Katherine over at Having Left the Altar was kind enough to give me the Liebster Award.
Here are the “rules”:
(I’m abbreviating a bit to try and avoid tag-backs)
Katherine over at Having Left the Altar was kind enough to give me the Liebster Award.
usually you can come sit next to me. But sometimes, just go away.
I gave up blog reading for Lent. I’m not even kidding you. I still glance in to my reader to see if friends who are expecting post any info or if blogs I follow who are irregular posters have posted anything because typically they are my best reading. And I’ve clicked through links on facebook of blogs I follow frequently when they have promising spoilers but I’ve given up the excessive reading and the excessive agonizing over who I missed that day.
And I’m glad I did. Because far more often than not, most bloggers lately have had nothing nice or even informative to say. I love a good rant as much as anyone, but when every other or even every post is a rant, I pass. I have better things to do. Like take a nap or google “tiger vs lion.”
A few blogs I used to love I gave up forever when I began to question the road to sanity that some bloggers were de-railing from. And it usually started with ranting non-stop.
One blog I gave up a long time ago caused me a lot of stress. The indignant, self-righteous tone this particular blogger has was borderline psychotic-episode inducing for me as a reader. I could not imagine what it might be like to live in this person’s skin. First of all, this person was objectively wrong on almost every single count they ranted and raved on. And if someone dared to disagree in a civil manner, this blogger gave a swift thunder-punch to the throat via the internet. I never bothered commenting because these are people you can only pray for. In addition there was a schizoid element of wanting to have everything both ways. Everyone around this blogger both on the internet and in real life was both too conservative and too liberal at the same time. Every once in a while though, I come back for a quick look just to see if maybe, by some miracle, this person has gotten his/her life back together. And every time I’m disappointed so I go back to praying for them. Most recently this blogger decided to personally attack a very well known blogger passive-aggressively (linked to the blog didn’t call it out by name, of course) for this person telling their personal story. Well, our stories make us who we are, like it or not. And this person’s story happens to be quite different than the blogger’s who attacked him/her (for various reasons I’m going to be deliberately vague in this post, mostly because I do not want to draw traffic to the blog I’ve given up). The original blogger’s story is full of regret, woe and confusion. The blogger he/she attacked has a story full of redemption, grace and joy. I would understand the original blogger saying, “hey I don’t get what the fascination is.” but that’s not what he/she is doing. He/She is trying to portray this other blogger as a heretic and interloper. And I can say that because I read the post. He/she is careful in his/her word choice, but the message is clear. “I don’t like this person, I’m going to tear this person down.” And that’s not right. You can not like the person, but why must you tear him/her down? This blogger has stated several times her distaste with her own life and life choices, but that doesn’t give her free-license to slander and blight a person who is telling a very different truth?
That’s why I don’t miss reading blogs. People only seem to want to write lately when they don’t have anything nice to say. And some of them write so much that you begin to wonder, is there ANYTHING good in their lives? Ever? And so I’ve been forced to become super-picky about which blogs I feed myself on voraciously, which blogs I simply nibble at occasionally, which ones I glance at and which ones I toss without another care. This internet is a brave new world still. And I, for one, am going to be much pickier with the path I tread in it.
I’m sorry I did not do the obligatory “World Autism Day” post yesterday. Well, I’m not sorry at all for me. But I’m sure people expected it.
A couple of years ago, my friend Sara who is an adult on the autism spectrum with two sons also on the spectrum, told me she felt that Autism “Awareness” was passe. She even said, “Everyone I know is pretty aware.” And I agreed then but now the rest of the NT world is catching on.
Awareness does not equal acceptance.
To quote Welsh autism-mom blogger Martine O’Callaghan:
Awareness is passive. How many times have you been “made aware” of a situation without being expected to do a single thing about it? “I’m just making you aware…” does not compel action or a change in behaviour. It does not, in real terms,impact the lives of Autistic people for the better.
Read her entire post. It contains a real-life example of when awareness fails miserably. Closer to home a mom I know recently confessed to me that her son was making a weird noise in a store and a woman kept giving them ugly looks. She smiled at the woman and said, “I’m sorry he has autism.” The woman scowled back and said, “I’m AWARE of what autism is,” and stormed off. Awareness, yes. Acceptance, not a freaking chance.
People have been made aware by being “blued” to death every April and by being educated by parents in the grocery store and it hasn’t accomplished almost anything. And if we want our children to be accepted, perhaps we shouldn’t take our cue from the number one autism group whose name should not be spoken. <–See what I did there? Anyhow, the “awareness” campaign is hand in hand with the ideas of “curing” the neurodiverse and “fixing” them. While it is true that some individuals with autism just want to “be like everyone else” there are a lot more out there who embrace what makes them different and feel put down and ashamed by these “awareness” campaigns.
