Father's Day has come and gone. However, I still want to pay homage to an amazing man that I have had the privilege to know my full 33 years: my dad.
Here is a list of some things I've learned or inherited from my dad:
~I have learned how to look confident (okay, sometimes this borders on intimidating). This is really helpful as a working professional (whether it be teaching or counseling--looking "in charge" is important).
~A keen sense of direction. Consider it good synaptic connections in our brain but we have good spatial skills.
~Curly hair. I hated mine growing up but I actually like it now.
~Never insult people's food. Ok, never insult people's anything. I remember getting the lecture after telling dad his food was yucky. I never forgot it. In fact, when someone tells my food is gross, I tend to think is rude (but I usually love them anyway).
~Be a diplomat. In matters that are dear to people's hearts it is usually wise to take a neutral stance in order to save the relationship. We have opinions. We have learned to be careful about when and where to air them.
~Generosity. I have watched Dad give without second thought. Without regret. With a drive to let those he gives to know that he cares. It is as small as letting me eat most of his avocado or watermelon after he worked to prepare it to as big as giving us huge gifts to bless our family and home. I am his daughter but he is as generous with everyone.
~A love for seeing things or people meet their potential. He loves seeing family do the very best with what they were given. He hates talents untapped.
~Enjoyment of the smaller yet finer things in life. All my life I have heard Dad have reveries of sitting outside on a beautiful day. All. He. Needs. Peace and quiet.
~The last one brings to mind that Dad is the one that inspires my love of nature. He loves it himself. He hopes to preserve it and to be surrounded by it. So do I. He took me camping. We went bike-riding. We walked in our neighborhood. I still meditate and pray better outdoors surrounded by God's creation.
~Dad's brain is always spinning (sometimes a disadvantage, I imagine) but nothing keeps the brain young like a love of learning. Lately, he is reading about nutrition and figuring out the latest technology. I imagine he feels alive, a sense of purpose, and energized by learning new things. It makes life interesting. His love of learning is contagious.
~Common sense ain't so common! Fortunately, Dad has an uncommon common sense. I like to think I have his worldly sense and practicality.
~Thinking and analyzing from lazy musings on life to acute and powerhouse problem-solving, Dad does it all. Sometimes, this can be a hardship but it has many benefits, too.
~He conjured up a enjoyment of bike riding and swimming in me. To think that there are kids out there who don't know how to do either--SO WRONG!
~Dad passed down a level of practicality that will put other peoples' normal and good amount of practicality to shame. Efficiency is key. You may be fast but if it isn't the fastest way than it is too slow.
I am very proud of who my Dad is. I am proud of how he overcame huge obstacles in his history to be where he is today. He has worked hard. So, you will forgive me as I have taken some time to brag about him.
I haven't been in the writing mood lately. At least, not when I had an opportunity to write. I have been musing over facebook lately. It has been on my mind, I suppose, because it has been a love/hate relationship recently. Have you felt slighted on facebook yet? Someone not respond timely or at all? Did anyone 'like' your status post? Did some outspoken person (or just a person who had an outspoken moment) write their opinion about a subject that pretty much told you how they felt about how you do A, B, or C? Have you written an opinion and had an unexpected backlash of opinions to the contrary thereby leaving you feeling as if you were ganged up on? I would say that if you have, then you have been a victim of Facebook syndrome. Facebook gives people something to hide behind so they are more likely to say things without immediate face-to-face consequences. Folks, it is getting ugly on my newsfeed sometimes. People are writing things seemingly without thought and others speak up and full-on arguments explode on the screen. I have had less and less desire to write anything on facebook. I still think in facebook statements but I will feel way less inclined to use these statements. Some folks are less responsible with how they use their statuses. I have witnessed folks use this public forum to vent there anger at those they should be speaking to directly and privately. I have witnessed passive aggression all over the place. I cringe (or fume) when I read these. It is too easy to write the vomit coming from your brain without thinking about the people miles away reading it.
My love for facebook is/was based on an appreciation of feeling some sense of connection to people from my life, past and present. I, personally, find it really hard to keep up with people and have only done so by phone with less than a handful. I don't love talking on the phone--face to face is SO much better but alas, not always possible. I loved hearing about people's lives on their newsfeed. Y'know, even the small things in their life were interesting to me. It feels somewhat intimate to know that you were late for class or that you had a less than perfect patience with your coworkers or children. That is pretty deceptive sense of intimacy, though. A status post is such a small part of what is actually happening in a person's life. Yet, it is tempting to lock them in that box of "oh, there is the guy that says he hates people who have pets..." or "there is that woman who railed on the presidential candidate i like..."
