Happiness Is…Bald and Wrinkled Aliens….#SoundtrackSunday

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This week is easy, for me because it’s all about happiness. When I scan my life for the happiest of happy memories, there are three that stick out a million times beyond the rest. Oddly enough, they are some of the most bloody, painful, and confusing times of my life and resulted in the introduction to a bald, wrinkled alien life form into my life. Yes, I’m talking about becoming a mother and for me (someone who NEVER wanted children), it was a wild and crazy ride indeed.

Note: Shortly after each one of my children were born, I selected a song for them. These songs, to me, represent their individual spirits in the rawest forms. One thing about being a mother that no-one ever tells you is the ways in which you KNOW your child. You know their soul on a deeper level than anything you’ve ever experienced before and (for me, at least) this “knowing” occurs before they ever walked or talked…before the world molds them into individual beings. I think that knowing their offspring’s raw spirit helps a mother realize their child’s potential. It’s the reason that mothers will fight against a world that tells them their children “cannot” do something and motivates them to hold their children up, even in their weakest moments…Anyway, these songs are the songs that solidify the moment of birth and of “knowing” for me. They are my children’s spirit songs. Whatever they become, I will always remember who they really are…I will always see their beautiful spirits.

October 6, 2009 3:27 AM

My son was born 6 weeks early. My water had broken  on Friday afternoon but the ER told me it wasn’t broken and sent me home. It wasn’t until I followed up with the doctor that Monday that they confirmed my water had actually been broken and they sent me in to be induced. I was terrified, being a first time mother, and exclaimed that I still have 6 weeks left, I hadn’t attended my parenting class yet, and nothing was ready. It didn’t matter, Rymi was on his way to meet me and in the wee hours of the next morning, he came into my world, and changed everything about me.

From the moment he was born, he was a very sensitive and overactive child. He was colicy, particular (due, in part, to the rampat spoiling), and he didn’t sleep for the first 6 months of his life. Still, everyone was drawn to him (they still are) and EVERYONE loves him. I have watched him grow into a talented comedian and he is the happiest when he’s the center of attention. He’s still high strung and hyperactive. I guess he always will be but he will be popular and loved.

He’s 4 now and what he wants to do when he grows up is “make monster makeup”. I can see him in Hollywood one day, whether it’s behind the scenes or on the stage. He’s just that kind of person. Sometimes I worry that he’ll have problems staying grounded. I’m worried that he’ll forget about the simple things in life…I’m worried that he’ll lose himself in his own character and find himself unable to be aware and thankful for the simplest, most fulfilling aspects of life. So, this is his song. Because, at the end of the day, I know my mission as a mother is to “ground” him…keep him centered. I know my mission is to help him become a Simple Man (well, maybe just a simpler man)

September 11, 2010 12:29 PM

My pregnancy with the girls had been a long, hard road. I was in the hospital for a week before their arrival and although I was glad to know exactly WHEN they were coming, my body was tired from Preeclampsia and months of bedrest. With them, it was a C-Section and the doctors had warned me that they may not cry immediately. It felt unnatural to be bringing my daughters into the world this way and the dual teams of nurses in the room only made the experience more terrifying.

I was lying on the table, half alive, when I heard the screams of my little “baby a”. I was delighted that she came out, screaming and I knew that everything was going to be alright. This was a good indication for what Kaya’s personality was going to be. She is the most calm of all my children. She is as steady as the stream but as strong as stone. She is nurturing and protective…she’s my mother earth baby.

Of course, this song relates to her because it is her namesake but it’s the peaceful, rhythmic reggae music that reminds me of her spirit. There are times when things are chaotic and Kaya finds a way to soothe me. Kaya literally means “enlightenment” and, of all my children, I know that she’ll be the wisest and strongest. She’ll probably be the one who needs me the least but this makes being her mother even more challenging. I know I’ll have to recognize her needs, because she’ll never bring them to me willingly. I know that I’ll have to break through her stone barrier and make her allow me to support her for once. I will have to help her soften to the world and realize that it’s okay NOT to be the one who takes care of everyone else. I will have to help her understand that it’s okay for her to take care of herself from time to time.

September 11, 2010 12:30 PM

Kaylin came into the world, a minute later and 3x louder than her sister had a minute previous. She had a rough go of it, at first. Although there has never been more than 1/2 difference in hers and her sister’s weight, she seems so much smaller than her older sister. She’s certainly much more soft than her.