Don’t believe me? Well consider this:
“We’re sorry to tell you that your child has autism. Tragically, there is no cure. Unfortunately, your life will never be the same. Your marriage will never be the same. Expect your marriage to fail. We are sorry that your child has been stolen, but we are happy to put you in touch with organizations that will help you to become more aware of autism statistics and scientific research. In turn, these organizations will be happy to provide you with the tools for you to raise money for them so they can continue their search for the causes and cure of autism.”
“Your child is Autistic. Their neurology allows them to uniquely perceive their environment and communications. The world has yet to catch up with neurological diversities like autism, and unfortunately this creates the challenges your child will encounter. We are happy to put you in touch with organizations who can guide you toward understanding your child by hearing from Autistic people themselves. Their firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be a person on the spectrum, as well as professional resources advocating for the importance of accepting your child’s differences, will help ensure your child’s all around success and happiness.”
The woman who wrote those paragraphs is also a woman with autism and a mother of a child with autism. Click the link to read her entire post and how her child reacted to the idea of “awareness” and “awareness campaigns.”
And remember “awareness” doesn’t have to be positive. Google “Alex Spourdalakis death” or “Issy Stapleton, Kelli Stapleton attempted murder.” These mothers raised awareness by murdering or attempting to murder their children. Yes, there are trials, but when those difficulties and trials dominate the public discussion, it creates an atmosphere of hostility and hatred toward my child. It makes people “aware” of a life that appears to be all negative and unworthy.”
So how do we build acceptance? Well, first, do what Cammie is doing and talk about it. Talk about your love for your child and his or her positives. There is a whole world out there reflecting the first paragraph above but a lot fewer of us like myself and Cammie talking about how awesome our kids are. About how much we love them. About how a different life than we imagined is not less (thank you Temple Grandin for that idea which is still revolutionary to so many). Don’t lie and make it as if nothing bad EVER happens but celebrate those milestones. Every positive report out there is another chip in the block of lie that says, “Your child’s worth is solely dependent on whether he falls on the spectrum.”
Next, we take our kids places. We take them to the store, we take them to the movies, we take them to the beach, we take them everywhere we go. Why? Because 1 in 68 children born today will be diagnosed on the autism spectrum by age 8 and so people are going to have to get used to them sometime. Why not now? There is no guarantee your child with have a meltdown every time you go out, so give it a shot and as you get more confident, make new places familiar. And in life, meltdowns happen, to EVERYONE, so don’t let a couple get you down. Obviously work at a pace that works for you and your child but do not think autism means you have to keep your kid locked up! And if you want social interactions to become easier not only do you have to acquaint the public with your child, you have to acquaint your child with the public.
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski gave a public message for world autism day which included this:
We draw near to these families and this in particular is directed towards ensuring that hope is not extinguished in them, providing support so that they do not feel lost or in a state of crisis as regards their relationships at the level of emotions or as relatives. A real difficulty of integration and communication exists between the autistic person and those who enter into contact with him or her.
A question thus arises: how can this stigma be combated? A pathway of integration within the community must be followed which breaks down the isolation and the barriers that are established by these disorders and by prejudice, thereby strengthening personal relationships. This can also take place with the support of social commitment and with synergic actions in the fields of care, information, communication and formation, thereby fostering a move to true understanding and acceptance of this illness which never denies or undermines the dignity with which every person is clothed.
In this way the bases can be established for a hope that isolates neither people with autism nor their families but which, instead, is rooted in and nurtured by cooperation and reciprocal trust, following an ethic of solidarity which we should all rediscover and nourish.
Our lives were not meant to be lived in a vacuum, autism or not. And read that article to see what the Vatican is doing to help those with autism and their families become less isolated.
And we need to listen to adults on the autism spectrum. Their voices must be heard in our lives and in public policy. The autism organization whose name is not to be spoken does not have a single autistic voice on their board. And their fear tactics are notoriously upsetting to adults on the spectrum who feel their very humanity is being attacked. Because it is.
A friend in Australia on the spectrum who also has children on the spectrum introduced me to the new color of acceptance. Gold. Why gold? Well, on the periodic table of elements, the symbol for gold is Au. “Au” is the symbol many of us see on medical and school paperwork pertaining to our child. Our kids lives matter. They are worth their weight in gold and then some. They should be celebrated. A world with no Temple Grandin or Isaiah Paskowitz or Dan Akyroid is not a world I want to live in. I’m not going to lock my daughter up. She has a light that deserves to shine and I would be robbing the world of untold riches if I didn’t let that light shine for ALL to see.
