Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Yoga For Congo Women

When Ann contacted me asking if I would mention her charity Yoga for Congo Women and the upcoming worldwide yoga event, I countered by asking her to do a guest post instead. First, I love yoga. I don't practice regularly (although that might change in the near future) but since my first yoga lesson over 15 years ago I have enjoyed the practice and know I would benefit from doing it more regularly. Second, I like the idea of using yoga--a practice known for it's mental and emotional benefits as well as physical--to reach out to women in the Congo, arguably one of the most difficult places to be a woman in the world. Please take a minute to read Ann's post below and if you feel so inclined share this post on your social media feeds as well--lets spread the word!

My name is Ann Richmond.  I'm blessed to live in the mountains with my amazing husband, six incredible daughters, and a funny little puppy.  My husband and I run a charity called Yoga for Congo Women. We've held this event in cities all over the country, and for the first time, we will be holding it online, so that anyone, worldwide, can participate!

So all of us get mail, email, facebook messages, etc...long, long emails asking us for help.  
Most of us really don’t have time for long emails.

But even more than that, we don’t have the capacity to take it.  We get emails from charities of all kinds, all of us.  We all go through psychic numbing, because the numbers are so immense and the problems are so painful that we physically cannot bear it or fathom it, and we shut it out. Don’t feel guilty…it’s a normal defense mechanism. We all do it in some way or another.
Since you're busy, I'll just give you the basic facts:

  • The war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo began with the Rwandan genocide.
  • It is the deadliest war since WWII, and also the most ignored.
  • Over 7 million people are dead, with 45,000 more continuing to die each month.
  • Innocent women are used as weapons in this war: warring militias compete to be the most brutal, and thus the most feared.
  • Thousands of women (ranging from ages 3-80) are gang raped each month.
  • Women are forced to watch as family members are kidnapped and killed.
  • According to public health researcher Amber Peterman, it is estimated that 1152 women are raped in the DRC every day.  That’s four, every 5 minutes. That means that there are already over three million rapes in the Congo. (Link here to her official report, If Numbers Could Scream.)
  • Yes, this is happening RIGHT NOW.
  • I can't stand it.

One is a tragedy.  A million is a statistic. Right?

But what happens to each of those millions of people who is really ONE person, just like you or me?

If your friend was lost, hurt, or alone, you would care deeply, no matter how gruesome their life had turned out.

So today, I'd love to tell you about just one person.  One woman.  One friend.

Her name is Generose.

Just like me, she had six babies.

And just like me, she had a husband she loved very much.

Just like me, one of her worst fears was that terrible people would break into her home and hurt her family at night.  Only for her, it was actually likely to happen.  And it did.

You can imagine what happened to her next.  And as if that wasn’t enough, her leg was also cut off by the militia (a punishment for crying out).  Her husband and son were killed.

In a country the world has left for dead, you and I can only imagine what life was like for her and her remaining children after that.

Luckily, that’s not the end of the story.

Someone in Oregon decided to be her friend.  One friend.  One person who cared enough to do something.

"I believe God sent me [my sister] to rescue me from my misery." - Generose

So, to be more specific, one woman in Oregon decided to sponsor a woman in Congo through Women for Women International.  Because of that sponsorship, Generose, like other women sponsored, received help.  All women sponsored through Yoga for Congo are sponsored through the same program.  Here is a description from our site: The women sponsored through this event will enter a one-year program through Women for Women, which will include rights awareness training, literacy and skills training, food, medicine, and clothing, as well as emotional assistance to recover and heal from the atrocities they have experienced. Upon completion of the program, they will receive seed money to begin their own small businesses, so that they may continue to sustain themselves and their families. This program could literally change and save their lives, and the lives of their children. To learn more about the program that Women for Women provides for these women, visit the Women for Women website.  

As a result, Generose is now happy, healthy, and doing more than most of us do with both our legs.

You could be that friend for someone else.

