IRON DAISY

This blog is about my experiences in the world, both good and bad. It is about how I view things and my opinions. It's my thoughts on life, my reflections into my experiences. It is my way of processing my world around me and things that happen to me. Writing is my therapy. It's about life as I see it, take it or leave it.

So suck it, English professor dude… March 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Risa @ 9:26 am
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Summer semester 2006 I was a full-time student, married, and with two small children. Most of my course load that semester was filled with English classes, my minor, because none of the upper division Social Work classes I needed were offered. In my Modern British Literature class there was about 10 students and on the first day we had to introduce ourselves. I was the only one getting my Bachelors degree in something other than English.

A few weeks into the semester my professor was going off on something we had read and I remember distinctly he said, “anyone who majors in Social Work is an idiot. They are just setting themselves up for a lonely, miserable, frustrating life.” (I don’t know what Social Work had to with Lady Chatterly’s Lover, but okay). Everyone in the class turned and looked at me and I just shrugged my shoulders.

I majored in Social Work because I like helping people. In any job I had previously to that point I only found true joy in my work when I was actually helping someone in an unconventional way outside the usual job parameters. I never thought I could change the world, but maybe I could help a few people along the way.

Nine years later since Professor What’shisface made his off-hand pointed comment at me, I can say he is totally wrong about me and my life. I am very happy, probably more than I deserve to be.

Yes, my job is very stressful and I deal with some awful, awful things working in child abuse prevention. But my coworkers and I are affecting real change. We make a difference. Specific to my job duties is helping families find resources, I offer comfort and support, and I am a small safe place in horribly tragic events. Yes, this job is often punctuated by moments of frustration, but nothing compares to knowing that I truly helped someone on any given day.

I have a husband who loves me and accepts me exactly as I am. Even if he lives in fear that my outspokenness and no fear of confrontation will get him beat up one day. He loves me in spite of my faults and apparently thinks I’m really funny. After 16 years together we’re still very much in love and there’s no one I’d rather hang out with. His absolute acceptance of me for exactly who I am has allowed me to grow in self-confidence and accomplish things I never thought I would. He also thinks I’m a stone cold fox, which doesn’t hurt.

I have four beautiful children. And by beautiful I mean they are all growing into very kind, compassionate, funny, smart, good kids. They make me proud to be their mother. The other day my 11 year old son said he wants to be a social worker too so he can help people. I can only take partial credit for the good people they are becoming. They are all their own, independent person and have interests vastly different from mine. Knowing them has made me a better person. They teach me so much about patience, unconditional love, courage, and hope.

I have a safe home to live in, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive, flowers in the yard, and a spectacular view of the sunrise over the Wasatch Mountains. I have good friends who love and support me, forgive me when I’m wrong, educate me and challenge my ideas, laugh at my jokes, and are my closest confidantes. I have a wonderful immediate and extended family and am fortunate that my kids are growing up surrounded by so many close family members who love them and enrich their lives.

Yes, I’ve gone through some difficult times. Those things have only given me greater compassion and empathy for others. I’ve lived through the death of a parent and the betrayal of false friends, and I hope I’m come out of those things stronger, wiser, more humble, and more dedicated to helping others.

On top of all of that, I had great Social Work professors who taught me about self-care and boundaries and were wonderful professional examples, and now friends, to me. So Dr. English Professor, I hope it’s okay with you that I decided not to listen to you and majored in Social Work anyway. I hope it’s okay that I’m not lonely or miserable. I hope it’s okay with you that I’m thriving and not just surviving. Actually, I don’t care if it’s okay with you, because I’m okay with me.

 

The Women of the Civil Rights Movement January 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Risa @ 10:41 am

Ella Baker.

Fannie Lou Hamer.

Septima Poinsette Clark.

Coretta Scott King.

Ruby Bridges.

Diane Nash.

Do you know these names?  They are a few of the integral women of the American Civil Rights Movements.

