What’s Best for You vs. What’s Best for Me || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from September 2008.

Jafta is starting preschool on Monday. Over the years, I’ve been witness to many a preschool conversations by my friends with older kids. I’ve always listened and glibly thought, come on, it’s just preschool. Ah, sweet pre-parent naivete.

So now that it’s my turn, I’ve been agonizing over where to send Jafta to preschool since April. I kind of had a list of criteria that I was looking for in a preschool:

1. it’s realy, really close to my house

2. he can eat lunch there so I can run more errands

3. it doesnt’ start before 9am so I can sleep a bit later

4. it has a two-day option so we can spend less money

5. it has a Tues/Thurs option so that time in childcare preschool is not wasted on a day daddy is home to help with the kids

Wow. Is this the most self-indulgent list you have ever seen? Me, me, me. What’s best for me.

But over the last few months I’ve been convicted that perhaps what is best for me is not what is best for Jafta.

See, there is this amazing preschool that many of my friends recommended. That have a great acadmic prep. The teachers are insanely nurturing and make every kid feel like a star. They do worship every morning. His best friend is going and could be in his class. Jafta went to VBS there and loved it. All signs were pointing to this being a great option for Jafta, but I fought it tooth and nail.

But he would have to go Mon/Wed/Fri, two of which are mornings he hangs with Mark. But it starts really, really early. But it has no lunch option. But it’s more expensive. But it’s kind of a hike. But I want to do things on Tuesday and Thursday while he’s in school. But Ali and I can have meetings if our kids are on the same schedule . . .

Wah Wah Wah.

So I paid a hefty deposit and first month’s dues for a different preschool that fit my own needs. And last week, Jafta starting begging to go to his best friend’s school. And Mark started calling me out for why he wasn’t. And I started feeling really, really guilty.

So I sucked up my pride and selfishness, said goodbye to the money blown on mommy’s choice, and got him a spot in Ryder’s class at Lil’ Lighthouse Preschool. Looks like we’ll be waking at the crack of dawn on Mon/Wed/Fri.


Mommy, look at the brown boy! || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from July 2008

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from July 2008.

As a transracial family in a vanilla county, we hear these kind of comments every now and then, especially from other preschool-aged kids. This week, we heard on two different occasions. No biggie: it is perfectly normal for a child of that age to notice color. I mean, they are just learning colors and pointing it out is just an observation. I am NEVER offended by children making such comments. In fact, it can open up great learning opportunities for kids to understand adoption, difference, etc.

However, one of the circumstances this week was kinda awkward. A little girl pointed to Jafta, and this was how the dialogue went:

CURIOUS GIRL: Mommy, do you SEE him!?! He’s brown!

MORTIFIED MOM: (clearly embarrassed) Honey, be quiet.

CURIOUS GIRL: Mommy, do you see? Do you see that boy?

MORTIFIED MOM: Sweetie, BE QUIET. Be quiet right now.

CURIOUS GIRL: But mommy, look! He’s brown.

MORTIFIED MOM: (now angrily) If you don’t stop saying that right now, I will give you a spanking.

I totally get where this mom is coming from. I can imagine doing this myself, in another setting. But think for a minute what this interchange communicated to this little girl about “color difference”. What message did this well-meaning mom unintentionally send to her daughter, and to my son, who was watching the whole thing?

Avoiding the topic of race can be one of the biggest mistakes parents make in raising healthy, race-concious children. Shaming, igoring, or avoiding your child’s comments on race can send a strong message: racial difference is SO bad and SO embarrasing that we can’t even talk about it. (Kinda reminds ya of how some families deal with sex, huh?).

So how should someone react? I don’t know the perfect answer. Perhaps a Diversity Day, like on The Office? Okay, maybe not. But let me tell you about the other interchange that happened this week:

A little girl pointed to Jafta and said, “You’re so brown”. And my husband said, “Did you hear that, Jafta? Say thank you.”

And he did. With a big grin on his face.

