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.

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.

Our first month homeschooling kindergarten!

Soooo…our first homeschool year has begun this month. My oldest child is 5 years old, so she is officially a kindergartner. I also have my nearly 4-year-old daughter doing preschool and a 2-year-old. All of this while 9 months pregnant! I am less than 2 weeks from my “due date” and I have been experiencing a lot of prodromal labor (i.e very slow going early labor). Yet, here we are starting our “official” schooling journey.

This has been a learning experience for me too. I have not been as organized as I imagined I would be. We are basically unschooling, along with a general schedule and a list of the subjects we will cover each week. That said, I am really pleasantly surprised by how much my children have been learning in this more casual style of school. The girls are all very young yet, so I consider imaginative play and a lot of outdoor exploration to be just as important as workbooks and more traditional schoolwork.

Both my 5 year old and my preschooler have been doing math randomly, every day, without any prompting on my part. They will frequently take objects from the kitchen table, or toys from their bins, and then proudly explain to me how many they have left when some are taken away and how many more they have when some are added. I went over more traditional math lessons with them a few times, covering basic subtraction and addition, but now they are taking those lessons and using them during the day by themselves!

Another example is learning shapes. This is more of a review for my kindergartner, but I also added 3D shapes for her such as a cylinder and cube. We did some fun coloring workbook pages with shapes, read a book about shapes, and then we did some slightly complex puzzles with shapes. They had to find shapes that would fit into a pattern on a card they were given, for example they may have a butterfly shape and then need to find which shapes are needed to complete the picture. After we did this, they both come up to me constantly excited to show me a shape they found (my kindergartner told me the farmhouse had a cylinder, my preschooler told me the refrigerator was a rectangle, etc).

They are truly taking in whatever lessons we have and applying it during everyday life.
We take weekly trips to the library and bring back a haul of books. Reading is a big part of what we do, and that has always been the case. I started reading to my oldest when was 6 months old! I showed her baby picture books, and she has always loved reading. My middle child is extremely energy, so it took longer for her to be able to sit through books. I am happy to say that she is usually very good about sitting for reading now, especially when she can pick books out at the library herself that interest her.

We are also going over Spanish, which has been the hardest for me to teach. My husband is bilingual; his parents are from Colombia. He didn’t speak Spanish to them enough, and he was gone for some long periods due to illness. I am sad that they aren’t learning as native speakers, but they are all still so young that it is very possible for them to become fluent if we work on it now. I am teaching it to them through books, and making their own books with words and pictures. We are also using song and memory cards. When this baby is born my husband has promised to speak exclusively in Spanish to the baby, I think this will help our other children as well because they will hear the words on a daily basis in regular language. My mother in law will be coming to stay with us shortly after the baby is born, so she can also help with Spanish while she is here.

Our local homeschooling group (a loosely joined together county wide group) as been wonderful. Some of the mothers really do a lot to put together great activities for the children, such as a nature walk and nature craft that we just love! Even better, the state park this occurs at is only 10 minutes away! We just started this back up because the classes ended over the summer, due to the oppressive heat. They girls made beautiful nature looms, and my younger two children had a blast playing with moss. They also get the chance to run and play outside with other children, getting exercise and making friends.

In addition to this, all three girls are in dance class (yes even my 2 year old!). They love dance! We also took a trip to the museum of natural history last month, and we plan on taking big field trips at least every 3 months. This keeps things new and creative, while learning in new environments. I already have tickets for my oldest two children and I to attend our first children’s targeted ballet (Beauty and the Beast). The library often has activities they can do for free, and we have a YMCA membership which will be super important during the cold months when outside physical activity is more limited (although we WILL be in the snow).

So, this is just the beginning of our homeschooling adventure. It is not easy to be home all week with all the children, but I could never see myself sending them away for school 5 days a week for the majority of the day. It would be so different. We are forming strong bonds as a family, and I want the ability to keep our lives flexible and adapt to each of their needs. There is so much positive in this, it is worth the hard work! (Even 9 months pregnant)

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Peace and blessings to you all.

The Wide Open Heart of a Mother

I think it may be the prenatal hormones that are kicking in. I am getting close to my due date (about 6-8 weeks away) and the baby is moving a lot, our connection has grown a lot already as I prepare myself physically and mentally for his arrival. It could be that, I don’t know. All I know is that I have found myself really contemplating and feeling the vastness of my love for my children.