For one hour, your life could intersect with another life and change it forever.
It just might change you, too.

Please.  Let's join together for Yoga for Congo...hear the rest of Generose's story and the stories of others, people in Congo and people like you.  Find hope you couldn't have imagined in "the worst place on earth to be a woman."  Join us on November 1st for the first-ever Worldwide Yoga for Congo Women Event!

You can visit this page to see more details about the event.  Basically, on November 1st, people can visit our website at any time to view the worldwide broadcast.  It is free, requires no registration, and lasts one hour only.  After, they are free to donate if they choose.  As a bonus, anyone who donates receives a free Yoga for Congo beanie from me in the mail.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Life Lessons with Ira Glass

The husband and I have been trying to step up our date night game.  This weekend I believe we accomplished a firm stepping up in the game.  If you're a fan of This American Life (and you should be) then you know that the man pictured here with B and I is none other than Ira Glass himself.  Ira gave a presentation in downtown Cincinnati entitled Reinventing Radio, where he spoke about This American Life and how this show breathed new life into public radio with their completely new approach to new reporting when they started back in 1995.  As Ira pointed out himself, he's really only semi-famous.  In fact he asked the audience to clap if they were brought here by someone else and really didn't even know who he was.  A fair amount of people clapped.  Then he told a story about a skit on Saturday Night Live in which one of the cast members was going to impersonate Ira.  The skit got cut because "Ira wasn't famous enough to parody."  Personally, I think that if you're going to be famous this is the best kind of famous to be.  Famous enough to be on Jimmy Fallon and to be the inspiration behind the winning costume at Brooklyn's 14th Annual Pupkin Dog Costume contest, but not so famous that you have body guards to protect you from screaming fans and paparazzi.  I think it was this perfect blend of famous-but-not-too-famous that made it even possible to meet Ira.  At the end of the show we decided to go on a walk.  There were a handful of people wanting outside the theaters back entrance.  B and I shrugged and decided to wait and see if Ira would come out.  He did.  And for the handful of us there, it was such a treat to meet him, take pictures and chat for a few minutes.  There were no paparazzi or mobbing crowds.  Just a handful of fans wanting to shake his hand and get a picture.  So we did.  Right before us a teenage boy was meeting Ira and just gushing about how much he looked up to him and loved his work.  Ira, ever the class act, was really gracious and kind. That was actually a great moment to see

But there was one thing in Ira's show that I wanted to talk about.  He was explaining how news has this interesting tradition of being very factual, very dry and totally void of humor or spontaneity.  Of course when you watch the news these days they do allow for humor but it's usually reserved for the weatherman or right before they wrap up for the night.  But it is separate, away from the hard-hitting, serious news.  He said that one of their main goals when starting This American Life was to have fun.  Then he played some clips from the show where they take a topic--war--that is usually done with such weight and seriousness and they bring a little humanity and personality to the topic.  As he plays the clips he gets to this one point where we all laugh, you know...because it's funny.  And then he says (paraphrasing here),

These funny moments, these great quotes don't just happen.  As a producer you have to tease them out of people.  You really have to work to make these spontaneous, magical moments happen.  

For some reason this really hit me.  Because when you listen to TAL, it feels all so free flowing, so easy and natural.  But hearing Ira describe how much they have to work to create these moments surprised me.  Isn't spontaneous synonymous with effortless?  Additionally he also said that each show goes through an editing process 4-5 times for each show before it's ever on the air.  So again, lots of effort, lots of calculation to create humor and spontaneity.

Once again I'm reminded that the life you want, doesn't just magically happen.  You have to actually purposefully, intentionally create it.  Certainly, there are times when you get lucky, when all you have to do is show up and the magic unfolds and blesses you with moments and memories worth their weight in gold.  But often there is thought, effort and plain old work involved to have the life you want to have.  It's not like I didn't know this, but hearing a professional who is in the business of crafting memorable stories talk about the work involved to create these memorable stories ...well it just made me feel better.  Like if life's feeling a little lackluster, it's OK... I have the power to change it.  And if it feels like I'm putting waaay too much thought into what is supposed to be a spontaneous dance party in the leaves?  That's OK too... the details matter and add the the richness of the moment.  

