Why My Daughter May Fear Jesus

My Unity church is a small one.  We don’t have a big children’s program so for that reason my youngest daughter, Callee, is almost five but still a “nursery kid.”  Her age group doesn’t yet get spiritual instruction.  Up until September she hadn’t really been introduced to Jesus.  (In our house we pray to God or Spirit not to Jesus.)

In September we (Callee and I) went to NC for my grandmother’s funeral.  In the days leading up to her death, Mema had a vision of Jesus.  It was a given that when she finally passed everyone talked about that vision.  Jesus had come to take her home.

Before the funeral, the family went to privately view Mema’s body.  I really didn’t want to take Callee into the room.  I didn’t think she would understand.  I thought it might scare her or scar her.  In the end, the confusion scared her more.  There was a mysterious room where people walked into and then started weeping.  My brother-in-law did his best to distract her, but ultimately I decided she needed to see what was going on.

When we showed Callee Mema’s body it was explained to her that now Mema was with Jesus in Heaven.  I did not realize then how seriously she was filing that statement away.

It has been two months since the funeral and pretty often Callee still mentions, out of the blue, that Mema is with Jesus.  The other day though she said something that made me realize that this particular way of explaining death to her may have been a mistake.  We had stopped to check the mail when Callee stepped in a huge fire ant nest while wearing flip flops.  She ended up getting eleven ant bites.  When we got in the house she sat down and was furiously scratching the bites.  While doing this she said in her meanest voice “I wish all the fire ants in the world would just go with Jesus to Heaven.”

On one hand, I wanted to crack up laughing but on the other hand, it made me sad.  Now my little girl equates Jesus with dying.  I’m realizing now that although it wouldn’t have been as sweet, it would have been much more productive to have just told her that Mema had died.

With this in mind I just have to hope that she doesn’t come in contact with someone trying to evangelize to her.  The moment they ask her if she wants to have Jesus in her heart she’s likely to wonder if it’s some kind of death threat!

Pauline’s Click 2

I’m so excited to have Pauline back to the click stage.  She sent me this amazing post the other day.  I read it and it brought tears to my eyes.  Please take the time to read it and visit Pauline’s blog here.

Reflections

I woke up at 6:30 and was still rushing to get out of the front door by 8:30. We had a 15 minute drive ahead of us to make the bus for the  pumpkin patch, our lunches were packed, and Buttercup was sitting pretty on the couch watching TV while I rushed into the bathroom to pull my mexi-fro into a pony tail. I glanced at the clock as I walked by. It was 8:15. We were going to cut it close, but we would make it.

I had just put my head in the sink for a quick wet down when I heard Buttercup call me from the living room.

“Mama, I’m making myself beautiful now,” she sang out.

I turned the faucet off and hurried back to the living room on high alert, already knowing what I was going to find. Buttercup had been dressed for hours, her curls pulled into a little pony of her own, since 7 that morning. “Are you excited for your first field trip?” and “Don’t mess up your hair,” had been repeated on a loop from the moment I declared Buttercup adorable and ready to go. We’d been late for pre-school too many times because I’d turn around to pack her lunch only to come back to the little stinker leaning over the sofa rubbing her head into the cushion, fro-ing out her previously ballerina-worthy top knot. I had ten minutes on the clock and my kid was going at the couch with her head like most cats use a scratching post.

“Dammit,” I sighed. “M’ijita! Why’d you go and mess up your pelo? We’re gonna be late now!”

Her face fell. “But I made it beautiful,” she said, reaching up to touch her crown of fuzz.

“Just sit down, I’ll be right back to fix it in a second.” And I hurried back into the bathroom and back with hair products and a brush, and sat Buttercup down to fix her fro, my own still dripping and out of control.

“Mama?”

“Yes, baby?” I had one eye on her hair and the other on the clock. I had five minutes to get us out the door.

“I was just trying to make it beautiful.” Her words were a mere whisper.

“I know, babe,” I said. “I know.”

She turned to face me, reaching up to smooth the kinky spirals I’d cut, straightened, and hid under weaves (which I in turn denied were weaves) because I was  so determined to keep my hair from being the conversation starter with strangers that always ended with me explaining that yes, indeed, i was Mexican and not mixed. “I was just trying to make my hair beautiful, like yours.”