Am I saying it’s wrong to “light it up blue” or wear blue? No. But I do know those things are not as effective in accomplishing what we may like. Many people are aware and don’t care. We need to bridge that gap. We need to start teaching acceptance. We need to make sure everyone who meets us and our children know those children, they have worth. They deserve the best.
First off I’ll say I wasn’t disappointed nor surprised. In the end it played out how it probably should have. I won’t spoil that.
I tuned into last night’s hour long finale and braced myself. The one thing I was not prepared for and made me cry was, for me, the best moment of the episode (spoiler alert!). Watching Barney hold his infant daughter Ellie for the first time and get teary as he said the words he had earlier told Ted, Marshall and Lily he could never say to any woman, “You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours. Forever.” And then he kissed her and broke down. I think the writers and producers brought the perfect redemption for Barney who only loves suits. Here he had just handed out cigars hoping he wasn’t the father and had to be pushed into the nursery by Ted, Marshall and Lily and now he had become the man they all knew he could be inside. And it was a woman but not romantic love or lust that changed him.
While I’d been told/figured out what would eventually happen to the “mother” who we found out’s name is Tracy, watching the montage of Ted and Tracy’s life together with their children also brought me to tears as Ted described how thankful he was for all of it. All of it. Even the painful times.
I was more emotional at the end of this series than I had anticipated. I knew I would cry at the end of The Office and would even be a little misty at the end of 30Rock. But this one totally caught me off guard. I didn’t think I had invested as emotionally as I had, after all, HIMYM was not appointment tv for me like The Office and 3oRock were. As the end credits rolled to The Walkmen’s Heaven, which paid tribute to each character and actor, I began to realize how they had impacted me. First of all, they’re my age, something I find rare in television. Characters are usually just older or younger. Second, there were underlying themes that resonated with where I am in life: Marshall and Lily who fought for their marriage and family against all odds and learned how to compromise their personal expectations for the better of their family; Ted who dated looking for someone to marry only to be disappointed that the rest of the world didn’t time and time again; even Barney who searched for the love of his life covertly and unsatisfyingly through his search for his father, various women (including, sadly, Robin, that was the only thing that disappointed me in the finale), and finally found it in a daughter he thought he didn’t have room for in his life; and Robin who struggled to find balance between who she was and who she wanted to be. Their friendship and stories met my life where it is right now. And it turns out, that meant a lot more than I thought. And just as their time together at McLaren’s has come to an end, one day this phase of my life will end. And all we’ll have will be the memories.
Remember, remember all we fight for
Okay, a lot lately I’ve gotten emails, fb messages, texts etc asking me why I don’t homeschool. Particularly, why I don’t homeschool Shelby.
Taking Shelby out of the equation for a minute: I’m a lousy teacher. There, I said it. I mean, don’t get me wrong I’m great at teaching my kids their faith through application, teaching them how to be decent human beings and allowing them to *gasp* actually be children but reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic? No. Just no.
I was educated in the public school system from kindergarten through college. I thrived educationally in public education, socially it was good for me until high school. Actually, probably before then but I loved middle school and despised high school except for my teachers and actual course work. A lot of my education was direct instruction but I was blessed to know how to thrive in that environment and a brain that WANTED to learn.
My boys (again Shelby is a special case) are both very different learners. Joseph is self-motivated but also craves praise. He likes to do work-books, for fun! He is super-reward motivated. Joseph is more along the line of a direct instruction model student. But he handles more creative and organic learning experiences very well. William, on the other hand. He’s not self-motivated except for what he wants. He will sometimes want to do work if Joseph is doing it, is what it amounts to but that’s a sometimes. He is not motivated by praise or rewards, in fact sometimes praise has made him break down in tears for reasons we can not figure out. Of course he will willingly do whatever is asked of him by someone outside of the family but us, it’s a no go every.single.time. William is also a discovery/inquiry learner and prefers learning in organic situations.
So, I know all this, I should be able to do it, right? But the idea of not just two different curriculums but two different instructional methods is paralyzing. I realize there are pre-made curriculums out there but to have to purchase them and then figure out 2 different ways to teach them? Joseph will sit and do worksheets all day, William will argue about doing one.
