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“This is messy work. We cannot simply attend a meeting, carry a sign at a march, have our name listed in the minutes, make one or two follow-up phone calls, then give ourselves a pat on the back. Our efforts require experimentation, failure, learning curves, self-criticism, and the constant examination of new ideas. We cannot compartmentalize a little “civic corner” of our lives; rather, we have to examine every day how each of our actions can build a better, more nurturing society for everyone. And for the time being, until this new, life-serving economy is more fully developed, it may continue to go unnoticed, and it may receive a certain lack of respect. But true civic engagement is not about taking credit for a job well done. It is about making the world better for the next generation in an enduring way that honors our deepest beliefs and greatest hopes.” – Shannon Hayes (author of Radical Homemakers)
Witch: And you, my dear, what an unexpected pleasure. It’s so kind of you to visit me in my loneliness.
Dorothy: What are you gonna do with my dog? Give him back to me.
Witch: All in good time, my little pretty. All in good time.
Dorothy: Oh please give me back my dog.
Witch: Certainly, certainly, when you give me those slippers.
Dorothy: But the Good Witch of the North told me not to.
Witch: Very well. (To her winged-monkey captain) Throw that basket in the river and drown him.
Dorothy: No, no. Here, you can have your old slippers but give me back Toto.
Witch: That’s a good little girl. I knew you’d see reason.
– The Wizard of Oz (1939)
I’ve seen reason. But, as we all know, the witch loses in the end and so will frustration. My work here at home with these girls is radical world change in the making. Creating a lifestyle that presses boundaries, breaks walls, and reinvents the common experience, that is being the change. Every day I am being the change. Some days are better than others. But, each day we should strive for balance. Creator didn’t lead me down this path for naught. What I have recognized is that each and every step is important, and it isn’t always going to be as I envision, nor will it always be in my time frame. It isn’t going to look the same for me as it will others. Each day is new and has its own work. I have life and I have it abundantly. I’m never left without, and to struggle to gain something I haven’t lost in the first place is pointless.
Just wanted to stop in and say I’m back and will be blogging here regularly again. My hiatus was important and very productive. Please meet our newest daughter – Gweneth Lenore. She was born here in the cabin in July. These photos were taken by Trista Hickerson. I don’t know how many of the folks who used to read here will see this, but I’m excited to be starting anew. I have so much to write about and I’m looking forward to sharing and talking here with folks again. If you are interested in reading my latest work you can find it here. http://www.dailyyonder.com/designing-post-coal-economy/2012/11/26/5508 🙂
So, I’m going to do it. I’m going to document this time in my life right here. As strange as it may be, I think it will be more beneficial than detrimental. I’m a pretty upfront kind of gal. I’ll answer pretty much any question I’m asked, but lately you just don’t know who is doing the asking – or should I say reading. Anyway, I have decide not to care, and go on with it. You hear about employers trolling Facebook to get a sense of who you are, checking your credit score, and then deciding – nope they’re all sorts of crazy. Honestly, we all have our quirks, hangups, and bad habits. We are human.
In trying to figure out the whys of these new feelings I’m having, I am looking into what I know to be right with things. Maybe, this will help me know where not to look. Actually, I’m a step ahead of this post, but I’m starting here. What do I still feel is right with life?
- I love being a wife and mother. I feel guilty about the quality of which I am doing this job lately, but I know it is a job I was meant to do.
- I believe we were right to come home to the mountains. I get lonely, and I miss my sister and best friend (Ariana) so much. But, there is not another right place for my family right now. Exciting things are and will continue to happen here, and the Haywoods were meant to be a part of it.
- I am glad I started working. I love my job, and all the facets that it has come to fruition in. This is another aspect that I can often come to question, but in the long run, I think I’m one of those women who needs to work.
- I’m excited about our new family business. That I don’t question at all. 🙂
- I still believe that God works in mysterious ways, and I am right in admitting that I ain’t the best in working through the difficult questions.
That is where I am. That is what we’ll keep. The rest is up to a revamping. It’s almost exciting, though working on self stuff is always the hardest work. Getting motivated is the first obstacle to tackle.
Deladis graduated from kindergarten with our homeschool association on May 26th. It was a beautiful ceremony. She said about 15 Bible verses to a crowd of about 80 people without missing a beat. I got to give her her diploma, and her daddy played “Little Birdie” for her on the banjo. We couldn’t have asked for a lovelier time. What follows is the speech I gave during the ceremony.
I want to begin this evening by thanking everyone who has come to support our graduates and celebrate this important day with our families. It means a great deal to all of us.
