February 2, 2011
“Are you a Christian?” There, I’ve been asked. It’s not really a casual question, is it? It’s not like, “Do you like chocolate, yes or no?” or “Do you want to go to the park today?” or “Aren’t you that girl from my French class?” It’s a loaded question, a “Does my bottom look big in this?” question. It’s a personal question, a “What color underwear are you wearing?” question.
It’s asking for a definition. Are you in the club or out of the club? I’ve lived long enough to know the ramifications of answering such a question.
I also know that answering “I believe that religion is a personal matter” might lead to inaccurate speculation, assumptions and judgments.
Answering this question is also an exercise in diplomacy and courage, as my main market for Arithmetic Village is American Home schoolers whom happen to be predominately Christian.
Let me begin by answering the question in terms of my business, since that was the context of the question:
Arithmetic Village is a simple math program created for all children of all religions and all cultural backgrounds so they may be gently introduced to math concepts. The characters represent their respective math functions. The Village is also intentionally positive. There are only kind words and respectful interactions. It has been suggested that I create conflict or more of a story in each books but many wonderful children’s books lack conflict or plots ..ie Goodnight Moon. The values represented in these books are not religiously based athough many reigions share similar vaues of love and kindness. If you find similarities with your religion or philosophical viewpoints, that is a bonus, I want to include everyone.
I hold transparency in higher regard than privacy, and because of this, I will attempt to answer THE question…
January 22, 2011
I’ve become one of “those” moms. You know, the ones who can’t wait for their child to go off to school or childcare. I was NEVER one of those moms. I was the Queen of attachment parenting. I nursed longer than I care to share via the internet. Although I spent a decade working in Child Care Centers, my children have never seen the inside of one. I hand make Halloween costumes and birthday cakes and crowns and invitations.
This is how I have defined who I am.
I feel the changes. Time and place have made me less judgmental, more easygoing.
My life has changed. I have a very, very busy four-year old. People tell us that maybe we should feed her some junk food and sit her in front of a TV for a while. She bothers her older sister who has constant sleep overs (at thirteen) so I try to keep them separated and busy and happy. Twenty-four seven. I don’t live near family. I don’t have a babysitter. (Her 15 year old sister is on an adventure.) I am closer to 50 years than 40 years old, but just barely. I am passionate about my new business that I have no time for in between pleasing everyone.
November 9, 2010
Here is a true story: If you have a child or want to have a child or will be around anyone who will ever consider parenting, read them this story. I heard it in a parenting class.
There was a family. A typical family, two parents two children.
They planned a trip to Disneyland. They were very excited. They packed the car.
They got snacks.
They got cosy.
They were ready for their seven hour drive.
Before the ignition was turned on, the mother stopped and spoke to the children.
“We all want a lovely trip to Disneyland.
It is a long drive.
We will not tolerate any whining.
“If there is whining, complaining or arguing,
we will turn this car around
and drive back home.
(more nodding heads..)
Before they left the city limit,
a child whined.
the other complained.
The car silently turned around
and drove straight home.
The shocked children complained loudly when their parents started to unpack the car.
The parents said, “Stop.
No more complaining and maybe we can reschedule the trip to next weekend.”.
The stunned children brought their bags back into their rooms.
The parents smiled to each other.
The reservations for Disney Land were made for the next weekend already. They always had been.
The following weekend the family had seven hours of heaven in the car together without whining, complaining or arguing.
October 17, 2010
When I was young, I was convinced that differences in gender were the result of social conditioning.
I knew it.
Of course this theory was part of an ongoing rant and search for equity. I was not afraid of the word feminist, I looked it up and it did not mandate I stop shaving, grab a rainbow VW van and have a lesbian fling.
My first year at University, I took a class called “The psychology of the female personality”. This was just the class I needed to prove my theory right. Then, the professor told us this story….
She had a son. She gave him a doll. This was the 70′s and she was very proud of herself. He loved that doll the first day and she smiled. She thought “I can change the world”.
The next day, she looked out her window at her son playing in the back yard. Then she looked again. He was making a big mud puddle. that’s nice she thought. She watched him go back and forth to and from the outside tap. She looked closely, what was he using for the bucket – it had hair?
HE WAS USING THE DOLLS HEAD AS A BUCKET.
I have three girls. I raise them in a gender neutral sort of way. They have trucks. They play ball. They love mud. They all three have very different personalities. One is incredibly impatient and has violent tendencies. One’s favorite color at four-years was orange, the next one’s color was black and the last one’s favorite color is pinkandpurple (yes, one word). One has aspergers, which is considered to be a “male” brain. Despite all of this, none of my daughters have ever considered taking off a dolls head to use it for something practical. Read the rest of this entry »
October 4, 2010
I got in the car and wondered where I was going. Funny really, because I was the driver. My car drove to the bay where this picture was taken 7 years prior. Seven years. How this girl has changed. How her mother has changed. In seven years, every cell in our bodies has regenerated. Every bit of my physical being is different.
