52-Week Project {Everyday Life | 2017 | Week 10}

After many weeks of positive, silver-lining-filled posts for this project, I’m not sure that I want to tackle the can of worms that this post may open.  I could just post the photo and move on.  It’s a moment of my everyday life, fo sho.  Nuff said.  Except.  I *promise* you that more than one someone on this big, wide interweb will take issue with what this photo represents to them, and since I want this project to continue to serve a positive purpose for me and be enjoyable for you (both of which it will stop being if I get irritated and walk away), I’m going to attempt to head this off at the pass.

That’s a heavy beginning.  And I haven’t even begun to get to the point.

Don’t stop yourself if you want to say something about what the photo represents to you.  But I might like you a little less if you get judgy on me.  Just sayin’.  You may like me a little less after this, too, but maybe not.  Maybe this will make both of us stop and think about everything just a little differently, and maybe we can get to a glowy place of mutual understanding.  I’m already envisioning it…let’s do that!

Okay.  So there are two discussion arenas I will generally only enter with my bestie, who is also the only person I enter a bed with.  Well, other than the kids for the MOST epic snuggles…well, and the dogs — but let’s not go in all those directions right now.  The arenas?  Politics and Parenting.  Yes, both capped because they are opinionated, self-important discussion arenas that do not require capitalization but bestow it upon themselves anyway.  Everyone is right.  Everyone is wrong.

NO.

No.

No, no, NO.

That’s where we all fall on our faces with this stuff.  I’m going to reveal something that I have rarely seen discussed in either arena.  Are you ready?  This right here is the only fact I have been able to uncover.  THE. ONLY. FACT.  Ready?  Here it is:

We’re all right and no one is right because those arenas largely center around opinions.

Say it with me, now:  O-PIN-IONS.

Opinions.  Only opinions.  There are no facts in either arena except that every statement uttered, every discussion, every hate-filled rant, every picket sign, every THOUGHT is an opinion.  An opinion.  A million opinions.  A trillion opinions.  Your opinion.  My opinion.  Opinions.  That is all.

Now are arguments supported with lies that can be disputed with facts?  Of course.  On all sides (because there aren’t just two, even though it sometimes appears that way).  There are truths and lies discussed in circles all the time.  But the passion fueling the discussions rests on the tenuous ground of opinion.  Tenuous because sometimes our opinions change.  At least, they better.  We learn as we live.  We observe truths and form opinions about them.  We observe falsities and form opinions about those, too.  We form opinions about how best to change the world for the better.  As we add learning to our opinions, sometimes we find that a truth we believed yesterday was shrouded in something cloudy we couldn’t easily see through at first, and when it clears, we see a new truth.  An opinion may change.  A truth is only as factual as the knowledge we have in that moment.  The world was once flat.  Wait.  No.  People once believed that the world was flat.  The truths they had at that time supported that fact.  But they were wrong.  People learned new facts, took in new information, understood reality with a greater vault of detail.  The truth changed.  The fact changed.  That might not be the best example for this discussion since it does involve fact rather than opinion.  Or maybe it’s the perfect example because there are still many people who currently believe that the world is flat.  I’m going to just sidestep around that tangent, but it’s fascinating stuff if you have a few minutes to go explore.

Back to getting to my point.  I think most people who love to chatter publicly within the Political and Parenting arenas forget the small yet highly significant fact that those arenas are filled with opinions.  Opinions.  Just about every thought formulated about every detail about Politics and Parenting is an opinion.  Now don’t get all extremist on me.  I don’t think it’s okay if your opinion is that you need to beat your child to get her to listen to you.  I just threw up in my mouth a little typing that sentence.  I do, however, recognize that you may hold that opinion.  {Shiver}  I do believe it’s wrong.  There are some key words in the last few sentences, though:  think and believe.  This is a wildly extreme example, but you get the idea.  We all think a little differently because we are all bringing such vastly different life experiences to our opinions.  Considering this, we all need to be a little bit more careful with one another’s opinions because we think HARD about this stuff.  Most of us.  Probably not the mom who is beating her kid.  {Cringe}  But most other people are thinking HARD about the stuff we feel passionately about.  We make choices about the way we think–about the opinions we form.  We also make choices about the way we present those opinions and the way we receive others’ opinions.

There. Is. Always. A. Choice.

