The word of the day is: vulnerability.

I’m the drill sergeant of the house. I bring order and strictness and I strive to do so fairly. But I’ve stayed away, peaking in only when things reach intolerable levels. Mostly because lying in the past are huge issues between me and my husband. It’s hard for me to get past the idea that he hates me. I haven’t given him a chance to prove otherwise.

Last night I took my little ones back to school for the student-led parent teacher conference. I was just sitting on Isa’s shoulder listening in, chiming in with a comment now an’ then. My littlest was excited and exuberant to show off her work. But my oldest was solemn and already hiding things. Turns out she’s been having a very rough time of things. Because of the way her rough times showed, it was clear to me that this one responded better when I was fronting!

This really brought me up short. I have a lot of emotions just hidden under the surface. I talked to my husband about this. He understands and he also understands this is needed for her and has nothing to do with Us and him.

I have to bare my vulnerabilities openly now. And I pray, I hope and I wish my husband and my girls can accept me, even this part of me without rejection.

Back to My Core

Ah shit, where do I want to start this one? I’m going to be very naughty. I’m jumping into my time ship and rolling back the clock. I’m going back to the past to have a chat with a little girl.

I keep getting told to let go of the past, to stop looking back, to stop focusing on it. I think that’s wrong. At least it’s a misunderstanding of why I look back. Or maybe they feel threatened by my searching in the past. Whatever it is, this is what has worked for me.

I look back to find the scars that need healing. I look back for myself, not to find shit to bring back with me and smear all over my future. I look back to bring understanding and love to the child I left behind there. I’m in the business of loving and growing the child I was.

There is a lot I want to tell her. Most of it, she already knew but kept forgetting as she got lost along the way.

There is no doubt that I’m the child of flawed, damaged and hurting human beings. I have no doubts that my father was a narcissist and that my mother shared some traits of narcissism as well. I know my mother was a product of childhood sexual abuse, dysfunctional family and a good chance a daughter of a narcissist as well. Out of my two parents, there was only one who believed in change, my mother. She had hope and it was this single element she passed on to me. I believe this alone has made all the difference in my life; hope for positive change, to always be growing, to stand when one has fallen, to keep going no matter the odds.

I can trot out various clinical terms to address my condition but what’s the point? Labeling it only helps explain it and lets me know I’m not the only one to go through this. I’m more interested it fixing it, not with band-aids but with lasting positive change.

wee wee wee Let’s slide back into time, all the way to when I was six months old. Yes, I have a single memory at six months. It’s only identified as six months because of a long conversation with my father in which he was able to identify the home I was in from my memory.

Kurcha kurcha did the spring clank, turning it’s handle as I rock in the swing. I’m looking up watching the handle and the sound, staring at it for a long time. It’s remarkable. It’s the only sound to be heard. The light coming in is warm, the colors of the room are soft. I’m comfortable and yet not. But it’s often like this, the kurcha kurcha kurcha rocking me, lulling the cries from me. I’m alone.

Just a serious of complex emotions, that now I can put into words. I was utterly Alone. No expectations forth coming, just the awareness of how alone I was. Where was mom?

I’ve wondered this many times. I don’t have many memories of mom before I was four. There are a few but mostly it’s other people, other family. I don’t recall a caregiver. When I look back, I kinda feel like I sprung up like a fully formed adult in a child’s body. How is that possible?

I do wonder how much I was neglected as an infant. Even my mom recorded that I slept through the night and every night thereafter from the first day home from the hospital. I’ve got two kids and they have never slept through the night, at least not till after they were six months old. My kids have been demanding. They want food, a clean hinny, to be held, to be cooed at, to explore, to hear my voice, they want to be a part of it all and then they sleep just to wake and do it all over again. How could I have been so different?

What if I was the same, wanting that interaction and found it not forthcoming? What would happen to that infant? Is that what happened to me?

I need to cuddle up and pull the me that I was out of the swing and cuddle her close and tell her, she’ll never be alone and that she’s loved.

The Meaning of Lies

I have been a liar.

I can chalk it up to those things in my past, my childhood, or for any number of valid reasons. The person I’ve been lying to all this time has been myself. It struck me the other day when I mentioned my favourite colour about how much I lie to myself.

