Category Archives: Mothering

Book Review: When My Baba Died by Marjorie Kunch

The other day, we were driving down the road when a funeral procession stopped all traffic in order to cross a busy intersection.  My oldest turned to me and asked if only “really important people” have funerals, and I explained how anyone can have a funeral if they desire.  “Mommy?  Did you have a funeral for the babies who died in your tummy?” he asked.  I told him how we did special prayers at church for the littles ones that we lost to miscarriage.
As a family, we have only been to one funeral, and
I, then, realized that none of us has been to an Orthodox funeral.

When My Baba Died

Recently, I had the pleasure of previewing Pascha Press‘s first book: When My Baba Died by Marjorie Kunch.  When My Baba Died is a lovely guide for children through the loss of a loved one.

The description from the website:

This warm, accessible, faith-based book ministers to a child’s specific needs when faced with their first experience of an Orthodox funeral.  It will help parents guide their children during this difficult time and illustrate the progression from the funeral home visitation, to the funeral ceremony in church, to the cemetery graveside service. I also answer the most common questions children asked of me during my twelve years serving as a funeral director, define newly encountered words,  and address the emotions they may be feeling as they begin their journey of grief. This is accomplished with the use of simple text, accurate terminology, and beautiful photography digitally edited to create tasteful illustrations of all phases of the ceremony. It is my humble prayer this book brings you closer to our Risen God and the comfort of the Orthodox Faith.When My Baba Died

I think When My Baba Died would be the perfect addition to the library of any Orthodox family.  It helps prepare a child for what they will encounter at a funeral by going through what will happen, step by step with photos, from the visitation to the burial.  This book lets children know that it is normal to cry and feel sad, but also gives them hope that their loved one is with the Lord. The author, Marjorie Kunch, is a mortician and an Orthodox Christian, and she does an excellent job making this difficult subject accessible to young children.

When My Baba Died

 

When My Baba Died will available June 21st from Pascha Press!

Follow Pascha Press on Facebook for updates.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Coming Out About Comparisons

Make sure you read Part One and Part Two of this series as well.

Skies

Scrolling through social media and blogs has the ability to make even the greatest, most accomplished, most patient, most crafty, most musical, most over-achieving moms feel inadequate.  The reason is quite simple: the internet rarely tells the whole truth.

We all post photos about our greatest accomplishments, not our deepest failures.

Do you want to see the pile of laundry on my bathroom floor OR my daughter reading to her little brother?  Do you want to see how the puppy chewed up yet another toy all over the living room floor OR the craft the kids did?  Do you want to see my child throwing a fit on the floor OR my baby smiling beautifully for the camera?  The answers to these questions is obvious.

No one wants to see the hard stuff. 

It might be a nice change of pace to see a post or read something about someone who has embraced the fact that life is messy and chaotic, but these are few and far between.  More often than not, we see happy smiling children eating homemade treats while doing crafts in a beautifully decorated home.  Forget the fact that in the other room is a dog chewing up a dirty diaper (Not that I know anything about that…).

As a mother, it is difficult not to compare yourself to other women who seem to have it all together.  But I will tell you the truth: even the most perfect mom in the world has her bad days.

I openly admit to having a Super Mom Complex.

I pin so many amazing ideas on Pinterest, but will never have enough time in my life to do them all.  I love to sew and craft, but leave projects unfinished.  I menu plan and then end up eating out for dinner.  I do crafts with my kids and get frustrated when they make a mess.  I homeschool and some days I want to give up.  I make green smoothies and then eat candy bars.  I snuggle my kiddos and then tell them to go into the other room to give me a few minutes of peace.  I succeed and I fail, but I always get back up again.

This is what parenting is all about.

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do.
The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things.
But we can all do small things, with great love,
and together we can do something wonderful.”

~Mother Theresa

It isn’t about what you do, it is about how you do it.  Stop comparing yourself to other moms.  We all have different gifts and abilities.  No two moms are the same.  No two people love the same or need love in the same ways.  Work with what you have.  Embrace it.

Be the best parent and person you can be
and forget about what everyone else is doing. 

Of course, you won’t be able to do this every day and some days you will feel completely inadequate once again.  But do not be discouraged.  We all have days like this.  This is normal.  The most important thing a parent can do, above anything else, is to love their children and to teach them that God loves them more than they can even imagine.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God;
and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
In this the love of God was manifested toward us,
that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world,
that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.

