I Want to be Gentle, but I Get Angry

She’s 4 years old and she doesn’t want to listen. Or, maybe she can’t listen? The second of four children, always striving to be heard. You were always the angry one, temper flaring. At 6 months old you furrowed your brow and your face turned red when I upset you.

You’re also the one who needs me at night. Monsters can’t reach you when your legs are against me, and your arms are around me. As if I have some super mommy power to keep you safe and secure.

I feel like a big liar, because half the time I’m the monster.

You don’t like to listen. Or, maybe you struggle to listen? I don’t know. But I do know my anger swells inside of me like a tsunami after I. Told. You. TEN. TIMES. ALREADY!

Then, your eyes spring with tears and you rush to me. You cling to me “momma!” You need to know that I love you when I’m mad.

Just moments before, you are so defiant. Like a teeny, tiny tree with the strongest roots. Your feet are planted and your will is unmovable.

That is when I break. I threaten. I insist. I yell. My face changes from loving mommy with the super powers to…what? The monster?

I keep my hands from hitting you, but my words smack against you with force.

And then, you’re no longer that defiant and firmly planted little tree. You’re a branch being broken off and swept away on the wind. You reach out for me, desperate to hold on.

Sometimes, I reach out my hand right away. Sometimes, I break inside and I curse myself for losing my patience with you. Then, I take your body into my lap and stroke your hair.

I am sorry. I am so sorry.

Other times, I force my body to comfort you but my heart is still engulfed in the fire of my rage. It takes time. As I stroke your hair, as I stroke the soft skin of your arms, my heart begins to cool down. I love her so much, I think to myself. So much.
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Then, why is it so hard? Why is it so damn hard?

How can such a tiny person, whom I love more than all the stars and moons and planets and skies and seas, get me so angry? Why must I twist my face and point my finger in anger?

I seek a break when I need one. I’ve read all the books on being gentle, and I believe them. I have come far from where I once was, but still I can’t kill this angry thing I become.

A child’s heart is a fragile thing. It needs tenderness, love, and patience. When it breaks, it makes the saddest sound the earth has ever known, that pained “momma?”

I’m willing to learn. I will try every trick in the book. I will move mountains, I will dive deep. Just tell me. Tell me how to kill that nasty anger. Tell me how to handle my strong-willed, beautiful child’s heart with care.

Because I love her, and she deserves my best. All my children do.

My Mother Thinks Homeschooling Will Ruin My Kids

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Anatomy is fun!

It is February and we are more than half way through our first homeschooling year. My oldest child will be 6 years old next month, kindergarten age. My second child is 4 years old but she is using kindergarten curriculum. Then, I have my 2.5-year-old and my 4 month old baby. It has been a learning experience for us all. Home based learning is an adventure; difficult, wonderful, and filled with messy fun.

I sometimes place pressure on myself, especially since my kindergartner is struggling to read (and frankly, not very interested). Sometimes I push her when my instinct says to let it go, allow her space to lead. I am aware of the eyes on me, watching and waiting for me to mess it all up. I take a breath. I stand tall. I remember that I am her mother, and I know what my child needs.

It is hard to remember that because of my own mother. My mother is highly involved in our lives, in a good way. She is a young and active grandparent “Nana”. My girls adore her! She adores them! It is beautiful. Yet, my mother is also opinionated and stubborn. She believes that homeschooling is the worst thing I could ever do to my children, and I am not exaggerating.

She has told me bluntly that I am setting my children up to be failures. According to her they will be uneducated, socially awkward, and have barely a fighting chance in the world. These are her words. The words of my own mother. They cut so deeply—hurt so badly.

How can she say that to me? Does she think I am so incredibly incompetent? Am I so stupid that I would not realize my children aren’t doing well? Am I so oblivious, or do I care so little? How can she believe these terrible things?

Why must my children sit in a brick and mortar school with 25 other kids in order to learn anything?

Why must they have recess and lunch in order to socialize?

I can’t wrap my mind around her utter disdain and absolute disapproval. I could understand if she preferred public school. I could understand her having some worries. But to insist that my children will suffer and not learn anything, that I cannot comprehend.

I can’t even speak to her about it anymore. She seems so angry about it. I am so close to my mother besides this point, which makes it hurt even more.

I want to talk to her about the activities we are doing. I want to share the joy of watching my girls learn something new. I want to involve her in my girls’ education, just like she is involved in other areas. But I can’t, because she will explode with hurtful words like arrows into my heart.

I am not sure how to manage this with her, but I am sure that I will do what I know is right for my family.

