Archive of ‘Parents & Children’ category

My Promise to My Son

I promise
To love you unconditionally as all children should be by their parents.
To see your emotions as valid.
To weep when you weep.
To shiver as you fear.
To rejoice at your happiness.

I promise
To support your decisions no matter how differently I may have done.
To not judge when you do not take my advice.
To offer too much advice at times.
To hold you after you realize you made a bad decision.
To applaud you when you make decisions right for your own life.

I promise
To share my love of writing and reading with you.
To have your father share his love of board games and video games.
To support your exploration of the world around you.
To allow you space to find your own passion.
And not be disappointed when it isn’t the same as ours.

I promise
To treat you fairly.
To not favor any future siblings more or less than you.
To not offer disproportionate financial aid to another sibling than to you.
To see you as a person rather than a man.
To not see gender when making decisions.

I promise
To see you as my child and not just some bragging right.
To understand that you will make mistakes along with accomplishments.
To recognize that every human is flawed
And to not hold your bad decisions over your head.
To praise you for making decisions on your own.

I promise
To love your father.
To squabble with your father and make up.
To show him affection in front of you.
To model what a healthy marriage should be.
To try.

I promise
To love you if you are heterosexual.
To love you if you are homosexual.
To love you if you are transgender.
To be happy you have discovered who you truly are.
To love the partner you choose for your life.

I promise
To teach you about my religion.
To have your father teach you about his.
To allow you the space to pick your own religion.
To not be disappointed and refuse to talk to you if you choose differently than mine.
To praise you for making this decision on your own.

I promise
To be there for you.
To respect you in the good times and bad.
To keep your best interests at heart
And to understand you are an individual.
To be the best mother I can be
And to know I will make mistakes.

1330466038644_6925698

The Frustration of Procreation: Part One

This week I’m discussing two things that have been bothering me. I believe, at least for me, that writing is my catharsis, and because we all share in the human experience, I also believe what I’m going through is not unique to myself. It always helps to know that other people are going or have gone through some of the same stuff as me. I know I may upset some people with what I write, and as this is never my intention, I apologize. So with that in mind, here we go.

The first thing that has bothered me for a while is people’s reaction to my pregnancy and choice to procreate. For some people, I have received positive feedback, and I appreciate this. However, I cannot count the number of times a friend or family member will look at me with scorn, scoffing how having children is the last thing he/she wants to do. Some of these people then go on to tell me in full detail how much they dislike children and the people who have them and how their lives change because of it. I’ve even had people upset that I’m having a boy instead of a girl. I get so many jokes directed at me because of my choice to procreate and have felt such a lack of support from some of the people I thought would be much more supportive. This making-a-baby process is turning into a lonelier endeavor than I ever anticipated.

Procreation!

I believe in everyone’s right to have or not to have children. It is not only a choice but a right. I stand behind anyone’s decision not to procreate and fully support people in this decision. Honestly some of the people who have been so harsh in their assertion that they never want children make me happy because I can see how they would not make good parents and am glad they, too, have come to this conclusion. (Let me be clear that this is not the case for every person who has asserted that he/she does not want children. I can see some of these people as great parents, but I respect their decision not to bring life into this world.) It’s not for everyone, and a woman’s worth is not linked to her use or disuse of her uterus. Hell, I also experienced quite a lot of critique when Hans and I were not having children. With that being said, I try very hard not to critique anyone’s decision about children, and I would love that same support. You may decide that children are not for you, but I have made a different decision. Both decisions are right and in no way wrong.

I’ve found that certain people no longer want to be close to me, thinking in some backwards way that the decision to have kids is something that can be contagious. Friends have held me at arm’s length, even making me an example of how much they do not want to procreate, and then have said such hurtful things as having to sit in a further chair so that they do not catch the “baby bug.” WTF? I’m assuming such things are said for humor instead of springing from actual belief, or at least I hope they are. If you truly believe your decision not to procreate could be swayed by something as easily as sitting next to a “breeder” then your decision was not that solid to begin with. I am not a disease. This baby growing inside of me is not a mistake that can make others endeavor to make this same mistake. Stop making me feel as though I am diseased and no longer worth as much because of my decision.

The second thing that has bothered me is Hans’s work policy about parental leave or rather lack thereof of a policy on paternity leave. He is afforded no time off for his wife having a baby, and this is from a business that deals with human resources. In fact, this company is originally based in a country that allows quite a bit of parental leave for both parents, so why they have changed their policy for their American workers is beyond me. Let me be clear that we are not looking for a paid vacation or a handout. We believe raising a child is a partnership; it is just as important that Hans has time to bond with the baby as it is for me. I want my husband to be as active in my child’s life as I am and so does my husband. I am well aware that I will not be back to 100% health right away (recovery can take up to six weeks after bringing forth a new life), and I would be up a creek without a paddle without the aid of someone else. Thank goodness my sweet mother has agreed to come up for a week or more to look after both myself and our baby boy. Hans will plan to take off a week if possible and work from home for a month, but there are no guarantees to this.

