Monthly Archives: November 2013

I Must Have Done Something Good

My family has been watching “The Sound of Music” for the last few days. My husband has never seen it all the way through, and my kids have never seen it at all. I absolutely love the music and Julie Andrews’ and Christopher Plummer’s performances. One of the first songs I learned to play on piano was “Do a Deer.” I was eight years old.

Julie Andrews in

The Sound of Music (image courtesy of IMDb)

One of my favorite songs from the movie is “Something Good.” The first two stanzas are:

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

I used to think of my husband when I would hear this song, but now I think of all of my friends, family, neighbors, and even acquaintances. I used to be so damaged that I couldn’t make or keep new friends. I couldn’t talk to strangers. I was incredibly rude and impatient with people. It’s almost embarrassing now how chatty I get with anyone and everyone. Getting treatment for my depression helped me find value in myself and made me want to acknowledge the value in other people.

I worried most of my life that I would end up alone, unloved and unlovable. I’m grateful for the people in my life that despite my short temper and my many insecurities, loved me anyway, and inspired me to find the deeper part of myself that knew that I was a good person, that I could be kind, loving, and generous.

I’m turning 40 years old this week. There were two times in my life where I seriously contemplated committing suicide. I still think about it every now and then when I’m really, really tired. Not of actually attempting it, just that I want to stop working so hard. Now it’s a really ridiculous thought because I have so much to look forward to. I want to see my kids grow up, hopefully get married, and have kids of their own. I want to grow old, not only with my husband, with my friends and their families.

When I’m exhausted, and I want to stop working so hard, I do just that. I remind myself, “I’m okay.” Not just that I’m safe, but also that I’m okay as a person. I’m not perfect, but I don’t need to be. I’ve heard that people surround themselves with others who mirror them. I look around at the people I spend most of my time with, and I’m feeling like I definitely must have done something good, because these people are freakin’ awesome.

Whom in your life are you really grateful for?

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I Gave My Six-year-old $50 to Lend to Strangers

Recently I created an account for my six-year-old son Zach on Kiva.org, a non-profit organization that offers small loans to poor people all over the world. Kiva.org members can loan as little as $25 to an individual or a group of borrowers. All loans must be repaid, some with zero interest, some with just a small amount of interest.

I gave Zach $50, and had him choose two borrowers. He chose to lend to two men, both living in the U.S. One owns a tire shop (like Luigi from the Disney “Cars” movie), and one owns a window-cleaning business. I gave him money to start with, but as repayments are made and he has $25 again, I’m going to ask him to use the money to fund a new loan.

Loaning money through Kiva.org

Lending as little as $25 can change dozens of lives

I started lending money through Kiva.org six years ago, coincidentally on September 11th. I paid $25 each for eight loans. I’ve paid $300 now, and it’s added up to lending $1,500 through 60 loans. It’s helped dozens and dozens of borrowers, and hopefully their families and communities.

I first heard about Kiva.org from a friend, and then I read about it in Bill Clinton’s book “Giving.” Since 2005, they’ve had over 1 million lenders and funded almost $500 million in loans in 73 different countries. All money lent goes directly to funding loans. Kiva.org relies on donations and fundraising to pay for its administration costs.

My kids are growing up much more privileged than my husband or I did. We donate food, clothes, books, and toys throughout the year, but I wanted to share a way of giving that helps people who live far away. This way Zach can can also get to know a bit about the people he’s helping, through the photos and journal updates they post to Kiva.org. I want him to know that even though he’s only six years old, he can invest in other people’s lives and improve their future.

I really want my kids to understand that we are part of larger communities than just our neighborhood, our school, or our circle of friends. We belong to an international group of families who are doing the best we can to raise our families, educate ourselves, and take care of each other.

Want to try Kiva.org for free? Use this link to lend $25.

Getting Someone on Your Side Sometimes Means Meeting Them Halfway

Last night, I had an actual “good parenting” moment. They come so rarely, I simply had to document it in case it never happens again.

At dinner, my husband and I were trying to talk to each other about our days. He was trying to get Kaylee to eat her dinner, which she would only do while sitting in his lap. Zach was sitting next to them and kept distracting her. We repeatedly told him to stop and just sit facing the table. After a few warnings, we told him he had to sit next to me at the table. He kept being disruptive, and I yelled at him again to stop. He put his head on his arms on the table and started to cry so I sent him to his room.

Now, to be fair, I had nearly run myself into the ground all day doing errands and walking over 17,000 steps (Thank you Fitbit for being such a slave driver!). I was trying to eat my dinner, listen to my husband talk about his day, get credit for the dozens of things I got done, and get Kaylee to eat her dinner. And I absolutely can’t stand having to repeat myself. I realize that’s my issue, but it’s really true that if my kids did what I asked the first, second, or even third time, I wouldn’t have to lose my “shit.”

So, Zach went to his room and proceeded to scream about how angry he was, and how unfair I was being. I started cleaning up the kitchen and putting away the leftovers. I specifically waited a few minutes so that he could vent, and I could calm myself before I went to talk to him. I’m well aware that my usual reaction is to get defensive and angrier, which isn’t particularly effective, as you might expect.

I went to Zach’s room, sat down, and asked him to sit down so that we talk eye-to-eye. Once he sat down, I felt the urge to explain myself, when instead I had the idea to ask him, “So, how do you feel?” He said, “Mad,” of course. I looked him in the eye, and said, “Yeah, I see that you’re really mad.” He looked surprised that I was listening to him and acknowledging him instead of trying to control him. I asked him, “Could you please tell me more about that?”

Mom and son embrace

Sometimes getting someone on your side means meeting them halfway.

Instead of trying to “make him wrong,” I showed him that he did have a reason to be mad, and I empathized with him. I told him that I felt hurt that he was disrupting my conversation with my husband. He admitted it was fair that Daddy and I get to talk to each other sometimes. He said he was acting out because he wanted to tell his dad more about his day, but he couldn’t while we were talking. I told him I hadn’t known that and asked him to say, “Excuse me, may I please share something?” the next time. I promised to ask him next time whether there is something he wants to share, rather than just assume that he’s behaving badly.

I’ve come a long way since I wrote “You Gotta Know When to Walk Away.” It feels really good. I’m still not a great parent, but I’m getting more confident and skilled, mostly by watching my friends parent their kids and picking up their tips.

Do you have any success stories you’d like to share? We’re all so hard on ourselves, we deserve to toot our horns once in a while!

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