She thinks my hair is beautiful…

My breath caught in my throat and I kissed her hard. “Mama loves you, baby. Mama loves you more than you’ll ever know.”

She stood there smiling while I hurried to smooth my hair back into the world’s fastest pony-tail and we dashed out the door. I hadn’t bothered to check  the mirror.

I didn’t have to. I had already seen my reflection in my daughter’s eyes.

Incomplete Thoughts

I have three different blog posts floating through my head today.  I can’t seem to completely pull any of them together for a 500-1000 word post so I thought I’d just say a little about each.

The first thought is about privacy.  Facebook is such a freaky thing.  I’ll admit there was a time when I was really into celebrity blogs.  I visited Perez Hilton and Celebrity Baby Blog numerous times during the day.  Since I joined Facebook I rarely visit those sites.   Reading about people I know, knew, or hope to know seems to scratch that itch for me.  This week I’ve noticed a couple of cryptic status updates from folks.  They give away just enough information to make you go WAIT, WHAT?  They stir up a reaction.  Visiting the individual’s pages you see a line of people asking how they are and what’s going on.  I find myself wondering if it is better or worse that we have this public spotlight for our private matters.  On one hand you get lots of support, but is it real support?

Another issue on my mind is parent/child relationships.  In the novel I am currently writing the main character is 15 and very close with her father.  She talks to him and he listens, they respect each other, and sometimes they even act as if they are friends.    When I look around me at my husband, my friends, and the men in my church these are the kinds of fathers I see, ones who are generally interested in relating to their children.  But in response to my writing someone called the relationship weird.  So I’m wondering if I am just delusional.   Have we moved away from the “kids are to be seen and not heard” idea or not?  Is it possible for a girl to be friends with her dad or do I have some re-writing to do?

The last thought is how I’ve been a bit swallowed up.  I finally started writing this novel and it is all I can think about.  It sits in the back of my mind no matter what I am doing.  The Ray’s and White’s are demanding my attention.  I have a lot of mixed feelings on this.  On one hand it is fabulous because after a year of only writing blog posts and essays I am writing fiction again.  But it is also distracting me and I find myself losing track of my schedule, forgetting things, and neglecting healthy habits because my mind is elsewhere.  My vision of this project is exciting though.  I wonder if I can see it through.  Once it is complete I wonder what will become of it.  At writing group last night I was reminded of the work still left to do and the writing time I need but don’t have.  I have to admit, it’s frustrating and scary to think I may be traveling a path leading to a dead end, just one more book collecting cyber-dust on a shelf in my hard drive.

So that’s what’s on my mind today.  Just a few incomplete thoughts….

Listen Up Kids!

A friend has invited me to help her write an article for a local publication.  The theme is nurturing your children’s spiritual life.  We talked last night about choosing three points to make that would be most valuable in the lives of our kids.  The first thing that popped into my head is the importance of intuition and listening to yourself.

I have a terrible, terrible memory so it may be that I just don’t remember BUT I don’t think I was ever told to listen to myself and the feelings that rise from within me.  I knew to listen to my teachers, my parents, other adults in my life, and even my friends.  It never occurred to me to listen to ME.  In fact, I’d say I was often even afraid to listen to myself.  When I knew the answers to questions in class I was terrified to raise my hand and respond for fear I’d be wrong and look stupid.  I remember times when I went with the pack and joined in on not so nice behavior b/c following others was easier than not.  I’m sure there was a little voice or a tug at my heart reminding me to do no harm, but I ignored that voice until the deed was done.  Then I had to deal with the consequences of either getting in trouble, losing a friend, or feeling guilty.

I believe that teaching our children to stay connected and listen to the voice within is vital to their emotional health.  I caught a few seconds of an Oprah episode yesterday.  It was long enough to hear Oprah speak to this idea.  The show topic must have been sexual abuse.  She said that our kids need to pay attention to those “this doesn’t seem right” feelings and speak up when they have them.  Too many kids stay silent when they are being hurt because somewhere along the line they’ve learned that they should listen to everyone else but themselves.  We are wired with this protective instinct for a reason.  We know when something isn’t right.  Instead of listening to the outside pressure, whether from peers or “trusted” adults, our kids ought to be encouraged to listen to the quiet inner voice or feeling that is saying no, no, no.

