Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday, Baby!

Two years ago on this day, I woke up as the Thursday morning sunlight touched my eye lids. It was one of those mornings where I was giddy and my stomach fluttered before I even opened my eyes. I stretched my arms; simply taking in my surroundings. I told myself, "This is the last morning you're going to wake up as a mother of Andy. Tomorrow, you'll wake up a mother of Andy and Olivia." A. was scheduled for an induction at 8:00 pm (four days over!!! Agghhh!). Being able to finally nail down a time when Olivia would be born gave me a small sense of control and peace...there is nothing that unnerves me to the core more than the feeling of circumstances out of my control. Ah, the great unknown isn't so great for me! Simply knowing Olivia would be born within the next 48 hours was an amazing feeling.

About that time, Andy poked his head in my room and upon discovering I was awake, made a bee-line right to the bed, inevitably launching himself mid-run and landing on my stomach like every single morning lately. We snuggled with each other in our pajamas on my fluffy bed, savoring the calmness and stillness of "just us." I attempted to prepare my mind, like I had so many times over the past month, to the reality of being a mom to another baby....something I'd dreamed about for over three years. To make my dreams even sweeter, it was a baby girl....something that had been #1 on my bucket list since I was 16: Have a baby girl. Part of me still couldn't comprehend it was happening, part of me still remained "guarded" knowing that until termination took place everything could change, and part of me was wildly excited. "Soak up this moment now, by this time next week, you could be completely sleep deprived, covered in poop and puke, and rocking a newborn baby girl!!!" At that second, nothing seemed to top that thought.

Then the phone rang. (Dun, dun, dun)
And it was D. (Dun, dun, dun, dun)
Yeah, when does ANYTHING ever happen  like expected? Seriously? A.'s water broke around 6:00 am, so they were headed to the hospital. And with that one sentence, the calm, peaceful, slightly fluttering of my heart jumped, then proceeded to switch rhythms to superventricular tachycardia! From that second, continuing months, life was a chaotic blur. And it was AWESOME!

Andy was dropped off at my sisters as JJ and I sped to the hospital. We met A. and D. there, got her settled, and geared up for a day of unknowns. By noon, A. was having pretty steady contractions, but not really dilated. By 4:00 pm, she was dilated to a 4 and had chosen to have an epidural. About that time, JJ decided to stay out in the waiting room. Around 6:00 pm, he ran to Café Rio to grab everyone some food and we hung out in the waiting room to give A, D, and Nana V some time to themselves. Shortly thereafter, D. came out to let me know that they'd come to check A. again and it was time to push! Wowzers!
As I held A's foot while she pushed, I saw a little tuft of brown hair. Little by little, more and more of Olivia came into view. I kept thinking, "How is A. DOING this?!" I've never, to this day, witness anything more amazing. Then suddenly, she was born. At 7:52 pm, a beautiful, dark haired, voraciously HUNGRY little girl was born. She was 7 lbs., 21 inches long, and awe-inspiring.












After being told so many times that we are infertile, any hope I had of "experiencing birth" was kind of dashed into millions of pieces. Ironically, Olivia was the first birth I've ever witnessed or "experienced." And I'm glad! It made it all the more special. To be present, in the room while Olivia was born was one of the greatest moments of my life. I remember sitting in class as a 16 year old high school student writing a list of goals...kind of a bucket list. My #1 goal was "Have a baby girl." It took 11 years and so many miracles for that goal to happen and it was completely out of my control and abilities. I will never feel anything but complete gratitude for you, Olivia! Even stronger, unspeakable feelings for your dear birthfamily, our loved ones. You are two years old today and every bit as awe-inspiring and miraculous and wonderful as you were the night you were born... on your own time-table, I might add. You are independent, strong-willed, happy, almost always hungry, and have every single person in our family wrapped around your little finger. We love you, baby girl!

Love,
Daddy, Mommy, and Andy

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


It's an inside movie day today because this Mama is struggling with grief. And I can't stop it. If I didn't know any better, I'd think I was Storm from the X-Men comics; when I find myself encountering inner turmoil and unrest, the weather outside seems tumultuous also. Today is no exception. I'm frustrated, upset, and my past sources of grief are visiting me once again. I'm grieving that we simply cannot "decide" to build our family, try to conceive for a couple of months and get pregnant. Adding this last child to our family seems a mightier struggle than the last attempt, which was....indescribably difficult and impossible. This time around, each time we decide on a path and get moving on it, ten obstacles jump in our way. We announced January 2013 we were going to start our homestudy, contacted the adoption agency, got our paperwork, began filling it out, and then JJ got laid off and we ended up moving.

