Except for Shawn

You know how people obsess over their first born? They take photos everyday of all the wonderful and cute things the first born does? They are extremely cautious and protective.

Have you seen those parents with more than two kids? That third child or in my case fourth child apparently didn’t exist until he was two. We had pictures from the day of birth and then nothing until his second birthday. It’s as though there was a moratorium on photographs during that time.

It all started when the kids and I were looking through old photographs. Remember when we took rolls film into the store to get them developed? As we looked and reminisced Shawn kept asking, “where are my baby pictures?” “Where are my baby shower pictures?” “Where are the pictures of you pregnant with me?”

How do you tell that baby you opted out of a shower? I had two baby showers or more with each baby, except for Shawn. There is only 15 months and a few a days between he and Josiah. How do you say, I was tired? I was too practical? It was a mistake? Friends and family offered to host a shower for me but I said no. The only thing I wanted and needed was a double stroller. I met with one friend and one family member at a restaurant where they presented me with the stroller. This definitely predates selfies. I’m not sure if we asked a waiter to take our picture.

Then one day a few years ago I put out an APB, I turned on the bat signal, I called, sent text messages asking friends and family to scour their photos to see if there were any pictures of Shawn. A few were located. I was relieved. I showed him the few that were sent to me. He have me that smile he gives when he’s excited but doesn’t want to show it.

I have lots of except for Shawn scenarios. All of the kids were vegetarian for the first 18 months except for Shawn. He was eating meat at six months. Everybody slept in their own beds as babies except for Shawn. I was exhausted so he slept with me to keep me from getting up in the middle of the night to feed him.

He’s not scarred for life over the exceptions. At least I don’t think he is. We have more than made up for the lack of pictures. Now it’s Josiah (third born) who I struggle to find photos of on my phone. He doesn’t seem care though.

Shawn at birth.

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Josiah’s Family Meeting

I could write a whole book on how events in my my childhood affect who I am as an adult and the decisions I make as a mom of four. My mother raised three children as a true single mom. There was not a dad around. It was just her. She made all the decisions and her decision was final.

Fast forward to today. I decided to have more of a democracy. Every family member is equal and has a say in all major and minor decisions. We recently took a trip to Maryland over the Christmas holiday. I asked everybody if they wanted to go. If one person had said no then we would have stayed home. We literally had a conversation about putting up Christmas decorations and specifically a tree. I could care less about a tree. They don’t like taking down decorations. We scaled it way back and with a compromise we put a metal tree with lights that’s meant for the yard up in the house. Don’t judge us. It worked. I have the final vote on major things like buying the house we are in now. Everybody went with me to look for houses. My daughter, Melody, wanted one house and even through a mild fit. I told her she could not see what I could see. I was not only buying a house but a neighborhood and a way of life. Living on a cul-de-sac three house from the neighborhood pool proved to be a great choice and worth less square footage.

All of that to say, anybody can call and conduct a family meeting in our house. Josiah had requested to hold one to discuss his new guidelines surrounding waking everybody up in the mornings. Now Josiah is the third child. He is a typical attention seeking, vivacious, charismatic middle child who also likes being punctual. His school bus arrives at 7:40 so he has the alarm set for 6 am.

He had taken on the responsibility of waking everybody up if they were sleeping too late. He’s done a fantastic job at this self appointed duty. He has helped his siblings, especially his sister and younger brother, make it to the bus just before it stopped and opened the doors. He has even saved the day by finding neighbors willing to give them rides when it seemed they would not make it on time. After a year and a half of this daily activity he resigned from the self appointed position because of the stress. He did not provide any notice. It was effective immediately.

After a couple of days he realized how much they had grown to depend on him to get out of the house. He was sympathetic to their plight. During the meeting he said they would each get one free wake up per month. Unfortunately Shawn had already used his. He also told them the unused ones would accumulate from month to month. There was much discussion and shouts of outrage an insult or two and threats of bodily harm. At some point I heard, “objection!” and somebody yelled “order in the court!” It may have been the same person. For some reason the oldest gets unlimited wake up calls because he has a car. That created another uproar among the other two. But it was a good strategic move. Stay on the good side of the person with the car.

In case you’re wondering why the oldest doesn’t take everybody to school on a daily basis, it’s because he has late arrival. He will take them if they have activities in the morning.

I truly feel like I’m helping them find their voices at an early age and most of all realize they are an important part of this family and I value their input and points of view. They might decide there was way too much discussion and not allow their children to have any input. I won’t be offended. Everybody has to walk their own path according to the influences in their lives.

Be well,

Alicia

Ode to My Honeygirl

Tomorrow she turns 12. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the teenager and I were at reading time when I went into labor. I waited until it was over, got him buckled in the van, gave him some graham crackers and a drink then I called my doctor. Thirteen hours of labor later, she was born. It was around 1am.

I was tired and hungry, how did they expect a pregnant woman to survive so many hours on ice chips? I looked over at her held her for a moment to count all of her fingers and toes (why do we do that?) and give her a quick snuggle then handed her to her dad then asked the nurse to please give me something to eat. It’s the middle of the night in the hospital and the cafeteria was closed so I had to settle for graham crackers, peanut butter and grape juice but I digress.

She had to go to the NICU because she swallowed meconium during her slow trip down the canal. A short time later, I walked down to see her and hold her. I looked in her eyes and realized the five and a half months of being sick, laying on my couch in the dark and not being able to eat anything other than mashed potatoes with gravy and a biscuit were not worth the trauma (just kidding…maybe).

