communicate with others.  I removed all cell phones, laptops, xbox live, ipods, etc. they use to text and talk with the outside world.  Of course, this was not received well at all.  All kinds of remarks were hurled at me… making me feel like as a parent… I have completely lost control (as if we ever really have any right?).

As I went to bed, I pondered the whole situation realizing that some of those remarks hurled at me were in fact true.  How could I expect my children to treat each other with love when they’ve witnessed very little of that between their own parents lately? How could I expect them not to lose their temper and display anger towards each other when I was capable of doing the very same thing in my attempt to regain order? 

Then other questions came to my mind…

  • How could I expect them to improve their communication by taking away all their means of communication? 
  • Am I asking too much of an 11 and 12 year old to have a healthier relationship when they are siblings and probably need to be able to vent their anger somewhere? 
  • How healthy is it really to ask your kids not to display such anger for each other if that is truly what they are feeling? 
  • How unhealthy is it for them to repress these emotions for fear of losing their stuff or to fake happiness with each other in order to earn it back?  
  • Don’t we already have enough problems in this household with people being unable to express their feelings and those feelings not being heard?
  • How effective am I really being here by diminishing such opportunities because the feelings are simply ugly? 
  • And finally… God, how do I make this better… what can I do differently?

After my meditation this morning, an idea came to me which I’m hoping was a gift from God… an answer to prayer.  I decided that in order for my kids to earn their stuff back, I was going to have them do an exercise.  I wanted it to be a journaling exercise that would allow them to get in touch with their feelings and to really feel them and express them… to discover what was behind their anger…. to challenge them to look at themselves… and to put an intention in black in white about how they could do things differently. 

So I asked them to each get a notebook and a pen.  While they were doing that, I asked God to PLEASE direct me on the questions I should ask them. I then asked them these questions one by one…

  • What are all the things that bother you about the other person?
  • Why do these things bother you?
  • How does it make you feel that the other person does this?
  • How does it make you feel when you express your anger towards them in return?
  • What good things do you see in the other person? (they both said nothing and refused to write)
  • So I asked… what would you miss if the other one was gone?
  • What can you do differently to express your anger in a healthier way?
  • How are you going to treat each other better in the future?

When we were done, I asked them to exchange notebooks and read what the other one wrote.  Neither could decipher each other’s writing so I volunteered to read their answers to each other one question at a time (another blessing by God I think). 

Well let me tell you… it was an experience for all three of us!!!  While both children had done the writing with total attitudes, a hesitation to be open to the other in any way, and a conviction they were still in a place of justified anger for the other… it all began to melt as I read their answers and added my own insight to what I was reading on the paper… to what I saw they were really both saying… since they are much too young to understand that behind their anger is pain and hurt.

It was just so sad to read it and I tried to keep myself composed emotionally as I read and conveyed what I saw.  Rebecca was angry with Frankie because he stares at her and he is loud playing his video games and will never let her play with him.  Frankie was angry with Rebecca because she makes fun of him when he looks at her and she threatens to humiliate him and tell people about his Tourette’s if she doesn’t get her way. 

So I explained first to Frankie that what I see is that Rebecca cares about you and just wants to spend time with you and alligator tears began to form in his eyes.  Then I explained to Rebecca that Frankie cares about you and wants to look at you and Frankie’s began to cry harder.  Then I said… what I see is they both have a desire for connection with each other and love each other and Rebecca began to cry.  All of this was too much for me and broke my heart as I realized that I am living in a household full of people who just want love and connection to others and cannot seem to have it with each other and it broke my heart and I began crying too.  

After I was done explaining the rest of their answers, I told them they had one final exercise to complete in order to get their stuff back…. that they had to do the 30-second hug therapy which we had all seen posted on Facebook.  It was a video of two young kids whose father had made them hug for 30 seconds as therapy, which seemed like an eternity to me watching it, and was so touching.  

I had asked my kids to do this the last time they had a brawl and they flatly refused but this time, it was a condition of getting their stuff back so they were willing.  I told them I would only do 10 seconds (my thought was eventually to work up to 30 seconds if we needed to do this again).  As the seconds clicked away, I couldn’t get enough of seeing them hugging.  Since they couldn’t see the timer and are too young to be really aware of time, I let the timer go… and go… and they got their 30 second hug therapy without even knowing it. 

So long and short, my kids have their stuff back.  I have no idea if any of what I did will change their behavior.  But for me… the miracles that happened were that both my kids were crying… in touch with their feelings… expressing them not repressing them… and the feelings were sadness not anger… a longing for love and connection… not hatred… and they each got the opportunity to be heard, even if it was through the voice of their mother…. and finally… watching them have a piece of that loving connection in that 30 second hug. 

May God please guide, bless and direct my family every day… as he did today. 

Transformation

Re-Framing Suffering As Love

November 3, 2010

(Written during my daughter’s Rebecca’s recovery period from spinal fusion surgery.)

I have been reflecting on a situation that was killing me to witness a little while ago. I now realize it was a beautiful, intimate exchange of love between my son & my daughter.

Rebecca was bawling in pain from doing a little too much today and nothing I did to reposition her seemed to help.  Frankie was watching the whole scene of her crying and me struggling to help her to no avail.  His face was becoming bright red as the stress of the situation was escalating.  It was too much for him and his Tourette’s tics just started to flow from his face. 

After a little while Rebecca finally regained her composure and she says to me “Frankie has a new tic mom” and then goes on to describe what she saw.  She asked me to explain to her why he can’t control it and what it is inside his body that makes him do that.  I tried to give my best explanation in a way that a child would understand and explained to her that he can try to control it but then eventually he has to let it all out.

Then she directed all her questioning towards him and the two of them started this open dialogue with her asking questions and him answering, although he couldn’t really tell her how he is able to control it.  Then Rebecca says that Nicole, (big sis who also has Tourette’s), was doing her tics when she was sitting on her bed in the hospital and it was hurting her back when the bed was shaking but she didn’t want to say anything.

Being the mother, the whole thing was heart wrenching for me. To know that one of my children was laying there in pain, my other child suffers with trying to control an energy in his body that says “let me out, let me tic”, and remembering how much it broke my heart when Nicole would come home from school and release all the tics she had suppressed so kids wouldn’t make fun of her and that she still struggles with it today when she gets stressed. It was just too much for me to handle. I wanted to puke from all the suffering.

But what I realized afterwards was…

That it was the first time Frankie has ever seemed really comfortable talking openly about his condition and I see that as a blessing and a freedom for a kid who has no freedom of choice in what his body does.

That Frankie’s tics came out tonight because he cares about his sister.  The tics overflowing translates to the level of his love for her.

That Nicole’s love was also overflowing as she sat on that hospital bed shaking away with concern for her sister. 

That Rebecca could have been solely focused on her own agonizing condition tonight but she was tuned into her brother’s condition because she cares about him. 

That she sacrificed her own comfort so as not to make her sister uncomfortable when she was shaking her bed.

That I have 3 kids who love and care very deeply about each other. 

That we are one blessed family in spite of our difficulties.