Naming (Boy) Babies

Naming babies is hard! Our new little guy is the first one we’ve had to name, though we’ve talked a lot about baby names over the years. And I’ve decided it’s just too much responsibility. Really, I wish we lived in a society where we picked a baby name and then later, at 10 or 13 or 15, in some important coming of age ritual, a child received a new adult name.

Up until now we’ve mostly imagined girl names–maybe because it’s easier. So when we found out we were having a boy, we started researching. Continue reading

The Grief I Cannot Ease

In December of 2011 the happy, secure little girl who called my spouse Mama who had lived at our house since she was ten days old moved permanently to live with a cousin. She turned 2 just a month later. It was very hard and while our grief is not the raw and wild kind it was, we still love her deeply and wish to see her far more often than we’re allowed.

We last saw her just after her third birthday in January of 2013. We’ve been sending messages hoping to see her since last spring, but until a few days ago didn’t get a reply. It turns out they are trying to figure out if seeing us is good for her. After the last few times she saw us she acted out–hitting, even biting and this surprised them. Continue reading

Wholehearted and Marginalized

Some folks I know are posting on this critique and this follow up post criticizing Brene Brown’s work by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg. Cohen-Rottenberg details the many ways oppression undermines connection–homophobia, sexism, ableism, and more and the social forces which work to give some people more of a sense of worthiness and others less and concludes that for some people the courage to be wholehearted is not enough to create connection with others. Yes. Yes. Yes. The “others” are not always there waiting to reach out, it’s true. And there are some that will never be ready to connect with us, too stuck in their own self-reinforcing narrow world views. And unfortunately, some of those people hold a lot of power, it’s true.

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Being Neighborly

I spend my professional time reflecting with others on ethics and how to be good people in the world. We encourage each other to live our values of compassion and love daily even with strangers.

But, I confess, I am not doing so well with all of my neighbors. It’s one thing to be compassionate and kind when someone else’s actions have no real effect on me. It’s another when I’ve got skin in the game. Continue reading

“Why Don’t You Just Adopt?”

This week on babble Carolyn Castiglia asks “Are we really supposed to feel sorry for a 42-year-old woman who is doing IVF when she could just adopt?”

There are so many problems with this. Let’s start with the compassion piece. Yes. Yes, you’re supposed to feel compassion for anyone who is suffering, even if they may have made decisions that have contributed to their suffering. Who among us hasn’t realized that we could have prevented our suffering? Did that make the suffering any less painful? Continue reading

The Problem with the Imperfect Parent Narrative

Apparently a lot of us have had it with the pressure to be perfect parents. Psychology Today reminds us that reducing our parenting perfectionism can make us happier. If you want to start a blog on imperfect parenting, you can’t have imperfectparent.com or imperfectmommy.com. If you want you can join the imperfect parents gathering at scarymommy.com and even anonymously confess your sins. Or read about what you can learn as an imperfect parent at Huffington Post.

I’m all for admitting our imperfections–we all screw up and we’re healthier and happier when we can let go of the shame. If we strive for perfection our shame gets in the way of us actually improving. Our shame can even keep us from apologizing and setting things to right. So, for the most part, I’m on board.

But I do have an issue with the emerging narrative. A big issue. The most recent post I’ve seen as an example is this one.

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Our Fostering Story, Part 4: Saying Goodbye

After Baby S. left it was just us and Baby M. She grew and thrived and we loved her. There are many stories to tell, of course, of her impish curious self, of signing, of walking, of getting into mischief, of her first words, of her love of berries, water, and helping. There were also a lot of hard things. It was hard every week to strap her into a social worker’s car as she cried. Visits with mom and dad were hard for a long time. Dad appeared out of nowhere and she was really frightened of him. And the drives in the strange car–too often a new worker–were clearly frightening too. The social workers assured us she stopped crying, but when I picked her up, for months, she clung to me and bawled. So, we’d sit in the parking lot until she was ready for her carseat. Continue reading