Moving to Utah opened a whole new world of family building opportunities within our naive minds: Fertility treatments, more options in adoption agencies, etc. We strongly, strongly felt one of the reasons Heavenly Father had us come to Utah was to continue to build our family, among other reasons. That is something I've been allowed to KNOW. Just like I KNOW there is at least one more child, possibly two. I just don't know HOW it will come about, which is beyond frustrating. Each time we think it is time to begin climbing the adoption or fertility mountains, something comes up: Olivia showing delays and needing early intervention, Andy struggling with changes and challenges and needing us to focus on him, we decide to become foster parents but with JJ's church job, there was no he could attend the classes because he worked those hours....on and on. We finally have an 8-5 job, begin to hope that everything is starting to working out more smoothly, right? Nope, our landlords won't let us have "temporary tenants" (aka: foster children) in the home. Foster care is off the table completely unless we move; either buy a home or rent a home that allows foster children. Home in Idaho is on the market, but will most-likely sell short, if at all. That tacks on three years before we'll qualify for a home loan again. Foster care is swiftly flying out the window.

As stubborn as ever, I switch gears. I start researching adoption in Utah. When I'd ask for agency fee schedules pre-Andy, the cost of an average domestic adoption was around $16,000.00-$22,000.00 total. Two years later, when we began the process for Olivia, the same agency's average adoption price range was $22,000.00 to $26,000.00 total. Now, the same agency quotes $30,000.00-$45,000.00. As I research multiple agencies here in Utah, they are ALL that expensive. We've heard rumors (meaning, reliable sources with no official announcement) that the agency we use with Olivia (LDSFS) will be discontinuing their adoption program within the next 18 months. That isn't an option. So, I figure we can get a private homestudy and use facilitators. Oh, wait, they're illegal in Utah. The only possibility now is a private homestudy, network ourselves, hope for a miracle that some random expecting mother will want an adoption plan, hear about us, and chose us. I believe in miracles. 30 in a row? The logical part of my brain cannot comprehend this happening.

So we look at IVF. What we thought would be a simple thing once we lived in Utah where we could access the care. Because before our free consultation, we knew JJ's sperm count was low, but not impossible and that I had PCOS, which is also not impossible. Apparently, it is much more than that and my fault, at that. So, now, IVF is an option IF they can get ME fixed up enough....IF the labs show the abnormalities we're expecting (which we can then treat), IF my body responds and tolerates to treatments (which it isn't so far), and IF we can fund raise enough for a stupid single cycle with no guarantee it'll work.

Does it seem like we're banging our head against the wall here? Today, it does to me. This past month as I've spent time researching IVF treatments, adoption laws, foster care options (maybe moving to houses where the landlords allow foster children). And it just feels so much more impossible than ever before.... you know, unless we win the lottery. So, after a restless night of dreams that reflect my frustration and hopelessness, a little PMS going on, and inner and outer storms raging, we are taking a "grieving day." I will not be happy. I will not be hopeful. I will allow myself to be a mother that lets her children watch movies and play with playdough all day. I will allow myself to grieve the ease of conception and adoption that is not allowed to our family, but many others. I will allow myself to wonder what our miscarried children would look like, how they'd fit into our family, that if they'd actually be born, our family would have THREE more children! THREE! We'd be a family of seven, FIVE children, and NONE of this would even matter, we'd be done with the family building struggles!

So, today is this, a lot of this: http://inconceivableut.blogspot.com/2014/03/grief-its-marathon-not-sprint.html?spref=fb
(And yes, I see finding that link today as a tender mercy).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Growing Responsibility

I grew up on a farm where my entire family pitched in to finish chores. Some chores were paid chores, like moving pipe in the fields, picking clods in harvest, driving grain and potato truck, picking rock, painting, spraying weeds, and more. Others were simply expected of us; Clean the house on Saturdays, make our beds, clean our rooms, set up the pipes on the lawn, weed the garden, sweep the garage, babysit younger siblings while Dad and Mom are away, help fix dinner. We never had "allowances." If we needed money for a "want," we asked for jobs and earned the money. We earned the money for the "needs." Occasionally, we were given money; food money (NOT spending money) for school trips and birthdays. Each child was given age appropriate chores.

