Tag Archives: compassion

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

It wasn’t until recently that I realized there are a lot of things that I don’t know about. There are many things that I need to teach my children, and as a mom, that’s a hard revelation. There are just things I don’t know about.

I don’t know how to teach my son how to change oil in his vehicle. I don’t know how to teach him how to do basic home repairs, beyond changing a furnace filter, light bulbs, and using putty for a small nail hole. I don’t know how to teach him to be a “man” in the sense of what he will need to be when he enters the world as an adult. I don’t how to teach him to lead a household in the way men are called to lead their household and family.

I don’t know these things, because I am a woman. Not a man. I wear many hats on a daily basis. Mom, teacher, nurse, doctor, chauffeur, referee, and counselor. The one hat I lack though has the title of “dad”.

But as I sit here writing this, I realize, it’s okay. I am not supposed to know these things. That is where my tribe of people come in. To fill those gaps that I lack. These are the reasons why people say “it takes a village” when it comes to raising children.

My kids are incredibly lucky that they live in the era they live in. They have access to so much technology that they should be able to find a YouTube video on anything they would ever need to know how to do. The things that I cannot teach them, I can help them problem solve to find the right resources and tutorials for them to figure things out. Those tangible, hands on things that my “mom” hat prevents me from knowing.

But what I can teach them are lessons on how to treat people. How to be compassionate towards people. I can teach my son how women should be treated. I can teach my daughters how to be picky when it comes to men and what attributes to look for. I can show my children how simple kindness is what makes the world really go round. I can teach them how to set healthy boundaries so they never have to settle for less than what they deserve. I can teach my children about perseverance. That sometimes life will inevitably knock you down, sometimes making you feel like there is no place to go and there is no hope, but when that moment happens, that’s when you can dig deep into your soul, discover your worth and value, and that is when you rise above it. That is when you discover the inner strength that comes from God depending on your beliefs. That is when you discover what you are made of and how every lesson, big and small, prepared you for that moment.

The moment to rise

The moment to conquer

The moment to believe in yourself

That is something that my “mom” hat allows me to do. But, it doesn’t have to be a “mom” to teach these things. Anyone can teach anyone these things. These are life lessons that any parent can teach their child. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom, a dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle. Take a minute to teach the children the importance of being a kind human in a cruel world. Teach them to not give up when things get hard. But most importantly, teach them they have value and purpose. Because if you don’t, who will?

~R.

https://thedignifiedgrace.wordpress.com

The Caretaker Of Broken Dreams

The Caretaker Of Broken Dreams..

“We’ve buried dreams, laid them deep into the earth behind us. Said our goodbyes at the grave, yet everything reminds us. God knows we ache, but he asks us to go on… how do we go on?”

~Ellie Holcomb

I’d been wandering through the same leaves, the same graves… struggling to remember exactly where he was. It had been years since I’d placed my hands on the earth that held what remained of a brother I never got the chance to know.

The caretaker must have seen my wandering. He gently approached me and asked who I was looking for. I couldn’t help but notice the kindness in his eyes… his voice. He didn’t ask me what grave I was looking for, he asked me who I was looking for. I told him my brother’s name and he gently led me over to his grave… mere feet away from where I was standing. And isn’t that the thing… so often when we feel utterly lost, we’re closer than we know to finding what we need?

I traced his name with my fingers, brushed leaves off his grave. Funny how we want to tend and take care of things for people we love who are gone. I think sometimes these small, tender acts simply remind us of what once existed, remind us of what’s been lost.

I never used to visit the cemetery. When they put up a memorial for children who’d died in a local park and my brother’s name was etched into the stone, I didn’t want to attend the ceremony. Who wants to feel the weight of that loss again and again? For many years, I’d it pushed down, held it at bay, the pain and grief of loss. I thought that maybe if I held it down, swallowed it deep, maybe I could avoid the crushing ache of it.

And for many years… that worked. Or it worked as well as it can when your body is holding onto an aching sadness. Because the thing is, you don’t just lose a person, you lose the way it feels like your life should have gone. You lose what you thought would be your life. And you can only hold that for so long until it comes busting out.

25 years after losing my first brother, I lost the only other brother I’d known. And his loss was sudden, traumatic, and crushing. What was the last thing I said to him? Did he know how deeply I loved him? Was there something, anything I could have done to save him? That loss sent me reeling, and yet I quietly pushed it down. How do you put words to grief that shakes the foundation of what you thought you knew?

Three weeks after losing him, two surgeons took out my womb, and my hope for carrying more children ended more abruptly than I was ready for.

Although, who is ever really ready to bury a dream?

And in the months that followed, it felt like I dug a grave of loss so deep I’d never climb out.
I buried a brother, then the dream for more babies, a job I loved, a place I loved, a marriage, the life I’d known for the last decade of my life. All buried in quick succession. And in burying those dreams you bury other things. You bury relationships, spaces, and places that you once fit, things you used to be sure of, your sense of worth and belonging.