So if I had any parenting advice for myself and others I would say to teach our children that they have an inner compass and how best to use it.

Paths

Now that I am a parent, I often think about the role I play in my children’s lives.  There is the obvious of course, that I will feed them, clothe them, keep them healthy, make sure they get an education and give them lots of love.  But when it comes down to my desires and vision for their lives, how much will reality match the fantasy?  What really decides our paths?

Facebook has been an amazing look into people’s paths and how they often go in strange and unexpected directions.  When we step out from the consciousness of our families, we attract to our lives the situations and challenges that test us and bring us into our own.   When I was in high school I became fascinated with all things “unique.”  I would take weekly trips to vintage shops and artsy/New Agey stores and just walk around, mostly looking at clothes I loved but didn’t have the nerve to wear.  I was attracted to guys with long hair and piercings (too young yet to be into tattoos).  When I met a perspective boyfriend, I’d often ask “What do you do?” with the hopes of an answer like write poetry, paint, or play guitar.  All of my serious boyfriends did one of those three things.  The sirens of creativity called to me, even if vicariously through other people and places.  These days the vision I hold for my life is a marriage of creativity and spirituality.  My path, with its odd detours and speed bumps, seems to have brought me to me.

I have a friend named Toby.  You will meet her tomorrow in the first in a series of four click stories.  For a short period, Toby and I walked our path together.  We spent weekends hanging out with boys with long hair and piercings.  I tasted artichoke for the first time in Toby’s kitchen standing between her and her mother.  We played soccer and rode in Heather’s convertible Firebird singing Hotel California together.  I took my very first college road trip to visit her at NC State our freshmen year of college.  We were both poets and loved to write.  She was a lot more outgoing than me, but other than that we were very similar.

The last time I was with Amy we sat on her bed (she was on bed rest) and looked at each other’s Facebook pages.  Amy was so excited to share that she had found Toby.  I honestly don’t remember the exact connection but Amy and Toby were also pretty close friends.  Amy was the first to tell me that Toby had been a heroin addict.  When Toby and I finally connected on Facebook she was quick to share with me what she had overcome.  I also learned that she was a proud new mama who was finding her way back to writing.  Despite how drastically different the past fifteen years had been for us, we were now on similar paths…maybe even inching our way onto the same path.

Toby has now sent me four of her stories and has started her own blog.  As she put it on Facebook the other day, she is “writing furiously.”  I read her stories and am greatly aware at how simply and easily our lives can be changed…but also how we at some level create these challenges.  In one of her posts, Toby shares how she was always fascinated with heroin.  She read books and watched movies about addicts and fantasized about her own relationship with the drug.  And just like she always knew, the drug found her, was even presented to her as a birthday gift.  She made a choice that day and it was the only choice she could have made in the moment.  It brought her to where she is now.

What I think is that we are here to choose our on paths and make our own destinies.  Our parents will raise us, teach us, and love us but in the end who we really are will find it’s way through.  Sometimes we are just like our parents and families, sometimes we are not.  There are many crossroads.  Sometimes we make choices that could be described as selfish, careless, or just plain fucked up.  And sometimes it is those very choices that ultimately bring us salvation, even if that salvation comes after a long and hellacious battle.

Hope’s Click

The following click story was left in a comment on my “writer’s wanted” page.  Names and some details have been changed for privacy….

~Silly girl fairy tales aren’t real~

Lately on my Facebook page my friends may have noticed some bible verses and things about going to court and asking for prayers.
Of course no one plans on going through a divorce, not in the beginning.  I didn’t. Ah, I’ve been married twice to the same man. The second round we told each other contently how we must be meant for each other for three years to pass and us to fall right back into love like we never left. I loved him so much.  Neither one of us had jobs when I came back from NM after being in the air force… and then we both got jobs right away it. It seemed like everything was falling into place so quickly, I wanted a baby. I wanted to be settled, play house if you will. I’ve never been big on going out with the girls or even really had many girl friends. So what else did I have to look forward to in life? I wanted my life to have more meaning, I was depressed. In my head I thought if I have a baby my life will have more purpose… Not a lot of women will admit that they feel that way. So what a perfect time to have a baby.  I’ve mended my old marriage, I always planned on having a family with ‘Him’, at least in the beginning. I ask myself now why didn’t I look back at all the hurt he put me through before… and the only answer I can come up with is, well “Love is blind”, and also being a women or maybe being a Christian I forgive, and unfortunately forget too. I thought to myself we were young, stupid and out of our environment (away from home).