Speaking of spontaneous dance party in the leaves, here are some pics from our leaf party yesterday.  Sick of seeing my kids with piles of leaves yet?  Good.  Me neither.

Any other This American Life fans out there?  Are you surprised about what Ira said and do you find any correlation to your own life?  Are you purposeful and intentional about your life?  How do you do this?  And do you think there are times and seasons to this aspect of life as well?  I sure hope so...

Also, funny side note...I talked with B beforehand about a story idea I've thought about pitching to This American Life, but not sure I would ever actually do it.  So on the spot, my husband ended up pitching him my story idea!  Ira actually seemed intrigued and gave me his email (his real email)--ha!  So you know, if we end up sharing a story on This American Life you heard it here first. 

(For the record... I'm not holding my breath.)  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Special Needs Spotlight || Bridger

Hey guys. You're going to love today's spotlight.  As hard as it is finding out that your child has special needs, imagine how much harder it is not having a name for those needs.  Which means you also lack a clear, long-term prognosis.  I think children and families who fall under this umbrella of "multiple needs, yet unknown diagnosis" have even more on their shoulders than your typical special needs families.  What I love about Chelsea's spotlight is that while she doesn't shy away from how difficult this journey sometimes is, the fierce love and joy she feels about being Bridger's mama completely shines through. Please enjoy!  

Hi, I’m Chelsea; wife to the most amazing, giving, and selfless husband, Cade, and momma to three beautiful children: Brecken (7) Braylee (4) and Bridger (15 months). We live in central Utah where Cade is a gun salesman and I am an elementary teacher for the Utah Online School and also run a new pillow business ( to help cover our mounting medical expenses.  Bridger, our 15 month old, has an undiagnosed leukodystrophy, which is a central nervous system disorder that causes him to be floppy with low tone.  He struggles to even hold his head up by himself.  On top of that, he was born with cataracts on both eyes, profound hearing loss, and cyclical vomiting. He has had the Nissen surgery and also has a G-tube.  This journey we have found ourselves on is one we never envisioned, but has changed our lives forever.


Miggy:  Thanks for being here today and sharing your family with us in the special needs spotlight. When did you first start to see signs that things weren't "right" with your son Bridger?  At what point did a doctor (or doctors) confirm your fears and do you remember how you felt?  Can you compare those first thoughts and feelings with how you feel now?

Chelsea:  We started noticing many red flags with Bridger as he grew.  By the time he was four months old, the flags were so red, we knew there was something wrong.  After seeing a pediatric neurologist at Primary Childen's hospital, Bridger had some testing done, which included an MRI, an ABR, and blood work.

The ABR results were instant.  As the audiologist told us Bridger had ‘profound’ hearing loss.  This news left us numb and completely devastated.  As for the MRI results,  I received a call from the doctor with the results on February 14, 2014, while walking into the elementary school to help with my sons Valentine’s class party.  I remember the doctor say, “I wish I was calling with good news, but I’m not.  What we found is not what we wanted to see….” I felt my heart break into a million pieces as he explained the results.

Even now, the reality of Bridger’s disabilities can be daunting.  My heart yearns for him to see clearly, hear perfectly, talk, crawl, walk, and do everything that a typical 15 month old should be doing.  I still yearn to have a diagnosis of what leukodystrophy he has so we have a better idea what our future holds. Seeing how well adjusted and pleasant Bridger is, though, helps me to realize that his journey in life is going to be beautiful.  I am so blessed to be along for the ride.

Miggy:  Explain how your son’s needs affect your day-to-day life and your family on a whole?  