 

Ella Baker

Ella began working for the NAACP in 1938 and her work with the Civil Rights movement spanned 5 decades.  She worked with the prominent leaders of the movement, like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thurgood Marshall.  She was involved in Montgomery Bus Boycott, was a staffer for the Crusade for Citizenship (a voter registration camp), worked for student de-segregation with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and helped organize the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.  She died in 1986, but was honored with a US Postage Stamp in 2009.  One of Ms. Baker’s most famous quotes:  “Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”





Fannie Lou Hamer

Fannie’s activism started in the 50s organizing the Mississippi Freedom Summer and became the Vice-Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party.  Fannie was deeply religious and soft-spoken and often used Bible verses in her speeches.  She ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965.  She worked at a grassroots level as well, and helped start Head Start, the Freedom Farm Cooperative, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. on the Poor People’s Campaign.  Fannie died of breast cancer in 1977.  Ms. Hamer’s most famous quote is: “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Septima Poinsette Clark

Septima was born in 1898 and was an educator as well as a civil rights activist.  Her father was born a slave and after the Civil War he worked as a caterer. Her mother refused to let Septima become a domestic for a white family.  Instead, Septima graduated from high school and became an educator without a college education at that time.  In 1919, Septima taught at Avery Normal Institute, in Charleston, S.C., a private academy in for black children.  It was here Septima started her work with the NAACP.  She then went on to earn her Bachelors and Masters degrees and worked with noted Civil Rights Activist, W.E.B. Du Bois.  Septima is most known for starting Citizenship Schools which taught black adults in the Deep South how to read.  Septima worked with many health organizations.  In 1979, President Carter award Septima with a Living Legacy Award.  Septima died in 1987.  Her most famous quote:  “I have a great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking.  I consider chaos a gift.”

Coretta Scott King

Coretta was the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. and helped lead the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.  Coretta was part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped pass the Voting Rights Act in 1964.  Her most prominent role in the movement was after her husband was murdered as she continued his work and his legacy as the new leader of the movement.  As a new leader of the movement she founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change and broadened her focus to include women’s issues, LGBT rights, economic issues, world peace, racism, poverty, and war.  Coretta was a published author and educator.  In the 1980s Coretta worked to end apartheid in South Africa.  Ms. King died in 2006 and was eulogized by former President Jimmy Carter.  My most favorite Coretta Scott King quote:  “Freedom and justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience.  I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.”

Ruby Bridges

Ruby was born in 1954 in New Orleans.  In 1960, Ruby’s parents answered the call from the NAACP and volunteered to have Ruby integrated in the New Orleans school system.  She is known as the first African American child at an all-white elementary school in the South.  Ruby walked to school every day despite protests from parents, citizens, and backlash the landed her father jobless and her share-cropper grandparents turned off their land.  Can you imagine how brave Ruby must have been?  Can you imagine that courage of that 6 year old girl?  I can’t think of Ms. Bridges without tears coming to my eyes.  Ruby currently lives in New Orleans and there have been many books written about her and movies created about her life.  My favorite Ruby Bridges quote:  “I now know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the spirit within us, we will probably find that the purpose is a good one.”

 

Diane Nash


Diane was born in Chicago and attended Howard University.  She was a part of the most successful act of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement – The Freedom Rides.  As a college student, Diane was successful in desegregating lunch counters in Nashville, TN.  Her activism did not stop there.  When the Freedom Riders decided to cut their rides short (because of outrageous violence and deaths), Diane, and other Nashville college students, promptly decided they would finish the trip.  Her courageous act caught national attention.  Robert F. Kennedy, himself, begged her to stop (fearing more violence and deaths).  Her response was to say everyone who was going on the Freedom Rides had signed their last Will and Testament the night before.  Diane was also integral in the Selma Campaign (a non-violent Army to combat church bombings), the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has been the subject of two books and numerous documentaries.  Diane continues to advocate for the civil rights, the rights of the poor and impoverished, and for the rights of children.  My most favorite quote of Ms. Nash’s is:  “Every time I participated in segregation, like going into a ‘colored’s only’ bathroom, I felt like I was agreeing that I was inferior.  And I’m not inferior.”

To find out more about these remarkable women, click the links on their names above, or check out this article.

 

To the jerks saying Robin Williams was selfish August 12, 2014

Filed under: Art,celebrities,grief and loss,legacy,Life,Movies,personal — Risa @ 8:00 am
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I was once a jerk like you. I thought that anyone who would take their own life and leave behind grieving family members was the most selfish person in the world. I thought suicide was the most selfish thing a person could do.

I was wrong.

I know through devastating personal experience what it’s like to have your depressed brain lie to you and tell you that you are worth nothing. That no one loves you. And that everyone would be better off without you. In that moment you don’t feel selfish. You believe that best thing in the world would be to remove a burden, yourself, from the people you love.  In that moment you contemplate ending your life it feels very selfless.

