Mother’s Day: A Day Open for Interpretation

Attention all women: Happy Mother’s Day! (belated as it was technically yesterday-wrote this just before midnight)

Several years ago I sat alone in a greek Orthodox church in Falls Church, Virginia listening to the priest deliver his homily message on a spring Mother’s Day.   Although I can’t recall his specific words, I do recall that he said they would be giving out a single stem flower afterwards to every girl and woman in the room after the church service–this interested me greatly as at the time I wasn’t a mother yet.  He explained that the purpose doing this wasn’t just to avoid any awkward questions as to who was a mother but to also honor the nurturing role that females play in our human society.

This morning I was crawling on my knees between pews and following a darting flash of golden hair and giggles as my youngest demonstrated his toddler skills in another greek Orthodox church here in south Florida.  The priest was delivering his Mother’s Day message by making fun statements that “without mothers nothing would get done” and also alluding that whether any woman was a mother via birth/adoption of children, this day was meant to honor us regardless of being a mother or not.  It was a pleasant deja-vu moment to have the priest announce that a single rose would be given to each female exiting the church in celebration of Mother’s Day.

It was my pleasure to reach out today and wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” greeting to my family and friends whom I know are called “mother” by their roles in their families and rank.  At the same time, it was equally natural to me to recognize and express gratitude to the other women in my life whom I know or have met in passing who have also fulfilled the role as a mother through their selfless giving of themselves to me or my own children.

Happy Mother’s Day!

R.V.S.Bean

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Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

Face It: Facebook is the New Sex Talk with Our Children

In The Economist magazine’s June 9, 2012 issue there’s a short piece on page 18 entitled: “Facebook and children: Let the nippers network”. You should be able to read it at this link: http://www.economist.com/node/21556578  I will be quoting from this article in my blog post unless otherwise indicated.

The article can be boiled down to what it says at the start of the second paragraph: “There are two options. Facebook can either try harder to prevent children from joining, or it can let them in, but with safeguards.”  This is the new frontier for most of us parents, the age of social networking via cyberspace.  At a time when many of us are becoming parents for the first time and just barely catching our breath as we realized the responsibility of raising these boys and girls to be the adults of the future–we’re struck with a very real concern regarding what age is deemed appropriate for a child to begin interacting socially on the internet.

“Social networking does not cause cancer. There is no compelling reason why children should not socialise with each other online.  What is worrying is that those on Facebook  today are treated as if they were adults.”

While this statement has truth to it in its logical argument, I’m afraid it’s lacking the deeper problem that should be glaringly obvious.  Just because a child can use the technology and can respond/communicate on a social network online doesn’t mean it’s right for them to do unfettered or unsupervised.

This may seem like a leap of a correlation to make, however, this is eerily the same argument we face when discussing ad nauseam as to when is the right age for youngsters to engage in sexual activity.  So what if their bodies are physically able to engage starting from 10-14 years old, does that mean they should be allowed to carry on as if it’s their deserved rite of passage? Oh, but if we give them condoms and pills, that should take care of them just fine from preventing unwanted pregnancies–nevermind how this early sexual behavior may interfere with their physical, mental and emotional development.

“Far better to let children openly join Facebook and create a safer environment for them to socialise in.”

Understandably, we all understand that as long as we have rules there are those who will break them.  The response to the age requirement for alcohol consumption is to have those who will attain illegal IDs.  The current trend for those under-13s on Facebook is that they can enroll anyway when they lie about their age in the form.  But the notion that we should just “let children” go ahead and do Facebook anyways as long as it’s “safe” is preposterous.

Q: What Is Safe About The Internet? A: NOTHING

Here’s the reality: you are the parent/guardian of your child(ren), therefore you are the most powerful gatekeeper when it comes to all the gateway rites of passage for your fledgling humans.  I don’t expect Zuckerburg and his people at Facebook to be the shepherd of the social pasture online for our kids.  That sentiment extends to any of these social networking sites.

The fact remains that we are still learning lessons today about what has happened to us since most of us came of age with integrating usage of the World Wide Web in our personal and professional lives.  It’s aggravating  to witness this hasty resignation attitude reflected in The Economist and other publications when it comes to the idea of children participating in social networking.

One more note on the internet: please keep in mind that no matter what your “settings” are, NOTHING is private when you post on the internet. Consider that when you put photos or written word onto the internet in any form, it’s as if you just submitted them to the marquee at Times Square in New York City. Please think about this seriously in regards to your children-whether it is you or them posting such things.

Nightmare Fodder: “Facebook and other social networks already have millions of vulnerable, clandestine underage users. It is time to bring them into the light.”

Why do we feel that we have no relationship with our children after they hit 5 years old?  Statements like the above disturb my heart’s fabric because I don’t understand how it is that there are 10 year olds who are participating in social networking unbeknownst to their parents/caregivers while they have hardly cut their physical teeth in face-to-face contact with their peers and others.