1 John 4:7-11 (NKJV)

Coming Out About Fussy Babies

One Sunday morning, my husband and I walked into church, with our four little ones in tow.  We attend a young church where many people have babies or young children or both.  Our baby was just seven or eight months old at the time.  He had spent the majority of that time crying, fussing and being held by me.  It was one of the most difficult times I’ve experienced in my life.  I had very little sleep and was exhausted to my very core. 

When I looked around and saw many other babies, happy and content, I broke down.  I stated weeping and had to leave church.  I couldn’t handle the fact that my child was so very difficult and others had it much easier.  I was angry, jealous, depressed and worn out.

Jump ahead a couple of years and we are dealing with this again with Eric.

IMG_20140524_154010

Eric wants to be held by me almost all the time.  He doesn’t sleep well, especially at night when he wakes up almost every hour.  I rejoice at getting two hours of sleep in a row. If he is content with my husband or the other children and then sees me, he falls apart.

It seems like he can do well without me for a short period of time and then he needs to be cuddled for a while.  I’ve noticed this pattern since he was very young.  He will play on his own for about ten minutes, maybe twenty on a good day, and then he needs me to hold him.  Many times, he will just lay there on my chest or in my arms, looking up at my face.  It seems to regulate him, and then he is able to play on the floor again for a little bit.

John was even worse.  He cried and fussed for nearly ten months straight.  We tried to diagnose him to determine what was wrong, but, all in all, John is a very healthy child.  He is very intelligent, curious, inquisitive, funny (SO funny!), loving, a great eater, friendly and painfully shy.  He is also gorgeous, I might add.  He is an amazing child.  So, when we looked for answers as to why he was fussing so much, we came up dry.

I recently read an article called,Why It’s Not ‘Just’ Colic or Fussiness and it hit home with me probably more than most articles I read.

The author lists ten results of having a baby who fusses all the time:

  • the sleep deprivation
  • the isolation
  • the crying
  • the being judged
  • the unpredictability
  • the feelings of failure
  • the no down time
  • the second guessing
  • the impact on marriage and family
  • the lack of bonding.

I have encountered all of these at some point in time with each of my fussy babies.  For me, the worst part is the isolation which directly affects the feelings of failure, the impact on marriage and family (and friends), and the second guessing.  Isolation is also affected by the sleep deprivation, the crying, the being judged, the unpredictability, the feelings of failure, the no down time, and the lack of bonding.

IMG_20140526_141638So, for me, it appears that isolation is the number one problem that comes from having a fussier-than-normal baby.

Obviously, you can’t go out in public because your baby will scream, you will have to hold him all the time, you will feel judged by others, you’ll compare your baby to the other babies that you encounter, and you will be worn out by the end.

So, rather than looking forward to going out and seeing family and friends, you become anxious and stressed about leaving the house.  And if you do leave the house, you come home feeling depressed and discouraged.

And then, you are isolated again because you stay home until the effect of the bad experience of going out has worn off a little bit.

Being a parent is hard enough without having a baby who cries and fusses all the time.  So much of parenting is about giving of yourself for you children.  It isn’t always easy, but, even after a sleepless night, you can look into the beautiful face of your child and know it was worth it.  And the good news is that it does get better… eventually.

More on this topic to come…

How to Support Someone After A Miscarriage or Stillbirth

I arrived home after running an errand
and opened the back door of the minivan to find my baby boy fast sleep.
I looked his face and suddenly a feeling of melancholy came over me
as I wondered what our little Julian would have looked like.

In the summer of 2010, we lost a baby in the very early stages of pregnancy.
I wanted that baby to make it so badly.
I rested my hand on my slightly enlarged belly
and prayed that God would protect his little life.
Sadly, he was gone just a few days later.

How to SupportA child who has died during pregnancy will always be part of the family
and will forever be loved.
Unfortunately, many people do know what to say
or how to act after a baby has died.