Depression lies to you. Depression is a brain disease that distorts a person’s world view. Depression is debilitating and it’s the ultimate act of betrayal to have your own brain make you believe that the world is better off without you. I know, because I’ve been in the “pit of despair” where I have contemplated taking my own life because I believed it’s what I deserved. I believe my family members would be happier with me gone. The pain. The unimaginable pain you feel that makes death seem like an option better than taking another breath. It’s a hell I can’t adequately describe. It’s why I work so hard to stay out of that dark place and surround myself firmly in light.

I have nothing but compassion for Robin Williams. He must have been in a torturous state of mind to believe that this world was better off without his light, his passion, his humor, his grace, his art. Who among us wasn’t touched by one of his performances? Who didn’t he make laugh? Please, if you have a soul, have compassion for this man and what he must have been going through to feel so desperate that taking his own life was the only answer he could think of to get out of his horrific pain.

To those of you who can’t understand, please look past your own feelings and accusations of selfishness and try to imagine the hell someone with depression might be living with that death is the better option than life. Look past your own life’s paradigm to see the people around you who are hurting and have some semblance of compassion for where they might be at. Reach out in love and remind those whose brains are lying to them that they do matter, they are loved, and that life is the better option.

And if you’re depressed and contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone. We need you here.

Suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255

 

robin

Bangarang, Peter. Until we meet again.

 

 

Life Lessons I Learned from my Dad June 11, 2014

Filed under: family,Fathers,legacy,lessons,love,nature,personal,relationships — Risa @ 6:18 pm
Me and my dad in 1978

Me and my dad in 1978

The older I get the more I realize how much I’m like my dad. From overly critiquing the logistics of car commercials or only wanting to eat popcorn for dinner, I’m more like my dad than I ever thought. I was a mama’s girl growing up and thought every attribute of my personhood was a direct result of her influence. Now that she has been gone for a little over six years, I’m starting to recognize how very much like my father I am as well. My dad has dissimilar life philosophies than my mom did. They say opposites attract, and in their case, this is very true. I believe I benefited from having two very different people with different beliefs about life raise me and influence who I would become one day. These are the life lessons I learned from my dad:

1. Cross that bridge when you come to it

My mother was a world-class champion in worrying. She could come up with any disastrous scenario of any situation and worry about every minute detail until she was sick to her stomach. My dad has always been decidedly more laid-back. I remember many times worrying about something completely out of my control and him reminding me not to worry about it until it actually happened. When I was little I had no idea what the idiom “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” actually meant, but as I grew I began to appreciate my dad’s way of handling the unknown. As an adult I have really benefited from not being riddled with the anxiety constant worrying brings and appreciate my dad’s approach to life. Why worry about something that may never happen?

2. No good deed goes unpunished

I’ve heard my dad say on more than one occasion that no good deed goes unpunished. I’ve come to realize over the years that this means that even when I have good intentions and do something good for someone else, that doesn’t mean that my actions will always be appreciated. Sometimes they are even unwelcome. I used to say this mantra a lot when I worked in my first job as a social worker. I would work my tail off for the benefit of a client and not only have it not appreciated, but criticized. I had to realize that I’m not always going to get the praise and adulation I expect when performing “good deeds,” and yet I still need to do and be good.

3. Don’t always work up to your full potential 

My mom had a very strong work ethic. She believed if someone is paying you, you work as hard and adeptly as you can to accomplish the task. While I admire this, I noticed that when she came home from work she was so exhausted she had nothing left to give to her family. When I was older and able to articulate my feelings into words, I told her she gave so much of herself at the office that she had nothing left for her children at the end of the day. I know she listened and heard me, but the work ethic that she had learned from her parents won out every day. When I got my first job my parents gave me very different sets of advice. My mom told me to work as hard as I could and to do my very best every day. My dad told me not to work up to my full potential because then my employers would always expect me to work that hard and that was a quick way to work myself to death. I could still adequately perform my job duties without giving myself ulcers and a heart attack by the age of 30. More often than not I have stuck to my dad’s philosophy of not working up to my full potential. That is, until I had my first social work job and I loved it and was so dedicated to my clients. I noticed after a few years I had missed out on things like trick-or-treating with my children, my daughter’s first piano recital, and my son’s birthday party because I was working. I would come home so exhausted I was literally too tired to make a sandwich for dinner, let alone be a good parent. I know the job I was doing was important, but my family is more important to me.

