Tag Archives: mental health

Parenting is Offensive

A few days ago I commented on a friends post about fatherhood. I am still getting noticed about folks commenting on his post. So yesterday I get a call from someone who’s wondering how to explain to their parents that they will not be continuing the traditions that brought them into the world. My simple answer was; Nothing offends folks more than your parenting style!.

I remember having a few “pet peeves” that made folks uncomfortable when raising my oldest three daughters. I always told them, “I’m not raising someone’s wife!” They participated in dance, but I chose classical ballet. They had uniforms and dresses, but didn’t wear jeans. They ate what I cooked and were never made to “clean their plate”! I heard all kinds of advice about how that was wrong and because of my military background I was too strict. I was amazed that folks thought my parenting techniques were a statement about their parenting choices.

I didn’t really care what others were doing. I was, and am, paying attention to each child and ensuring I do as little as possible to define who they become. I trust that we are inherently good and that they will respond in kind. I recently told someone that I know exactly what I want my oldest boy to be when he grows up from his current age of 9. He’ll be happy, that’s it.

It doesn’t take long after a child is born before friends and family begin to “put in their 2 cents” about what your child should be doing. He or she turns 1 and they should be walking. 2 Years old comes around and solid foods and no bottle. Potty chairs at 30 months, listening and responding perfectly, and A,B,C’s. It’s crazy. It’s like “terrible two’s” are a parental problem, not the child’s. Everyone wants to control your child for you and advise you how to do it. It doesn’t matter that you’ve raised 6 kids and they’ve raised one, there’s is older and special so their gonna enlighten you.

If your having your first child and looking for advice, don’t. Go with your instincts. Follow development charts and look for good examples. Have a prepared response for those folks that want to interfere in the child rearing of your child. I like the statement for overbearing parents: “My parenting choices are not a statement of how you chose to raise your child. You raised me the best you knew how and I love myself, and I’m sure my child will do the same.”

Our children are ours. They won’t grow up to be what anybody thinks except themselves. They ain’t gonna be babysat by a TV with inappropriate television. They’re not going to have relationships in elementary or middle school. They’re not gonna run around worrying more about what they look like than how they act. And they will not run around with phones as an extension of their security blanket. Believe it or not these few rules will offend half your friends and family.

In the end your family is yours to protect and love. Traditions are wonderful if they don’t define the child. Culture is wonderful as long as it doesn’t oppress who your child wants to be. Family is important as long as there isn’t some vicarious nightmare that stifles who your child will become.

Just remember everyone has an opinion and the intensity is off the chart when it comes to parenting. Have an empathetic response prepared so as not to create too much friction. Most importantly though, make a statement. Those are your children, and while the sentiment behind your advice is appreciated, I’m the parent and I will do what I think is best based on what is best for my child, and there are no negotiations.

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Curse of the Babbling Friend

Sometimes I never find the right words. Stolid seems to wooden, stalwart to posthumous, nothing really fits. I ramble on through cob webbed memories of vocabulary searching for the thought that clears my mind, all in vain.

I know all the cliche’s about “blank slates” and canvasses; but good friends deserve better. I struggle intermittently with “the right thought” to convey something much bigger than you would require. Like a dog with fleas I pause every now and then and go at it like there’s no tomorrow; and damned if there ain’t.

Handshakes are easy. The customary hug with the extra squeeze is comforting. For me though, it’s never enough. I don’t make excuses. Reasons are often selfish explanations, and factors just explain excuses. So in the end I guess words don’t matter as much as the effort.

It’s funny how a phone call can be a bridge to “the next time”. It’s never enough and sentiments are easy when you pretend someone is near. It’s “sweet” of you to make the effort. Then there’s the silent caveat that lingers like a speech bubble in a cartoon, if only I took the time when we were together.

Things left unsaid aren’t alway good, or bad either. Most of us have things we don’t say. The bubble is always there, but everyone’s left to just feel the thoughts, rather than hear the words. Our judgement is clouded by the unknown responses or our own demons.

There is a way to say anything, that seems to be a gift most folks don’t have. I suffer from not being able to write it or say it at times; or maybe even worse, say it or write it the wrong way. It’s that one word that says it all correctly that eludes me until after I say or write the wrong thing that haunts me.