But she’s a DIVA! Since the moment she was born, she has put herself in direct competition with her sister and is always trying to “out-do” every other child she meets. She’s also very finicky. Even as a newborn, she had very strong preferences and a equally strong voice which she used to voice her opinions. There is no such thing as convincing this child that she cannot wear her princess dress to the store or sleep in a tu-tu.

She’s so girly, in juxtaposition to both her sister and myself, and from the time she could walk she would put her purse on her arm and priss around the room. She cannot sit in the buggy in the clothing ilse and she’s more inclined to shoes than baby dolls. She is my little queen.

My challenge with her is going to be helping her understand that she is not her sister’s subset…she is an individual and she’s amazing for it. I want her to know that she’s “beautiful in her way because god makes no mistakes”.

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My son has never been a man of words. He’s four now and after a notable delay with his speech, a few speech therapists and many notable arguments about the matter, he’s finally coming into his own. Now, he’s a non-stop talker…his speech patterns are much more grown up, and we have gotten past the point where I’m constantly translating his language for others.

See, I’ve always understood my son. The first thing that you need to understand is that he’s highly intelligent. I know all mothers probably say this about their kids but when it comes to Rymi, it’s true. I watch him, everyday, and this is what he does. He sits back and watches the world, allowing his brain to focus on what it is that he wants to learn and he picks things up incredibly fast.

He has picked up numbers and letters with minimal exposure. He has superior reasoning skills and puts ideas together at a level which I have never seen in a child his age. He does have a fantastical imagination but he understands the bounds of reality, too and when I suggest an idea which is outlandish, he’s quick to let me know that it just wont work!

Once he makes up his mind on something, he’s dedicated to it and he will see it through. While most 4  year olds want to be a prince or dragon slayer…policeman or fireman, my son wants to be a makeup artist (for special effects). He calls it monster makeup and for nearly a year, he has been unwavering in his answer to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Yes, he’s an amazing child and since his speech has flourished, he’s settled into a pattern of picking up a certain phrase and carrying it around for a while. For about a month, it was “I don’t think so”. That was his answer for everything…

ME: “Rymi, are you ready to go to the store.”

RYMI: “I don’t think so”

Me: “Rymi, do you want ketchup”

RYMI: “I don’t think so.” (He HATES ketchup)

ME: “Rymi, do you want to fly to the moon”

RYMI: *giggles* “I don’t think so”.

It’s adoring to hear him speak in this manner.  Right now, his favorite phrase is, “That’s strange”. He just came up to me and upon discovering my cartilage piercing (which I almost never wear these days), he says “That’s strange…Mommy, do you have a hole in your ear?”  I could see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to reconcile this in his brain. That’s my boy, always looking for reason.

Just for the record, he has been tested for autism and no, he’s not. Even if he was, I would never put that limitation on him. I love the way he see’s the world…the way he connects with it. He has a beautifully rational yet creative brain and one day, it will serve him well. Right now, he’ll have to settle for being misunderstood by the majority and loved by his momma.

I’m not sure what this has to do with anything but I’m still battling with the beast (writer’s block) and so I’m trying to bat away at the cobwebs a bit…you know, get the juices flowing.

I Didn’t Do It Out of Hate…

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Some people have misconceptions about divorce and separation. I guess it’s something that you don’t quite understand until you go through it. The first question to tackle is “why”? Why did I leave my husband? Why are we living in separate homes and learning how to raise our children in two homes? Why does our marriage not work?

In some ways, these answers are easy. It’s easy to see that constant discord in a relationship is not healthy. The fact that we couldn’t agree on anything and we had begun sleeping in different rooms means that there was a distance between us that we could not reconcile. It’s easy to react to the constant negativity surrounding the relationship and the effects this had on our children.

It’s easy to throw your hands up in the air when things are going wrong. It’s easy to walk away and it’s easy to hate. Especially when society tells me I should be bitter. I’m supposed to be angry and I’m supposed to seek revenge. I’m supposed to conspire in corners against him, fight him in the court system, and spread nasty rumors about him. All these things are being done but not by me. I just can’t bring myself to that point.

Because I didn’t do it out of hate. 

I never let myself get to that point. My husband is father of my children and the only man who will will ever have the privilege to do so. He is my best friend and has been my companion through some of the hardest times in my life. How could I allow myself to hate him?

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for me to hate him. I know that eventually, it would have come to that. If I put all the fights and insults into a bucket; if I let them weigh on me, I could find myself in a place where I hate him. If I held on until every bit of love had drained away and I had lost all dignity and self respect, I could drive away into the dust with my middle finger held high and profanities blaring in his direction. I could find it within myself to trash his vehicle and withhold his children from him…I could do divorce “the American way”.