I sat on the rocks an listened to the gentle waves glide in and out like breathe. Years ago, this is where I spent my days. Memories of the afternoons with two young children flooded back. Hours, just being, just climbing, just exploring. The tide pools seem unchanged, the girls and their mother are not.
I looked up and could see my former home. My former self. When I was a married woman, with two children, two cars, a mortgage, life insurance, a parent volunteer and a Sunday school teacher. I was the epitome of society. I was a success, I had a Tupperware party, I had a book club, I was normal. We almost managed to fool the world, two perfect blonde girls, best friend banter. We almost managed to fool ourselves. If we could have kept the realities of our marriage a secret until death, the facade would still stand. But that is a book, not a blog.
This day I noticed this tranquil bay is directly in-between my old home and my next home. Meandering paths leading to opposite directions from the place I sat. A transition. This beach was my catalyst to my next home, my next life. The path led away and up to a small home on a magnificent cliff. My simple little dolls house for girls only. We had front row seats to the most colorful sunrises and sunsets. We would dance. It felt sacrilegious to ignore the beauty. We were in its spotlight. A place so magical, if I ran off the cliff, I could surely fly.
It was there in that magical place that I gave birth to another child. A place where I told her father that I loved him and myself too much to marry. A place where I decided that honesty was more important than image.
I found myself at this bay, a different person physically, spiritually and circumstantially. I feel blessed and grateful for the turns in my life, for my children, for my travels, for my journey. I wonder what’s next. I look forward to my next incarnation. But in the meantime, I sat in the sun, a gentle breeze through my hair, birds and waves, and honored this place and how it served me.
September 30, 2010
I threw a bit of a pity party yesterday and I was the only guest.
I tried to stop it, I did. I even played this video from my friend Natalie Merchant. Well, not really my friend, but at a concert we made eye contact and she asked me if I had a request. I wanted to suggest “My Beloved Wife” or “Seven Years” or some equally less known recording that I love. I imagined that she would be so impressed of my knowledge of her music and invite me to a party after the concert . As I was daydreaming, she was waiting for my answer, so I blurted out “These are the Days” which was a popular song, but all I could remember, especially since it was my first dance song at my wedding.. So where were we?
Oh yes. I was pretty succesful at feeling sorry for myself. My list of complaints was long. I realized I was being ungracious, I tried to be bigger than myself, it just wasn’t fitting.Then, I thought of another longtime friend whom I’ve never met, Oprah Winfrey. Years ago, when I allowed myself the occasional tv show, Oprah was talking about gratitude. She said that one day, she was feeling sorry for herself and called her friend, Maya Angelou for some comfort. Do you want to know what Maya told her? Call me back after you’ve said thank you 100 times. She told Oprah to go into the bathroom, look in the mirror and tell herself 100 things for which to be grateful. So I pretended that Maya gave me that advise. (Because you know she would be one of my bff’s too if she only knew me).
I didn’t really go into the bathroom and talk to myself, or start writing a list, because I’m not literal like that, but I did start thinking about all of my blessings. They are many. And in the end, it worked. (Maya Angelou is a genius.)
I picked myself up, washed the dishes and my face, drove off the ferry where I got the best parking space ever, grabbed myself a glass of champagne on the boat and met my gorgeous daughters in the city to see a contemporary ballet. Very blessed indeed.
Thank you. Thank you.
June 23, 2010
We all have opinions.
Rarely do two people think the same thing about anything. You may have a friend who agrees with your politics and religion but not child raising. You may be a vegetarian an your spouse is a butcher. You get the picture.
I have beliefs.
One of them is that we should be tolerant of others´ beliefs. That we should be open. Maybe what is right for one person is not right for another. Maybe we are supposed to live completely different lives simultaneously. Maybe we are supposed to see things differently. And maybe, despite our best efforts to be completely open, we all basically believe what we want to believe in the end anyway.
Let me give you an example.. Last week my three year old daughter says, ¨ I can run soooo fast. I am faster than a car! ¨.
¨Really? Because I thought that the reason we drive cars is to get places faster and I think that cars are faster than people.¨ I reason. ¨They are not, not faster than me, I am faster than a car,¨ she insists. ¨Really? Let’s try that out, come here and when a car comes run on the sidewalk and race it ¨.
One car zooms past.. Lets do it again… Zoom..again.. zoom…
She turns around, hands on hips… ¨See! I CAN run faster than a car!¨ she says with a big smile.
I wonder how many times a day I delude myself, by only believing what I want to believe.