No Longer Religious

I just wanted to make this statement as a way to inform everyone that I am no longer following a Biblical faith. I will write about the whys another time. For now, I have to say that it has been a painful decision but the right decision. I gained a lot from 8 year walk of faith. I also lost some things along the way. I experienced beauty, love, comfort, and community. I experienced oppression, confusion, and alienation.

I am making this statement so that I don’t confuse anyone who saw posts about my faith. I wish you all the best in the world. Shalom. Peace to you all.

No Safe Words, 50 Shades of Abuse

There is a lot of attention being given to so-called BDSM relationships since the 50 Shades of Grey series came out. The subsequent movies have only brought more people into an awareness of this type of sexual relationship. Many women have found themselves interested in finding a man like this main character, and have sought out these men online.

The problem is that anyone can claim to be a “dom”; a person who is dominate sexually over their partner. Some of these men (and women) are respectful and decent people, who do enjoy sadomasochistic sex, but they honor boundaries. You can enjoy BDSM while respecting your partners hard limits.

A common way to address this issue of boundaries is the use of safe words. A safe word is a word that can be used at any time during a scene or sexual encounter, and as soon as it is said everything stops. Using your safe word is a way to say “I’m serious. I want this to stop now.” Most people use the word “red” because it is commonly understand to mean stop. Some people choose to also use the word “yellow” to indicate that they want the scene/sex act to continue but at a lower intensity.

For example, if your tied up and your Dom is spanking you, and you suddenly feel overhwelmed and want it to stop; you can say RED and it will stop. Or, if your in the same situation but you merely want the spanking to be less intense you can say YELLOW and your Dom can slow it down.

If someone tells you that you dont need a safe word, do not listen to them.

I made this mistake.

I have been involved in BDSM since I was 17 years old, and I am now 28. I was in my marriage for 5 years and we had a period of separation. I was in a very mentally unstable place. My mental illness was in full swing. I found a man who, I believe, took advantage of my mental state. We did not have safe words. He did go far beyond my limits. I was not able to escape because I lacked the emotional strength.

As a woman who has suffered sex abuse for most of my life, I fell back into old survival habits of “give in”. People who are not sexual abuse survivors may not understand it, but I was incapable of getting myself out of this situation until my husband and I reconciled. I felt strong enough knowing that my husband was there to protect me to break off this brief relationship.

The damage that was done has not gone away. I have gotten better though, and I am no longer plagued with flashbacks.

I want to share what happened the second time I ever saw this Dom we will refer to as “M”.

“Look at yourself,” his words barked into my ear.

Following his command, I slowly moved my eyes forward, and stared at what my big screen TV reflected at me. My thin, naked body in front of his. His arm was across my neck in a choke-hold. My toes were desperately touching the ground, my heels being lifted upwards. My hands hung uselessly onto his muscular forearm.

My thighs bore bright red streaks against my pale skin, still burning from the cord whipping he gave me.

Next thing I know, air is getting away from me. His arm is tightening. I try in vain to breathe a little air. Then, I feel weightless; darkness.

I hear buzzing in my ears, and everything feels light and confusing. I feel him slapping my face with his free hand. Where am I? What’s going on?

I am still in a standing position; his arm is still around my neck. I realize where I am again; my apartment. I realize who he is again; my newest abuser, who I just met through a dating site. I realize that I have just been choked unconscious.

I feel scared. I don’t want to pass out again.

I don’t have a “safe word”. I trusted him. I was naive. I was vulnerable. He knew this.

I didn’t even want him here this night. I was almost asleep in my bed when he texted me earlier in the evening. I told him that I was exhausted, the children were sleeping, and I needed to get my rest. He told me that he was not asking me, and I had better let him in.

My spirit was not strong enough to say no. I couldn’t emotionally handle resisting him. I surrendered. I probably deserve it anyway, I surmised.

But now, he had choked the air out of my lungs. Now, he was dragging me still upright through the hallway, into my kitchen. Now, I understood in sudden terror that I was at the mercy of a sadist I hardly knew.

My children are sleeping upstairs. Please, don’t let them wake up to a dead mother.

He has me in the kitchen. He is tightening his grip around my neck again. I gasp, “please don’t”. He loosens his grip, “what did you say?”

“please…don’t…don’t do that again”

“why not?”

“it scares me. Please, I don’t want to pass out again.”

He is silent for a minute, it feels like an hour. Then, he laughs to himself quietly and tightens his grip again.

My hands are pulling at his forearm, but I am acutely aware of how impotent I am against him. Still, my fear will not allow me to stop trying to keep myself from passing out again.
Air is getting harder to take in.

My mind feels fuzzy, like I’m going into a dream.

I feel my consciousness falling away from me again, but just as I am about to go out—he lets go.