Then there is the fact of me. I am an impatient teacher. I don’t remember what it was like to learn something for the first time even though it still happens. I want my kids to sit there and do the work and not to do it right the first time but I don’t handle consistent repeated mistakes well. And when I considered being a teacher in college I knew I couldn’t do the amount of work required in “off hours” planning, shopping, meeting, learning new education laws etc. I realize a lot of that is avoided in homeschooling but the level of planning and work I know so many mothers do, it’s just NOT in me. I spent a good part of this year trying to create a schedule and studies for William and it crashed and burned irretrievably after a month. I wasn’t cleaning my house or making dinner, that was the extent of how bad it got trying to create this for him.
Then there’s my personality. If I were a good teacher in direct instruction or in guided discovery and chose to homeschool, well, my kids would be hermits. Unsocialized hermits. Because I just don’t do people. Period. I would never join a co-op or other “learning adventure.” I would also never leave the house. Ever. There would be no field trips even just the 3 of us. Because I just don’t deal with people. Weird, I know, but I’m an introvert through and through and social situations make me nauseas. Period.
I’ve given up feeling guilty about it. Common core and all. Where I live it’s not actually catching on so much and my kids have great teachers so I am going to relish in that. For now anyways. Joseph is showing wonderful progress this year and William in his 2 hours of BSF has made great strides to prepare him for kindergarten, so I’m good. Middle school and high school are concerns but a lot could change by the time we get there. And like everyone else, schooling, for me, is a decision we make based on what our options are but also what our circumstances are. If things change, our decision may change as well. Nothing is forever. Except salvation. And we got that covered.
Empathy and sympathy are both feelings and emotions we experience as human beings but there are distinct differences attached to these two states of emotions. Sympathy is a feeling of pity you have for a person without specifically understanding the emotion they are undergoing. In most cases you may not really understand the other person’s predicament but are aware of his plight and discomfort. So you feel sympathy for the person.
On the other hand when you are fully aware of the experience that the other person is undergoing, you feel with the emotion the person is experiencing. In short you feel empathy for the person. It is a state where you can literallyput yourself in the other person’s place and understand their plight. The feeling of empathy thus implies an active involvement with the person concerned.
Click on that link to read more.
This week I clicked on a link on facebook that linked to a blog post of a mom of many who was admitting she did not find her recent pregnancy news to be good news, necessarily. While she was grateful to have a new life, she dreaded her upcoming pregnancy and sleepless nights with a newborn.
There was lots of “here, here”-ing in the comments. But one stood out. A woman said she had recently been holding her son in her arms as his wife went through her fifth miscarriage and their family would be willing to take the blog writers infant if she so desired after birth. Someone, not the blog author, had responded angrily to this comment when I read at the time (more could have responded by now this was a little over a day ago).
Both the commenter and the responder demonstrated a lack of empathy. Surely they both pitied. One pitied the author and was, in her mind, proposing something that would help everyone. The other pitied the commenter by not understanding the pain going on in her family.
I have endured primary infertility, miscarriage, a rush of births in a short period, and secondary infertility. I understood the author’s pain, but I understood the commenter’s pain too. I’ve lived both of them. It’s upsetting to find yourself in an unexpected pregnancy when you had been trying to avoid for a variety of valid reasons but it’s also devastating to want a child in your arms and be denied and then hear someone else complain at what sounds to you like hitting the jack pot.
The simple truth is, unless you’ve lived the trials another is going through, you cannot possibly empathize with them. And it’s a severe lack of empathy that causes people to tell women who’ve miscarried that their lost child “had something wrong with him or her.” A woman whose been there can tell you that it doesn’t matter they wanted him or her. Or to hear, “well, at least you know you can get pregnant.” A lot of good that does if you can’t carry the baby to term is what I know I’ve thought as well as many moms with babies in heaven but none on earth have told me.
It’s also a lack of empathy that causes sufferers of multiple miscarriage or unexplained infertility to lash out at writers of posts complaining about “yet another baby” or make the misguided offer to adopt the child when clearly that’s not what the author was asking for.
Like I’ve said, I’ve lived both those lives and am currently in a state to where my heart went out to both the commenter and the author for their plights. Neither cross is easy to bear, much less kiss. For each of these people, they bared their souls and someone misinterpreted this.