4. There are jerks every where you go. 

I remember complaining to my dad once about a jerk I worked with and how I couldn’t wait to get a new job and be away from this jerk. My dad just chuckled and said that he has encountered a jerk, or several jerks, at every job he’s ever been at. There were jerks in the Army with him, there are jerks at church,  there are jerks at every job, and there are jerks in your neighborhood. The only person I can control is myself and how I react to the jerks.  I’ve had to learn to deal with the jerks and get on with my life, my job, my church work, and my job assignment. There are always going to be jerks. What’s important is that I’m not one of them.

5. Appreciate Nature

My dad loves nature. If you are Facebook friends with him you know that he likes to re-post pictures taken at various National Parks. Growing up in Utah, I had an abundance of nature to appreciate just off my front steps. My parents were always taking us for drives in the mountains and pointing out the beautiful views and the gorgeous changing of the leaves in Autumn. Whenever family from Back East came to visit he would take them to Antelope Island, in the middle of the Great Salt Lake, and show off the spectacular scenery. My dad loves to go camping and would accompany me and my friends on a church youth group trip up to Jackson Hole every summer for some river rafting. My mom stayed home and read her book. I’ve hiked with him in Zions and Arches National Park. We’ve enjoyed the sunrise over the ocean in Florida together. And whenever I leave the state of Utah and return, I see the beautiful Rockies rising in the distance and my heart thrills. I believe this is because my dad taught me to appreciate the beauty of the nature around me.

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Our family at Arches National Park in 1992

6. Stay true to your own conscience

One of the greatest things I admire about my dad is that when he was drafted into Vietnam he went as a conscientious objector. Because of his religion he is a pacifist and does not believe in taking a life for any reason. In the Army he was trained as a Medic and took care of POWs instead of taking more lives. I am proud that he was able to stay true to his religion and fulfill his duty as a citizen at the same time. My dad once told me that I always had a deep sense of what was right and wrong and was fair and what was unjust. I believe I got this from him. As an adult I refuse to be a party to things that offend my conscience, even if my culture, my religion, or my community tell me that what I believe is wrong.

7. When it’s important to your kids, you show up

I can’t say that my dad loves choir concerts, or piano recitals, or school plays, but he showed up to every one his kids were in. Even when “the game” was on. I can’t even imagine how many excruciatingly boring performances my dad sat through over the years but I never heard him complain (not to me at least). My dad and I are different religions and he often attends religious rituals that he doesn’t necessarily understand and can’t participate in.  That hasn’t stopped him from supporting me, my siblings, or his grandchildren in these rituals. He once told me that he may not understand something, but if it’s important to one of his kids, it’s important to him.

8. Unconditional Love

The greatest life lesson my dad taught me is the hardest one to write about. When I was in 3rd grade my mom was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition in her breasts. This was the late 1980s and there weren’t a lot of good options. My parents decided together that my mother would have a bilateral mastectomy. It was very scary to me as an 8 year old to have words like “cancer” and “surgery” bandied about. It was also scary to see my mom’s body forever altered. Her breasts were never rebuilt and she lived the rest of her life with scars across her chest. I saw the unconditional love my dad had for my mother during this time. She couldn’t lift her arms up very far and couldn’t do a lot of things for herself. He bathed her, helped her on the toilet, gave her enemas when the pain pills caused her constipation, affirmed to her that he still loved her and was attracted to her even though her body had changed, and cheered on her recovery in his own quiet and supportive way. This had a lasting impact on me as I grew. I knew that marriage wasn’t a relationship to take lightly and sometimes when it comes to “for better or for worse” the worse is really much worse than you ever anticipated. Twenty years after my mom’s mastectomy, my parents were dealt an even more devastating blow. My mom was diagnosed with stage IV inoperable pancreatic cancer. Yet again, I watched my dad take care of my mom in a way that left her with the dignity to make her own choices. He protected her wishes. He supported her when she decided to do chemo, even though it caused more pain and didn’t prolong her life. He helped her make the decision to end treatment and opt for hospice care. And he was the person in the room with her when she died. Through their 36 year long marriage, through the fights and disagreements, through the births of three children, through illnesses, and mortgage payments, and choir performances, and summer camps, and finally an empty nest, my dad remained loyal to my mother. He taught me more about unconditional love through his example as a husband to my mother than he ever could with any words he’d ever speak. My dad taught me how to be a committed spouse and I only hope that I can show my husband the kind of unconditional love my dad taught me through the way he lives his life.

