Monday, September 9, 2013

Ending The Mommy War

Hi, I'm Erica; and I have some of the most inspiring friends ever.

I have some that have a ridiculous eye for design, you should see what they create! Some even sell their creations, and seriously; that is amazing!

I have quite a few friends that are ridiculous behind the camera. They capture moments that speak volumes. I LOVE it when they upload new photos!!

I have a lot of friends who are hard working mommies. And when they get their dream jobs, or big promotions; I rejoice for them. They sacrificed and worked crazy hard to get there, it's a big deal. Not every mom can do that.

Some of my friends are phenomenal in the kitchen. They are constantly making me hungry when I scroll through their feed; but I can't stop looking. ;)

And I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift; I have a lot of talented and inspiring friends.

What I love about social media is that it gives me more than one way to stay connected to those friends.

As a mom who is still fairly chained to her house, this is an absolutely priceless gift! Even if I can't leave my house for more than an hour to two hours at a time; I still can "keep" up with precious friends I wouldn't be able to otherwise.

Not to mention that many of my mom friends that I love, live ALL over the country (some of them I have never met in person!). But because of social media we get to do life together (maybe that's weird) in a very unique way.


The Mommy Wars happened. Fueled largely by pinterest, and I have actually seen some of my friends that I adore back away from social media and are make fewer "posts."

Because now if you post something you worked hard on making, or saved hard and bought, or studied hard and finally passed, or etc., or etc.; it could now be considered show boating. And you will be judged, condemned, and then shunned via social media.

Instead of seeing all the fun stuff my friends have been up to, I am reading article after article about all the pressures moms are under, how we all are secretly against one another; and how we should be against "being against eachother."

Is this making anybody else's head hurt?

So over the course of last week, I decided I am done being against "being against eachother." It's much easier, less confusing, and more enriching to be for something...

So instead of grazing through my feed(s) and thinking to myself; how neat, incredible, inspiring, how exciting, etc. I am going to voice all those thoughts instead; in writing, in your comments section. :)

I am going to be FOR you, my mommy friends.

So to my Mommy Friends,

Please post every thing you work hard on. Crafts, food, design; I want to see it.
You saved and saved, and bought a really neat toy; post away, I want to admire it too.
You had a really cool accomplishment, please share; I want to rejoice with you too.
You are going through a rough patch and are genuinely emotionally exhausted, you can post that too. I don't expect you to be bright and positive 24/7; I love that you are real, genuine, and honest.
I want to connect with you and celebrate you. This is how we win. The Mommy War becomes non-existent when there is no one to war with. Encouragement is our cure.
So please keep posting, sharing, and letting your friends (like me) who don't get to see you everyday, be a part of your unique world; and celebrate your uniqueness, friendship, and the beauty that is a shared life.

Thanks Bunches! Can't wait to flood your feed! ;)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"The Odd Life of Grace Wheat"

"If you came to me and said there are two people in the world that want you more than anything; they'll do their best, make some mistakes, and you will only get them for a short time... But they will love you more than you could imagine. Well, when that's true... I'd say, so much is possible." -Timothy Green 

Yesterday while feeling a little under the weather, I scooped up my daughter, some of her toys, and snuggled up with her on the sofa. I rarely get time to relax and channel surf, but I "managed" to find a movie I hadn't seen; "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."
I vaguely remember seeing previews for this movie over a year ago, and thought if nothing else; it would be a good time filler/veg out film. It was anything, but that. In fact, it took me entirely by surprise. I previously thought the film was only about infertility/adoption, and I totally missed the entire under riding metaphor of raising a child with "differences." It turned out to be one of the most beautiful films I have seen about differences.
At the beginning of the film Timothy's mother (played by Jennifer Garner) buries a list of everything they want in a child in her garden. And in that spot Timothy is "born." In many ways Jonathan and I had our list as well. During the pregnancy we dreamed and hoped for our little one. That he/she would be incredibly gifted intellectually, musically, athletically, and with an incredibly good heart.
Our intentions came from a good place, but were ill placed. Grace taught us that. Our lists were centered on what is upheld as "success" in today's society. Is there anything wrong with being considered intellectually and athletically gifted, by society's standards? No. But using that as an expectation for our unborn child was. Each child is unique, not all will make straight A's in the public school system; or letter Varsity in every sport; but all are born with their own unique set of gifts.
When Grace was born, we realized we got everything on our list; just not in the way we originally thought. Even if it took us a couple of years to really see it. We had to go through the, "Why isn't she hitting any of the developmental milestones that babycenter kept emailing me every week?" And the "She's almost two; still not walking, talking, and on the bottle..." It has to be us, we must be the world's worst  parents. Lies. Battlefield of the Mind. It can drive a parent crazy. Overworrying is a real thing. 
"If he is on the bench now, he will be on the bench for life..." -Timothy's Father