Chelsea:  Bridger requires constant 24 hour care.  Between his 8 different doctors and 5 therapists, we are constantly juggling multiple therapy and doctor appointments. This takes up quite a bit of time and can be financially straining.  We have tried so hard to find the balance between getting Bridger the help he needs while balancing our lives with two other children.  

We continue to enjoy doing things together and want Bridger to experience all kinds of adventures.  It takes a lot more time, packing, and thinking through every aspect of the activity and how we can make it work for Bridger, to include him in these outings as a family.   Together, we have been able to experience theme parks, camping, boating, swimming, water parks, fishing and much more with our little Bridger.
Miggy:  What are the biggest worries you face for Bridger?   

Chelsea:  My biggest worry is as he grows, that I won’t be able to have the physical strength to lift and care for him. I also worry about communication with Bridger.  With his inability to hear and his floppiness it makes sign language difficult.  I’m sure we will figure out a method to communicate with each other.  Only time will tell…

Miggy:  Now for a lighter question, I’m a big believer in seeing the humor in life and learning to laugh, so have you ever had any funny conversations/moments you never imagined due to your special needs situations?  

Chelsea:  I completely believe that having a sense of humor is required with these special needs kids.  One day in church Bridger, who laughs randomly, had a giggle fest.  And he giggled and giggled for a good 10 minutes.  It was the most inappropriate time for laughing, but it put many smiles on the faces of those around us. I wasn’t about to shush him.  His giggles are too priceless.

Miggy:  How can people best approach or respond to your son? Is there something you wish other people knew so as to avoid awkward or hurtful situations?  

Chelsea:  There is nothing more I’d rather talk about than my children.  I thrive on people asking about Bridger and interacting with him.  I’ll never forget the first time someone approached me and said, “Tell me about your son..”  I about cried.  It was so thoughtful and meant the world to me that someone would take the time to understand this precious little soul and his myriad of physical impairments.

Miggy:  What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since becoming Bridger’s mom?

Chelsea:  I am continually learning lessons each and every day, both big and small.  Most days I don’t feel worthy to be Bridger’s mom.  He is so patient and accepting of his physical challenges. I never knew that even the tiniest of milestones or progress could steal my breath away and leave me in tears. I’ve also come to realize that no matter your challenges, never stop appreciating what is good in your life.  When you look for the good, that’s what you’ll find.

I’ve learned I can do hard things.  (one little example… being able to insert and remove a contact lens on an infant…I’m proud to say, I CAN DO THIS!) I’ve learned more medical information this past ten months about our eyes, ears, brain, stomachs, and such then most people will ever know in a lifetime.  I know Bridger has come to this earth to teach me, my family, and many others, lessons that could be learned no other way.  He is angelic, pure, and oh, so sweet!  How blessed we are to have him in our home.  I feel it such an honor and privilege to say, “I am Bridger’s mom!”
To keep up on our family check out our blog: and also don't hesitate to check our our pillow business at   Proceeds go to help pay Bridger's medical expenses.


Thanks again Chelsea. And can we all just give you a standing ovation for being able to put contacts on an infant!?! That's amazing. I LOVE what you said near the end--"No matter your challenges, never stop appreciating what is good in your life." Right? Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. And like you, I too have learned positivity from my daughter (and others with disabilities) as I have learned that she is completely comfortable in her own skin and does not feel sad about her disabilities. Our kiddos have an innate patiences with their bodies because they don't see the limitations, they just are who they are. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful family with us today Chelsea. Much love to you and your kiddos!

You guys! Please help me spread the word about the spotlight! I'm always looking for families to spotlight, so please send some my way. However, one thing I ask is that you don't email me with their information and ask me to email them. This never results in a spotlight when when I chase someone else down, pitch them about the spotlight and ask for their participation. If they hear about it from you--a trusted friend--and are interested enough to email me, then they are interested enough to actually participate. Does that make sense? Thanks again for all your love and support and for making this series so educational and amazing to be a part of.  