A. has started asking for an allowance and has a slight obsession with money. I get it. When JJ was unemployed, we were open and honest with him. We teach him where money comes from: Earning it through hard work at jobs. When our budget is tight at the end of the month, he gets told "no" for his many, many beggings and wants at the grocery store. Bless his heart, he begs for stuff for his sister almost as much as he pesters for stuff for himself, he's a generous little guy like that. Sometimes, we can tell he desperately wants a particular object, item, or thing.

Last August, he was heartbroken for months because he wanted a dog. Our lease prohibits animals besides a fish. So, he continually asked repeatedly for a fish. Finally, we told him that if he wanted a fish, we would help him earn the money. A. and I sat down with a laptop, pulled up Petsmart, and priced the cost of a fish tank, fish food, filters, gravel, the actual fish, the plants and fixtures he'd want to go in the tank, and read about the maintenance that he would be performing to care for the fish. We came to a fixed price, his new budget, his goal. He would be earning the money himself. Then, we discussed chores he could do to earn the money. JJ and I discussed what we felt each completed chore was worth. Then, we made a visible list with prices for him to see. We also discussed that we expected his "normal daily chores" finished before he could do any "paid chores." Make his bed, brush his teeth, tidy his room, help set the table, keep his bathroom tidy, bring his clothes to the laundry room each morning to be washed. Also, should he have significantly poor behavior, parental units were free to start at $0.25 and remove a quarter from his fish fund for every poor behavior or extra "ask" for him to do his daily chores.

It took him a full month. Shorter than JJ and I expected, but to A.'s eternal credit, when he wants something badly enough, he has the ability to focus solely on that want. He earned his fish. His name is Alvin. He feeds him every morning and night. He changes the filter. He helps us clean the tank when needed.

Occasionally, A. will ask to earn money, just because. He's earned roughly $4.39 (after tithing), which stays in Mom's room because he does have a tendency to play with the money and lose it. Yesterday, he came home with a notification about his Spring Field Trip to Thanksgiving Point's Animal Farm. He was incredibly excited. For each field trip, the school asks for a $4.00 donation to help offset the costs of the bus.

A. decided to use his saved money for the field trip.

I explained to him that Dad and Mom usually pay for field trips, he could save his money for something else. However, he was insistent that he had earned the money, so he could decide to use it on whatever he wanted. And he was right. So, today, my little man is taking $4.00 to school, in quarters, earned one at a time, to excitedly pay for a school field trip. Part of me wants to swoosh in and give him $4.00 for his heart of gold and his show of responsibility; it is a parent's job to provide for their children and this is something we can't expect him to pay by himself, yet. However, part of learning and growing is learning to earn and use money wisely. And I'm pretty proud of him for wanting to use his own money. So, this Mama is backing off and giving her little man a chance to be a....little man. It's rather bittersweet! I'm so, so, so proud of his independence; he's growing too fast! I guess I just wasn't expecting it so soon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who do the Mommy Wars Harm the Most?

Today, as I was sitting in the drop-off/pick-up zone waiting for kindergarten to finish, I had to take a moment to laugh. I noticed several things that brought smiles to my face with a touch of humor and made me think:

The mom in the minivan blaring rap and hip hop. 
The mom in those skin-tight, funky printed leggings and stiletto shoes. 
The mom rockin' blue hair.
And me in my hoodie and jeans. 

I just love diversity and what I loving refer to as "people ironies," or when people are completely different than I was expecting. I try not to judge and form assumptions until I know people, but I love when there are seemingly stark contrasts from what I know to be a "common assumption" and reality. 

For example, bikers have a stereotyped attitude of being scary, tough guys, then a story about biker gangs protecting child abuse victims catches my eye and I'm pleasantly surprised by the "people irony." 

When we moved into our home in Shelley, Idaho, it took me five years to feel like I fit in. When we moved into our new home in an area with a stigma for being... well..."Happy Valley;" A very vanilla, generic, boring, Stepford Wives-ish, Mommy-War competitive, best friends at church, then ignore you in the grocery store, smiles constantly plastered into carefully constructed perfection kind of place, I was concerned. I'd heard rumors about Utah County containing hypercritical and judgmental people. I'd heard about communities with stick-chick, young mothers that formed cliques, had endless playdates, perfect nails, coiffed hair, make-up on, and drove minivans or SUVs. I honestly wondered if I was more scared to fit in or NOT fit in. Ahhh, rumors and stereotypes, I'm so glad that in most cases, they only have a small grain of truth, but are vastly false. Good people can be found anywhere and everywhere.