Happy Father’s Day, Dadoo! I love you.

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Hugging my dad after he married my step-mom in 2008

 

Cross-posted  at The Huffington Post

 

Boys Don’t Cry, another socially constructed lie of humanness May 30, 2014

Filed under: childhood,family,legacy,Life,personal,Uncategorized — Risa @ 9:29 am

Do you know what I’m really tired of people telling me? That little girls are more dramatic than little boys. That they’re so happy they have all male children or having a male child because “girls are drama.” Bullshit.

As a mother of two boys and two girls I can say unequivocally that the drama comes in equal parts from the different sexes in my home. And any drama or non-drama that comes from my children is solely based on their individual personalities and not their genitals.

Maybe it’s because I allow my sons the freedom to express the full capacity of their emotions without shaming them that they actually feel comfortable crying and saying their feelings are hurt or that they are willing to admit that they are sensitive. My two sons are very different from each other. One has more tender feelings than the other and that is okay. That’s a condition of being a human being, not a condition of being a certain sex.

There is a lot of crying and fighting and sibling rivalry in my house. It’s hard growing up and it’s hard living with other people. Especially your siblings some times. But I refuse to allow my daughters the space to express their emotions while simultaneously denying that from my sons because of the harmful and cultural lie that “boys don’t cry.” Yes, they do and it’s damn healthy.

I want all my children, my two sons and my two daughters, to grow up into people who can be empathetic and compassionate to others. I don’t want any of them to steel and shield themselves from the emotions of life because of damaging cultural expectations. How can I do this if I shunt and make them repress their emotions now while they’re growing up based on their sex?

In short, next time someone laughingly tells me that girls are so much drama, expect me to call you out. One individual girl might be more dramatic than one individual boy, but it’s a sweeping generalization that is hurting girls as much as hurts boys. Just stop it.

boys don't cry

Boys cry and that’s healthy and good

 

What I Learned From My Mom About Parenting May 5, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Risa @ 3:09 pm
mom, me, and reilley

Mom, me, and my oldest on my lap at my nephew’s baby blessing in 2002

The other day I was looking at a photo of myself at my toddler daughter’s age. I marveled at how much she looked like me and I relished the family resemblance. We don’t have the same eye color, but the same eye shape, and the same long eyelashes. I realized that, although I was hoping she would have the same blue eyes as mine, she has hazel eyes like my mother. Then I pulled out a photo of my mother crying on her first birthday. I could see my daughter’s face in hers since my baby has that exact same expression when she cries. I realized the family resemblance ran through at least three generations. These moments are especially bittersweet since I can’t share them with my mother because she died six years ago from pancreatic cancer. The family resemblances don’t end at our face shapes and our shared hair color. My mom taught me a lot of lessons about parenting and oftentimes I’m a reflection of her.

94 Marisa

Toddler me in 1979. My daughter looks just like me.

1. The love of reading

Every Saturday of my childhood my mother would take me to the library. She was an avid reader and always had her name on a list to reserve the latest must-read book. I spent countless hours at our city library stacking up the piles of books she let me check-out. I remember when she got me my first library card and how proud I was to be responsible for my own books. I remember my mother said once she could survive anything in life as long as she had her books to take her away on a new adventure. She instilled her love of books in me. I don’t take my children to the library as often as she did, but I take them frequently. In the summer times I read a large chapter book to my children for a few minutes every night. They’re always begging me to read more chapters. Whenever I see one of my kids reading a book independent of a school assignment I get a little thrill.

2. Parenting doesn’t stop when your child turns 18

After my mother died I was going through her things and picking out the books I wanted to keep while the rest would be donated. Among the thousands of books I found in her collection was a book about parenting from an empty nest. To think that my mother was worried about parenting her children right even after we were adults let me know how much she truly did love us and wanted us to succeed. I was married young and after I had only completed two and a half years of college. My mother constantly encouraged me to go back to college. She wanted each of her children to have a college education and it was an important goal for her since she never got the opportunity. After the birth of my second child, every so often my mom would ask me when I was planning on going back. Once I made the decision to quit my job and go back to school full-time my mother supported me completely. She and my dad even paid for the semesters not covered by financial aid. It took me two years to graduate and my mother couldn’t have been prouder. I’ll always be thankful she was there to see me graduate since she died six months after I donned my cap and gown.