As parents we worry, because of our child's "differentness" will life give them less; are they doomed to a life that's "less"? It's a real fear. One that new parents of a "different" child have to wrestle with early on. And it never helps when they interact with people who say things like:
(Timothy's mother and aunt discussing Timothy)
Timothy's Mother: "He always finds a bright side, never gives up, and has a good heart."
Timothy's Aunt: "That'll get you into college."
We've had our own experiences (I could write a book with them all) with this type of interaction, when we were incredibly insecure as parents. Like trying to share the victory of Grace learning to use a sippy cup with people close to us; and their response being, "Oh, so-and-so's baby (who is much younger) has been doing that for months." Oh okay, thank you for the conversation ender. It's these interactions that taught us because Grace has differences not everybody is going to stay Team Grace; like they might have if she was born without them.
"I decided that our son would not be seen as different or weird, but would be treated like a normal kid; because that's what he is." -Timothy's Mother
Tough realization for new parents. But you do what you have to do as a parent. You bring in those on their "team" tightly, so their love will outshine that of those whose words/actions are unkind.
There is this HUGE benefit to being Team Grace that many do not know about. Grace has a very unique gift. It is the gift of love, in it's purest form. One thing I continue to hear from people who get to spend any amount of quality time with her, is that they walk away feeling renewed. Her joy is contagious, refreshing, and uplifting. Her missing chromosome that makes her "different," was replaced with something much more valuable; unconditional love. When she smiles, it radiates from her face. My mom calls her, her little angel; when she interacts with someone who is in pain, she tends to bring them a small piece of healing. She is a reminder of all that is good in the world, and why we should keep striving for it.
This is what I loved most about the movie. Part of what made Timothy different was his "Pollyanna" personality mixed with understanding, and deep compassion. This is practically the definition of Williams Syndrome. Seeing something so familiar to me, yet just as unfamiliar to the rest of the world; on the silver screen.... I was speechless. It got me.
Even when his aunt singled him out, to embarrass him and his mother, for not being "gifted." Timothy moved forward with good humor. Which ultimately resulted in him, his mother, and father performing/improving a hysterical version of "Low Rider" to end her stuffy, snobby, family concert. The joke was on her. This CRACKED me up, not just because of how funny it was; but because I do a very similar thing with Grace at Whole Foods. Grace loves to sing and talk LOUDLY, but she really hasn't got the pronunciation thing down correctly. And almost every time we go to the grocery store (which for us is whole foods), Grace tends to draw quite a few eyes. Not in the "oh, how cute" way; but the "can you make her be quiet, it's making me uncomfortable" way. Oh the uppity uppiters of Whole Foods, how I love it when you give me that look. Because without fail, I move my cart as close as I can to yours, and if I wasn't already engaged in loud talking/singing with my child; I am now. And we are getting louder and louder. Mainly because my kid gets all kinds of giggly when we're loud, but also because you look so desperate to disappear. And that kind of makes my day. So don't be rude, ya jerk. ;) But I gotta hand it to most of the cashiers there, more than one have jumped in and joined her in song, and that made this mama's heart warm all over. So we still go there, often. :)
Finally at the end; the time comes for his parents to tell their family, friends, and community why Timothy is different. Timothy has leaves on his legs.
"Our son Timothy has leaves on his legs. We didn't tell you guys because we were afraid, kind of ashamed; I even tried to cut his leaves off." -Timothy's Mother

What special parent can't identify to that statement? The explosion of emotions, guilt, and an attempt to fix/cure. The wading through the lies, to find the truth.
Then something beautiful happens. Their family, friends, and community rally around Timothy; and his leaves.

"I've seen his leaves, they're spectacular! And it's okay to be different, a little weird even." -Friend of the Family (Botanist)

"If this boy can have a leaf on his ankle; then we can make pencils out of leaves! Let's go to work!"  -Trustee of the factory where Timothy's dad worked

It's moving. Just as much as we've seen people fall off from Team Grace, we've seen others jump on board with enthusiasm. They love her leaves.
As the movie wraps up they touch on that one painful, emotional detail...

"It's nothing you did, it's how it's supposed to be. There is only so much time. Other kids grow up and move away, I lose my leaves; and move on." -Timothy Green

These special, beautiful, gifted children; parade into our lives. We never know how long they are going to be here, wrapped in our love. But while they are; we need to cherish them just for who they are, leaves and all.

Thank you Disney, just when I thought you couldn't surprise me anymore.