I don’t understand how there can be no policies in place for parental leave. Currently, employers do not have to offer any paid parental leave for either mother or father, and the amount of unpaid leave for both is up to 12 weeks without his/her job being in jeopardy (although this only applies to roughly half of the population as the Family and Medical Leave Act excludes small businesses and most part-time workers). The United States is one of only two countries out of 185 for which data was available that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave to new mothers. The United States “ranks last among developed nations in providing government support for working parents… The nation that ranks first, Estonia – whose GDP, at $22 billion, is also a fraction of our $16 trillion economy – guarantees new moms more than two years of paid leave, while their jobs are guaranteed for nearly four years. Other nations with generous parental leave policies include Norway, which offers 35 weeks off at full pay; Poland, 26 weeks (100 percent pay); and Bulgaria, 32 weeks (90 percent pay).” It seems that we are a productive country but not a procreative country.

I don’t understand how a country that touts the idea of a nuclear family can have few if any policies to support this belief in the importance of family. People will go to bat against a woman’s right to have an abortion but will do nothing to help her after she makes the “right” decision and the child is born. How can we expect men to step up to be good fathers if there is no support for them? To be clear once again, Hans and I are not looking for a government handout. However, I do not think it is right that parental leave is not an option for Hans (and would not be for me in many jobs I’ve formally had). Paid leave has been shown to help “companies retain workers and lower the cost of turnover,” not to mention the benefits it offers to both the parents and child. Why then is paid parental leave nonexistent in our country, the supposedly “greatest country in the world”? To be great, we must strive to have responsible, intelligent people to continue to make this country what it was and hopefully will be in the future, and this requires not only parents who will raise their children to the best of their abilities but also the support of the government, showing that raising children is important and one of the nation’s priorities.

Fix all the issues

To Santa or Not to Santa?

It’s that time of year again when Santa Claus comes to visit. Or does he? Many parents are deciding to stop the myth of Santa with their children and are instead telling their children the truth. There are many reasons why this is becoming prevalent. The most popular that I’ve seen so far is the religious reason. Christians are afraid that the myth of Santa may make the Nativity story not the focus of Christmas and may even make their children greedy or legalistic. I mean, Santa can spell out Satan, right? 😉 For Hans and I with our baby boy on the way, we’ve talked about the issue of telling or not telling our children the myth of Santa based on the issue of lying to our children over the religious issue. It’s been a difficult decision and one that is still not entirely set in stone. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about it right this minute. But all the talking between my spouse and I and now all the articles currently being posted on Facebook have got me thinking. Is it right to Santa or not to Santa? That is my question.

Here’s where I’m coming from. I believed in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny probably longer than I should have. I chalk this up to my belief in my parents’ honesty and my need to hang onto the fantastical. As children (and even as some adults) we blindly believe what we are told without questioning or wondering about things. I reached the age where I did start to question the world around me in fifth grade, and with this questioning came the question of the truth about Santa. When I found out my parents had lied to me all these years about Santa and the Easter Bunny, I was crushed. This was a pivotal moment in my life where I realized that instead of the perfect superheroes I had believed my parents to be they were actually flawed people like everyone else. I started to doubt anything they had told me, wondering what else they may have lied about and what they may still be lying about. Could I trust my parents?

gullibility

Furthermore, I had been taught about Jesus Christ since I was a toddler. He seemed too good to be true, as well, when I found out about Santa, and thus, I believed he was a lie as well. It took me over a year to regain my faith, but I didn’t really feel close to Christ again for many years. The lies about Santa had ruined it for me until I became an adult.

Let me state before I go any further that my parents did not intend harm from this myth they told me. They intended for Santa to be a fun and fantastical adventure for my brother and I. Perhaps if I didn’t have the tendency to overthink everything it would have still been a fun thing about Christmas even after learning the truth. I don’t blame my parents for this at all. They had the best of intentions. It was a magical experience every Christmas when “Santa” left us presents and to see that he had eaten the cookies. I believed magic was real and that the world was a wondrous place. I believed in the fantastical, and it was fun to believe that anything was possible.

santa-is-real

After my experiences, though, I am at a loss of what to do in the Santa situation. I’m not keen on the idea of having my children sit in a stranger’s lap every Christmas for pictures. I hate the thought of lying to my children repeatedly and then possibly having them look at me as I once did at my parents. I even don’t like the idea of buying presents for the kids and not getting the credit as the giver of these gifts (kind of selfish, but I’m human). However, I hate the thought of my future children not having the experience of the fantastical. For them to miss out on the belief that anything is possible is abominable. Hans and I are on the same page with these conflicting thoughts as he, too, had similar experiences to my own.

Because of these warring thoughts, Hans and I are leaning toward being honest with our children from the start, meaning telling them Santa Claus is a fictional person to enhance the holidays. Instead of focusing on this stranger that enters the house in the dead of night and leaves presents (stranger danger, anyone?), we’ll focus on the time we have with family, the abundance of what we have already and the need to donate and give to those less fortunate, and the love we show through the presents we receive and give to each other no matter how small or handmade. Christmas will still be a magical time because of the spirit and meaning behind it, both for their Christian mother and Atheist father and no matter what religion on which our future children eventually decide. And to have the children experience the fantastical, we’ll encourage them to read, read, and read some more and will even start the tradition of reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens every year. Nothing can transport you to another realm and make you believe the impossible like a great book can. I, for one, still believe there is a Hogwarts somewhere in the world. 😉

For further reading here is an interesting article that encourages parents to tell their children about Santa and a counter article that explains why parents should not tell their children about Santa.

elf