Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Solidarity in motherhood

I have always valued my mommy friends.  Ever since I became pregnant with my oldest son way back in the fall of 2000, I sought out like minded women with similar experiences to help me navigate the waters of parenthood.  The simple idea that I was not alone in this journey made all of the challenges much much easier to overcome.

It started with La Leche League meetings and Attachment Parenting International meetings in Austin, TX. There I met moms in all stages of their journeys who believed in very similar ideals such as co-sleeping, breastfeeding, and gentle parenting.  Many of them became close friends of mine, some of whom I am still in contact with 10 years and a cross country move later.  While we were in Texas so many challenges came my way and so many moms stepped up to give me much needed advice, let me cry on their shoulders, or just be present with me in my struggles.  There were midnight calls and rides to the children's ER when my husband was out of town, food brought over after an emergency D&C following the birth of my 2nd son, and so many much needed playdates where my kids could run and be kids while I got to sit and enjoy adult conversation. I truly believe I am a much better mother due to the strong loving guidance and support of those women.

When my husband's job moved us from Texas to Oregon I was really worried about finding other moms to connect with. Having to start all over again really scared me. I really missed having my sister-friends around me.  Then I got pregnant with my daughter and found a couple of resources that led me to a whole new group of amazing moms.  The forums for the web version of Mothering Magazine let me to my "tribe" (def 2) and very soon I was no longer alone in a new town.  Once I decided who would care for me during my prengancy and where I would give birth to my daughter I found yet another amazing group of women and families through the Andaluz Waterbirth Center.  Some of those women have become my best friends.

Now that my children are school age the playdates and park days have slowed down.  We don't gather in groups for support nearly as much as we used to.  My children's activities and school friends have more influence on the adults that I interact with than my own choices of like minded ideals.  This is both a blessing and a challenge.   I have met some amazing people that are now part of my circle of friends who support me in this crazy journey.  Others have been learning moments in tolerance and patience.  But regardless of how well I get on with the other adults in the room there is one thing we all have in common. We are parents and we are all on a journey of the utmost importance. Raising strong, confident, capable kids who will grow up to be successful happy adults.  Knowing we're not alone goes a long way towards helping us all survive the quest.

With how busy all of our lives have become however, getting together in person isn't something that happens outside of the events our children all participate in.  And that's where the internet comes in.  Besides the obvious benefits of Social Media on being able to connect with like minded people, I follow a number of Mom bloggers from all over the country who write posts about all of the things we have in common as moms. While we might be alone physically we are not alone in our struggles thanks to the words of wisdom, commiseration, and joy of folks like Mama Birth and Laura from Our Messy Life.  Following their journeys online has brought humor and tears of joy to my daily life.

I know I don't blog regularly or nearly often enough, but I hope that those that do stumble across my page can find the same support, tips for an easier life, laughter, and hope that I find in the pages I follow.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Santa and believing in the unseen aka Yes, Virginia there is a Santa!

Recently there have been a rash of articles, blogs, and essays written on whether or not we should as parents perpetuate the myth of Santa.  I was dumb and broke the 1st rule of the internet and read the comments on some of the articles.  It was a bit of a "duct tape moment" for me since the vitriol over this topic was out of control!  Seriously I am not a bad parent because I allow my kids to believe in magical things while they are still young.  I am not a liar.  I don't care what you teach your kids about mythical beings, but I tell you one thing, if your kid bullies mine because you failed to also teach them tolerance for what others believe I'll be pretty upset.

In the end I remember my mom reading this letter to me when I was a child and starting to doubt.  It put it all into perspective and I no longer questioned why she so fervently believed in Santa and why she wanted me to as well.  This is what I've read to my kids each time one of them started to doubt.  I don't think you're ever to old for believing in love, magic, and goodwill.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.