At some point many of you have probably wondered why we chose to homeschool our children, and I’m sure many of homeschooling parents have wondered the same thing at times just like many public school teachers out there who sit after a trying day wondering why they chose the path of an educator. Believe me, we do it. I’ve been in both places. For many homeschooling families the answer is not a simple one. While we all probably have multiple answers to the question of why we chose homeschooling, I believe I am safe to say that all of us felt compelled to do so by the obligation we have to our children as their parents.
The Bible has so much sound wisdom and encouragement to offer parents on raising children, and if you start reading there, you’ll soon find what a huge responsibility you’ve undertaken by becoming a parent. I know that throughout this year as I have set out to read the Bible from beginning to end, I have at times become overwhelmed by the realization of what it truly means to be a wife and mother.
Psalm 127:3 says – “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Verse 5 goes on to say – “How blessed is the man whose quiver if full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate.” Psalm 128 goes on in much the same way. And if any of you have ever prayed for God to gift you with a child, or you were gifted without thinking you were ready – you likely can recall the moment when your baby was placed in your arms and you realized perfectly how much this gift depended upon you as their mother or father for their quality of life. It is often times those moments when we fall in love with that little being so completely that it takes our breath away.
All of us who have fully accepted the responsibility of parenthood want the same thing for our children. We hope with all our hearts that their lives will be healthy, happy, and whole. For each of us how we go about giving them the best possible opportunity for that sort of fulfillment will be as diverse as our family names. I cannot assume what is right for your family, and I feel so blessed, as I am sure you do, to have the freedom to make important decisions for mine.
It is also very likely that if we have envisioned an adult life for our children that the reality of that life once they reach it, will look very different than what we daydreamed about. How many of us are pretty sure we aren’t doing exactly what our parents hoped we’d be doing at this stage in our lives? The very best we can hope for is that they are doing something they love, and that they feel called to do. Oh, and that they call and come home to visit on a regular basis. Yet, we can also look to the values our children hold, and their self-esteem to see the mark their upbringing is making on their attitudes and the way they view the world. If we see signs of a positive self expression and healthy attitudes toward their work, their role in society, and respect for others in our older and adult children, then we should be able to rest. The rest of their life is completely up to them and their Creator to sort out and that is as it should be.
There are so many things that we can’t control about how our children will experience the world. For every good there is a bad. For every right there is a wrong. They come hand in hand. While there might be times in our lives when we become hurt or disappointed by the experiences our children have or bring upon themselves, regret isn’t something we should dwell in for long. The ultimate question is – Does our child know that we love them? That we will always love them? We can be comforted by the words of Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
I was a public school teacher when John and I were gifted with our firstborn – Deladis Rose Haywood. God told me one day during my prayer time through scripture that I would have a baby by summer. Deladis was born on August 4th, 2005. Before her birth, John and I decided that the time my job forced me spend away from home was too much, and that the time I would gain in resigning my position would be worth the cut to our finances. It was important to us that I be the one primarily responsible for the care of our children and we were willing to live a lifestyle that would allow for that. It was the first huge decision we made as parents. It is a decision we have never regretted though it has dramatically changed the way we live our lives.
Many more decisions would come like – how would I give birth, what was the optimal way to feed our baby, who would provide her healthcare and what would that look like, where should we live, where would we attend church, and ultimately where would our daughter attend school.
For many reasons all of which I won’t go into tonight, we decided that home was the best place for Deladis and any future children to receive their education at this time in our lives. We all have probably heard Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Like our earlier decision of being the ones primarily responsible for the care of our children with our own hands, so was our decision to be the ones immediately responsible for the education our children would receive. In choosing homeschool, I as their only teacher am responsible for the content of their daily lessons for every subject. It is my responsibility to make sure that they have the education that they need to be whatever it is that they choose to be in life whether either of my daughters decide to be stay-at-home mothers gifting me with ten grandbabies, a homesteader living in a small cabin with no electricity or running water, an artist who shows her work from coast to coast, an activist working for impoverished women and children, a social worker finding stable homes for children in need, or the astronaut that leads the first human expedition to Mars, because if that is what my daughter truly wants and feels led to do, then that is what I want for her. Is that a huge responsibility? It sure is. But, what I can know for certain is that as her mother and father, John and I will be her source of information about her world and her place in it. We can have the most direct impact on how comfortably she navigates whatever path that life places her on. We can be the shoes on her feet, the food in her backpack, and the soft blanket that covers her every night of her journey. Her Creator will be her compass.