Thursday, October 23, 2014

She's Only 10 Months Old Once

The husband and I sat on the couch last night and recounted our already long but not yet done week.  The days... the days are so long.  To all you mama's who've been doing these long days for years, I tip my hat to you.  They are no joke.  We are both drained and exhausted by 8:00.  Then yesterday I had one of those encounters with an older mom who's youngest just flew the nest.  You know what's coming.  I knew what was coming.  The ol' "I wish I would have enjoyed it more..."  She was so kind and honestly wasn't trying to preach.  I felt that she really meant it, that she wished she would have enjoyed it more.  My response was something like, I try to enjoy the good moments but you know, some days are just hard.  She smiled and nodded.  This topic has been pounded into the ground and many horses have been beaten to death over this discussion of the older moms wistfully telling us harried, barely-keeping-it-together younger moms to 'just enjoy it, it goes so fast.'  I think we all know the truth--the universal truths that joy and hardship can coexist in the same day, even the same moment, that hindsight is 20/20 and that you can't teach an old mom new tricks.  That last one's a little iffy, but I think you understand what I'm saying.  Additionally there are the individual truths of our own circumstances--for some motherhood comes more naturally than others and perhaps that joy is more easily found.  For some there are battles with depression, finances, a spouse--or lack thereof, special needs, and special circumstances.  So I'm not going to rewrite the book on this one.  Hard days are hard, and I think we all search for the joys in our own ways and find the sparkles amid the dust.

For me, my gentle reminder lately has been she's only 10 months old once.  Then she's only 10 months old and 1 day once.  And so on.  When you think about it, it's a little crazy that we are only a specific age one time and that's it... it's gone forever.  I mean there will never be another October 23, 2014 ever again.  That's crazy right?

Of course I could also say the same about my 4 year old and 7 year old--they'll only be this age once--but right now it's all about the ever changing baby who just last week couldn't pull herself up, but as of a few days ago is pulling herself up on any and everything.  And so I stop and snap some photos of Baby Zuzu climbing onto her big sisters toddler bed and watch--without rushing in to help--as she confidently makes it to the top of the bed, sits up and claps.  A few seconds later she sits her booty down right on the edge and promptly falls over backwards totally unfazed since the bed sits so low.  And she tries again.  And I let her fall.  Better to learn on a low bed when the stakes are small I say.

I am not going to remember anything else that happened yesterday on October 22, 2014.   But if I go to the archives of my blog (which hopefully I'll still have) I will see this post and these pictures and remember a sweet little baby who was 1 day shy of being 10 months old.  And I will see proof of a moment I enjoyed.  The whole day?  Probably not.  But this moment I savored, watched and observed.  And that is a gold star in my mom book right there if you ask me.

And last week, when I had a sick baby on my hands I tried to find the sweetness amid the sickness.   Like a baby who still manages a half how-big-are-you? smiles and all, even though you can see the sickness in her eyes.  Sweet baby girl.

And while I normally just give her a bottle before naps and bedtime, having a sick baby forced me to slow down and rock her before bed, something I've now continued because she's only 10 months old once.  And these are the prime cuddle hours people... I cannot get cuddles like this any other time, so I am going to get 'em while they're hot.

Anyway, that's my mantra lately.  Hasn't always worked, won't always work in the future, but it works right now.

Anyone else have a mantra to get you through a rough day, week or even a particularly rough period of your life?  What are you tips for slowing down and enjoying the phase of life you're in?  Because that's the other thing, no matter what phase of life you're in I think you should enjoy the gifts that particular phase of life has to offer!  If you're single enjoy the benefits that only come from being single.  If you're married without kids, enjoy the benefits that come with being married without kids.  Same goes for having kids and all the stages of their childhood.  AND if you're a new empty nester, try to enjoy the benefits that come with that phase as well!  Thoughts?  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DIY Halloween Wall Art

You guys, this is a super easy, last minute Halloween decoration you can whip up before the kids get home from school and they will think it's so cool you painted on the walls.  That's exactly what my kids (and husband) thought when they walked in last week to see my spooky wall mural.  To be honest I was originally going to do this on the driveway but it just kept raining, that's when I had the idea to try it on the walls and I think it turned out great!  And the paint is only 2 ingredients that you probably definitely have on hand.