Getting Real || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from July 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from July 2008.

Angel over at Voice of Adventure just posted this challenge on her blog:

The truth is I am SICK, SICK, SICK of people feeling all alone because they think everyone else is less screwed up than them. It’s ridiculous. We all have our times we are flying high and our times we are doing a nose dive. Why do we all pretend? It’s all a pack of lies wrapped in a bunch of arrogance. So I am going to give it my best shot and TRY to get real on this blog. This is a get real zone. No bull allowed.

I love it! Alright, I’m taking the challenge. For your Schaudenfraude pleasure, here is me, getting real:

I am online entirely too much, blogging or reading other people’s blogs. I’m often sitting in front of the tv while I’m blogging. I hate this image of myself.

I do the “stuff and hide”. If someone is coming over, I frantically hide messes in drawers, closets, and corners to try and pretend like I live a clutter-free existence.

If I found a Skittle on the floor of my car from a few weeks ago, I would probably eat it.

I am a horrible pastor’s wife. I used to see Mark get approached for help, or prayer, or just a chat from a well-meaning congregant, and I would keep walking and pretend I didn’t know him. I have done this at church and in Target on a number of occasions.

When I go running, I listen to music that is very naughty. I know it is inappropriate, and yet I find it helps me run faster. If someone knows the Christian equivalent to Rage Against the Machine, Snoop Dog, or Jay-Z, I am all ears. (and if you mention Audio Adrenaline or DC Talk you are permanantly banned from my blog).

I often wear the same outfit several days in a row, if it has no visible stains and I’ve deduced that I won’t see the same people that I saw the day before.

I don’t wear socks. EVER. It makes my shoes smell really bad.

Mark criticized the way I folded his clothes in 1997. I have never done his laundry since.

I am terrible at budgeting. Mark and I are great with the macro-finances (investing, no credit cards, etc) but horrible at the micro-finances. At any given time, I have no idea what is in our bank account. I don’t balance my checkbook and we are usually dipping into our overdraft protection.

I pretend to be philisophically opposed to homeschooling, but in truth, I think it’s probably a good thing. I just don’t want to do it.

I would be truly happy to have 25-30% less time with my children, and look forward to the day when they go to kindergarten and I get some solo time back. I often feel guilty because we tried so hard to have children, only to feel like we want a break from them.

I get drained being around people. I hate this about myself. I am an introvert desperately trying to be an extrovert.

I wear heeled shoes that really hurt my feet, because they make my short legs look longer. I am frequently in pain due to my shoes.

Every 28 days, on the dot, I have a meltdown about my son’s energy level and whine about how demanding and hard he is. My husband pointed out this embarrassing product of my PMS.

If I didn’t pay Rosie to clean my house once a week, I think I would be living in filth.

Sometimes I think I continue working just so I can have something that forces me to wear “grown-up clothes” twice a week.

I do about a gazillion things as a mom that I judged other people for doing before I had kids.

Every time I watch a broadway show, I regret not pursuing musical theater. I still get audition notices and keep my headshot updated, as if I’m gonna get back in the game at any minute. Right.

I am crazy about my dental hygiene. I have left events early because there was something stuck in my teeth and I needed to go home and floss.

I refuse to get a minivan because I think it will make me look lame. Yeah, I am really that shallow.

Women Helping Women || On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from June 2008.

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from June 2008.

The Women’s Program of Heartline Haiti is all about teaching women to care for their babies and find industry and self-care for themselves. They assist in prenatal and parenting classes, and teach women a trade, like sewing or crocheting purses. Here is a story about one of the women in their program:

Today was one of those days when the women’s program did its job. It worked. I don’t know how the end result will turn out but I saw women surrounding one of their own and coming to her aid with what they have learned. In our program we have two groups. Prenatal; and then Child Development after the baby is born. A young girl Chelor (pronounced She-Love) has been coming on and off since she was pregnant. She lives in a hostile situation where she is clearly not welcome, neither is her baby. Her breast feeding efforts have not been going well and they claim her baby is cursed. She wants to go back to the village because she has no where else to go.Chelor is just a young girl who does not know how to be a mom and does not do well processing the information we give her. Her baby, Love Kendy, has gained little weight since his birth three months ago and he is failing to thrive. Everyone is frustrated. We try encouraging her, showing her how to hold the baby and so on. She is not getting it and he is not getting the milk he needs to thrive.