I gasp! Air! I’m awake.

Next, he pushes me onto the floor of my kitchen. It’s hard, and cold. His body is on top of mine now, pushing my hip bones and spine into the hard floor. He has sex with me, and it hurts.

Everything hurts.

Eventually, he leaves. It is close to morning and I have not slept but I say a silent prayer of gratitude when I shut the door behind him. He is gone. I am free, until he calls again.

I walk upstairs, stunned.

I open the child gate and check on my children, still sleeping; utterly unware of the abuse I just endured below their rooms. I am so thankful to be here for them. I am so thankful for their ignorance.

I crawl into bed. I feel lonely. I can’t sleep.

I go into my bathroom and examine the damage done. Bloody streaks and raised red lines across my back, buttocks, and thighs. My eyes look tired, circles under them. I turn around and cringe, my back is killing me from the kitchen floor. I know I will be covered in bruises soon.

I cover the evidence with my clothes. I spend the rest of the night justifying what I allowed to happen. I tell myself that I am testing my endurance, reaching the strongest parts of me through pain. I am lying to myself.

The bruises come, and go. The red lines come, and go. But my heart’s hidden wounds cannot be so easily healed.

I wish that I could have just said no, but when “no” was ignored for so many years it become an impossible protest for me. I just couldn’t say it. I just couldn’t speak up. I just gave in and accepted it, did my best to survive.

My sadness is remembering that night, and so many others like it.

My pride is knowing that if it happened today, I would so say no—defiantly and proudly and without hesitation.

My healing has begun, because I have finally deemed myself worthy of peace.

If you have found yourself intrigued by the world of BDSM for the first time, or if you are a veteran of the S/M scene; please use safe words and lets play safe, sane, CONSENSUAL.

The Big Needs of my Little People

It is winter time again. The ground is lightly covered with snow and ice traps my windows shut. It is beautiful but the first wave of winter sickness has entered our household.

I was the first to get sick, but I continued on with the many daily tasks; as well as organizing and cleaning after the holidays.

Today was the first day since Christmas where we had some intentional and structured homeschooling. The apartment was cleaner and more organized, and I had high hopes of folding my laundry and getting outside.

Those hopes were dashed when my adorable 4year old daughter Liora came walking into the kitchen looking a bit pale. She told me her tummy hurt, and before I could say a word she threw up all over the floor.

“Oh hunny! I’ll be right there. Your okay, your okay.”

I put my 2 month old son quickly down into his bouncy seat. He immediately started crying (my fussy boy).

I grabbed towels and wipes and new clothes for poor Liora, and helped her get cleaned up.

Baby screaming. “I know I know baby! I will be right there!”

Ok, Liora is cleaned up. I sit her on the couch with a light blanket.

Baby is still screaming.

I jog unto the kitchen to wash my hands and get poor crying baby boy but Zipporah my 2 year old wants me.

I can’t pick her up until I wash my hands, and the baby really needs me but none of that matters to a 2 year old who wants mommy NOW.

I drag myself over to the sink with Zipporah who is holding onto my leg wailing “UPPY! UPPY!”

I wash my hands, pick her up and give her a hug. “Mommy loves you Zipporah. I had to wash my hands so I don’t give you germs. I’m sorry. Your sister is sick.”

After I give her some quick  cuddles, I turn to my poor screaming baby and pick him up finally. I kiss his sweet face and nurse him. He settles in happily, finally getting what he needed.

Now I go to sit back at the table and realize that my tea and soup are luke warm. Sigh.

I give up on the soup which was already reheated twice that day and I bring my untouched tea to Liora because she needs to replenish her fluids.

My oldest daughter Noemi wants to play a game with me, she wants to take out her microscope and do some science with me. She wants me, her mother, to just sit and be with her.

When one child is sick, it can be so difficult to meet the needs of the other small children (and babies) who need you!

I was very close to my grandmother Rose, and talked to me right before her death about how she adored my babies and she thought I was a wonderful mom; but she warned me that it would be so hard to meet all their needs if I had more.

She wasn’t negative towards me having more, but she knew something I didn’t know yet. She told me that “you will miss some things” even when you don’t mean to. My grandmother raised 6 children, and so she knew this struggle.

She was right.

It is hard to strech yourself out enough to be present for each child, each day. The truth is that we have to go by who needs us the most at what time. I try to be fair, but I know I won’t always get it right.

That is why I am doing my best to forge a relationship based on strong communication with each of my children. It starts with babyhood, when I am in tune and receptive to their needs. And it changes as they age.

