Monday, May 23, 2016

Unnoticed lessons

Last week my mother bought my daughter a new toy.  This isn't really a shock, since my mother has a habit of buying things for my daughter whether she needs them or not.  This time it was a baby doll that has a stroller it can be pushed around in.  My daughter loves it, not because she loves baby dolls, but because she loves pushing things around.  She loves to be pushed in her stroller, and she loves pushing this baby doll in its stroller.  The doll itself is one of those weird dolls that makes noises when you squeeze its tummy, so it says "mama" and "dada" and then cries.  All of this is unremarkable, to be honest.  It's just a toy for little kids to play with.

So why am I bringing it up at all, right?  The thing is, after my daughter got this relatively unattractive doll and began playing with it, my mom sent me a couple of photos and a text message.  My daughter was kissing the doll in the first photo, and in the second one, she had picked it up and was hugging it.  The text message said "When the baby cries, she gives it kisses and hugs and picks it up and says "ohhhh" while she hugs it".  That was the moment when I realized that she knows what to do when a baby cries because she knows what my husband and I do when she cries.  Right down to saying "ohhhh".  My husband does that a lot.  He will hug her and say "Ohhh, it's not so bad.  It's ok".  I pick her up and give her hugs and kisses.  She knows how to love something else because she experiences us loving her, and that's really something I had never thought about up to that point.  I never really considered that so many of the lessons she will be learning are not through us sitting her down and actually teaching her, but through watching us interact with each other, and with her.  Every day, we are teaching her lessons in how to treat other people, how to behave in social settings, how to understand and interact with the world around her, and we don't even realize we're doing it.  I guess that, for not realizing this has been happening all along, we've been doing a pretty good job since she's a fairly well adjusted kid so far.  In reality, all that means is that if she's a reflection of what she's been watching us do for the last year and a half, it's a decent indication that we're not total assholes.  Hopefully.  I guess time will tell.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Thoughts on understanding

Over the past week or so I've read several blogs written by people of faith that have gotten thinking.  I'm not a person of faith, and generally speaking, I don't really like most people of faith.  I find them closed minded, bigoted, exclusive, and self righteous.  I understand these are sweeping generalizations, and I'm sure there are people of faith out there who are not like that.  I know a few of those people, and I appreciate them for who they are, but I also would contend that they're in the minority.  This leads to the question, "Why were you reading blogs written by people of faith if you don't like people of faith?" and that's valid.  But, I try to be a well rounded person, and I read a lot of things written by opposing viewpoints from my own because it's good to see all facets of this life we live.  Honestly, I've been reading one for years because I find the person so polar opposite in point of view from me that it's like learning about a completely different world.  And I think she's a bit nuts, so there is a pretty high entertainment factor to it.  The other ones I've read recently were from blogs that were not about faith at all, but about home renovation, or organization, or children with illnesses, and the faith just sort of came to the surface with recent posts.

The sad thing about reading some of these posts is when you find pieces of yourself in them, and realize that you probably still couldn't be friends with these people because the differences between you are still insurmountable, but you also see that there are connections.  Tiny little things that tie you to that person in some similar way and you think "If only we could grow that thread and ignore the rest of them", but that's not what life is like most of the time.  This morning I read a blog that was largely about missionaries and faith, but touched on being a parent.  Specifically, being a mom.  It talked about how being a mom is hard, and it's a big deal sometimes, and to ignore that really large piece of a person's life serves to make them feel isolated.  To make them feel they're misunderstood.  That hit me between the eyes.  It's so true, and I related so much to that one sentence.  It's what I've been doing for the past two years.  Trying to help people ignore that aspect of my life, which has just led to me feeling more and more isolated.  More and more misunderstood.  More and more alone.  Yet, I still try to help people pretend my daughter isn't a part of my life.  I hide her away when we have friends over.  I plan things for after she's in bed.  I clean up the toys as best I can.  I try not to talk about her.  I take a piece of myself, and I slice it off to appease people who don't "want to deal with it".  But, what that means is that people don't want to deal with me.  They don't want to deal with a huge part of who I am.  And while I never let my daughter be the dominant focus of anything, pretending she doesn't exist so that others feel more comfortable isn't fair either.  It's not fair of them to expect me to do that so that we can maintain a friendship.  I find I'm working so hard to make things easier for others to deal with, but they're not doing the same in return, and I have to ask how that's fair to me at all.  It's not fair to me.  So for others to feel ok, I have to feel isolated, misunderstood, cut off, alone.  When I read those sentences in this person's blog, I flashed to the many posts I've had on here over the past few years about feeling isolated.  Feeling alone.  Feeling a need for connection to other people that I used to have, but that seems to have died.  This person, who I will never be friends with, who I will never sit across from at a table having coffee, this person gets me.  In one sentence, they understand this piece of me.