So I told him I wanted a baby, he of course was willing to try…(eyes roll). I wasn’t concerned about getting remarried because we already did that. I told myself God brought us back together and in his eyes we were never divorced. I came back from NM in March, moved in with him in April, got a job the same week… and found out I was pregnant in May. My son was born a month early on Jan 25, 2009. And spent 2weeks in the NICU. He is a healthy bouncing baby boy now.
I never really accused the father of my child of drinking the whole time I was pregnant. Although there were plenty of signs that he was. Those times he came home from the night shift and smelled of beer, I would ask him “have you been drinking?” When he would come in to kiss me goodnight… he would quickly jump in the shower. And then there was the time I found him passed out in his truck with it running, beer cans and him falling out of the truck when I opened the door. What happened to him while I was gone? He wasn’t this bad before he just didn’t work (he was too young to buy beer before). Then there was the time towards the end of my pregnancy; we had a yard sale trying to make room for the baby… He was upset about getting rid of some of his things and said he would help me with the yard sale as long as I let him drink. I said no, so he hid it.
By the time the time our baby was 12 weeks old I had no idea this was going on behind my back it all came out later how bad the drinking really was. I left the house and everything in it when our son was 12 weeks old. My son and I had nothing, just the clothes on our backs, it wasn’t a planned escape. His grandmother almost pushed us out the door, I now believe she thought she could get this new mother so upset I might leave the child with her… didn’t happen.
Stupid me we never married, but it could of been a good thing. Until the day came for us to go to court for child support. We made amends I never wanted any of this and besides it wasn’t his fault he took his grandmothers side and left us with nothing and never called to hear my side of the story or to even see his son, for 3months? But he could go to church and sit with the other babies and the nursery with his father also a recovering alcoholic…

After that we remarried
Again I forgave him we said we’d work on things, he would go to AA, we would go to counseling. He went to 2 AA meetings.
Then one day he was off the wagon… it got physical.
I’ve never felt the warmth of blood running down my face before. A bloody nose…
Anything after this point just seems redundant…
I knew my life would never be the same when I found out I was pregnant; I had no idea this was in store for me.
Well I remain hopeful, just like my name.

Freckles

So I am a freckly person.  As an adult I like my freckles, but as a kid I hated them.  I don’t know that anyone ever teased me about them, but I just couldn’t stand them.  None of my friends had them and neither did my sisters.  I remember being around 8-years-old or so and looking at pre-freckle toddler pictures of myself and thinking how much prettier I was without them.  I was so relieved in Jr. High when I was allowed to wear make up and could cake on the foundation to cover them up.  And when they started “retouching” school pictures I was overjoyed.

Lately I have begun to notice freckles sprouting up on Callee’s face.  Oddly enough, despite how much I hated them on myself, I love them on her.  I am thrilled at the idea of how she’ll look with freckles.  It doesn’t make sense for me to feel this way.  If I didn’t already know the definition of insanity, I’d say this was it.  This isn’t just limited to these freckles either.  I love when I see myself in my daughters.  When I tell Callee to give me just 5 more minutes and she counts to 5 and then says “now”, then counts to 5 again and says “now” again, I think aw, I used to do that kind of thing too.   And when Bella gets a little overly worried or remembers some fluke thing that no one else does, I smile a little inside.

I am trying to figure out why it is that I’m happy to see my traits (even the traits I didn’t/don’t like) in my daughters.  I don’t know if it’s a need to be connected and to have something that keeps us tied despite where life takes us or if in actuality I am accepting myself by accepting them.  When I find their quirks and flaws cute, I can see the beauty in mine.

When it comes to my daughters though, I most definitely feel that I am put here to hold their hands and guide them along their path.  I don’t believe it is my duty to push or pull them onto mine.  I hope that I am always willing to listen openly to them and to appreciate what makes them unique as much as I appreciate all we have in common.  I hope that I can see past the similarities to notice what makes them special and help them uncover their passions and talents.  I want their dreams to come true, freckles and all!