Today was heartbreaking. She would put him to the breast for just seconds, he would fuss, she would be agitated, he would cry. They just weren’t a team – weren’t working together for the milk to flow.Several experienced breast feeding moms gathered around Chelor and helped her position the baby. It wasn’t working. Another mom took the baby, put him to her breast and fed him. For a long time. It may be the only real meal the child has received. Ever. Wet-nursing mom showed Chelor how effortless and stress free this should be. All moms were giving opinion, encouragement and we gathered around Chelor to pray God’s protection around her.

This young girl is steeped in superstition, believes in curses, is too stressed out to feed her baby who is also stressed and pulling away from her. It is a dire situation. I hope and pray we helped her today. I cried because of how bad Chelor’s situation is and I also cried because I saw women gather around her and function as a women’s group – all helping another hurting woman. That’s how this program is supposed to function. Women learn valuable information and life skills and pass it on to other women.

Women in Haiti are often denied basic learning and growing opportunities. They are stuck in superstition and misinformation. Often babies die because a mom is missing basic care-giving skills. We are seeking to change this woman by woman week by week. Pray for Chelor and Love Kendy!

-Beth McHoul

Perhaps this story of women gathering around each other can inspire us to gather around other women of the world and share our own resources. If you would like to hear more about how this program changes the lives of women, or if you would like to donate toward their efforts, check out Heartline Haiti’s website.

Bring Back That Lovin’ Feeling

On Thursdays I post from the vault. This post is from June 2008

I have a secret to tell you. Are you ready? I’m going to whisper it so no one else hears. I’m a little embarrased about it, so I’m saying it really quietly.

You ready?

Okay, here goes:

Some days I don’t really like my kids.

It feels awful and evil to say that, but it’s true. Kids can sometimes behave in ways that are, frankly, kind of hard to love.

And yet, we continue to love them, because that’s what a parent does. The unconditional love from a parent to a child is able to withstand behavior that we would never put up with in a relationship of our own choosing.

I mean, think about it:

Would you still be friends with someone who tried all of your lipsticks and then ground them into the carpet, and showed no remorse?

Would you have dated a guy who demanded you fix him all of his meals, didn’t clean up after himself, and threw himself on the floor in a screaming fit every time he didn’t get his way? (okay, on second thought, don’t answer that question).

Would you continue a relationship with a grown adult who trashed your car and wrote on your sofa in permanent marker?

Let’s face it, kids can try our patience, and even the best of moms will, on certain days, be challenged to like her offspring. And this is where love gets challenging. Because at the end of the day, love is often a choice. We choose to love when our kids vomit on us in a plane, by cleaning them up before ourselves. We choose to love when our infant wakes us up in the middle of the night, for the fifth time, and just wants some comfort. We choose to love when we answer the 27th question about spiderman in a two-minute car ride.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. And sometimes, all of those choices culminate and reward us with an overwhelming feeling of love for our child. Like when they say “I love you” unprompted. Or snuggle into our arms at the end of the day.

Lately, my kids have been in a stage that has been a little, er, challenging. There are some days when I feel like they are conspiring together to find new ways to wear me down. On those days, I make it a point to cuddle with them a little longer at bedtime, to “bring back that lovin’ feeling”.

On really bad days, I go into their room after their asleep, and just look at them in their peaceful and sleeping cuteness, to remind myself how much I love these crazy kids of mine. Sometimes it’s the little boost I need to remember what precious creatures they are.

Even when they decorate the bathroom floor with an entire tube of toothpaste.