Thankfully, in the past seven years (the past lifetime, really), I've learned a few things about fitting in. The most important aspect of fitting in, in my humble opinion? Knowing, accepting, and loving yourself, just as you are, then extending the same courtesy to those around you. I don't have the best self confidence and have spent far longer than I'd like to admit, trying to please everyone around me so that I could feel a part of my surroundings. I'm not outgoing and tend to cling to situations and people that are "safe" and known to me.  I've been burned by pushing myself far beyond my comfort zone to welcome and love people, only to be hurt and have to realize they too are flawed also. It pains me to admit I've literally given myself months of severe migraine headaches with heart palpitations from stress trying to be perfect; put on a birthday celebration like those I see on pinterest, wear clothes like that cute, trendy mom down the street, and more. I annoy the crap out of myself when I catch myself judging others. Looking back, I realize I've missed what might have been wonderful friendships because of initial judgement and assumptions about others. When did I realize how petty and ridiculous Mommy Wars (even the Mommy Wars between stay-at-home mothers trying to be the most pinterest perfect, craftiest, etc.) and the "Better than the Jones's" trends are? When did I realize fitting in was over-rated? It was a combination a lifetime of mistakes and three important events: 11 years of infertility, months of unemployment, and serving in a very, very small Spanish religious congregation.

When your hopes and dreams are different than your reality, when you experience loss and grief, when you make huge mistakes and learn how flawed you really are, when you have so little that being able to buy formula for your daughter is a blessing, and when others around you, also having so very little, are serving you and you them, Mommy wars just don't matter. Fitting in just doesn't matter. Judging others seems asinine and insane. Rarely is anything ever as it seems upon initial expectation.

Mommy wars and being better than the Jones's are carefully constructed facades to cover insecurities and flaws to help us feel better about ourselves; to help us feel secure in our surroundings and fit in. These trends are one of my greatest pet peeves, especially when I find myself getting sucked into their siren's call. Haven't we all been tempted by their siren's call at one point or another? It seems like I'm examining my motives on a daily basis: Why am I making this choice, for myself or my children, or am I making this choice to compete, judge, or top another person? Do I find these Moms in hip-hop jammin' minivans entertaining because I'm judging them or because they suprised me with a people irony? Is my whole concept of people ironies judgmental? I over think. A lot. Oh, the Mommy Wars and more. These trends, when parents choose to participate in them, are so very destructive. To whom? Ourselves? Yes, ourselves, we miss out on amazing opportunities.We aren't true to ourselves. We stress out and kill ourselves trying to be something we are not.

But these trends are most destructive to our children. 

Our children learn by example. What do you want them to learn: Loving others without judgement, loving diversity, loving people ironies as they get to truly know another, allow our children to see our flawed, wonderful selves? Or do you want them to learn that it was more important to you go into extreme debt to have a chromed-out SUV better than your neighbors, to be afraid of change and new experiences with different and exciting people? My hope for my children includes self-love and acceptance no matter what they look or act like. Love for others no matter what they look or act like.... a more Christ-like attitude filled with mistakes and flaws and love and acceptance.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ct-working-moms/end-the-mommy-wars_b_3416553.html

I love that as I sat there watching the other moms, I saw people ironies, diversity, and felt confident in my choice to love those differences in them and in myself. I pray my children will come to view others similarly.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Simplicity

In the two short years since our daughter came home, our family has changed drastically. Many of the changes were in small, expected, celebrated events: Making dinner for 4 people, dividing my time between two children, having to share Dad and Mom with a sibling, having to share toys, and millions more. Then there were the unexpected changes that seem pivotal to our family's current identity: Andy comprehending that Olivia has contact with birth family while he doesn't, and perceiving pain from that realization, JJ losing his job, moving to Utah. Two years ago seems like a lifetime ago; we were very different then.

Two years ago, we still didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day, Pi Day, Dr. Seuss's birthday, 100 days of school day, Arbor Day, or any of these low-key or new to our family holidays. Two years ago, I didn't think it would ever be a big deal to not celebrate a holiday or weird, unheard of non-holidays. But apparently, it is a big, big deal. Shockingly so. Take my breath away, hang onto the cupboard to survive, cry in solitude big deal. NOT celebrating St. Paddy's Day caused a trigger for my son. Let me explain:

Not all adoptees feel trauma from their adoption. I don't know why there is a distinct difference, I doubt even world renowned psychologists know why one person will and another won't. What I've observed is that some adoptees are able to process not sharing biological DNA with their adoptive family and find happiness, while others, no matter how wonderful or difficult their life with their adoptive families, feel a sense of loss, grief, and some even perceive trauma stemming from their adoption. It can be a mild sense of feeling that they don't quite fit in, wondering about their biological family, or it can physically cause them pain and severe trauma, affecting relationships and more...and there are a million shades of gray in between the opposite sides of the spectrum.