And again, I pushed it down, held it at bay… Until I couldn’t anymore. One morning several months later, I woke up and the tears came and wouldn’t stop. They bubbled over until my body trembled at the weight of what they meant. I was fully feeling the loss. And they’ve been coming ever since.

And at first that scared me. I felt ashamed. Was I falling apart? Was I weak? Why couldn’t I keep it together? Why couldn’t I just put my chin up and move on? Life is hard for everyone, and my trauma is small in comparison to other people’s. So why was it a struggle just to get out of bed and face the day?

The caretaker told me there was someone with the same name as my brother and asked who he was to me. I told him that was my grandfather. I thanked him for helping me find my way and watched him go about the care of a place that holds many buried dreams. My eyes scanned the sea of graves and I wondered… How much care and compassion must he have to know the names on gravestones? My breath caught at the nature of his work. But more than that my eyes welled at his kindness.

I knelt next to the grave, raked my fingers through the ground, rolled up my sleeve and laid the tattooed ashes of one brother alongside the grave of another. And my heart broke at the beauty and devastation of that moment.

It had taken 27 years… but I was fully feeling the loss. I was acknowledging that it mattered. Sometimes we need to say their names. We need to speak about the broken places. We need to dig our hands in the earth where our dreams have been buried. We need to allow grief to be part of our story instead of trying to move forward as if we are the same. Because we aren’t.

I ran into a dear acquaintance at the grocery store recently who looked into my eyes and genuinely asked me how I was. The care and compassion on her face was evident. And as we embraced she said something I will never forget “I’m on your side… no, there are no sides… I’m in your corner.” I looked at her and nodded “No, there are no sides…” I repeated. She told me how she’d read an article recently about how no one brings casseroles to people going through divorce. And she reminded me that it’s okay to gather up your people and weather the storm with them, without explaining where you went. She reminded me that sometimes the places and spaces we so desperately wish were a safe place for our pain, simply aren’t. And that maybe the beauty in all of this is that we can be a safe place for someone else walking a similar road someday. Because there is nothing quite as healing as knowing you aren’t alone.

So how do we go on…? How do we put one foot in front of the other in this life that now feels new and unfamiliar? How do we make sense of the loss, acknowledge it, feel it, and yet still move forward? How do we live it and not lose ourselves in it? My deeply insightful answer is this: I don’t know. I don’t know how to do this well. Maybe none of us do. There is no manual for this. No one can tell you how to bury dreams and carry loss well. We just find our way, wrack our hands through the dirt that carries our loss, and attempt to wrap our arms around people walking a similar road… letting them know they aren’t alone.

And cemetery caretakers and women in grocery stores may just be balm to our wounds, if we let them. What I find deeply beautiful about pain… is the way it brings out compassion.

So might I say something? Today, be the cemetery caretaker and help someone who is a little lost find their way…. Be the woman in the grocery store and stand in someone’s corner without needing to know the story. Be the balm to someone’s wounds. Err on the side of compassion and write the note, send the flowers, make the casserole, pay for the coffee of the person behind you, wrap your arms around someone. Give them the balm of your kindness, help them find their way. Or, kneel next to them in the dirt, ask them how they really are, and trace the pain of their losses. It’s what will help them go on.

Death, loss, divorce, the estranged family member, illness, childlessness, financial crisis… the list goes on. We’ve all buried dreams. We’ve all racked our hands in some kind of dirt and whispered “this wasn’t how it was supposed to go.”

I sat there for awhile, arm stretched out, brother next to brother, fingers etching a grave, hands feeling the dirt. And then I looked up to see the caretaker tenderly digging in the earth. I don’t know why. I do know it felt an awful lot like love watching a man carefully shovel dirt and tending to loss in such a profoundly intimate way. Maybe we could all learn a thing or two from the caretaker who spends his days carrying losses and helping people find their way.

-Michaela

Mean Girls 101

Mean girls sadly are nothing new and I feel like they are digging their claws in at younger and younger ages.

The other morning I am getting ready for work and I look at my bathroom mirror and notice a message:

“You are awesome

You are strong

Be you

Don’t let them get to you, be strong”

I winced and finished getting ready for work. I share a bathroom with my 11 year old daughter. I certainly didn’t write that on the bathroom mirror. Truth be told I can barely reach that high.

I made a mental note to talk to her about it.

G has been dealing with them for a few years now, but now that she is in middle school it seems much more hurtful. There’s intent to harm. I wish I didn’t understand but I have been dealing with mean girls since forever.

I could give you the examples but then I’m just continuing to give them power. At the end of the day that’s what this is ALWAYS about when someone hurts you.

Power.