It is not that homeschooling families are trying to shelter their child from the world, or sequester them away from society and mainstream ways of living. It is most likely, that our choices were made because we wanted to ensure that our children in the situations that life brought upon our families have the best possible chance at a well-rounded and full life experience. You’ll see us in the community, our children interacting in real life situations with people of all ages and backgrounds.
By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t judging or accusing others who do not, or our own parents if they chose to send us through public school. Because we were educated, we have the opportunity to be educators for our children. Every parent is free to do what they feel is best for their family at the time the decision is made. It is a deep privilege to have that freedom and to respect the decisions of other parents.
By choosing to homeschool, we aren’t calling any public or private educator inadequate. Your job is so very important and to respect our teachers is to listen, empathize with, and support their efforts. Without you and the opportunity you give to parents, we would not have the freedom to choose where our children would be educated. We are on a very similar mission.
By choosing to homeschool, we are simply making a conscience choice. Often homeschooling families view it as a choice of conviction, of necessity, as the result of sincere thought and long consideration. It is a choice we take in earnestness. When we choose to keep our children home for school, we understand that it is exclusively up to us to provide the education our children will need in the ever changing and competitive world.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 says – “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.” None of us know the path that God has forged out in the world for our children, but we do know that He entrusted us with their care. As you are here tonight witnessing this graduation ceremony you are participating with us in celebrating what for some of us is our first complete year of homeschooling our children, for others of us a milestone in the middle of what has recently become a steeper winding road, and for one of us the end of a long and very successful journey that suddenly seems like it was just a bit too short. Thank you for playing an integral part in supporting our efforts, and please accept our thanks as your presence has helped us to create a very special evening for our blessed and hard working students. Thank you.
I’m so excited to share with you an article that was published in The Daily Yonder last week! I wrote it! Closing Maternity Wards: Costly and Risky… click on the picture below to read the article.
The article was also picked up on www.kentucky.com! There has been some discussion on both sites. I’m so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to write this article for this publication. 🙂 I hope you will take a look if you get the time.
Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… Those words were the mantra of my time spent in early new motherhood when we lived in Louisville. We have never bought cable or satelitte since we’ve been married, but we were excited when we got almost 7 channels on our TV with a regular antennae. I love KET, all the versions. I grew up watching KET (Kentucky Educational Television) and the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) programming they aired. Mr. Rogers, Reading Rainbow, The Write Channel, were staples of my education, and I have to say it is a huge part of what gave me the courage to call myself a writer. A huge part of who I am as a person.
Deladis was about 2 years old when she was watching evening programming with me as I rocked her to sleep. Explore Kentucky… Explore the World… flowed out of the television and Deladis repeated the words with the same cadence and tone as it was spoken by the narrator. My eyes welled with tears. It was one of the first times I realized that she heard words like I do. Hearing those words spoken in that way for that KET advertisement made me proud to be a Kentuckian. I loved hearing them, and in them Deladis heard the same value. KET and PBS produce such a quality programming, which is so hard to find now days.
Now, that we live back in the hills, we don’t get any channels. We watch television and movies through Netflix. I watch KET/PBS anytime I get the chance – renting their shows through Netflix and watching for free online through their websites. Public broadcasting is still such a part of our lives through radio as well. NPR and PRI programming through WEKU and are my chosen sources for news, education, and entertainment in the car and at home. Not only that, but WMMT (Mountain Community Radio) is our community’s (Appalachia’s) leading source for programming that is at the heart of our culture and community. I host a show on there once a month called Mountain Talk.
It was only a week or so ago, when no radio was playing, or TV going, Deladis broke out in her play as perfect as a radio announcer and said – “P…R…I… Public Radio International.” I felt the tears well again. Her gorgeous child’s voice, hearing words so beautifully. It’s an awesome thing for me as her mother to hear.
So, right now my heart hurts over the funding cuts proposed by our Congress to all public broadcasting – radio and television. It would mean the end of so many of the shows I value so much. Not only have they proposed this but also complete cuts of funding for preventing teen and unplanned young adult pregnancy programs, and cutbacks for initiatives geared toward maternal and child health. I have no clue what is going on here. I understand we need to budget, but there are so many programs wasting government money, not to mention the government itself, that I can’t see justification in cuts such as these. I don’t like to get political here, but in this case I have to write on it. Funding cuts for the arts, public broadcasting, family health, education, etc… really???
Read KET’s urgent plea here. Make your voice heard. Mr. Fred Rogers isn’t around to do it for us this time as he did in 1969. Can someone… can we fill his shoes?