Wednesday, June 8, 2016


"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." Helen Keller

"Solidarity is  not an act of charity, but mutual aid between forces fighting for the same objective."  Samora Machel

This past weekend our family went on an annual camping trip with families similar to our own, families built by God in many ways, birth, adoption, foster care, guardianship.  These families always teach me so much.  Sometimes raising kids especially ones who had a rough start in life is a lonely and uphill battle and with these friends, I feel so much less alone.  I look forward to this annual camping trip each year and this was the third year.  We don't really DO anything exciting or super fun, we just take a long weekend and BE.  We sit and chat and enjoy our kids and each other we are able to relate to the struggles the other is having and are able to be a sounding board when a listening ear is needed.  We eat good food, drink boxed wine and clamor for coffee in the morning.

I've been very fortunate that in the past couple of years I've been able to secure a couple of REALLY close knit friendships that have changed my life.  As I sat near a campfire last weekend with one of those friends, in her "enlightened" state she began to talk about solidarity.  The word has stuck with me for days now and just keeps coming to mind.  I sat with another friend that same weekend as she talked about how alone she felt and my heart was just so heavy for her.

Last night my youngest kids had a tball game.  They got suited up and we excitedly ran onto the field yelling our team chant.  As I watched Howard coaching this group of kids I was just so grateful to be able to do what we do and to have him beside me as we do it.  We make a pretty good team.  Solidarity in marriage is important...united we stand, divided we fall.

As the game approached the second inning our three year old darling began to act as though she were a tiny terrorist, running away, spitting, kicking, and swinging a bat wildly.  She's the sweetest most amazing kid and yet she can turn on a nasty side in a moment and it can be tough to bring her back from that.  Kids who have experienced early trauma in life tend to have a more sensitive fight or flight response and once hers is triggered it is SO tough to turn that "lizard brain" off and move the thinking to he higher parts of the brain.  I've recently realized that my early trauma has caused my fight or flight response to be more easily triggered as well and that can be a recipe for a disaster.  Being aware of that has been huge for me.

SO as I tried to deal with her and also call out the batting order, I realized there were people (family members even) staring, glaring and shaking their head at my struggling girl.  I could see that she was escalating fast and I began to feel my own adrenaline begin to spike.  I took a deep breath, handed Ben the batting order, scooped her up and took her to the car, buckled her in where there was no audience and she could have quiet and we both sat, held hands and cried.

I was so embarrassed by her behavior.  I want people to know that I am a good mom.  There were people watching this event who were critiquing my parenting in this moment and in their minds, I failed.  I came home feeling defeated, but as I have reflected on those moments today, I realize that I won.  I stayed calm and collected. I recognized her needs and I met them.  She was overstimulated and needed quiet.  She needed me to speak softly and hold her hand.  She didn't need "discipline" or scolding or spanking.  She needed me.  She needed to know that I was right there with her no matter how scary the feelings she was feeling were.  Within minutes she was singing and playing sock puppets with her socks and happy as could be.  I continued to sit and weep, and then a sweet friend knocked on my car window, saw my tears, listened to my words and took my girl for a walk so I could breathe.  No questions asked, nothing expected in return, she was in it with me.  Solidarity.

It is exhausting.  Parenting ANY kids is exhausting.  It is a monumental task of the greatest importance and we all feel like we are barely hanging on.  What we need, isn't criticism, glares or snide remarks, what we need is solidarity.  These kids are our future and they are so amazing.  We need to feel unity, we're all in this together and we're all doing the best we can with what we've got.  We all fail sometimes, and I am slowly learning that I'll never be a perfect mom, but I AM the mom God chose for each of my kids, and HE knows best what they need and for some reason He thinks they need me so who am I to argue?

No parent wants to fail, but we can't do this thing alone.  Maybe next time you see a frazzled mom or dad struggling with a tantruming child or just looking tired, offer a smile, a word of encouragement, even a prayer, those glares, snide comments and eye rolls don't help anyone, one day these kids are going to run this world, so let's stand in solidarity and do this together...after all there's no such thing as other people's children, they all belong to us.  United we stand, divided we fall.  Be the village.

"Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortune of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we really are responsible for all."  Pope John Paul II