Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Love Conquers All

As I watched bits and pieces of the Super Bowl this year, there was one commercial that made me smile.  

There is so much hate in our world.  So.Much.Hate.  Why is that?  Why can't we all just get along?  Well, that's actually a lot to ask.  Rather, why can't we all tolerate one another?  Why do we need to constantly prove one another wrong?  Hate is like a penetrating disease that viciously spreads.  What is the antidote to hate?  Love.  How do we show love towards those who come at us with hate?  It's actually simple when you try.

This post isn't solely about the dichotomy between love and hate.  I wrote this post with one particular angle of hate in mind and it pertains to whether or not parents choose to vaccinate their child{ten}.  I have read endless posts on Facebook lately regarding "Why I chose to vaccinate" or "Why I chose not to vaccinate".  As I read each of the articles, blog posts, etc. that were linked in the posts, I read words of hate and disgust towards those who didn't chose the same.  Within myself, I felt intense emotions stirring and became overwhelmed with those feelings as well as inundated with information that may or may not be valid. I started to feel anger and disgust towards those who had posted this hate that was now consuming me.  Then, I became angry with and ashamed of myself.  I had invited this hate in and allowed it to infect my cognition. I could feel it in my flushed face and the burning pit in my stomach when I read something that infuriated me.  I had fallen into the downward spiral of hate.  At this point, hate had the advantage.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  It is now time to look at the bigger picture.  From a humanistic standpoint, I believe in the innate good within individuals.  Therefore, I believe that many parents make the decision we believe is best for our child{ten}.  We put our trust in our pediatricians, research, our intuition and then make a decision.  I have dabbled in research on both sides and I believe that this decision is challenging for some parents.  So I ask of you, when you roll your eyes at another parent or feel anger towards someone who didn't make the same decision you did: take a step back.  Take a deep breath.  Put yourself in that parent's shoes.  Try to remember a time that you struggled with making a decision for your child and what that felt like for you.  Reflect on how you felt when you made your decision.  And what you felt if others told you that you were wrong, an idiot, ignorant.

I am so tired of living in this "I'm right, you're wrong" social world that we have constructed.  It is exhausting and it truly takes a toll on many of us.  In the country that I live in, many of us take pride in independence yet chastise one another for our differences.  The irony within that way of living is harming us at a much deeper level than we can cognitively grasp.  Proving one another wrong has become so innate that as a whole, we as humans have lost the ability to truly love. You may be reading this with anger and thinking, "What is she talking about?  I love my {fill in the blank} with all of my heart".  I'm not saying that we are incapable of loving our loved ones.  What I believe is that when we are so focused on proving our rightness, we are not loving.  When we are not loving, we can let hate in.  When hate seeps its way in, it infects its host at a rapid rate.  Through our ability to feel what others feel, that hate spreads to others.  And the cycle goes on and on.  So what can we do to stop the pandemic of hate?  Love.

My intention for writing this post is to foster love and empathy in those who read this.  My intention is not to breed more hate.  So please understand that this is how I feel about what I am reading and hearing.  These are my beliefs, thoughts, emotions, and opinions.  I am not positioning this for you to agree with me or to state that I am right.  Not.At.All.  Rather, I hope that through reading this you can look at those around you and feel what they feel.  If we can let go of our egocentric ways of living, I believe that we can spread love and conquer hate.

**You may have had an emotional response while reading this post and I encourage you to share your feelings in the comments below.  Please refrain from commenting on whether or not your child{ten} are vaccinated and reasoning for your decision.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Personal Shopper

Over the past few months I have made Sunday our grocery shopping day.  For us, that means me loading up Sam and Jack for an hour or two at Whole Foods since Craig works Sunday mornings.  Sam has come to know Sunday as "Whole Foods day" and we prepare for it with breakfast {typically homemade pancakes, per Sam's request} and me repeating the mantra "patience, confidence, positive attitude".