She has grown into a vivacious, quick-witted, artsy, loving, don’t get in my space unless invited, long story telling (detailed oriented?) intelligent, perceptive young lady. I constantly remind her that she is, by far, my favorite daughter. She’s everything I could ask for in a daughter plus a couple of other things that I never would have asked for but apparently need in order to balance our lives. She walks slow, taking in her surroundings, picking up flower and admiring rocks. She has always had a thing for rocks. Her eyes would light up and she would get excited and almost giddy if the rock was shiny. She has an extensive collection of rocks. She will pull one out periodically to admire its shape, color and luster.

When she was a baby, I would sing these words to her, “You are so beautiful to me. You’re everything I hoped for; you’re everything I need. You are so beautiful to (mommy)…” – Ray Charles

I am glad to have been chosen to be her mom.

Happy Birthday to you my dear sweet Honeygirl. I love you!

Excerpt from, A Real Life Drama

She was excited. He hadn’t asked her to go on a date in a while. Then, out of the blue, he asked her. Of course she said yes. It had been a long time since the two of them had spent time alone. They usually did everything as a family. He was big on family time. But he wanted to have dinner with her, alone. He was very casual in his approach. She tried not to show her surprise when he asked. He selected the restaurant. It didn’t matter that is was not her favorite place. He decided on the day. It didn’t matter that she would have had a long day at work. The only thing that mattered is they were spending time together. She was hoping they could talk and maybe laugh a little. They needed this time. It was important to her to build a solid relationship. After all, they were going to be in each other’s lives for a life time.

When they pulled up to the restaurant he got out of the car and opened her door. He was just that kind of guy. She never asked him too. He did it on his own. As they walked to the restaurant, she softly asked him, “is it okay if I hold your hand?” He’s not the affectionate type, at least not in public and rarely at home. He gave her the look. You know the one that says, “you are kidding me, right?” He asked her why he should hold her hand in public. She replied, because that’s what you do when you like someone and you’re on a date. He shoved his hands deep into his pockets and started walking a little faster. She picked up her speed and grabbed hold to his arm. He didn’t pull away. She considered this a small victory. She silently prayed, “let my seven-year old find a wife who can look past his rough exterior to see his tender heart.”

(A date with the Stud Muffin)

Gender Bias

In one of my classes last semester we had a chapter on gender bias (gb). The purpose of discussing or learning about the topic is to create an awareness and change the behavior if necessary. I readily admit I do have some biases but I’m always willing to look at them and reevaluate my stance. Just for clarification, gb is when you have a prejudice or unreasonable expectations of one gender. One example I used was if there are heavy objects to move and if there were an equal number of women and men present, I expect the men to move the objects. That expectation is the bias. I also expect my sons to hold doors open for females. I remember having a conversation with my daughter about unloading groceries from the car. The three boys were proving their strength by taking the heaviest items out and saying, “look at me; I’m strong!” The honey girl got upset because I told her not to lift the heavy items to allow her brother to get those things. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t prove her strength. I said, “boys need to prove they are strong and valiant.” She didn’t quite get it but she acquiesced. I didn’t think my biases were too extreme.
Fast forward to last week. Honey girl has become the resident mender of all bruises as well as the daily temperature taker for the little boys. Long story shortened, one had a fever last week now they insist on having their temperature taken daily in the morning and at night. My immediate and natural response was to call her the nurse. The teenager decided to grace us with his presence one day while the nurse was bandaging a knee. He asked the question, why can’t I pretend to be a doctor to get some practice for my veterinarian office I plan to have one day. Hit the rewind button. He immediately identified himself as a doctor. I identified her as a nurse. My biases were coming out in the pretend titles I was giving. Now, for the record she is just as smart and studious as her older brother. It wasn’t a matter of capability it was my unknown bias. It never occurred to me to refer to her as a doctor.
The other night I was reading the second chapter of Exodus out loud to the children. We came upon the verse about throwing all the baby boys into the river. I asked the question why the boys? My thought as to keep them from creating additional children or families later in life. They would end up with a generation of girls who would either marry Egyptians or never marry. The teenager said they killed the boys to keep them from growing up and creating a powerful army and taking over. Now I’m not sure if that is classified as bias or different views but my thought went to creating families and his to strength and valor.
Are all biases the same whether intentional or not? I’m asking myself what areas am I passing my gender biases on to my kids and how much of it is innate? The stud has made it perfectly clear that pink and baking are for girls. He wants no part of either. He will come and assist in the kitchen if I give direct orders. He will drink out of a pink cup if that’s all I’m offering on his sister’s birthday but it is under protest. I didn’t teach him that. He has drawn his own conclusion even after seeing his dad and older brothers baking and not hearing them complaining about the one day of pink.
Gender bias, what are yours? What if anything are you doing to change them or at least acknowledge them?

As my honeygirl contemplates divorce

One day, not too long ago, my honeygirl asked a question. She asked, “if God knows everything then why did he allow you to get married knowing you would get a divorce?”
What would you say to that? How would you answer that question for a ten year old?
I answered her but I wonder what you would say.

Merry Christmas to you and yours

Christmas trees, candy canes, family, friends, laughter, food and fun are all the things that bring a smile to my face when I think of Christmas’ past. Seeing my cousins and playing a game of tag or pop the whip; watching my great-grandmother cook, sitting down to eat a feast fit for family are other childhood memories.
While I am thankful for those memories, today I am thankful I have full understanding of the reason to celebrate this day. Love sent love down to love me and you.
Merry Christmas!