This is why I write, how I care. I can edit what’s on my page. What I say is etched in time. One wrong word in the right moment can’t be edited without intense drama.

It’s not always that dramatic, but it is always that important to me. Sometimes it’s simple things like forgetting a phone call or visit. These situations beg for the right sentiment, but only leave me looking forgetful or uncaring, of which I’m neither.

It seems in hindsight the right words aren’t important between friends. The other speech bubbles I never see are the ones that say “I’m caring” because I tried. I have excuses because I care. I have reasons because I want you to know; and all the factors together mean I want you to understand that you’re important.

Maybe this is where writing and I fall short. It’s the words, the bubbles, and the actions together that satisfy our soul. Love is the only word that conveys this triad of affirmation.

For me the right “word” is important. I don’t expect to hear it or see it, but I strive to write, say, or demonstrate it. I’ve fell short more times than I care to remember. I’ve been speechless in words, actions, and thought. I’ve regretted not having the right words, and having the right words at the wrong time. I never regret trying.

So if I’m speechless know I’m caring enough to think. Silence is a word and an action that conveys concern. It’s when I’m at my best unfortunately. It’s not that I don’t care or you’re not important. It’s that you are worth the right word that not even bubbles and hugs can explain.

Empathy

Surreality chokes the world with fear
While everyone fades to myst
And yesterday falls in a tear

Memories and fear share tomorrow
As if never is here
And joy cannot overcome sorrow

My self lies within crumpled dreams
As I rise to the reality
The words I spoke were a silent scream

Tears of the soul carry silent cries
Not heard or seen
By untrained eyes.

I feel the tears of a thousand souls
Carrying burdens and hope
And the the unbearable toll

Grief isn’t silent to those who listen
It screams through silent eyes
And tears that never glisten

So listen my friend to a story of old
Hardly ever heard, but often told
You can hear with your eyes
And see with your ears
If you listen with your heart
And embrace your own fears

Middle Ground

Denying God is a choice for some folks. This choice has many different factors, most of which are not evil. The roots of disbelief are varied and don’t have as much to do with Satan as they do with our psychology.

I’ll stay as far from the atheist vs theist movement as much as possible. These two groups, in my eyes, are the charismatic extremes of the normal everyday believer or non believer. While one labors to live today within an Old Testament reality the other spends an inordinate amount of time talking about the crusades. Neither of these two will help anyone.

I have learned that the middle road scenery is a more realistic journey. I have to stay focused on the path because life seems to push us to extremes. I’m not afraid of God or biology, and for me, it’s what we’re all made of.

At it’s purest form God seems to be the “thing” we question or celebrate every time something good or bad happens to us. After a series of unfortunate events we may question “Why me!” Maybe we hit a string of luck and feel fortunate that somehow it was our turn. Either way, luck, good or bad, assumes an external control.

The strange thing is that whether you believe or don’t, there’s a nagging “something” within the human condition that questions our place in the world. A believer who questions their faith during times of trial, or the non believer who rationalizes events in their life, both rely on something invisible to the average human condition of understanding. Both experience events beyond their understanding and question “why”.

I’m not making a case for or against believing or non belief. I’m simply pointing to the fact that we share this space of unknown consequence. We experience things beyond or control or understanding and attempt to fill it with faith or facts. When both of these fail it seems it’s just us. Somehow we are the unfortunate or fortunate ones.

This space is where the disagreement comes and folks have preyed (no pun intended) on probably forever in human history. It’s almost like I wish we could define for folks what it was like “pre-religious”. Like we do for pre-industrialization. From the accounts we have, it was a violent existence. I’m not saying religion saved the world , it seems it capitalized on humans ability to organize for collective survival. However, we are certainly better off as humans for exploring our spiritual side, it’s when it became a vocation we strayed.

Origins are the key. It’s from these points we can move foreword with coherence. We won’t change institutional religion in government, they’re mutually exclusive at this point, we’d have to eliminate both and that’s not gonna happen. We can enlighten folks on the history of our humanity so that they may exercise their spirituality more responsibly.

So whoever or whatever we fill that void with, we have to leave room for respect and honesty. When I say honesty I don’t mean facts, I mean feelings. I am in the middle between facts and feelings, not to be objective, although that helps, but I think the middle is the space where balance rules.