The trip typically starts off well: Jack falls asleep in the car and Sam excited to get some treats.  Then... we get into the parking lot.  Jack wakes up as I place him in the baby carrier and Sam is whining about which car cart he wants.  By the time we make it inside I've already broken a sweat.  I could wave my white flag, head home, and wait to return when Craig is at home with the boys and I can enjoy grocery shopping alone.  Nah, I truck on.  We make it past the cookie bar and immediately head straight to the deli.  As our meat of choice is being sliced Sam is asking for "ham and cheese" and I am bouncing Jack up and down.  I know I'm going to get my workout in today.  We continue on through the store with me singing to Jack and negotiating with Sam.  Then, Sam has to poop.  It never fails.  Another obstacle that requires me using muscles I never knew I had until I lifted a 40 pound toddler out of a grocery cart while wearing a 23 pound infant in an Ergo carrier.  Hey, I married a 6'4" man…I should have known my children would be giants.

After a ten minute fiasco that is a toddler bathroom break, we are back on track.  Off to the produce section {which leads me past the beer and wine that I can not purchase because it isn't noon yet}.  Once again, the negotiations begin.  "No, Sam, you cannot play in the ice water.  That is for the fruit, not your grubby hands."  This is when it all starts to go downhill.  At this point, I am over it and so are the boys.  Jack and I are starving {Sam isn't, he ate his lunch throughout the store} and ready to get the eff home.  As I am telling them "just one more thing…" five times and bouncing Jack like a crazy person, we make it through the home stretch.  Oh wait, no….the check out line.  Ohhhhh save me.  I have to unload the cart with a 23 pound infant strapped to my chest and a toddler asking pleading, begging, and whining for the "prize" snack Whole Foods graciously offers.  This is when the Whole Foods staff swoops in for the rescue.  There is almost always someone there to help me unload my groceries onto the conveyer belt, bag my groceries, place the bags into my cart, and chat with Sam.  I start to feel some relief and see the finish line.  Then the golden question, "Would you like help out to your car today?"  HELL YES I WOULD.  In the beginning, I said no.  Then I was hesitant.  Now, I expect it.  I need that help and instead of putting up a front that I don't, I accept the help.  I still apologize and say thank you the entire escapade to our car.  Whatever.  They offer, I accept.  Sometime between the checkout line and the groceries being loaded into my car, I am asked if I know about their concierge service and am handed a complimentary coupon for the first one.  I graciously accept the coupon and discuss the concierge options.

Although I ponder the ease of having my groceries pulled, bagged, and loaded for me with me just picking them up…I know it's not for us.  At least not now.  Nah.  Instead, I will enjoy our chaotic trips to the grocery store for the time being.  These are the real moments.
  First time in the cart together.  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Going To Heaven

This post is not about what you may have expected from the title.  Yes, it is about going to heaven, but not about someone currently going or having gone to heaven.  Rather, it is about Sam's curiosity about going to heaven.

A few months back Sam started asking a lot of questions about dying.  Honestly, the first time he asked me about death I didn't know how to respond.  I was terrified about saying the right thing in order to not scare him.  The more and more he asked about it, the more comfortable I became answering his {endless} questions about death.  Early on, our discussion turned to going to heaven.  Death is scary and I tried to make it not so scary, but still keep it scary.  Which makes no sense whatsoever.  You see, I didn't want him to be so scared of death that he became obsessed with it {and in turn, never stopped asking me about it} yet I wanted him to be scared enough so that he wouldn't say that he wanted to go to heaven and so that he would stop asking me about it.  As a mother, I didn't want to think about him dying or about myself dying, so when he would ask me, "Mommy, when are you going to die?" "When am I going to die?," anxiety ensued.  I wanted him to stop asking about death so that I could stop thinking about it.

This obsession with death also got me thinking, is this typical behavior?  I mean, what if my kid became obsessed with death?  Once again, I came to the realization that my son's "odd behavior" wasn't unique to him.  Whew.