So, now I know, how do you support someone you have no way of empathizing with? Well, let me tell you some of the nice things people have done for me. At the time of loss just simply hearing: “I’m so sorry. I’m praying for you and Jeff and your little saint.” were far more comforting than anything else. Those of us who have been abundantly blessed usually benefit by being gently reminded of our blessing “Congratulations” is often sufficient and if we express thoughts of dread or just plain exhaustion validating our feelings is always a great thing. And by validating don’t say “I understand” if you don’t (some moms of many are overjoyed with each new positive pregnancy test) but it’s okay to say, “You can feel that way, it’s totally valid.” Or something like that. But mostly, just listen. Listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone facing these kinds of pains. Because inherent in both is a sense of shame and often guilt. “If I could have done this or that baby might have made it.” “If I hadn’t taken such and such medication 10 years ago, I might be pregnant now.” “I am a terrible mother for thinking these things.” I’ve heard them all. Is it any wonder Sarah laughed when she heard the Angels and then immediately lied about it?
Doubt and pain are not things that make us bad people or even bad Catholics or bad Christians. In fact, they are things that help us grow has humans and Christians and Catholics. They give us the opportunity to more fully rely on God. We cannot underestimate the gifts they have the potential to become even if we can’t see it that way in the moment.
The doubts and pains of others also are opportunities to show our love and compassion with others even if we cannot empathize with their particular struggle. Pity is often not what others need and if we cannot understand their pain or comtemplate it, we should prayerfully ask God how to love others where they are at from where we are at so we can all become more Christlike in our love for one another.
This is not a post about gender roles, sexuality or anything like that. It’s not a post about equality nor diversity. It’s a post about how we’re raising our kids. Or raising them wrong.
Okay, so I’m sure any of you who watch mainstream media have heard about this story. If not, I’ll recap. A little boy in NC got a My Little Pony lunch box, got bullied and the school basically told him, “Tough shit kid, get a new lunch box.”
Greyson’s mom isn’t the one raising him wrong, nope, not at all. No, I’m gonna hold with it’s the school and the parents of the bullies, not to mention the bullies themselves. And I’m not the only one saying this. Here’s where they all failed: they are teaching children how not to be bullied. They are NOT teaching children not to be bullies.
We have an epidemic of poor parenting in this country. We have parents determined to be their children’s best friend and so they have no discipline plans. We have parents who coddle their children and make them believe that they cannot and do not ever do anything wrong. We are so desperate to have children worship at the altar of self that we abuse them by not teaching them there is something higher, something better.
We are not teaching our children how to be kind, compassionate human beings. No, we’re teaching our children to lash out at those who are in any way different. We are teaching them that they have to step all over people and hurt them in order to prop themselves up and make themselves feel better. We have total tolerance for abusive behavior and zero tolerance for those who attempt to stop it. This is why so many good kids stand by and allow their peers to be bullies even when they know it is wrong. And teaching our kids to fight back when they are bullied only plays into the bully’s hand. Bullies are not kids or adults who feel so bad about themselves that they have to make someone else feel lower. Not anymore. Bullies today are kids and adults to torment others for fun because they know they can get away with it. And the kids who are bullies today, are going to grow up to be civil servants, business leaders and political leaders tomorrow. You think we have problems with people in leadership now, just wait.
And it’s not just in traditional “bullying” that we’re seeing this trend of failure parenting. Moms of girls, what do you teach your daughters about rape? Do you teach them to carry a whistle, a gun? Do you teach them self-defense? Do you teach them to only dress a certain way, to not go out at all at night, to always travel in groups of five or more? Moms of sons, what do you teach your sons about rape? Crickets. We are so busy teaching our daughters how not to be raped we’ve completely ignored the fact that our sons should be being taught NOT to rape. And if you think that’s not true, have you ever listened to a defense attorney at a rape trial? Have you ever heard the victim being accused of bringing it on herself? And what of the rapists who are getting parental rights over children conceived in the course of their crimes?
We’ve stopped teaching our children how to be good and decent human beings. As Mammon takes over our culture and our parenting, we’ve become permissive in the worst possible of ways. We’ve forgotten that Jesus says blessed are the meek , for they will inherit the land and blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy and of course, blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:5, 7, 9). We prefer our kids here “blessed are those who get theirs” and “blessed are those who don’t get caught.” And that sounds like Satan has a distinct edge.
But it doesn’t have to be so. It just doesn’t. How do we start to change this? Well, first off, we educate our kids at home. And we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior from visitors to our homes be they adults or children. And if we find that programs in schools are ineffective, we work to change them too but we cannot count on them to do the work we MUST do. We must become parents and take back teaching values from our society and teach our own children.
The problem isn’t Greyson and it’s not a My Little Pony lunch box. The problem is we’ve de-railed in teaching our kids to be Christ-like. And until we stand up and make those changes in our own homes and communities, it’s not going to get better. It’s just not.