The blog continued on about how those are the times she leans on her faith, and I started thinking about how simple life could be if I was the sort of person who could lean on something like faith as a foundation.  There has to be so much comfort in something like true faith.  There's comfort in the ritual of it.  Comfort in the sense of community that comes from it.  Comfort in the ability to feel like somewhere, someone else is always looking out for you and doing the right things for you for the right reasons.  Comfort in handing yourself over to the ritual and familiarity of faith, to turn off all of the voices sometimes and go on auto-pilot with ritual and repetition and to come out on the other side feeling whole and renewed.  I can see the appeal.  I just can't, personally, suspend my own sense of disbelief and skepticism to accept it.  I can't be a person of faith.  I've tried.  I don't think I necessarily want to be a person of faith.  But there are moments when I envy that trust.  That ability to feel cared for by a higher power when times get dark.  I envy those who can see everything as the plan a higher power has set out for them.  Personally, I look at the world and I see no plan.  I see happenstance, and inexplicable tragedy, and so many things that make me question how a divine plan could be out there working for the greater good.  There are days, though, when I wish I had the comfort of that belief.

I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make here.  These were just some thoughts going through my head after reading some of these things.  It's really just rambling of things to continue to think about.  And perhaps it's about me going through my own sort of learning as I read things by people on the opposite end of the spectrum from me.  That, no matter how much I disagree with the majority of what someone thinks, or says, or does, there may still be some small thread of understanding that connects the two of us, and if people in staunch disagreement can find that thread, maybe everyone would be better off because we'd be less apt to destroy one another over disagreement.

Just some thoughts.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone, and I find that Mother's Day is a weird holiday because you get to "take a break" as a mom, but then the next day you're just left doing all the stuff you didn't do when you were "taking a break".  It's just an illustration that you can't really take a break from your life.  Everything is still waiting for you when you get back.  It's ok, though.  It's nice that people want you to take a bit of a break on a day that's supposed to be special for you.

I think Mother's Day is generally weird for me.  I spent years functioning as someone's mom without getting the credit for it, and then I had a baby and everyone acted like I was suddenly hitting my very first mother's day and made a huge deal out of it.  But, because it's not just my Mother's Day, I find that we spend a lot of time doing things for other mothers, like mine, my mother-in-law, and my husband's grandma, so the whole "celebration" piece of it seems focused on other moms.  I think that's just how it goes, though.  Everyone has obligations to their moms, and you have to share the day, which I think would be easier if our families all got along and we could truly share it instead of bouncing from one house to another all day long.

I think the most striking thing this year was the contrast between this Mother's Day and last.  Last year I had a million text messages wishing me a Happy Mother's Day from all of my friends and family.  This year I got messages from the some people, but it was greatly reduced.  I think maybe that had to do with last year being the "first" one, but I find myself wondering if some of it was because people are putting distance between us.  It's been ongoing, it's impossible to ignore.  It's not just one or two people, it's almost everyone I know.  The only people who reached out this year were people who never got weird after my daughter was born.  People who, despite any flaws or missteps in the past, still show up when things matter.  The group is very small, but it's interesting to see who is still around a year later, and who still reaches out.  I'm sad that things have gone the way they have, but it's also not entirely in my control.  I miss a lot of things and a lot of people, but I'm not the one who pulled away so I guess that's just how things are now.

On the whole, as Mother's Days go, mine was nice.  We went to dinner on Friday to celebrate since we knew Sunday would be spent making the rounds to everyone else, and my husband and kids got me a lovely gift certificate that I look forward to using.  That's about as extensive as it got.  I think that's ok, though.  I don't love being the center of attention most of the time, so keeping things low key was nice.  And I got a lovely card filled with scribbles from my younger daughter, and a very nice card from my older daughter and her boyfriend that was filled with love and kindness.  That's really all anyone could ask for.