Then one day at lunch with a friend and her mom, we got to chatting about the death talk.  She put it all together for me:  The obsession with dying all started in April.  Sam goes to a Catholic preschool.  They learned about Jesus' death and resurrection in April.  It all made sense to me!  I wonder how many other kids in his class were asking their parents the same questions and what those parents reactions were.  Through this realization, I became less fearful of the death questions and more welcoming of them.  The last discussion that we had about death, which was weeks {possibly a couple months ago} was:

Sam: "Mommy.  When Jesus comes and tells me it's time to go to heaven, I'll tell him 'not right now Jesus, I'm playing'"

And that was that.  I smiled and felt so much warmth in my heart with that response.  It seems as though Sam has felt closure with that comment as well, as we haven't discussed death in quite some time.  I know it will come up in the future, and I am sure my initial response once again will be fear, yet I do feel more prepared for the death talks to come.  

"Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is." -Yoda

Friday, August 1, 2014

So Much To Say, So Little Time

Over the past few months, hell, over the year, my blog has been placed on the back burner.  Every night as I'm trying to get my mind to shut down and almost every time I'm in the driver's seat of my car, blog posts roll through my head.  And what I have to say is so important, I believe.  At least for me.  This blog has become my public journal and an arena for me to share my thoughts and feelings with those who care enough to read.  I look back at early posts and see where this blog started, where it is today, and where I see it heading in the future.  I have become less forceful in my beliefs, yet I still enjoy sharing them.  My life has changed drastically over the past five years through the birth of two sons, graduate school, and just the fact that I am getting older.  I am proud of who I have become and the journey that I have taken to get here.  I also look forward to the road ahead of this crazy adventure called life.

So, what's the point of this post?  To let you {and myself} know that I have a lot to say and I intend to say it.  When that happens will no longer be forced, yet it will come on its own.  I want this story of my life to be a natural process.  I am excited and ready to continue on this journey!

If you're ready to read about what has been floating around in my head, Jack's {incredibly long} birth story, and what other madness my brain comes up with…STAY TUNED!

"I'm not aware of too many things.  I know what I know, if you know what I mean." -Edie Brickell

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Before We Were Four

Around the end of my pregnancy with Jack, I started to realize more and more that we were soon going to be a family of four.  This was a very bittersweet feeling in the sense that I was incredibly excited to meet the little guy growing in my womb, yet I was saddened by the fact that Sam would no longer be the only one.  Yes, I know that we were blessing him with a sibling.  Still, those little moments when it was just Sam and me or the three of us became incredibly emotional.  When the time came for my maternity photo session, I wanted to not only document my pregnancy with Jack but also those last moments of us as a family of three {and a half}.  Once again, I would like to give credit to the amazing Jessica of Lovely Fitzgerald Photography for the below captures…

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Jack Is Here!

After a very long and needed hiatus from blogging, I would like to proudly announce the arrival of

Jackson Wheeler Phelan!

Jack was born on December 1, 2013 at 6:27am.  He weighed in at 7lbs 11oz and was 20in long.  We were immediately in love with our new little man!

Over the past few months we have been loving on Jack and learning how to function as a family of four.  It hasn't been easy and we are taking it step by step.  Regardless of the challenges, Craig and I are happier than ever to have been blessed with such a wonderful family.  Now, I would like to introduce {via our amazing newborn photos from the extremely talented Jessica of Lovely Fitzgerald Photography}…

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.

*More posts of photos and my entire birth story to come.  When I can get to writing them.  Who knows when that will be…but it will happen.  I promise.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Last night in my Drugs and Addiction class my professor played this song for us...

Everything about this song...the lyrics, the music, his voice...was incredibly powerful for me.  As a future counselor and as a parent.  I don't want to cloud this post with my thoughts and feelings, the song speaks for itself.