Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Sweet Pea

We've been calling Dylan "Sweet Pea" ever since he was born. The nickname has taken on new meaning as he has gotten older and become our most difficult child. I hate using the word "difficult." Maybe I should say "spirited" like Mary Sheedy Kurcinka advises. There's A LOT of Dylan in Raising Your Spirited Child. He's feisty and stubborn and strong-willed, and I think those are wonderful qualities that will serve him well as an adult. The challenge with Dylan has always been in figuring out how to discipline him without squashing his spirit. Because sometimes, I just need him to put on his shoes, ya know?

It's Dylan that makes me have to fight that urge to spank. In fact, I tell him from time to time that it's a good thing for him we don't spank. My husband tells me that I let Dylan push my buttons. That's probably true to some extent. I'm not always good at choosing my battles with him, because sometimes it feels like everything is a battle. I'm becoming a lot better at recognizing when I need to give myself a timeout, though. I used to yell at him a lot, which is not something I'm proud of, but I'm working very hard to do better. I'm not perfect, but nine times out of ten, when I feel that urge to hit him, I step away instead of yelling. Wow. That looks terrible in print. That's a terrible thing to admit, that I feel the urge to hit my child, that I'm guilty of yelling at my child.

You have to understand where I'm coming from, though. My family puts the fun in dysfunctional. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say I've had a lot to overcome. My parents divorced when I was eight, and my father wasn't around at all. My mother mostly just screamed at me, but she was abusive to my sister, and her excuse to this day is that my sister "pushed her buttons." I read recently that when you grow up in a family like that, you can go one of two ways. You either decide to prove that you can do it better, or you repeat the cycle because it's all you know. I am constantly trying to do it better. The biggest compliment someone can give me is to say that I'm nothing like my mother. I've been in therapy in the past (don't laugh, it really helped!), and I've had to come to terms with the fact that even though my knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and spank and scream, I don't have to give in to that. Because I can do it better. And I like to think that I am.

I've been sick with some sinus thing this week, and yesterday Dylan told me twice, "Mommy, I'm sorry you don't feel good." Last night, as I was lying beside him in our bed, wishing he would just stop talking and go to sleep so I could go watch Criminal Minds, he said, "You should take some of my medicine, Mommy. It'll make you feel better." (Dylan has had some sniffles this week, too, and I've been giving him Children's Benadryl.) And I just smiled. Because that's Dylan's M.O. Just when I'm so frustrated with him I could scream, he says something sweet or empathetic or gives me a hug or tells me he loves me. Then I melt and forget why it was I was so frustrated with him to begin with. He does it so often and so effortlessly that we call it "being a Sweet Pea."

I am a believer in the theory that we are here on this earth to learn things. I believe that, for whatever reason, my purpose in this incarnation is to learn how to be a good mother. Connor was a fussy baby. He cried all the time, wouldn't sleep anywhere but beside (or on top of) me, and wanted to be held a lot. It's because of him that I found Dr. Sears and Attachment Parenting. If Connor had been an easy baby, I wouldn't have sought advice outside my circle of friends and family, who, of course, told me I was spoiling him and to just let him cry, which felt wrong to me. Connor having Asperger's makes him easy to discipline because he is a rule-follower. So now that my kids are out of the baby stage, I think I was given Dylan so that I would continue on my journey of figuring out a better way to parent. Dylan makes me a better parent because he forces me to come to terms with my past and do it better. Now I'm left wondering what challenges Addi will throw my way...ha!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!

Since when does being a feminist mean you have to act like a man? Feminists aren't only found in courtrooms and on Wall Street. I am a feminist. I am not oppressed. This is the path I chose, and isn't the choice what being a feminist is all about? Women are oppressed when they are given no options. Women are oppressed when they aren't allowed access to an education. Women are oppressed when they are forced to hide behind veils in mixed company. Women are oppressed when they're told they can't birth in the position they want. Women are oppressed when they're told they can't nourish their babies in public. Women are oppressed when they're lied to by formula makers who convince them to go against nature for the sake of convenience. Women are oppressed when they're led to believe they have to fulfill a man's role in the workplace and resume a woman's role at home. Women are oppressed when they are told by doctors that their bodies have failed them. Our bodies have not failed us. Society has failed us. I am not oppressed. I embrace the feminine. I am a feminist. I AM a goddess!