My oldest is 5 and she will start kindergarten homeschooling within weeks. I am in awe of this little thinking person she has become. I miss her babyhood, yet I adore the child she is and look forward to the years ahead that we have of learning together. She is strongly empathetic and caring, her spirit is one that naturally wants to help others. My hips have been in so much pain lately from SPD (a condition of loose ligaments during pregnancy), and she has taken to rubbing my hips gently to sooth it. I never showed her how to do that, nor did I ask her to do it. She just knew. She just sensed what I needed and desired to help ease my pain. She is also strong, which is good because she is so sensitive. She hurts easily; but I see inside of her the strength of my mother and my grandmother and great-grandmother. Women whose blood runs in her veins; women who are and were strong. She is beautiful in so many ways, my little girl. My mother heart feels physically full to think of her.

And then there is my second, 3.5 year old Liora. She is fiery. She is powerful, all sinewy strength and muscle. She takes a lot of time, attention, and sometimes leaves me questioning my ability as a mother. Yet, she is tiny physically (all that solid muscle in a short petite frame). She is in some ways even softer and more easily damaged than her big sister is. She needs my love in a way that is fierce and terrifying for her. She will rage and tantrum if she is scared of losing it. Recently, she hurt her sister (again) and I was upset. She was all fury; fists, teeth, knees and jabs. But then, she broke down. She wept, and looked up at me with those amazing brown eyes filed with tears and said “mommy, you don’t love me anymore?” My heart broke. Shattered. I pulled her into me and assured with a thousand words and kisses that my love was still there, and would always be there. I spent time this week just holding her. She requires physical touch, and verbal affirmation. She will be a force to be reckoned with in this world, my little Li. A wonderful, loving, fiery force.

My current “baby”, my third daughter Zipporah. She is 2 years old and ready to do everything her big sisters do. They are her world, especially Liora. I labored for a day with Z, and fought hard for her after she was born and the hospital tried to keep her from me. She came home with me with a head full of dark hair and the fullest cheeks. I was a confident mother with her. I knew that I was her mother, and therefore all she needed as a babe. I nursed her, slept with her, and carried her everywhere. Yet, she was always my most independent baby. She rarely ever cried. She enjoyed the chaos around her formed by her big sisters, and as soon as possible she joined in. We called her “free-range baby” because she would just crawl around, then toddle around after her sisters. Momma is still important, but if big sisters are there than she feels safe and ready for adventure. When she says to me “mom mom” my heart is a puddle and she gets whatever she wants. She has an incredible vocabulary for a 2 year old, and she is still my easy going one although the toddler in her does protest when she wants. She adores babies. All babies. Any baby. Just give her a baby and she is in love. Also, food. She loves to eat. She is tall (unlike Liora), and sturdy. Her face reveals her family from Colombia, a beautiful mixture of daddy and me. I am relishing this stage of her life. I love the 2 year old age, despite the tantrums, because of the wonder they have and how every single thing she does is just cute.

And now, my baby boy. My first and only unborn son. I have yet to hold him in my arms but I have carried him and nurtured him for the last several months. Our bodies are connected, almost one. He moves inside of me, and I have learned when he is active and when he sleeps. He reacts to what I eat, and how I am feeling. He is my “healing baby”. He came to us at the close of a horrible, horrible year. He gave me hope. He gave me a reason to change (more of a reason) from the path I was going down. I cannot wait to see what his birth teaches me, and to hold him in my arms and at my breast.

Yes, my mother heart is full. It is full, yet it expands with every child. My mothers heart is wide and open.

 

 

 

30 Reasons Why I am Choosing an Unassisted Birth for my 4th baby….

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  1. I am stronger than you think I am
  2. I refuse to allow myself to be abused during labor again
  3. I am healthy
  4. My baby is healthy
  5. Pregnancy is NOT a disease or illness
  6. Birth is a normal physiological process, not a medical emergency
  7. I am prepared for the worst, but will not expect the worst with no reason to
  8. I deserve to be comfortable
  9. I deserve privacy
  10. I deserve respect
  11. My baby deserves to be born into a calm environment
  12. My baby deserves to not be taken from mommy
  13. The pain is more manageable at home
  14. Intimacy between myself and my husband matters during birth
  15. I will not endure harassment, coercion, and disrespect in labor again
  16. I am stronger than I think I am
  17. I want my husband’s hands to be the first to touch our son
  18. I want to eat, walk, drink, and rest as I feel lead
  19. I believe my health and safety is at risk the moment I walk into an ER with a healthy body and normal pregnancy
  20. I am sick and tired of cervical checks
  21. I cannot stand those (not evidence-based) fetal monitor bands across my belly
  22. I do not want anyone telling me what to do with my body
  23. It will be powerful, difficult, life-changing and beautiful
  24. I know what is best for my baby, and would always put his health before mine
  25. I am sick and tired of defending myself against unwanted medical procedures
  26. Birth is not scary!
  27. 1 out of 3 women get major surgery, that is too high of a risk for me
  28. Most routine practices in American hospitals are NOT evidence-based medicine
  29. America’s maternal death rates are *rising*
  30. Peace instead of PTSD