Andy has always carried a unique interest in his first mother and we've always been age appropriately honest with him when we speak of his closed adoption. Considering this, it isn't surprising he has strong feelings for her and difficulty processing her not being around. Sometimes he seems relatively normal, no issues. Then, there are the times when something or someone or a memory or whatever triggers his strong feelings and all is not alright. From the research, wise trauma mama friends, books, and resources I've found, these strong feeling times can cause his emotions to be out of control; dysregulated. When he is dysregulated, he seems to fluctuate between feeling mad at her (and all females), loving her and missing her, and feeling unwanted to desperately wanting her so badly. Either way, a huge reoccurring theme during dysregulation is that he feels unsafe and defiant. And his cover-up emotion is anger. He's mad at the world. He's mad at Mom because she's the wrong Mom. He's mad at Livvie because she still sees her biological family. He's mad that Mom went downstairs and he felt alone for a second, which scared him. He's mad that Miss Hansen scolded him when he was feeling upset and hit somebody. He has meltdowns when his typically "safe of projected feelings" person, Dad, left for work. He pushes boundaries to feel safe when they're reinforced. He attention seeks to pathological levels; acting like a baby, destroying things around him, hurting people around him, peeing in inappropriate places, and more. Because he has big emotions, can't process them by himself, and it makes him feel unsafe again.

I have no doubt Andy is attached to us, but when something triggers his strong feelings and he can't express how he feels, he will show it in his actions, behaviors, attitudes, and relationships. Sometimes he tantrums. Sometimes, he holds it in, acts mildly defiant to certain people for days and weeks and then explodes over something odd, small, and unrelated. Sometimes we catch it early, help him to communicate his feelings and are able to help him process. Sometimes, we have no idea what caused him to feel unsafe or unloved or whatever big feeling he has in that moment. Sometimes, it is weeks and months in between these episodes, sometimes, he's stuck in these episodes and feelings for weeks and months.

So, back to yesterday. We don't over-kill-celebrate some holidays and observances...Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Pi Day, Groundhog's Day, President's Day, Dr. Seuss's birthday, Channaka, National Donut Day, 100 days of school, and new to this list: March 15th...Incredible Kid Day. No, not even  joking a little bit, they talked about it in school and he came home expecting presents on Incredible Kid Day. Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, my kids get color dyed milk and pancakes. Valentine's Day, they get conversation hearts and we make homemade Valentine's for our loved ones. We have small, simple traditions special for OUR family, celebrated with our family. It suits us well and I have no guilt about not doing bigger celebrations. None.

Yesterday morning, Andy was thrilled with green milk and pancakes, wearing a green t-shirt, and off to school he went. He came home a very dysregulated child, angry at the world, but mostly me. Multiple different times, he'd ask for something ridiculous, like to go outside (in the wind and hail), so I'd tell him "no," and he'd melt down. I'd let him go outside, he'd come inside and yell that I'm a horrible mother that looks ugly because I let him go outside, can't I see it is cold out there? I put on a movie for him, he breaks the DVD and tells me he hates me. I ask him to go calm down in his room, that we both need a couple of minutes to calm down, he screams and shoves his sister into a chair. So, Olivia and I leave the room, notify him WE need to calm down a little and need some space, and then leave the room, he screams that I'm a mean mother that never loved him anyway. It went on until about 5 pm, unable to be diffused, so it escalated and escalated. Then, he made a mistake in his carefully constructed facade of anger: He made a comment that the leprechauns don't love him, because I'm a bad mom that doesn't let her kids do anything.

Did you catch the trigger?  30 minutes later, he's bawling with hiccups, angry eyes, and yelling that he felt unloved because the leprechauns didn't come to his house "GOOD ENOUGH." 
Flashback to this paper that came home a week earlier.

Apparently, his friend M. said that at her house, leprechauns peed green in their toilets, left foot prints and other messes all over their house, as well as golden coins and baskets of goodies, but their "leprechaun trap" didn't catch him, PLUS green breakfast and milk. So, Andy asked why the leprechauns didn't love him enough to do that stuff at his house. "Remember the paper, Mom? Remember?!" He'd asked Santa, Heavenly Father, AND the leprechauns to bring him a baby brother and a dog and all he got was green milk and pancakes. I love his teacher, I do NOT fault other parents for having the ability to create magical days for their children every single day of their lives. Two years ago, I thought I'd be one of those parents that could do everything. Today, I understand reality and accept what I am; a trauma mama. My time is spent cleaning messes; mostly emotional messes. My time is spent reaffirming love. My time is spent teaching and reteaching basic, basic things that my son forgets the minute something triggers his strong feelings: We WANT you, we LOVE you, we WILL NOT leave you, ever, we are sealed as a forever family, you are SAFE, it is okay to have and express big feelings. And I do my best to hold myself together until he's asleep.

