Tag Archives: motherhood

In My Opinion

If you were born and are breathing at this moment, then you have an opinion. It seems as though the advent of the internet, forums, blogs, instant messaging, social media, and the like, have given a larger majority of people a platform on which to express their opinion. Right or wrong, good or bad, we now live in a world of commentators, posts, articles and pins that define how our perfect world should be if it were left up to our singular voice.

The other day, I was counseling one of my children and the words, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all,” popped out of my mouth. This is a go-to phrase I’ve uttered frequently over the years, but in this particular instance, it seemed to carry a bit more weight than normal because I realized that my child was merely expressing his opinion. Therein lies the dilemma of having a voice and an opinion, and the proper balance of the two.

An opinion sums up a person’s view, judgement or belief.  Inherently, there is nothing wrong with an opinion. Yet, you can voice your opinion to one audience on any given day and get a round of applause. Announce the same opinion to a different group and you might get vilified. So is there any safe universal territory when it comes to opinions? Unfortunately, the answer is no. And that fundamental fact is why we will never come together wholly as a human race.

As humans, we group together based on our opinions. Pro-life vs. pro-choice, pro-environment vs. pro-fracking, and so on. As for myself, I adhere to one simple rule when it comes to my opinions…they are mine and mine alone. Unless it goes against a moral code (ex. thou shall not kill), then my opinion is for me to live my life by; I do not force it upon any other adult – period. Just as my child has the right to an unkind word in his opinion, he does not have the right to make anyone else feel inferior, demeaned, or saddened by it should he choose to voice it to the world as a newly dispensed law.

You see, humans can’t come together wholly because of our need to not only have an opinion, but also because of our need to control others and force our opinions on our fellow mankind. We even force it upon Mother Nature. Whether it be through casual conversation or jamming it down someone else’s throat, our egos can’t let go of the fact that although we might have an opinion, it might not be right – or for everyone. Or even valid outside of our mouth.

Within the very definition of an opinion therein lies the conflict – it is a belief or judgement. As a belief, it is a beautiful part of the foundation of you. As a judgement, it can turn ugly and redefine you as inflexible and needing to be in control, no matter the consequence.

If we were to spend more time forming our opinions into tolerant, respectful manifestations of who we are, then there would be a lot less suffering and wars. Maybe leading by force and judgement is not the way to go. Maybe living an opinion sets a better example. Think about zealots solely praying peacefully vs. suicide bombings. How about pro-life activists showing a spared life becoming a life-saving surgeon vs. a picture of a unrelatable fetus on a demonstrator’s sign? How about working through the issues of healthcare with enlightened minds vs. shouting across the aisle like a spoiled child? How about it?

While negative opinions seem to capture more headlines, it is the positive beliefs that, when nurtured, are truly the catalysts for slow and sustainable change.

But then again, that is just my humble opinion.


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Reading to a Motley Crew

Ok, so maybe my kids aren’t rock stars (yet), nor are they bad to the bone, but sometimes trying to read to three different children, at three different levels – and different sexes to boot (picture princesses vs. pirates) – is like reading to a Motley Crew.

With my first son, reading before bedtime when he was little was a treasured block of time I fiercely protected, and I was able to do it with relative ease. Many folks tend to be structured with their first child and I was no exception: dinner, play, bath, books, and then bed. It was as simple as that. I would sit with my legs crisscrossed applesauce on the floor and have him snuggle into my lap. Book in hand, we read and explored every word and picture as one fabulously literate unit.

When my second son came along, I struggled with many of the “second child” questions that accompanied an emotional pregnancy. “How can I love more than one child?” “How will I have time for both?” My eldest wouldn’t hear of not sitting in my lap as we had always done. That was his spot. My lap = his chair. Discussion over. Me holding his new baby brother and reading a book as a now re-configured unit was so not happening.

I wanted to read together as a family, but then realized that I had to divide and conquer for our collective sanity. My eldest wasn’t hearing or learning anything with a screaming baby within earshot; not to mention I felt rushed and stressed. It was ridiculous. So I decided to break routine and find time for both of them separately. It was a light bulb moment in the 100 watt range. And we would explore the world of words until such time as we could come back together without issue.

It was bliss. Each got their own quality reading and snuggle time with mommy and/or daddy. Eventually, we got back to reading together as a group as they outgrew my lap [insert sad mommy face here] and began to take on some of the reading themselves [insert proud mommy face here.]

Then I had to throw a wrench in the reading gears by adding a baby princess in with the pirates who had already put in their time swabbing the deck; thereby setting us in the direction of walking the plank. Like a book, though, out story continues to evolve, add more characters, and develop into different chapters.

The present course takes one of two paths depending on the wind and the night. On some evenings I read to the princess in her room, alone and cuddling one-on-one while the boys pick out their selections in their room. On other nights, we all gather on the floor and take turns reading a book to one another. It is hysterical to hear my daughter “read” when it is her turn – because she can’t yet. It is complete gibberish, but utterly precious. Even the boys laugh at her insistence that what she is “reading” is correct.

So reading to my Motley Crew has been an evolution of good, bad and silly. Some days the one-on-one time works and sometimes it’s a free-for-all. I also try to tailor the book selection to the reading method. So if it is a free-for-all night, then we all dance around like crazy lunatics while I read, “Eight Silly Monkeys.” And sometimes we make up our own stories or act out stories we know by heart.

My family has taken on many forms over the years and so has our reading. The whole beauty of our story is that we can rewrite it to suit our needs. Sometimes our story is fiction, sometimes non-fiction, oftentimes autobiographical, but it is always an appreciation for the written word and the illustrations that bring each and every adventure to life.

While my crew may be motley, I am the captain of this pirate ship, plus one princess, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Argh!


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