So odd that I would lie to the world and myself what my favourite colour is. Come walk with me down into memory. She was a little four-year-old girl, pampered, dressed and styled according to her mother’s desires. She was a living baby doll. And on a magical day, she was allowed a choice. Oh, what magic to be given a choice, a say in things to be! Lavender, she adored the colour lavender above any others. Thus her bedroom was painted lavender.

Happiness flowed all around her, her room, her colour, her choice! Yet under the surface of things, of family lurked deep unhappiness. Her colour, her choice was hated and thus removed. And her parents worked to erase her choice, her happiness, even she had to work to cover it. The white of paint struggled to cover the brilliance of her beloved lavender. Little ears took in the grumbles and complaints and learned a strange lesson that day. Her desires would be for nought. So much white paint used to cover, to erase a pleasure, a joy that was hers and hers alone. The want’s that what escaped that white day defeated those who lacked understanding. Lavender splotches  peaked at the edges of the room, like her soul, diminished yet undefeated. It was a comfort to see even the bits that peaked and escaped the drowning of white.

This lesson would not have been enough to be set in stone if there had not been so many others before and after. Your desires mean nothing. Your choices mean nothing. What you want means nothing. Each one hammered home again and again.

The ingeniousness of childhood protects the core budding personality against occasional harm that parenthood brings to it. Yet when the child is an extension of the parent, not only does the child absorb the parents hurts, they have to buffer their own core in hope of a day they can bloom. I have no measure of how well I succeed in this task. Let me tell you another story.

Pigtailed seven year old who loved words and worlds only found between the pages ran up to her mother a late spring evening. In her hands, her pride, her joy, her accomplishment; a written story. Beaming with joy she hands it to her mother and begs her to read it. As she watched her mother’s eyes float across the pages of work, sudden horror dawned in her mind. As the frown marred her mother’s face, she took back the pages from her mother’s hand. No questions were needed. She realised this joy trespassed on a rule. Quickly moving away as her shoulders slumped, grateful her mother said nothing. Passing by a trashcan, she let drop from her fingertips the first bits of her soul.

See, the rule broke here was fiction. I had written a story, a work of fiction. Just a year earlier, all books of fiction were removed from the house. There was no television. Radio was set only for gospel stations. What books that remained were those considered to be true, truth and religiously approved materials. And I had failed to include my own self in what was not allowed. It still puzzles me, how could the things I write be anything but truth?

In my defiance, I found a way to nurture my soul. With a teacher’s encouragement, I focused on poetry. Though poetry I could write and dance with words. With poetry, I could express my soul. As long as I was careful, I could write as I desired. My words had to be true, not something one sees as fiction. Poetry has been a wellspring, a lifeline and a much-needed love in my life.

I have many more soul damaged tales. The point is, I was taught from an early age that what I want, that my joys have no value. And nothing but religion and god was put in front of me instead. I was taught to sacrifice everything that made me, me, to that goal. These ideas, these lessons left a wake of damage across my life.

I know now children raised by damaged adults end up needing to unravel not only their damage but their parent’s damage as well. My mother’s damage was deep and she didn’t make it out of the hole that it left in her. But she knew enough that sometimes saying nothing was a blessing in disguise.

It feels odd now having no reason to lie. It feels odd I have no cause to protect my core as I had before. And it feels good.

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Colorblind

My children are colorblind.

I find it interesting that somehow I have managed to raise colorblind children. I never fully believed that it was possible. I was taught that race was something innate in the human species, that each one of us would know what race is and if we were or were not a part of any particular race. I questioned that belief. And now I see proof through my children that race is something learned.

I was ironing my girls hair in the bathroom when I got to asking questions about their classmates. Some girls had straight hair and others didn’t. I wanted to know what kind of hair their classmates had and I asked if they were black. My eldest looked at me like I was funny, not in a ha-ha way and flat out told me there was no such thing as black people! I was stunned and very proud. She was adamant there was no such thing and told me in no uncertain terms that I was trying to pull a fast one on her. She’s only eight years old.

flesh crayons

Race was never a line of thought I feel comfortable in teaching them. So I tried to ask my question another way. Well, what color are they. Tan. Flabbergasted I asked what color am I. Peach. My husband. Brown. To my daughters minds, we are all colored like a box of crayons and it has nothing to do with race.