No, I didn’t leave him out of hate. I  left him because it was the only way to save the bits of love that still reside between us.

What we had lost in our marriage was hope. There was no hope for us to learn to communicate…no hope for us to learn to get along. We are too different; too headstrong to make our marriage work. We’ve tried but when I step back and look, I realize that the foundation of our relationship was built on the wrong things.

Once the parties and drugs gave way to children and responsibility, we lost that common ground that really bound us together. The focus shifted to raising our children and we forgot about ourselves…and eachother. We drifted apart and understanding gave way to discourse. It became too easy to play the “blame game” and we got to the point that we didn’t even sleep in the same bed.

My husband disagrees with my line of logic. He either still sees hope or he wants to bleed our marriage dry…I’m not sure which one it is because the days are gone that I am able to read his thoughts. I don’t even really know who he is anymore…I don’t really know who I am anymore. I do know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have exhausted every resource I have for making the marriage work. I’m empty now; almost hollow and I have nothing else to give. So, I know I’m not giving up too soon. Rather, I’m giving up just in time.

Now you may judge me (plenty of others have) because I’m walking away from the sacred vows of my marriage but if you’re going to do so, please look at the entire picture. We were together for nearly 6 years, gave birth to 3 children, moved 5 times and through it all, the only harmonious part was the first 6 months. That’s 5 and a half years of constant fighting and negativity…5 and a half years of not being able to compromise. No matter what the future looks like, the past becomes a beast which has torn our marriage apart.

I will always remember the light in the darkness…bringing our children into the world. However, these memories (the light ones) are always tainted with the darkness that grew out of our discord. For every good memory that I can pull up in my mind has a complimentary bad one…because things have never been “good” for us. When I look into the future, I have no reason to believe that this cycle will somehow change with the passage of time.

So, my rational brain yells at me. It tells me that I’m foolish for walking the same roads over and over. If I look at my marriage in terms of statistics, it’s easy to see that the chance of things being just the same (or maybe even worse) is extremely likely. The only thing left, now, is our children.

Children learn about love from their parents so I find myself asking the question, what do I want my children to learn about love? My husband wants them to learn to never give up on love, no matter what but I don’t really think that’s healthy. I mean, it sounds nice but do I really want my children in mine or my husband’s shoes? Do I want them to loose themselves in a relationship that is toxic, just for the sake of “sticking it out”? Do I want them to learn that yelling and insults are somehow synonymous with love?

No, I do not. What I want for them to do is to be rational enough to push aside their feelings of love and assess the situation. I want my children to approach marriage with more thought and consideration that I did. It’s hard when you’re a sentimental fool, not to fall without this line of rational thought. I know now, that if I had applied rational thinking before I got pregnant with my son that I would have realized at that point that a long term commitment was not sustainable. The signs were there, even then.

…and if they find themselves in a relationship that is broken beyond repair…a relationship with nearly an 80% fail rate (like mine and their father’s), that they don’t allow it to drag them under. I hope that, if this happens, they will walk away before it’s too late…before things go too far.

There are things that I have lost during the past 6 years that I can never get back…I never want them to loose those things. There are things I have said in the past 6 years that I can never take back…I never want them to say those things. There are things that have been said to me in the past 6 years that have created long scars on my heart….I never want them to feel that pain. I want better for them, and so I choose divorce.

I know this is kind of random and scattered but it’s something that I had to write…something I had to get off my chest. So, this is me, being too personal and candid but doing the only thing I know how to do when things get rough: write.

Seeing Race Through a Child’s Eyes

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As a parent, I have always tried to teach my children to be colorblind. I have seen difference in race, ethnicity and culture being distorted in such a negative way that I want my children to look past outward appearances. So, I have made an effort to expose them to different cultural practices and to people from different ethnic backgrounds. It seemed to be working, as my children never gave an indication of shyness to different cultural or ethnic boundaries. In fact, I have always been proud of the fact that my kids approach most strangers with politeness and respect. As it usually happens, just when I think I’m doing a great job at parenting, one of my kids have to go and prove me wrong.

I had taken all the little kids to the doctor’s office for my youngest daughter’s pre-op check up by myself. The entire time, they were their usual friendly selves, making conversation and interacting with everybody in the doctor’s office. As we were walking out of the office after the checkup, there was a sweet elderly couple setting by the exit door. My 4 year old son runs over to them, excited to tell them Merry Christmas. I smile and watch as he talks to them and the old man’s face lights up with the joy of it. As they interact, my son leans in really close to the guy and asks him a question which mortifies me.