Corn Starch
paint brushes

You've probably seen this sidewalk paint on Pinterest.  It's the same thing, but with a dark wall I omitted the food coloring and just used corn starch and water for a pure white.  I think this white color would work on lighter wall colors as well--it would just be more subtle.  Now if you wan to try this on a white or light colored wall and use food coloring to color the corn starch mixture, then please for the love, test it on a small patch in the back of your least accessible closet or something and let it sit for a few days.  I have no idea if food coloring will stain white wall paint.  So use at your own risk!

Here we go!
Step 1.  Mix equal parts corn starch and water (I used 1/2 cup of each and it was plenty)
Step 2.   Paint on wall.

As you can see it goes on almost clear but then dries to a chalky white.  Also, keep mixing the water and corn starch as the corn starch will continue to settle to the bottom throughout the painting process.

The thing that makes corn starch paint so challenging to work with is also what makes it great for doing a Halloween wall--it drips!  And drips and drips.  Perfect right?  Even though it really adds to the spooky Halloween feel I still wanted fewer drips.  To minimize drips make sure to wipe the excess off your brush before painting, and if it's still too drippy after that just wait for the paint to dry and then wipe away with a wet rag.  Easy!  Also you'll get drips on your floor, but no worries.  This is so easy to clean up with just water and a rag.

My last tip, is to stick to large, easy shapes.  Trying to get too detailed with this will probably end in frustration.  Ghosts, tree branches, boooo, and a full moon.  Easy peasy.  Also you might try a wall full of bats, or just a bunch of Halloween words like Booo, Eeek, Trick or Treat and Spooky.

Other benefits:  Non-toxic and gluten free!  I love working with crafty stuff that I know won't hurt the kids when they inevitably lick the walls or smear the paint.  This would also be fun for bigger kids to do, but I'd put down a drop cloth to avoid big messes.  Clean up is super easy as well.  Just spray with a water bottle and wipe.

Happy Halloween!  

If anyone tries it out be sure to put it on instagram and tag me in your picture--I'd love to see!  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall-tastic Weekend

This weekend was a perfect mix of working hard and playing hard.  We tackled more house projects.  The unglamorous yet important kind as we can finally park a car in the garage--hooray!  But even in the hum-drum of tending to the house, with fall in full swing all around us it was like there was an extra character in our midst, you know like the distant relative you don't see very often but who always brings exotic treats when he comes to visit and so the excitement level is always elevated that much more?  Yeah, fall was our fun Uncle this weekend bringing a little excitement and elevating ordinary tasks with it's beautiful backdrop of leaves, sunshine and barely crisp air.  

B decided to go running on Friday and somehow it became a family run.  Lamp and Zuzu shared the double stroller, which technically isn't a jogging stroller, but somehow we managed, while PSP biked along.  B pushed the stroller most of the way, but I would take over to give him a break and sometimes we'd push together with one hand.  That's marriage in a snapshot folks.  

This also became the weekend where I overgrammed pictures of leafs.  (or is it leaves?)  I'm kind of obsessed.  Especially with these tiny yet perfect maple leaves.  What is it about seeing nature so tiny and still so perfect?  I think it a reminder of the whole Horton Hears a Who thing, you know, A person's a person no matter how small.  It's a little reminder that we all matter and we all contribute to the beauty of the whole.

Saturday we hiked, which was good for my soul and good for my Cincinnati love.  I decided that Cincinnati and I, we're an arranged marriage.  We didn't pick each other, but we're going to fall in love hard and have a beautiful life together.  I know there will be plenty of ups and downs ahead but I'm starting to come around.  Pretty right?         

And how cute is this little baby hiker?  She just kept resting her head on my back or leaning to the side to see what silly shenanigans her sisters were up to.

