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Dare to go Freerange this Summer!

By now we’re all aware of the dangers of over-scheduling yourselves and your children—take this summer as an opportunity to try doing…nothing at all.

And when you do facilitate entertainment, it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive! Go old school and play in the hose on the lawn, or make cheapo popsicles. Your children won’t remember how fancy things are, but they WILL remember having a lot of fun with you.

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“Cherish These Years”

Ahhhh, so peaceful up here.

I spent part of the morning re-reading a book I like, and enjoying a cup of coffee up on the deck. It’s nice up there there for a lot of reasons, but a good one is that’s where the garden’s at, and Ellie can entertain herself with plucking cherry tomatoes off the vine and eating them until she’s full. So I don’t have to prepare a snack, which satisfies my lazy efficient disposition.

Whenever I’m reading a book (or doing anything that requires an amount of focus), Ellie becomes an urgent snuggler. Like, a “put-down-whatever’s-in-your-hand-and-hold-me-this-instant” kind of snuggler. (Also, a gaze-into-my-eyes-otherwise-you’re-not-paying-100%-attention-to-me kind of snuggler.) And, to tell you the truth, most days I get a little annoyed by this. (“Where’s all this snuggle-love when I want it?” I ask myself.) But today was different. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s 70 degrees in late October, or the fact that the tomatoes are perfectly ripe and delicious, or the fact that the breeze is just breezy enough, but today I didn’t get annoyed.

Today, each time Elle interrupted my reading–26 times in 16 pages, but who’s counting?–I was patient. She’d wiggle underneath my book, while saying “pick you up, please” (she doesn’t get the difference between the words “me” and “you” yet), and I happily scooped her up 26 out of 26 times. Then she’d put both of her hands on my cheeks, turn my head towards hers, and hold my face about an inch away from hers, and just smile. The picture that kept appearing in my mind’s eye was of an Ellie in her mid-20s, and how bizarre it would be if she held my face so close to hers at that age, and how it’ll never even occur to her to want to sit in my lap. So, take it while you can get it. That’s what I say. Grimy tomato-hands and all.

A rare snuggle, caught with my iPhone

———-

I keep forgetting, and then re-remembering, that all of this is so temporary. Ellie’s time of blissful, self-unawareness is only going to last so long, and then it will be all “could you drop me off a couple of blocks away from school, mom?”

Sometimes I lose sight of the preciousness of these few years, and I find myself feeling envious of my friends with older, less dependent children. The way they have time to go to cross-fit, work on their forthcoming books, and go pee by themselves. But then, on days like today, I remember. My perspective has shifted back into place, and I remember that every parent I’ve ever met has told me to “cherish these years.” And I aim to say I did just that, even if it means never reading more than 16 pages at a time, and having dirty tomato gunk smushed all over my face.

How about you guys? Do any of you have older children? Do you have any words of wisdom for me?

“Smush bananas in mommy’s haaaaair!” says Ellie.

—————

Let’s be friends!

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Career vs Baby-Making

I filmed this super-casually (obvs), after I put Ellie to bed tonight. Mostly just because I hadn’t posted a video to my channel in about a month, and I figured some ladies could relate. Enjoy!

Re: “My Son is Gay” (A Nurturer’s Perspective)

So this “My Son is Gay” post has exploded with comments recently, and I would recommend reading it because it’s the basis of this post.

Assuming you’ve read it, I’ll go on.

I completely agree with the writer as far as unconditionally loving and supporting my child is concerned, but this doesn’t seem to be about her son’s sexual orientation at all. No one she encountered accused her of  “making her son gay.” No one even implied it. The other mothers expressed concern that this little boy would be teased, something the little boy himself attempted to tell his mother three different times.

My opinion? Mom could have built trust and displayed acceptance by listening to her son’s concerns. What a great opportunity to have a relevant discussion about fear and bullying! Who knows, maybe with a few more years of continued nurturing and support, the little boy would have wore his Daphne costume all on his own, without having to be convinced it was okay. Mom’s confidence and cavalier attitude can’t simply be given to her son, he’s got to grow into his own secure, confident little man, and he’ll do that in his own timing, at his own pace. Maybe she wishes he’d develop those qualities sooner, but I can tell you from experience that rushing a child out of their comfort zone can be traumatic and cause the child to lose trust in their mother. Although long since forgiven, I carry those memories with me to this day, and I wonder what kind of person I’d be if I were nurtured rather than pushed.

I know that my opinion on the matter isn’t popular; most folks commend the mother for her courage, whereas I don’t see mom’s courage as the issue. She’s clearly courageous enough for the both of them. It would appear that she willfully risked her child’s feelings and sense of security by not listening to his concerns, and only to prove a point that I’m sure we all saw coming: parents are often judgmental. (See me ranting on about this? Case and point.) I could support her in this if she were the one in fear of being humiliated, but the fact that she risked martyring her five year old boy is sad and scary. It would appear that after getting 35,000+ comments on her blog, mom got what she was looking for.

That all being said, he made an adorable little Daphne!