3. Loyalty

My mom always taught me that “blood is thicker than water” or that you should always stand up for your family no matter what. She taught me that you should always have your family’s back over other people. I think I learned this lesson especially too well because one of the earliest memories my younger brother has is me taking off my shoe in the foyer at our church and hitting a kid with it who was teasing him. My mother especially wanted her children to have a close relationship as siblings. I think because she instilled that loyalty to my family in me is why my sister and brother are two of the most important people in the world to me. I try to instill this in my own children, which is why it’s especially painful for me when they fight with each other. I want them to know that most friends come and go, but family is forever.

20 Sue Degn BD edited

Mom on her first birthday. My toddler looks just like this when she cries.

4. Your life doesn’t stop because you have children

When I became a mother for the first time my mother told me that children are supposed to fit into our lives, not the other way around. Because of this I have not lost my whole self in motherhood to the point where that is my whole identity. While I love being a mother and parenting my children, I have retained my hobbies and my friendships and I encourage this with my husband as well. I completed my Bachelors degree when I had two children and plan to complete a Masters degree when my youngest gets out of the toddler years. Active parenting is such a short period of time, and while most of my time if devoted to parenting I hold a small space that is just my own and only belongs to me.

5. Talking

My mother was somebody I always could talk to. I would lay in her bed with her for hours talking about my life and my problems. Even during my cranky teenage years my mother was someone I could always talk to and she would always listen. She would even put down her book long enough to pay attention to me. Years later as an adult, even though she only lived five miles away, I would call my mom and we would spend hours on the phone.  I’ve had friends tell me that they could never talk to their mothers the way I talked to mine, like a friend. I remember the first time I reached for the phone to call my mother after she died and realizing, with a slap to the face, she wouldn’t be on the other end if I called her number. I still have the very last voice mail she ever left me singing me a birthday song and wishing my a happy birthday. As my oldest is about the enter the teenage years I have tried to develop this relationship with her. She comes and talks to me about school, her friends, and the boy she likes and I try to listen without judgment. The other day she told me liked hanging out with me, so maybe I’m doing a good job at this.

6. Accepting me for who I am

I was flipping through a book about mothers that my in-laws gave me one Mother’s day when I came across this quote by Fredelle Maynard and it struck me:

“Beyond all lessons, beyond the model she provided, my mother gave me a parent’s ultimate gift; she made me feel lovable and good. She paid attention; she listened; she remembered what I said. She did not think me perfect, but she accepted me, without qualification.”

My mother always accepted me for who I was. She didn’t try to change me or push me into doing things I didn’t want to do. I mean, within reason. She did expect me to finish my vegetables at dinner. She didn’t try to change me into the Homecoming Queen when I was a book nerd. She let me make my owns mistakes and learn from them. A lot of parents try to make their children into their own image and that is not what my mother did. She lets us find out who we were without expectations, or qualifications, like Maynard said. As a mother, I have loved watching my children’s personalities unfold, and like my mother, I try to not push my own view of who they should be on them. I want them to grow up to be exactly who they are.

7. Time is a gift

The most important thing my mom taught me about parenting is that time is a gift. The reason why time is so precious is because you never know when your time is going to end. My mother died when I was 29 years old. I believed that we had at least 20 more years together. I thought she would be around to watch my children grow up and to be an active grandparent in their lives, but she’s not. That has made every moment that I ever spent with her special. I don’t know how much time I have with my children on this earth. That means the time I do spend with them is precious to me and I want them to know it’s special too. I can’t think of a greater gift to my children then to give them my time.

me and pyper

My daughter and I on her first birthday.

 

Cross posted at the Huffington Post 

 

You think you know better but you don’t April 28, 2014

Filed under: childhood,family,health,lessons,Life,Rants — Risa @ 8:00 am

Brace yourselves for a rant.

I’m really tired of being accused of being a lazy mother because I medicate my children who have ADHD. I’m really tired of being told I just don’t want to deal with them, so I choose to drug them.

I’m sorry, but no. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a real thing and it’s not always solved with some extra playtime. It is a real psychiatric disorder of the neutrodevelopmental type and is recognized by the DSM-IV. Two of my children have been tested and observed extensively and they are in the clinical range. Their behavior and symptoms are not typical for their age group. Their parents, teachers, and doctor didn’t make up this disorder just because we like drugging children into mindless drooling drones.