Hitting folks over the head with a Bible or Quran just makes folks numb. Just like throwing our a barrage of scientific facts to counter someone’s spiritual sensibilities shuts down dialog. Someone had to stand in the gap of reason.

Religion is not spirituality and science is not intelligence. It makes no sense that God would subjugate his creation, just as it makes no sense science would reject possibility. Between the two most of us live, and within the two we survive our own intellectual and spiritual ignorance. And this is life.

Giving Back

I hesitate, my instincts too far beyond my surroundings

Alert, in tune with my heartbeat and the earths warnings

Now I must stop and seek cover from what I fear

Not cowering, not hiding, but living on the edge of finality it’s clear

Trust is the luxury of believers, I’m not a believer anymore, I’m here

Somewhere between safe and sound, I can no longer wander

It serves me well to stay in the shadows, alert and alive

I don’t need the lie anymore. I know under that beautiful garden there’s violence and decay, things we know, but don’t speak of

Don’t sell me assurances you can’t provide, I’m safe alone

I’m tired of all these people I have to be just to make your world complete

It’s been so long you don’t know which one is me, because you fell, fell into the trap and got ensnared in the one that you could never be for more than a moment

I was hear all along watching you melt under the light of an abstract dream. It was warm for a moment, but only the sun can bring true light, true warmth. The others just illuminated what they wish you to see, what they want you to be

Now your not human, not a person, but a part of something so much bigger than you that you can’t see it’s nothing, you’re nothing. You’ve been put to sleep in someone else’s dream.

Not I. I am wild, but free. I feel the heat of the day and shiver in darkness under the moons glow dreaming of sunrises.

What good is a sunset anyway. The end of a day shouldn’t be honored, it should be remembered. Where did we learn to worship the end of anything, it’s beginnings that have hope. All we have in sunsets are reflections and regrets

So I’ll keep your smile and give you back your watch. I’ll keep the sound of your voice, but give you back your words. You’ll need your hands, so I’ll leave with your touch gently caressing my heart. Everything else belonged to the world anyway.

Dust

Dust dances through the attic within shards of light slowly passing time along well worn planks. It’s magic they seek in the eyes of the beholder. They have no fairies or ghosts without the fertile or feeble minds staring in wonder.

Creeks and whistles play staccato games with swaying trees just beyond the pain. But this is a space of remembrance. A place where memories are free to roam through cob webs and yellowed paper.

Slowly I run my hand along wooden chests and metal straps. My mind travels along colorless photos of perfectly groomed alabaster faces wearing oversized suits and cinched dresses. I wonder how long it took these memories to arrive in my hands, in my mind, are they even mine.

I smell the struggle to open these boxes of yesterday. Places and moments are separate in the still morning light. Every box opens with a sigh and closes with a question. Is this real, was that then, or is this some cruel reminder of how distorted time really is. Minutes and hours are easy. Days and nights are bearable because tomorrow still exists. Past this yellow fades white, laughter sounds distant, and feeling is a remembrance or dream.

But I have what’s left of my memories in a box, that’s fortunate. I have captured time, or has it captured me, sometimes I wonder. What my hands can’t grasp my mind helps along. As the dust dances on in the light of a new day I’ll become the memory. A blessing and the curse of a life long lived.

Randomness

My mind lazily stares at the reflection of the door in the rainwater collecting on the sidewalk. I struggle with which door to open, which door to walk through for the rest of my life. Both have become surreal and the glimmer of hope in my reflection is as real as the sadness behind the pains encased in reality.

In the end choice was an illusion, a weigh station to a truth I already knew. Home is an illusion like the mind. It doesn’t have matter like a house or brain, of which both will eventually collapse. And so it is, choice, the stairway to somewhere, always leads me on.

So is life an illusion brought to life in the reflection of inconsequential notions of reality. Are hope, faith, and prayer the home of truth, reality, and the work that brings shining moments. We aren’t meant to know, only care enough to try.

Does it all matter, probably not, but if you don’t care, it’s not worth living. The reflection means no more than the reality and that’s not a crossroad, it’s a void. A place where nothing has color or tears to dry. A place where death lives and life passes on.

Everything has meaning, has worth if we care. Reality pushed the boundary of sanity at times. So hold onto your reflections with the understanding that life does matter, as do the illusions that give it measure. When this gets twisted you’re no longer real.