Family selfie.
And that's a wrap.
Hope you had a great weekend as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Girls Are So Hard!

I love having 3 girls.  Individually, collectively I love it.  The dynamic, their personalities, the fancy stuff, the girly-girlness of it all.  I feel like I won the lottery.

Of course, OF COURSE, it should go without saying that had my lasses been lads, I would have loved them just as much.  Boys are awesome too.  In general, I'm a fan of humans.

But here's the rub... I can't count the number of times people have said, Oh boy... just wait until they're teenagers.  You're in trouble!  or Yikes, girls... that's a lot of drama.  or Girls are just hard!  Or something of the like.

And lets take a step back to get a broader look.  Mean girls--it's a cultural thing.  And trust me, I know it's real.  There are definitely mean girls.  I had my fair share of drama with the queen bee's of middle school and I was not completely innocent of mean girl behavior myself from time to time.  And I know this goes far beyond middle school.  Mean girls are a real thing at every age.  But often we talk about "mean girls" and it seems that we are creating the issue just by talking about it.  Again I'm not saying mean girls don't exist--they do. At every age.  Check and check.  But have you ever been together with a group of women and heard something like, Well you know how women are to each other!  We're just so mean to each other.  Women love to tear other women down.  I have totally been in that conversation.  Yet when I step back I think... Actually my friends are pretty freaking awesome and treat me well.  My women friends lift me up, help me when I need help and cheer me on when I need cheering on.  Yes there are mean girls, but on the whole my experience with other women in my life is and has been positive.  Like way disproportionately in favor of positive female relationships.  So I feel like talking about it the way we do--like this is just how we are so get used to it--sabotages ourselves and reinforces a phenomenon as 'normal' that I see more as an outlier.

So back to my girls... I don't like being told how awful it's going to be, how much drama my girls are going to cause simply because they're GIRLS.  I grew up with quite a few brothers and let me tell you, boys can be drama too.  Boys can be mean to each other, boys can hold grudges and boys most certainly can bully.

Often the way we verbally frame things can shape the outcome.  For example, if my husband and I say things like, Oh just wait until you're a teenager...then you're really going to blah, blah, blah.  Or when one of our daughters is being dramatic and we throw up our hands and say, Girls! then it follows that whole self-fulfilling-prophesy thing and we've just told our daughters that we expect bad behavior and that it is normal simply because they  are females.   For those of you who've talked with me about feminism before, doesn't this all feel very anti-feminist?  Yikes.  Why are we teaching ourselves and each other that females are so bad, moody and mean?  Of course this doesn't just happen in the context of girls.  Another example of this framing idea is when people talk about "middle child syndrome."  I feel like this is one of those issues people tried to push on me as a kid (and now even Lamp gets it!).  Oh well of course you feel that way, you're the middle child!, and I was confused then and am still confused now.  I didn't have issues with being a middle child, but I do remember taking cues from the adults around me and acting the wounded middle child part from time to time.  I'm not suggesting that we don't discuss things that need to be discussed, but that we're careful with how we discuss it.

I'm not naive enough to think that positive verbal reinforcement is somehow going to solve all our future issues that can come with teenagers and the female psyche.  The truth is we may have drama in our house as the kids get older.  And I do believe that girls on the whole come with different issues than boys on the whole.  But they're not worse issues.  And I'm not going to talk to my children as if I expect this behavior and I'm certainly not expecting it simply because they're girls.  

What do you think--are women really more drama than men?  Do you feel like you have more positive female relationships or more negative female relationships?  Are there mean boys?  Can anyone else relate to the idea of being labeled a certain way and then acting out to fit the label?  I'm not in favor of complete gender neutrality--I do think boys and girls are fundamentally built differently.  I just feel like we come down hard on females for behavior that is more of a human problem than a female problem.  I'm sure this goes both ways--what are you mothers of boys warned about?  Discuss.  

*Art--Backstage by Michael Carson