“___ Lives Matter” cheapens life, so stop already.

I am so sick and tired of these campaigns. Black Lives. Police Lives. Military Lives. And on and on.

These campaigns are trying to place value on certain groups of people whose lives, in someone’s eyes, have lost value in the sight of society at large. The truth is that these campaigns cheapen lives by inherently placing the value of one group over another.

A pretty bold statement, you say?

Then why do the campaigns continue with an infinite variety of lives that matter? Why is the slogan not simply “All Lives Matter”? That is the truth. Every life matters.

Black. White. Rich. Poor. Young. Old. Unborn. Severely mentally ill. Severely cognitively or physically disabled. The jerk who used to be your coworker who is now your boss. The heroin addict whose sole thought from one minute to the next is how to get more heroin. The meth addict who broke into that family’s home and stole their valuables and killed their dog. My friend’s mom whose addiction finally killed her. The guy who raped your seventeen year old cousin and got away with it. The girl who was kidnapped from her village and sold into sex slavery. Her pimp. Drug lords. War lords. The young woman who has had multiple children and given them all up. Christian. Jewish. Muslim. Hindu. Scientologist. The man who has infected countless women with AIDS. Tyrannical dictators. Mass murderers. The pedophile who molested sixteen young children before finally being caught. Gay. Straight. Smart. Stupid. Somewhere in between.

Every life matters because it is human. Being human and being alive are in and of themselves enough to determine that a life matters. It is not what is done or how that determines worth and we place ourselves in the position of God when we start to decide which lives matter and which ones don’t.

The only way to ensure that fewer lives are lost unnecessarily is to decide that every life, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us, every life matters. Even if they are despicable. Even if we don’t see a purpose to it. Only when we can finally stop creating divisive mindsets can we truly be free to accept this truth.

However, we live in evil days and evil times, where the profitability of divisiveness draws in the influential and marginalizes those who desire unity. Only when we can value human life for mere fact that it is human can we ever expect needless killing to stop. Every life matters and it’s time we who believe that step up and boldly claim such. Even the scumbags. Even the people we don’t like. Even the people we hate. Every. Life. Matters.

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On the hard days

Some days are so hard when there are littles around.

You know the days I mean. Those where you’re extra tired for whatever reason or you just don’t feel 100%. They don’t understand how the crying and screaming grates those days, even the joyous laughter of kids playing can grind a little bit.

They are always themselves but today, you are different. They are wonderful kids, but they get distracted in one nanosecond. They forget instantly what you’ve asked them to do and stare at you blankly when you ask. They are up and down and everywhere but where you want them to be and if you try to steal just five minutes for yourself, they are hounding with questions or “hold this” or dumping random things in your lap and walking away.

Those days are the ones where they act as though you never asked or taught them how to clean up. They forget the routine you follow every. single. day. They are great kids, but you are different on the hard days. Your temper is shorter and as much as you try to curb it and logic in your head, you still snap at nothing and bark a little fiercer than you need to.

Maybe you remember that some moms have the glory of leaving all of this chaos and frustration behind as they go to work. They get a break from it. And you feel just the tiniest glow of jealousy. You long for a 30-minute lunch or just being able to go to the bathroom whenever. You get to talk to adults during the day and someone else gets the crying and screaming and pooping and peeing and diapers and food on the floor and in the hair and the five changes of clothes during the day.

Of course, you know you’d never give this up for all the money in the world, but sometimes, some days, it is SO tempting. It’s hard to keep carrying the weight that is raising children. It’s hard to shoulder the heavy responsibility of keeping these littles happy and fed and safe. Safe from themselves, from each other, from whatever could come bursting through the front door without warning, knowing what evil lurks out in the big wide world.

You know that in just a few short years, the kids will be going off to school and you wonder if you are preparing them enough. You wonder if they will be somewhat stunted because they were with you and not with a great daycare with a great curriculum. You wonder if they will be delayed because you don’t paint and glue and glitter stuff to paper to send home.

You wonder if everything you do is worth it. You wonder if the sacrifice you are making is worth what you give to these littles.

On the hard days, we who spend our days with littles need to remember that it IS worth it. The love, the joy, the play, the friendships being made is worth it. That worth isn’t measured by art projects that will inevitably end up in the garbage and having them know their alphabet by 2 or whatever other unrealistic standards are out there.

If you spend your days with the kids of other people, it’s measured in them not crying when being dropped off anymore or being too excited to play to say goodbye to mom and dad. It’s the satisfaction of parents and trust that you are the best person for their child at this point in time. It’s measured in hugs and kisses and toys shared and tears wiped and laughs and games made up and quiet lunches and toddler chatter and new words and new things. It’s not measured in tempers lost or routines forgotten or early naps because your sanity requires it.

These are the hard days. Someday we will look back and wonder how they passed so quickly, how we celebrated 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 so close together. Wasn’t their last birthday just a month ago? How is it birthday time again? We must remember to press on, to do what we need to do to maintain sanity. Press on, brave souls, and don’t lose heart, for much too soon these days will be only in the land of memories. Press on and love these littles, for soon they won’t be littles anymore.

Musings on Modern “Parenting”

I read an article recently about Google’s new maternity leave policy – 5 months of paid leave, which is resulting in more moms coming back to work after the birth of their babies. That’s great if that’s what families want and need.

However, there is one line in that blog that really struck a nerve and really bothers me. It said something to the effect of “I can only handle my son for a few hours at a time, so coming home at the end of the day after he has eaten is perfect so I can spend time giving him a bath, reading a story, and putting him to bed.”

Really?