My 5 year old Noemi took me aside this evening and said to me “mommy, you were with Liora today…no time for me”

I felt sad that she didn’t feel like I was with her today, but I was so thankful that she was able to tell me! She trusts me to enough to tell me. She trusts me enough to know I will do something about it.

Fernando has off of work tomorrow, so Noemi and I will do something together just the two of us. Daddy will stay home with poor sick Liora, and watch the youngest two. Noemi and mommy will do something special together.

I will come home and I will have 3 more little ones with BIG needs. I will do my best to be there for each of them.

Mothering means that my laundry didn’t get folded today, and I didn’t shower until the afternoon.

Mothering means focusing on the little people in my life over things.

Mothering means being needed, a lot; and seeking to meet those needs while recharging for myself too.

Whew. Time for sleep.

(Until my 4 year old wakes up and gets sick on her bed)

Unassisted/Freebirth of 4th baby at 41 weeks (Husband assisted)

I stood on my front porch this morning (Oct.14th 2016) with my less than 24 hours old newborn son sleeping on my chest. I soaked in the warm autumn sunlight, smelled and kissed my son’s head, and considered just how incredibly healthy and happy I felt. My son is also healthy, calm, and peaceful.

I spent 41 weeks (well, one day shy) pregnant with this little treasure. My 4th pregnancy, my first son. I had wanted to birth unassisted with my 3rd baby and came close, but in the end I allowed fear to get the best of me. That delivery was a very difficult recovery. I knew I wanted better, needed better, this time around. After getting some minimal prenatal care with an OB practice along with the anatomy scan at 18 weeks, I just knew that I had to do the rest of this pregnancy unassisted.

Once I made that decision, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I spent the rest of my pregnancy learning to trust my intuition and body. I took care of myself well overall, and I paid close attention to the growing person inside of me.

Around 35 weeks I started to get some contractions that would come fairly regularly. Prodromal labor, again. Only this time, much more convincing to me that active labor would start soon. I thought about what I would do if my baby came early. I thought it was certain he would never make it to his due date!

Well, two serious false alarms later, I was past my due date and feeling depressed. I was so large, so uncomfortable. I had a lot of emotions that I needed to work through until I came to acceptance. As long as the baby and I were healthy, I would wait.

The morning of Oct.13th came and I woke up having a painful contraction. I was not fully awake yet and said to myself “no no no, not like that”. I knew these contractions were different, but after so many false alarms I was scared to say this was it. My husband went to work that morning and I told him I would let him know if anything changed. I texted my mother and told her “not sure if its labor yet, but please be ready to take the kids just in case.”

My last labor was 23 hours long, so I assumed that if this was actually labor, it would be a long time before the baby was born.

Throughout that afternoon I was getting contractions about every 20 minutes, sometimes even 30 minutes apart. I was leaning against the wall or table and “ooooo oooo oooo”ing my way through them. My little girls were curious, and tried to help me sometimes too.

I knew that these contractions were getting real. My husband came home around 1:30pm and I asked him to watch the kids while I tried to rest in bed. I would sleep for around 15 minutes and then WAM “oooooo ooooo oooooo”. I was not getting much rest, and it hurt more laying down.

I came out and my husband was looking tired. I told him he was absolutely not allowed to be in a bad mood, because I needed him! He asked me “you think this could be it?” (after so many false alarms he didn’t believe it yet) and I told him “no could be, it is!”

Then, he saw me have a contraction and he sprung into action!

I realized that I very much needed his attention and help to be on me instead of the girls, so I told him to text my mom to come over. I packed up their bags, leaning against the walls every so often. My husband looked at me and said “those are coming much closer than every 20 minutes hun”.

It felt like it took forever for my mom and kids to leave, but once they did I continued this pattern of moving around and then leaning against a wall or table and my husband pressed on my lower back. With my previous labor, I needed him to push as hard as possible against my back due to back labor but this time I really needed him in front of me with his hands to squeeze so I told him that as things progressed.

He ran the tub for me while I peed and passed a lot of bloody show. The rest of my labor I would bleed a bit throughout, my cervix was opening and opening much quicker than it usually did! I didn’t realize this yet. It was about 4:30pm and I imagined that I would be in labor the entire night, into early morning like usual.

I saw in the tub and had some really big contractions. This is where transition hit me. I wanted to cry, but couldn’t yet. I spoke my fears outloud to my husband “I cant do this” and he would answer “yes, you can do this!”

“I’m not strong!” I would whine

“your SO strong! You have this!” he replied

Sometimes I would have a contraction and I wasn’t prepared yet mentally for it. I felt like I was flying away in a sea of pain, unable to anchor myself. Then, I would change positions and ready myself “I will be stronger than this next contraction” I told myself. It would hit me and I would moan, growl, oooo and ahhhh, and squeeze my husband’s hand. Then I would look up at him and say “this is so hard” and he would sympathize with me but tell me I was capable.