Trust me, I wasn’t real thrilled with the thought of my daughter going on medication when she was first diagnosed with ADHD 7 years ago. I was in deep denial. I did not see the behaviors her teacher saw because, her being my first child, her behaviors were normal to me. I thought this was how all six year olds acted. I thought all six year olds could only do their homework for a few minutes at a time before they needed to go run around. I thought all six year olds stole items with little or no value because of impulse control problems. I thought all six year olds lost interest in an activity within minutes. I thought all six year olds had trouble concentrating, daydreamed, were excessively concerned with what others were doing, and had trouble listening and remembering what they were told. I excused her behavior with saying her beloved grandmother just died and so this is why she was distracted in school. I excused it by saying I was pregnant and there many changes in the household with a new baby coming and this is why she acted antsy. It wasn’t until her teacher told me that she missed 80% of what went on in class each day before I got out of my denial and allowed her to be tested for ADHD. And it was even harder to accept that my child was two standard deviations from the typical behavior of six year olds.

Being committed and concerned parents, her father and I immediately scheduled an appointment with her pediatrician. She had us do additional testing just to make sure. That test also came back with her showing signs in the clinical range. She prescribed her a very low dose of an ADHD medicine and waited to see results. We barely saw any and I doubted that my child had what everyone said she had.  Luckily for me at the time I worked with a lot of therapists and child psychologists and I sought their opinions. They pointed me toward a different medication, that is not a stimulant and not addictive, to see if that worked better. She was seven years old and deep into 2nd grade before she finally got on the right medication and her entire world (and our entire world) changed. I’m sure her 2nd grade teacher can tell you the exact day she started medication because she went from a child who literally could not sit down in her chair, so her teacher put her in a spot in the classroom where she could stand beside her desk, to a child her could sit for longer periods of time and concentrate.

adhd download

Do you know what ADHD did to my child in the meantime before we got the right medication figured out? It destroyed her self-esteem. Because she could not focus and concentrate she was way behind her peers in their knowledge. She could barely read a few sight words at the end of 1st grade. She thought she was dumb. Do you know what it’s like to have your 7 year old daughter feel so dumb and worthless she threatens to kill herself? I was lucky I knew therapists and I was able to get her treatment with therapists who taught her behavioral techniques that would help her concentrate and who also helped build her self-esteem. We were lucky to move to a school that had a phenomenal special education teacher who fought for her, with us, to get her into some resource classes so she could catch up with the kids in her grade.

And finally in 7th grade my precious daughter is finally on grade level for reading and I consider it a miracle. I thank my God above that there is a medication out there that helps her focus and concentrate. She is old enough to know the difference between the days she doesn’t take the medication and she prefers to take it because she knows school is easier to deal with when she does. And she is thriving in Junior High in a way I never dreamed possible. She has wonderful grades and has even been on the Honor Roll. She has taken great strides to become more independent and responsible and she is doing so well. Me withholding medication from my daughter for a real psychiatric disorder would be as dumb as my parents withholding asthma medication from me as a child just because they didn’t want to “over medicate their child.”  I don’t think the strides she has made would have been possible without the help of her medication.

I don’t know why we as a society treat illnesses of the brain as imaginary and it’s shameful to treat them when we don’t do that for any other part of the body. If my child had diabetes there is no question that she would be given insulin. If she had asthma like me, there is no way I would deprive her of a rescue inhaler. All my wishing away her ADHD didn’t work and the strides she has made in the last 7 years are because her medication suppresses her ADHD symptoms and allows her to learn.

I’m not saying every child with ADHD needs to be medicated. I’m just say my kids do and I refuse to be ashamed because of it. So, those of you who think you know better than me, the woman who gave birth to my daughter and my son with ADHD; who think they know more than their father who has devoted his life to raising these children; who think you know better than the doctor who has treated them since the first days of their lives; who think you know better than the child psychologists I took my daughter to to learn behavioral techniques to help her cope, I’m here to say, you think you know better BUT YOU DON’T. When it comes to my children and their medication this is a MYOB issue. I have dealt with this for almost a decade. I have spent countless hours reading research and books. I have talked to many therapists. And you? You read ONE article and you think you know more than me about ADHD? Laughable. Keep your uniformed opinions to yourself.

End rant.

To learn what it’s like to be in the mind of a person with ADHD, read this.

ADHD

 

 
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