My fear is that this is far more common of a mentality than any of us knows. Are we as parents so ill-equipped to deal with children that we instead choose to work in place of taking care of our kids? I understand that finances and the modern American lifestyle generally requires both parents to work outside the home. What I can’t understand is the idea that a parent would choose to spend hours at work and get home just in time to tuck Jr. into bed. That a parent “can’t handle more than a few hours” with their own child? Because… they are a child? Because they are more demanding, more impulsive, and haven’t yet learned how to control their emotions, their works, and their bladders?

If this is truly the “Modern Parent”, then why in the world are people choosing to become parents? What are we teaching our children? That working is more important than family time? That our coworkers are more important to us than our children? That we’d rather spend time with people who have learned the art of working and controlling their emotions than teach our children to do the same? That we’d rather pay someone else to deal with diapers and temper tantrums and learning how to speak and potty training?

I know that the point of this article was about the importance of extended paid maternity leave. I agree with that wholeheartedly. I know because just as our children are exiting the goldfish stage and starting to become interesting, we have to choose to either leave our job to continue exploring our little one or hand her over to someone else to experience these things. It’s a very difficult choice. Is an unintended consequence, however, the complete lack of learning how to actually be a parent?

I know that for decades now the extended family in America is dissolving, that people don’t have the support networks to raise a child like there has been in the past. Grandma and Grandpa have to work and they live states away anyway. Friends work just as many hours. The result is that the Modern Parent never actually learns to be a parent. The worst part is that we don’t know that until it’s far too late. Until the chance to really develop a relationship with our child has passed. Until our kids get ready to go to high school and we never see them again. Until they go off to college and we realize we have no idea who this young adult is that is leaving our house. Until they have boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives and move far away and we see them at holidays if we’re lucky. Until they have kids and we see them living the life we taught them how to live. Until we only get every other holiday year with them because life is too busy and finances are too tight for getting together more.

This lifestyle creates increasing fractured families. I certainly don’t wish for days past as there were many problems then as well with inequality, endorsed abuse of wives and children, high disease and mortality rates, and other undesirable things. However, the family unit was that – a unit. When mobility was limited, families stuck closer together and children learned to parent from their parents and much more patient grandmas and grandpas were around to help with children. There is something very desirable about that lifestyle.

Raising children is extremely hard. As a work at home mom with a daycare, I know that. There are no days off. There are no nights off. There are no responsibility-free sick days. Often, your sick days and your child’s sick days coincide, so you both feel terrible together, but one clearly makes being sick more miserable for the other.

There is nothing easy about being a parent. No one ever promised such. Or if they did, shame on them. That is a lie. Parents have the impossibly hard and unenviable task of raising blank slates into responsible and productive adults. Often with little outside support, at least in these days.

I often wonder, when people of the future look back to us, what will they see? What future are we building with our children? What are our children going to know and going to be able to do when we send them off into the world? Will they be equipped? Will they be ready? Will we be ready? Or will we be wishing for more time with them when they are little?

Is this being a mom?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

Incessant diaper changes and clothes changes and mood changes and food changes? The indecipherable tears, whines, cries, and screams? The meal time, nap time, bath time, bed time guesses and routines and changes?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The waking up, the changing, the dressing, the eating, the changing, the playing, the changing, the eating, the cleaning up, the new outfit, the changing, the sleeping, the waking up, the changing, the eating, the playing, the eating, the bathing, the changing, the bedtime outfit, the sleeping just to do it all over again tomorrow?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The forgetting to read, the forgetting to play brain developing games, the forgetting to practice counting, the forgetting to learn letters and numbers and words and shapes and colors? The forgetting to do crafts and forgetting baby massages and exercises? The choosing not to do baby yoga and baby swimming and baby pilates and baby time at the library? The forgetting to change a diaper for four hours and then finding a giant poop in there instead? The trying, the wishing, the failing, the crying?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The house that looks like a disaster no matter what time of day or year? The piles of dust, dirt, dog hair, carpet fibers, and leaves that all end up in the baby’s mouth? Finding just one sock of every pair in every area of the house? The mail, the dishes, the laundry ever piling higher and higher?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The toy taking, the crying, the consoling, the distracting, the redirecting, the saving, the leaving, the watching, the waiting, the band-aids at the ready, the wanting to escape for just a moment?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The to-do list for every room that never gets touched? The new stuff getting added to the bottom of the list every day? The only getting one thing done a week? The feeling like the dishes and the laundry and the playing and the picking up just aren’t enough to justify a to-done?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The changing, the piling, the sorting, the washing, the drying, the folding, the sorting, the searching, the giving up, the putting away, the pulling outgrown stuff, the piling, the sorting, the folding, the storing, the finding of new outgrown stuff, the unstoring, the folding, the storing.

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The pulling all 36 foam letters and numbers off the shelf, the eating the books, the scattering all 50 blocks, the climbing up, the climbing down, the falling off, the screaming for no reason other than screaming, the learning to share, the learning to not freak out when another comes near the same toys, the sitting, the standing, the jumping, the running.

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The not talking, the stepping on everything, the same two syllables that are supposed to mean 15 different words depending on the time of day, area, context, people around, the phase of the moon and how many feet are on the ground. The chewing, eating, destroying of every toy that’s not solid wood or plastic?

Is this being a mom of the really little ones?

The smiles, the slobbery open mouth kisses, the laughs, the games only you and your baby know, the exploring, the learning, the playing, the walking, the first word, the first step, the joy, the excitement, the wonder, the imagination. The time you finally spend not thinking only about yourself and trying to figure out how to help your really little one navigate this big wide world.

This is being a mom of the really little ones.