The question was, “Why are your hands black?” I was taken back by the question because he had never seemed to notice any difference in race before and I thought the question to be extremely inappropriate. The guy just laughed it off and I apologized. After a few more seconds of conversation, we were all tucked safely in the car and heading toward our house. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the meaning behind the comment or what I should do to address it.

Because of my own interactions with the world, I found myself feeling like I had failed at teaching my kids tolerance. I couldn’t help to feel that this was a negative sign. Somehow, my son’s sudden realization of difference of race filled me with a sense of shame. I planned out how I would talk to him about it. I decided I would tell him, again, how people are like flowers. We have different color hair, eyes and skin but we are all the same inside. I decided that I would have to try, again, to make him colorblind.

When I set down to have the conversation with him, however, his reactions brought about my own prejudice and showed me flaws in my logic that I hadn’t seen before. I set down and before I began the lecture part of our conversation, I asked him why he asked that question. I wanted to know, first, what made him suddenly take notice of something he seemed to always ignore before: race. His answer floored me.

With a smile on his face, he simply said, “Because his hands were beautiful”. Tears welled in my eyes as I hugged him and told him that he was right, the man’s hands were beautiful. That was basically the end of our conversation because I realized that I didn’t need to explain difference in race to him. In fact, in that moment, he became my teacher.

I made the decision, a long time ago, to cast away stereotypes and look inside people rather than outside of them. People don’t understand, and I suppose its cliche to say that I don’t really notice race anymore. I mean, of course, I notice differences in physical attributes but I don’t categorize people based solely on these physical attributes. This is what I have done to shield myself from succumbing to the prejudice culture that I have encountered throughout my life and, for me, it works.

The mistake I made was assuming that my children needed to take the exact same approach to it that I had. It never occurred to me that my children would, naturally, question difference in race because I don’t ever remember doing it, myself. Of course, growing up in a small town, the question of difference in race wasn’t an issue until I was old enough to understand the implications of racial differences on a larger scale.

“Because his hands were beautiful” is not the response of a little boy who is noticing race as a means to set himself apart, somehow, from people of a different race. It is not the response of a little boy who will go through life without putting emphasis on the differences in race and culture. It is the response of a little boy who sees differences in people and, very naturally, celebrates it. It is a more beautiful and complete view of the world than I have.

I realize now that the explanation that my son has of difference of race is beautiful and pure. Trying to change it would be a mistake. I want nothing more for him than to go through his entire life celebrating differences, rather than using them in a negative or prejudice way. I know to do this, I don’t have anything to teach him. All I have to do is help him keep it.

NaNoWriMo 2013 with children!!!!

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I am 26 years old with 4 children…my husband is working away and I am penning my first novel…in a month!!! I must be crazy, right? Maybe just a little bit. A little background about my family: 

My stepdaughter is 11 years old, my son is 4 years old and my twin girls are 3 years old. I am a stay at home mom and things can get hectic! Finding space to focus on my novel was my biggest concern when I started this challenge. There are moments when I step away from a character development scene and settle a dispute. When I come back to my computer, it takes me a minute to regroup and finish writing. 

They have been really great about letting me have “my” time when I need to write as long as I reciprocate. If I spend an hour reading with them and then tell them I need some time to write “mommy’s book” later, they usually agree. In fact, they get involved. 

The twins aren’t really interested in what I’m doing with the novel but they set in my lap and try to sing their abc’s as I write.

My stepdaughter is my number 1 fan! She has been a huge motivation to me; asking me daily what my word count is and giving me her opinion on the flow of my passages. It’s given me the chance to teach her a little about English and writing (she’s very mathematically inclined but struggles in ELA). 

My four year old is getting into it, too. Today, I was working on a bit of my novel and sat down beside me with his coloring book. It was the kind that has letter tracing activities in it. I gave him a pencil and he sat there for while tracing his letters. I looked at him and smiled. He said “I’m writing!”

Of course, as I am writing this I am setting at 11,000 words on Day 6 (shout out!) and they are at their grandmother’s house. Tomorrow when I enter tantrum land during an important plot point, I might change my mind about all this! 😀

 

If you want to know what I’m writing, check out my leanpub page: https://leanpub.com/darknesswithin

Or my Wattpad page: http://www.wattpad.com/story/9531077-darkness-within