On our weekly drive back from her Dad’s I asked my daughter what was going on.

There is a girl in her class who just simply doesn’t like her. She’s pretty sure all paths lead to a boy she likes. Geez, doesn’t it ALWAYS?! Not really, but man…

She said this girl always makes sassy comments towards her and in front of others and essentially bosses her around.

I asked her what she does in turn. Nothing she tells me. I just keep quiet or do it.

What I tell you all next may cause some of you to scold me.

I said “don’t do that.”

“What”

“Don’t do that G. What do you want to do?”

“I want to scream at her and call her names. Can I swear?”

“No and definitely don’t do any of that. She wins. She wants to be in charge.”

“Then what do I Mom?”

“This stuff she’s telling you not to do, are the teachers ok with what you’re doing?”

“Yes”

“Well, f#*# her then.”

“Mom!”

“The next time she says anything. Calmly look at her and say the teacher is fine with what I’m doing why aren’t you? Can you do that?”

“Yes.”

 

Flash forward to this morning and I notice on G’s wrist a heart with the words: live, laugh, love, be you.

“Baby, is that girl still being mean to you?”

“No.”

“G?”

“She gave me a hard time in class yesterday…”

“And?”

“And I asked her “didn’t she have a project to work on instead of bothering me.”

“How’d that feel?”

“Good.”

“So why the ink?”

“So when she’s picking on me I can remember…”

I know it’s hard for G to share. She hates worrying anyone. I made sure to remind her she doesn’t have to talk to me but it’s incredibly important she talk to someone. I told her I understand. I am dealing with mean girls even now. It feels not great and as easy as it is to get angry that is their fuel.

I didn’t tell her what I’m about to share with you. When I was younger I just let it hurt me. I took it. I lamented. I became small. I assumed it had to be me. Something about me triggered this response.

I had a fantastic mentor share with me when I was dealing with a particularly vicious workplace mean girl that they are that way to EVERYONE.

I’m not special. However, in that moment it feels so awful you don’t think that way.

So I took a step back. I watched said mean girl in meetings. Paid attention to how she wrote her emails.

Yup. It was her. I was not SPECIAL. Lol.

And to be honest that to this day makes me feel an incredible sense of pity for her. What in your world is so bad to make you lash out like that?

As I replay all my mean girl run ins that is the tape I try use as background music.

I’m not saying I’m over it.

I’m saying it doesn’t stil sting a bit.

What I am saying is I’ve taken the power back. Or at least I try to.

I still want to bubble wrap G and it pisses me off that she’s dealing with this.

But… here’s the thing, I love her to pieces and am going to remind her every minute how fantastic she is. I hope she can use that as her force field or at least as a mini reminder when claws come out.

 

Before I forget- you’re all pretty freakin fantastic  Mommas

<3 Caprise

Innocence of Children

Our 7 year old approached us last night in complete disgust complaining that someone in her class had made fun of the inside of her nose. Yep, you read that correctly..lol. Not because she was picking her nose but those ridges inside your nose?-Yeah those. Just the presence of them. I looked at my husband with disgust in the fact that kids now resort to making fun of something everyone has and trying to hide my laughter after seeing my daughters face while she was explaining to us, knowing full well that she cannot possibly fathom why people make “fun” of each other.

She’s in the 1st grade, we have to talk to her almost weekly about how not to treat others that way, since she started pre-school at 3.  As you all know we have 2 older children, whom I do not recall all the teasing and poking fun happening with them at such an early age.  It’s absurd!

She is not a girlie girl and doesn’t care to dress in “fancy” clothes, and quite honestly if I didn’t intervene she would go to school and out in public looking like a mis-matched, outdated, rag muffin.  Jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and t-shirts are her preference and when it comes to shoes, she would rather not wear any.  Occasionally she will come downstairs in a dress that my grandmother sent her styled and popular in 1972 and think it is the most beautiful thing she has ever seen. Her sense of “style” is crazy and I am perfectly ok with that but most kids her age are not.  Breaks my heart for her.

She is our wild child and loves to sing, dance, paint, draw, and write songs! She loves to fish, kayak, swim, camp, bugs, snakes, animals and the dirtier she is the happier she is! It’s a daily struggle to get her to go to school-although, she loves it when she gets there-and she’s super smart, she just has things to tend to -school gets in the way 🙂

You try to help your children not “mold” in to what others think they should be. You want them to stay as innocent and perfectly themselves, forever. And no matter how hard you try to keep them true to who they are, there is no denying it’s a struggle. Outside influences have a lot of power, and at any age it’s difficult. I struggle with what others think or say about me, not to the degree that I lose sleep over it or let it control my day, but it’s still there.

Kindness and Compassion are virtues that have become less and less. Remember-it costs absolutely NOTHING to be kind to one another.

Love to All-

Kim