“You’ve got me right?” I needed to know. I had to know he was truly WITH me. He couldn’t do this for me, but I needed him with me. And he was.

I had to move from the bathtub but we left it filled just in case I wanted to return to it. I knew I was in laborland. I couldn’t think beyond the next wave. Just one more wave. I can do this. I can do this.

I labored on the couch, hands and knees.

I labored on my bed, sitting and leaning into my husband.

Then, I moved down onto the ground next to my bed on my knees, and leaned over onto the bed. Fernando had left to get something for me, I don’t recall what. I was hit with a massive contraction. I clawed the bed and GROWLED and HOWLED and Fernando came running into the room and then POP my bag of waters exploded all over the place!

Fernando was so excited, “Baby! Your water broke!”

I felt a rush of energy. The smell of the amniotic fluid was like a drug to me, and I knew that I had one task; birth this baby.

Fernando helped me crawl to the other side of the bed (still on the floor, on my knees) so he could help me better. Here comes anotherrrrrrrrr oneeeeee!!

I roared again. I felt his head move down.

“I’m having our baby!” I said. I had to say it outloud. It was a declaration.

I felt suddenly focused and purposeful. My baby was coming and I had to get him out. It was that simple. Not easy, but simple.

Over the next 20 minutes or so, I pushed and my body pushed. At one point I realized that he was ready to be born, and I just had to give one tiny push and my body would do the rest. I took a deep breath. I was ready. PUSH.

My husband was behind me “Oh hunny, our baby is coming!”

“can you see him?”

“I see you opening, he is close”

My uterus was smaller, he was down in my birth canal, I felt his head start to come out.

“I see his head!” Fernando told me

I reached down and touched my son who was almost born. I wanted to get him OUT immediately but I knew I needed to breathe a little and not rush.

My body pushed. I panted. Burning burning burning…out comes his head!

His head is out! I see my baby’s head!

Fernando has his hand right there, “I’m ready for him don’t worry” and then “I see him turning his shoulder!”

He birthed himself the rest of the way!

He came out crying! Right there inbetween my legs, in own bedroom. My husband I exclaimed over how perfect he was, over how WE DID IT, over how AMAZING it all is!

I didn’t know what to do. I was so elated. I was beyond happy. I finally cried a little too.

I asked Fernando to wrap him in a towel and hand him over to me. I had a difficult time moving my legs to sit down but managed, then most of my placenta came right out.

I felt amazingly good. I had never been so energized and healthy after giving birth. I was overjoyed to be holding this little guy in my arms. Our son was here, in our home and we could just enjoy him.

Unassisted Pregnancy/Birth; Past 40 weeks with Prodromal Labor

(I wrote this after having yet another “false” alarm of the baby coming. I was feeling really down and discouraged. I really needed to remind myself of what I am fighting for, what I believe, and what I want. Prodromal labor and drive a pregnant woman nuts!)

The only thing I have to think about is you; baby Markos. The one swimming in my belly, pushing on my cervix, causing me to stop and breathe.

I had to hear that. I have your three older sisters to care for. It is so difficult to let go and allow my mom and aunt to watch them, take over for me. It is so difficult to not feel pressure to perform, to get you here earthside.

I have too much in my mind like a pressure cooker, ready to explode. I need to just b r e a t h e.

I feel you, right beneath my taunt belly. Your legs and feet pushing against my side, your back rising against the other. Your right here, but yet your far from me; someplace inside that I cannot reach into and hold you.

I wanted this unassisted birth because I believe it is best for you, and for me. I wanted it because I believe my body can do this. I have wisdom inside of me, from generations of women who have given birth down the line to this moment; you and me.

I have to remind myself of these things. When labor gets difficult, it is easier to hand over control to someone and someplace else; like the obstetricians and hospitals. It is easier to say “okay, you take over this situation. You tell me what to do. You tell me what is happening to my body and baby.” But, this comes at a great expense of losing something sacred. It also endangers us both physically and emotionally.

I have a vision of your father and I together, your head stretching and opening me, I reach down and feel your hair (I know you will have a lot of it), and then I push more and your body slides out into your father’s hands.

And then I will know—I did it.

So come baby, I am ready for you when you are.

There will be no bright lights to assault your senses, no cold gloved hands taking you from me, no needles stuck into your feet, no uncomfortable clothing and strangers talking.

There will be you, there will be me, there will be your father and then your sisters who are eagerly waiting for your arrival.

And peace, love, family.