Okay, I’ve braced myself and am ready for you to bitterly disagree with me. Go on ahead and let me have it.

Dear Elliott: Be More Melanie than Scarlett

While I was pregnant with my daughter, I started jotting down things I wanted to be sure to tell her someday, when the time is right. None of my advice is intended to make her more like me, but rather to save her the unnecessary trouble of figuring some of these things out the hard way. Every Thursday you can expect to read one of the many tid-bits I intend on passing on to my daughter, in a series I’m calling “Dear Elliott.”

2. Be more Melanie than Scarlett. In the book (and film) Gone With The Wind there are two major female characters, Melanie Wilkes and Scarlett O’Hara, and they couldn’t be more different from each other. I won’t spoil it for you, but keep a keen eye on that Melanie girl, because she’s got a heart of gold and would never betray a friend, even if that friend betrayed her. You’ll meet lots of girls like Scarlett; be sure to treat them as kindly and with the same love that you would treat anyone else. And don’t you worry, I’ll let you know if you’re behaving more like Scarlett than Melanie; we’ve all got moments that we’re not so proud of, and those moments can shape us for the better if we recognize them.

(Left: Melanie Hamilton Wilkes     Right: Scarlett O’Hara)


 

 

The Purity Discussion: Not Just For Girls

Recently, I read a good article on Focus on The Family called “Sexy Too Soon,” with the subtitle being, “Combating the Early Sexualization of Our Children.” It was a good article, but it struck me that the article only talks about how girls are influenced, and how we need to teach our daughters purity and modesty, yet completely leaves out the influence over little boys and their need to be taught and to value purity. I’m happy to assume that the writer had a word limit and simply couldn’t fit the other half of the article in, but if that’s the case then the subtitle should read, “Combating the Early Sexualization of our Daughters,” not “Children.”

This article aside, society (Christian society especially) has a tendency to place the responsibility of purity disproportionately on women, and perhaps even little girls. I’m very happy to do my part in showing purity as a value that I hold dear. It’s evident in how I talk, dress and behave in the company of others. But it wasn’t always an easy way to live, especially in my high school and college years.

Sure, I could blame my struggle with purity solely on the media. I grew up under Britney’s anti-purity anthem “Slave 4 You,” and Christina Aguilera’s “Dirrrty.” But what about Sisco’s “Thong Song?” And by that I mean, what about men’s responsibility to purity? It’s not just “bad girls” influencing our daughters, but boys too. More specifically it’s the boys whose parents didn’t teach them to live purely, or to value girls who live purely that made the struggle with purity a defining overtone of high school and college for me.

I knew back in high school that I wanted to date a Christian boy, because I expected that a Christian boy would value purity also, and I hoped that we could avoid that struggle down the road. My first crush on a Christian boy was shattered when he told me he wasn’t ready to date me because he felt that God didn’t want him dating yet. That was okay with me, and I respected his spiritual maturity. Unfortunately it appeared as if God didn’t mind him having sex with the Britney Spears lookalike that sat on the other side of us in history class. (Evidently everyone but me was aware of it.) The girl actually confronted me, “I heard you’re into “Chris,” and I wanted you to know that even though he usually likes dorky girls, he doesn’t date them because they’re too prude.” Ouch. Not only am I a “dorky girl,” but I’m also a “prude.” It’s hard to feel good about your purity in situations like that, and unfortunately, that situation was repeated over and over in high school, and each time I felt the pressure to compromise even more.

I didn’t totally lose pride in my purity until college, when again, the girls who dressed immodestly and behaved the least appropriately were the ones with boyfriends. And it wasn’t the media that broke me down, it was boy after boy who would stop calling me after I wouldn’t go home with him, or fool around in his car. Looking back on it, each of those boys is someone’s son. Someone’s son who should have been taught to live purely, and to value girls who live purely, too. And to leave that message out of the purity dialogue is to ignore fifty percent of the issue.

Eventually I felt like a fool for valuing purity for so long. I actually became ashamed of it! The whole purity fantasy just seemed like a big lie to me. So I began living like other girls had for so long, dressing immodestly (“if you’ve got it, flaunt it!”), drinking, dancing immodestly at parties and clubs, and dating boys that were fun, but only were interested in me because I was attractive and they thought they could use me for my body. And if you have any experience with that lifestyle, you know how undignified and unfulfilling it is; eventually it came full circle and I felt ashamed and embarrassed over my immodestly and ugly behavior. It’s true, Godly men aren’t interested in immodest women, and that’s exactly what I had become. And where were all the Godly men, anyway?

What’s unfortunate is that my story is many women’s story. How many girls and women’s lives would be changed if purity was taught equally to boys as it is to girls? It’s not just telling boys, “sex is for marriage,” and that’s that. It’s showing them real life examples of who’s living purely and who’s not. It’s by sharing with them (when it’s appropriate) your own struggles with purity, to save them from repeating the mistakes you might have made. And it’s teaching them to treasure girls the way God does, and to find value in a girl that guards her purity.

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