Again, I admit that I wrestle within over my love-hate relationship with the media technology that our global society has exploded with since I was born.  At the same time, I also recognize that there is not a quick and decisive answer to this social networking debate.  We are on the ground floor of learning about it ourselves and how it affects us all, including our children.  The question you and I must ask is what is best for our child(ren) as individuals and that will be the start of finding what “light” it is we want them to be in.

R.V.S.Bean

NEWBORN BLUR AND BLISS: SHARING A SNAPSHOT

For my friends and family reading this: thank you for the countless thoughts and prayers as on March 9, 2011 at 4:03am I safely delivered our second son D.A. joining his proud big brother T.A. and making our cozy brood feel blessed as a family of four.

Newly minted parents can either enjoy every precious moment of their newborn’s first hours and days or they can feel like a tossed vessel in a Northern Atlantic storm at sea as the lack of sleep and constant need of a helpless human in their stewardship drains them relentlessly. Hopefully, it’s a healthy mixture of the two with some sort of recording going on like photos, video or written word. For seasoned parents, the second and any children thereafter may seem “easier” in comparison during those early newborn weeks and perhaps they are able to better relish the fleeting moments of all their child’s firsts.

When I had my first child, I had just vacated my roaring twenties still drenched with politics and vivid memories of working at the Department of Treasury for Secretary Henry Paulson and, prior to that, in the House of Representatives as a legislative aide. After a hurried and traumatic induction I delivered our first son in June 2008 and crash-landed into my thirties with no clue how to navigate this new “normal”. The result was a bumpy postpartum road that felt as if I had taken a sabbatical to a country where I neither knew the language, nor recognized the landscape and hardly knew the reflection in mirror looking at me.

Approaching and surpassing the due date of my second child’s of March 3rd, I was increasingly overwhelmed with a deep, cave-like undercurrent river of concern as I wondered what this new shift in my life season would render. I had tried to prepare by defending my right as a healthy woman to allow nature to take its course- waiving cervical checks until after the due date passed, writing a birth request sheet that included items like wearing what I wanted to instead of a hospital sheet and to hand my newborn child to me immediately upon entry and waiting to prod him until we were ready, preparing our son by talking to him about what was about to come, nesting as best as possible in a unique situation as boomerang children ourselves and the list goes on frantically and as thoroughly as I could conjure up in the pregnant months leading up to last week’s culmination.

After a long early labor stage of nearly 10 days, I was blessed with the classic sign of “my water broke” on the evening of Tuesday, March 8th. In less than an hour we arrived and checked in at the medical center, labor came into full force and I traveleded the raw journey with a mixture of awe, comedy (yes, you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of what our bodies do!) and a high respect for all women before me and with me that very night laboring around the world to bring new life through alive.

Five hours later and the doctor on call barely made it to my room in time during the final minutes from the announcement that I was “9.5 cm” as my doula, mother, sister, nurse and husband were all trying to encourage me to “blow it away” (all the while I can feel my son trying to kick his way out and me wondering who was going to catch him!).

There are no words to describe the very moment you see your child make it through that unknown passage of time from safe womb to all-bets-are-off-Earth with their first breath. Relief, tears and overwhelming love are just a few emotions and physical reactions that can help measure that moment. I believe the combination of numerous emotions, reactions and such allow a mother to be ignorant of the after-birth, of any pain felt moments earlier or complications that may arise. For instance, I lost over a pint of my life blood after he was safe in my arms but thankfully I was not affected in a catastrophic manner except for my weakness that is to be expected until I recover fully in coming weeks.

I am amazed at how small he is and yet how strong. My first son has embraced his little brother with a tenderness and automatic acceptance that I couldn’t have hoped for in my loftiest dreams. Feeding him and sustaining him has been a physical feat that is laced with enjoyment and gratitude all while trying to savor his tender first days and weeks as he blossoms through growth and development.

The newborn blur has been blissful for me this time around as it has also healed and forgiven for me those emotional scars that had haunted me from my first newborn blur in 2008. I am grateful for both experiences now as they carve my personal character and I have insight that allows me to know what it’s like on both the positive and negative sides of the newborn blur.

R.V.S.B.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Having had a medicated birth prior and now an un-medicated one I can say with no reservation that going the old-fashioned way (as long as all is healthy and well) is by the far the BEST way to give birth as a woman. We were designed for this, we are strong beyond belief and being pregnant is NOT an illness, it is merely one of the many life passages that we are capable as women. And even if a c-section is required for valid reasons, women are still birthing partipants as their body delivers life through pregnancy, birth and the nuturing thereafter! For any of my family or friends that want a detailed rundown of my birth experiences, you know how to reach me~

Wyoming Life

"God bless it and keep it wild"