Then I replay everything, pour my heart out to Heavenly Father, wonder if we should have told him he was adopted, wonder if it was right to talk about mythical creatures, tell him that leprechauns are make believe, and have no relation to how much he is loved (praying that he wouldn't quite figure out that mythical creatures include Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy... he LOVES those guys and find comfort from them!). It was about that time that I opened up my laptop to find an article on Facebook that started the water works. Another Mom that couldn't fathom the insane over-kill that has become every single day of observance and holiday in modern culture and for a moment, I felt a little less alone. 

I'm writing this because, while I LOVE my son's teacher for finding ways to be creative and wonderful with her kindergarten kids, including my son, and while I applaud those parents that have the ability to spend their extra time creating these wonderful celebrations and extra stuff for their children, I simply cannot. That doesn't make them bad teachers or bad parents, just as it doesn't make me a bad parent for NOT doing those above and beyond "extras." I hate Mommy wars. I'm on neither side; I'm a completely unique mother. I have nothing but respect for Andrew's teacher, she's the best. I respect and slightly envy those parents and their non-trauma children. I don't even mean to criticize them, simply share another side of reality for them to consider. 

Children talk. Children compare. And in the past ten years, I've noticed this "perfection" trend among parents, especially within my religious culture, everyone has to not just keep up with the Jones, but top them. Elaborate birthday parties, celebrating odd holidays with over-exuberance. Building leprechaun traps at school. And children talk. Children talk and form silent expectations and hopes and dreams in their heads. And it is hurting MY already HURT son when our leprechauns don't leave messes, a baby brother, and a dog, and he perceives the lack of these things as a lack of love. I'm guessing there were other children, what my brain calls "normal" children, as well, that don't have trauma backgrounds and emotional difficulties, that heard about M.'s special day that felt sad and left out. There are children with emotional and special considerations everywhere. Perhaps they were able to process it. However, my son was not. It added MORE trauma to his trauma. It added more trauma to ME.... This over-killing of every non-holiday and days that wishes they were a holiday is not a good thing, just like I feel that the trend, conscious or unconsciously practiced, of assuming perfection, aiming for perfection, pretending perfection, and constantly trying to be more perfect than the Jones's mentality within my culture is hurtful. Mommy wars, destructive. Competition and flock mentality, destructive. Having your own little celebration as a family, fine, go for it. 

My suggestion is this: How about we tone it down significantly and when we do celebrate, also teach our children class, kindness, grace, humility, and sportsmanship; there is no need to brag. Holidays are family, religious, and cultural celebrations, personal to each family. There is no need to lourde gold coins in front of the other children (there was no reason those gold coins had to come to school), there is no need to assume superiority above others, there is no need to compare family holiday traditions. I spent a good part of today teaching my son that because all families have different backgrounds, they all celebrate different holidays in different ways, and that is okay. I'm confident that were our children able to see those characteristics from us, in our examples, they would emulate this way of thinking also. Maybe with a little verbal teaching, they would go to school showing more kindness, grace, humility, and sportsmanship also instead of competing and comparing. Because what I have learned in the past two years is that the world needs more kindness, grace, humility and humanity. Everybody has things with which they are overwhelmed and struggling. People do the best they can. And have big feelings about it. Humans process feelings and events differently and at their own pace and sometimes, unintentional actions cause hurt. Hurt that take years to fix. I've been hurt, I've caused hurt.

Rarely do human beings intentionally mean to cause hurt though. That little girl had no idea that bringing her coins to school would cause issues in my home. Nor do I expect her parents to anticipate such a thing. But there are consequences to all actions. So, let's just tone down the indulging in excess, celebrating in over-exuberance, comparisons, competitions, and perfectionistic standards and increase the humanity, striving to teach understanding and and humility instead of teaching our children to expect toys, candy, and huge displays with every single event. It is okay NOT to celebrate every holiday, it makes the true holidays your family decides to celebrate more special. Also, not everyone needs to hear about your special family time. There is joy in simplicity.

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