I think facebook does one of two things to people: (1) they become less careful about what they say or (2) they become more careful. After a few years, I can say that I am finally in the second group. It doesn't feel as raw and real when I post (which feels more genuine to me) but I am not wanting to hurt others (like I probably already have) nor invite someone to hurt me. I'll keep the real and the raw for those I truly trust. I will keep the real and the raw for those who have been safe and available. I am truly thankful that the facebook experience has taught me greater temperance in speech. I can always use more of that.
Oh, and by the way, I am in no way saying facebook is evil and should be abolished. My view is much more balanced than that. Facebook is as evil or good as the person behind the keyboard. It can be such a great tool to connect, encourage, and support. Unfortunately, there is a flip side to that coin.
We had a small celebration for David turning 3 and Judah turning 1. We made it small with just family. Fortunately, that now includes our new "neighbors" in Jackson, Michael and Meredith with their 5 sweet kids. Those kids made David's day. I have more pictures but will have to put them in a different post. It won't let me add any more. :)
Did I write this post before? I might have. I'm too lazy to check. However, I will write it just the same. Perhaps something new will come out of it.
I have been pulling up weeds in parts of our front yard to do small amounts of landscaping. To be able to plant a few hostas, some serious pulling and digging needed to be done. I love this work. It is good for body and mind and soul. As I use muscles that I don't normally use to lift heavy babies to free strange vines out of my ground, I ponder those verses that talk about the rooting out of evil.
"Beware lest there be amoung you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.' Deuteronomy 29:18-19
"For behold, the day is coming urning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. the day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch." Malachi 4:1
Some of those strange plants have roots that have had ample opportunity to sink in deep. They were allowed to grow and grow. Thicker and thicker they became. Rooting out evil and sin in our lives, sometimes requires some heavy digging. Thankfully, there are some weeds that we pull soon enough that it comes up easily. Hardly any toil or sweat to rake the ground free. Yet, the others that were allowed to grow too long will cling tightly to the underground. These are sins in our lives that we might not even realize when it started. Of course, you could just cut it off at the top and give all appearances of its absence. But it is there. Growing. Alive. It is still affecting other areas of your garden. Other beautiful plants are struggling to survive because that "invisible" weed is stealing its nutrients in order for it to grow more powerful. To really rid your garden (are you getting that this is your life in this analogy, yet? good.) of this power-hungry entity, it must be "rooted out". How? Digging deep. It is laborious to dig deep into our lives to find the sin at its root. Unlike weeding a garden, rooting sin in our lives takes courage. We are so often afraid of what lies deep within those roots. We are afraid to see the monster below. We are afraid that we are unable to kill it. I have had clients quit for fear of what they would find if they actually explored a particular area of their life. I, myself, have shied away from "going there" with others for fear that I might not recover. We all have turned blind eyes to the monsters below. We all find our own distractions from uncovering those ugly roots. Whether it is obsessing over other people's roots, drinking to ease the fear of the roots, avoiding anything root-related, it still looms and grows larger.
I work in the garden and contemplate how my own issues are rooted out. It is therapeutic to pull those roots and imagine them as my own healing and restoration to the person I was intended to be. But can I possibly remove my own roots? Well, I am definitely a part of that process. Our Lord finds it in His good wisdom to allow our participation in these arduous tasks but the work is really His. He is the gardener and we are the apprentice. We learn about the rooting concept by watching our Mentor work the garden in our lives. We read about His work in the garden of Peter, Paul, Mary Magdelene, and John. We relate--most of us have experienced that kind of weeding in our garden. It hurts but the results are glorious.
Cosleeping has been one of the best decisions we've made as parents. However, as wonderful as it has been, we parents have gotten more flack for that than anything we've chosen to do with our kids. It gets tiring. I read a blog recently where a former classmate wrote about the myths of babywise. (If interested click here. Please note that the blog is anti-babywise and is rather scathing. Don't read it if you are pro-babywise because it will likely offend you. I don't want you to be offended. I like you.). In kind, I thought I would write a mini-manifesto/myth-busting post about cosleeping.
myth #1: cosleeping is dangerous.