I’ve compiled a list of ways you can support someone after a miscarriage or stillbirth:

  • First and foremost remember that it is better to say less than say a lot.  Say, “I am sorry for your loss,” “I am here for you,” or “I am praying for you.”
  • Listen.  Do not offer advice, insights or your own stories right away.  I will say it again: listen.
  • Give a hug.  Sometimes people just want to cry and be held.  This is incredibly meaningful to someone who is grieving.
  • Offer help and follow through with it.  If you say, “please let me know if you need anything,” the person is not going to ask for it.  You must say, “I am going to do ______. When would be best for you?”
  • Ways to help: make a meal, cut the grass, run errands, watch their children, bring over flowers or a food basket, ask him/her to go out to coffee or a movie and pay for him/her, offer to clean the house or do laundry.
  • Give a special memento: a tiny blanket, a little hat, a shadow box that the parents can fill, a special bracelet or necklace, a plant, a memory book or journal, a picture frame, a candle, a prayer book or card
  • Remember or write down the date that the baby died and call or email the parent on anniversaries: one month, two months, six months, and every year.  Some people use the due date as well, so ask for that, too.
  • If the parents named the child, call the child by his or her name.  Every parent loves to hear the name of their child said aloud.
  • Randomly ask how he/she is doing.  Grief is not reserved for anniversaries; it can come at any time.
  • If you are pregnant or have living children and your friend does not, refrain from talking about your children or your pregnancy.  Give your friend time and space.
  • Help him/her find a local support group, like Share.

It is very important to remember that everyone grieves differently.
There is not correct way to grieve.
Do not judge.
Grief may come in waves, so be ready for that.

We can’t know why the lily has so brief a time to bloom
in the warmth of sunlight’s kiss upon its face
before it folds into its fragrance and bids the world
good night to rest its beauty in a gentler place.
But we can know that nothing that is loved is ever lost
and no one who has touched a heart can really pass away
because some beauty lingers on
in each memory of which they’ve been a part.

– Ellen Brenneman

Understanding Gifted Children

One of the reasons that we decided to homeschool our oldest is due to his giftedness.  He was bored in 1st grade, and, even now, as we do 2nd grade Math and Language Arts at home, he says most of it is “too easy.”

report  card

Gifted children tend to be those who do exceedingly well in school, possibly in all areas, but most likely in one or two specific areas.  The public schools attempt to identify students who are not challenged by standard school curricula and offer additional or specialized education for them. Unfortunately, most of the time, these types of classes/programs are not offered until 4th or 5th grade.

Generally, gifted individuals learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers. Gifted children may learn to read early and operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. The gifted tend to demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They can often master concepts with few repetitions. They may also be physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and may frequently question authority. Some have trouble relating to or communicating with their peers because of disparities in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, interests, and motivation. As children, they may prefer the company of older children or adults.

from Wikipedia

Writing A New Way

In the case of our son, he became bored in class during instruction, because he understood the lesson immediately, and would then tune out the teacher. Many times, he would get into trouble for not paying attention or being unprepared to answer questions. His teacher understood this and was very patient with him.  She was also aware of his “idiosyncracies,” as she called them.

Gifted children are often extremely sensitive to environmental stimuli. Their senses are assaulted daily by things that others cannot imagine even being bothersome. The florescent lights that hang above their desk, the smells in the lunchroom, the frantic activity on the playground, the heart wrenching beauty of the tree outside the classroom window, the tag in their new shirt…. These distractions can border on truly painful at times. It is often that as they are dealing with this overload to their senses, people expect them to perform highly in school and to act with greater maturity than their classmates. When they break down, and they do breakdown, people around them may not understand why and accuse them of being overly dramatic. The fact that the child themselves is unable to explain why things bother them so much only solidifies the accusation. Given that they only have the experience of living in their own body, the child does not know that others feel the world differently, and so they accept the accusation. It is important to always use the “lens of giftedness” when viewing the behaviors of gifted children.

found here

Gifted children are sometimes described as “neuroatypical.”  This does not mean that the child has a disorder, but rather that his brain just functions differently from the average person.  It may be unfair to expect a gifted child to behave and perform in the ways that an average child might.  It is important to get to know your gifted child and know him well.

Drawing

To understand highly gifted children it is essential to realize that, although they are children with the same basic needs as other children, they are very different. Adults cannot ignore or gloss over their differences without doing serious damage to these children, for the differences will not go away or be outgrown. They affect almost every aspect of these children’s intellectual and emotional lives.

from Gifted Education Digests