All I wanted to know was if the girls with straight hair in their class was either Hispanic or Black as this makes a difference in how their hair is straighten and I was wanting to talk about all the different ways hair can be treated to make it straight. But race or call it ethnicity comes up when it comes to hair. Looking back at this, there are others ways to discuss hair issues without consideration of race.

Facing their innocence, and yes it is the innocence of childhood– I dropped the entire conversation. I have no wish to pop this endearing innocence in their lives. They know nothing of hatred, nothing of hating based on race. Oh, but I did at their age.

My parents were extreme. Fundamentalist Christians that had no allegiance to any church but my father as the de facto kitchen table bible thumbing preacher slash head of the household as mandated by God himself. Race was an important issue to my parents. It choose who my friends were. It ruled who I could play with and where I could go. It ruled how I was to behave with others.

Race was also very important to my classmates as well. I was the outsider, not of their race. And it also determined how I was treated, who I could play with and where I could go. I understood at an early age that I was hated solely based on the color of my skin. How is it at ages of six and seven that race is such an important issue?

It seamed a reasonable premise, that understanding race is innate in humanity. My childhood seamed to prove the idea. Until I had my own children to raise. I will never raise my kids to view race as important and I never have. So when just tip toeing around the question makes me so uncomfortable and I find my children colorblind, I have to ask – How did this happen?

Race is taught. Racism is taught at home. From parent to child, it is taught and then reinforced over and over as to where racism exists. What’s worse is the idea of race is false. It is not a biological reality and it never was. Race has been a sociological and political construct designed to preserve power for the cultural “elite” in the United States.

Race is about the business of hate. It creates that boundary of “us verse them” and historically been used to justify inequality and injustice as “morally right.” Race is not a social concept that should be accepted as a reality. It should be confronted for the falsehood that it is and rejected at every turn. Reality is simple. Skin color is not race. Culture is not race. Culture is not skin color. Hate should never be encouraged.

This is Love.

Winter Flowers

Even though it’s cold outside and flowers are hard to find, my little one’s still search through the fields to find the precious few blooming buds to present to me. These are my Winter flowers. And they are precious to me. ❤

Incense, Oil and Scented Candles; Is it safe?

26wk preemie
My daughter five days after birth.

How safe are these things? How safe are these things around our children? What about babies and our pets?

Parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children. They change their lifestyle, child-proof their homes and try to do what is best for their children. And sometimes parenting advice from experts conflict with other experts and even with common sense. It’s not easy being a parent. Mistakes happen. Hopeful the mistakes are minor and no lasting damage is done.

But I’m a preemie parent and a Pagan. Before I brought my daughter home a lot of things had to change in my life. I had to give up my cat; allergies run in the family as does asthma. And that still hurts even six years later and I am still petless.  The smokers in my life had to smoke outside and strip off whatever they were wearing to come inside. I even gave away my cacti; my only houseplants, due to fungi and mold issues that I have.  I stopped painting my nails. I stopped using air fresheners. I switched to unscented dryer sheets.  I stopped doing and using anything that effected the air quality in my home.

Looking back, I remember reading an article about the dangers of scented candles and oils back when I was on several mommy forums while pregnant  It scared me. Candles were bad, candles were good; nobody agreed which was which. I didn’t use air fresher sprays, kept all airborne sprays to a minimum, banned perfume and cologne and cleaned a lot with Lysol. Everything that goes into the air could effect her ability to breath. I was determined to give my daughter the best chance of being healthy by keeping a healthy home.

I changed the way I practice, drastically. I used joss sticks in my daily practice. So much so that it required daily dusting to remove the buildup of incense dust. Back then, that was a small price to pay for those moments I stood before my altar lighting the incense and saying my prayers.

For me it was a no brainer to stop using incense for my daughters well-being.  I didn’t switch to candles or oils in my practice because it felt too risky. Watching her struggling to breath in the NICU during her three-month stay, it didn’t make sense to continue that aspect of my practice. Even today, despite her being a healthy and active six-year-old I haven’t returned to using incense unless it was an outside ritual and away from my daughter.

This experience makes me wonder what other Pagan parents are doing. Do they cut back when their babies are born? Move their practice outdoors? Or eliminate the use of these items for a while?