Cosleeping is dangerous if you don't follow certain guidelines. Parents who take medications that make them drowsy obviously shouldn't cosleep with an infant because they could roll over on the baby or not even hear the baby if it should whimper or cry. Parents who are drunk should also not be in the bed with an infant. Parents who are high on any drugs should not cosleep. I could argue that these parents also should not have children but...I digress. Just like with the guidelines for the crib mattress and bedding, the same goes for the parent's bed. The bed should be firm so that the baby doesn't sink into the softness, thereby suffocating the baby. Covers should be scarce. Also, the side of the beds should have something to prevent the baby from falling. When all of these are taken care of, then what you have is a SAFER sleeping arrangement than separate bedrooms. I have often woken up in the middle of the night to see that my baby has a high fever and needs to be cooled immediately to bring it down. I have been with my baby when he started choking on something that he had in his mouth from earlier in the evening that we didn't realize was there until the wee hours of the morning. I shudder to think what would have happened if I was not near my little babe. Then there is the issue of SIDS (for those who don't know, SIDS stands for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The exact causes are unclear but the risks are DECREASED when a mama breastfeeds and cosleeps. THAT'S RIGHT!!! DECREASED WHEN BREASTFEEDING AND COSLEEPING! Why is this? Well, a couple of reasons. One is the baby and mama usually face each other. Mama's exhalations of carbon dioxide help to stimulate the breathing of the infant. Also, the heartbeat of the mama will encourage an infant's heart to also beat. What is fascinating is that often a baby's heartbeat will be in sync with the mama's. Their sleep/wake cycles also are in tune.
myth #2: cosleeping makes you lose sleep
Ok, you are a parent of an infant. You are going to lose sleep no matter which way you turn it. Unless you are a baby-wise person and that's a different ballgame. I am not a babywise person. There happens to be an unnatural obsession with parents trying to sleep through the night. I'm saying that as a person who really does require 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night AND who is uncommonly grouchy when I don't get it. It feels like torture to be sleepy. My accepting that part of this stage of life means that I will be awakened in the middle of the night. However, I would be losing a whole lot more sleep if I were getting up in the middle of the night to feed my infant. As a cosleeper, I am stirred by the slightest hint of my baby's hunger. I am so in tune with my baby that I might even wake up before he does. I feed him before he goes into a full cry. He settles back to sleep easily and I am back to sleep in no time at all. That very much beats getting out of my cozy covers to a child who is waking up more and more and crying more and more. Thereby, leaving me more work to bed the child again.
My personal experience is that I felt very unnatural not touching my baby in some way in the first few months of his life. If I wasn't touching him, I was not able to sleep. Therefore, sleeping and cuddling with my sweet infant was crucial to a goodnight's sleep. I was aware of him constantly through the night. So, I would argue that in my case, I definitely sleep better with him in the bed. What about my husband's sleep? Well, if our baby was in the other room in a crib, I'm pretty sure that David would have to get out of bed too. Believe me, he is sleeping better, too.
myth #3: cosleeping hurts your marriage
If you don't like to read or discuss sex, then read no further. Cosleeping can hurt your marriage if one of the partners is not on board with the arrangement. I have known many friends who have issues with their spouses over this very issue (among other parenting issues). David and I are in agreement. I resent when others assume that this is my decision and that David had no choice in it whatsoever. That idea doesn't say much about David's ability to stand up for his opinions and for my ability to submit to him. We are both in on this together.
I also happen to resent anyone who would want to take away this joy of cosleeping with my little ones. They will not be little forever. It is a beautiful time of cuddles and bonding that can't be found in any other stage of their life. I cherish it. David cherishes it. We both will miss it when it is over.
As for the s-word. (That's right--sex!) I am not sure why people suppose that just because children are in your bed that somehow sex is impossible. It is NOT impossible. It does require a little creativity and flexibility with location. And some marriages could use a little spice in the creativity and location department of their sex lives. So, if you want to assume that cosleepers don't get to do the wild thing, than you assume that the bed and at night are the only times to have sex. If that is true, than I feel sorry for you. I suppose there are marriages that use children sleeping in the bed as a wedge between the spouses. However, children in the bed are not the reason they aren't having sex. It is just the excuse they use to avoid sex with their spouse. See the difference?
myth #4: cosleeping is a new thing
Wow, if anything is new it is the idea that your baby should be in a different bed and even more so have an entire room devoted it. That baby doesn't want its own room! That baby wants nothing but mama in that first year. The rest of the world has been sleeping with their young for centuries. Leave it to modern (read: out of touch with what is natural) society to promote the idea that our babies should be completely severed from their parents in order to be a healthy family.
Cosleeping has been a privilege and a pleasure. Not all of it is easy. I'm used to it with Judah but I remember nights with lil' David when I just wanted to put my arm down. Small irritant to an overall beneficial situation. More than a privilege and a pleasure--it was necessary for sleeping and surviving infanthood. If you approach me with questions about this particular part of our lives, I am open to discussing it. If you are hoping to change my mind about it than you will be hitting your head against the proverbial wall. Do us both a favor and don't bring it up, if that is the case.