So choose carefully when you present your own opinions.  Make sure you are recognizing that you have the right to hold that opinion, and that others have the right to hold other opinions.  You will not agree with everyone.  Everyone will not agree with you.  We all know this world would be b-o-r-i-n-g if we were monotonous drones who all thought the same way.  After watching the Political arena for the past year, I’m convinced that those of you who love to play there are there because you enjoy the back-and-forth banter.  I’m not saying there aren’t things to fight for and believe in.  What I am saying, though, is that — in my opinion — this world is going to move forward in big directions because of all of the individual people moving in big directions.  Not because of who currently occupies the big ole’ WH in the US of A.  That’s one person.  That’s one house.  ONE.  In my opinion, it’s kind of miserable communicating in that Political arena as it’s just all shouty capitals all the time, but I think a lot of you love it.  Here is what I’ll say to that:  you do you.  If that fulfills you, then it’s a good fit for you.  It doesn’t fulfill me.  It exhausts me.  It depresses me.  Instead of using all of the energy I could to argue about who I think would be best and why or what the right choice is and why, I’m going to use that energy to continue to raise my kids to show compassion, to pay attention to the words they use, and to apologize when they make mistakes.  I’m going to use that energy to show compassion, to pay attention to the words I use, and to apologize when I make mistakes.  I’m going to talk to my kiddos when I think they could have made a better choice in a situation.  I’m going to talk to them about the impact of their words.  And about the impact of mine.  I’m going to continue to apologize when I make mistakes with them.  I’m going to aim to walk a path I would be proud if they followed.

Thinking about stuff that affects our lives, sometimes a very long way into the future, and often stuff that also affects our children’s lives, sometimes a very long way into their futures, brings out a lot of passion in all of us.  We have formulated opinions because we have thought about shiz.  A LOT.

Thanks be to ALL THE GODS EVER, Politics will be left behind for this discussion.  I’m here to soap box about Parenting.  What I’m about to discuss with all’y’all centers around my opinions.  I have chosen (along with my amazing life partner) to raise human children.  Two of them.  We have boys.  They’re great, and sometimes I want to lock them up, and sometimes I want to lock myself up.  I love them with every fiber of my being.  Even though I do think about locks maybe more than I should.  That life partner of mine and I think a LOT about Parenting.  We think about it, and — I don’t want to startle anyone here; are you sitting down? maybe you should sit (are you sitting?) — we talk about Parenting.  We talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and TALK about it.  ALL THE TIME.  Oh there are a lot of shouty capitals in this post.  Guess I’m not allowed to judge the Political arena for using them.  Shouty capitals may continue…  I don’t talk about any of this stuff very often because I know that I am opinionated and I don’t really want to get into it with anyone.  This is passion, right here.

Anyway.  We talk.  We talk about what we think we should talk about later.  We talk about what happened five minutes ago.  We talk about what happened last week.  We talk about what’s coming up next month.  We talk about what’s coming in TWO FREAKING YEARS.  We talk about it all.  And then do you know what we do?  We go talk to our kids!  Sometimes together, but more often just one of us with just one of the kids.  We talk to them about what happened five minutes ago.  We talk to them about what happened last week.  We talk to them about what’s coming up next month.  Sometimes we talk about what’s coming in two freaking years, but not as often.  Those are just usually the chats we have as parents to get ready to talk to the kids when the time is closer.  So we can figure out where we each stand and then where we will stand together.  Crazy?  I know!  It’s kind of messed up!

No.

It’s not messed up at all.  It’s Parenting our way.  WE TALK.  And I drink a lot of tea.  I don’t know how he manages all the talk without tea.  My throat would dry up.  He drinks whiskey sometimes.  As long as he is coherent and somewhat animated, I’m good with that.

We talk about a lot more than just Parenting, but I’m going to try to stay on point here.  I am a fan of talk in every relationship, but I’m not sure that it’s more important with anyone than the bestie you like to get into bed with.  I’m lucky that my bestie agrees with this, and more often than not, he’s the one initiating the big talks.  It’s definitely not one-sided for us.  It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m pretty sure we would not have made it this far (22 years and counting…14 married 💞) without all that chatterboxing.  It works for us.  FOR US.  I’m not here to tell you that you must talk to your life partner in order to maintain a healthy relationship or to be effective parents.  Of course I think it has helped us, but YOU DO YOU.  There are many paths that will lead to healthy relationships, and there are many paths that lead children to grow into well-developed adults.  Talking has worked well for us, though, so there you go.  I’m offering it as an option.

So this is many paragraphs long and I STILL haven’t even begun to get to the point.  What is the point?  Eldest was sitting on the couch with me on Saturday morning.  I was drinking coffee and reading.  He was playing on the iPad.  I’m not even sure what he was playing.  Probably his football game.  That has been his game of choice lately.  It was just a moment.  It was peaceful.  We were both cuddled under a very warm blanket.  I decided it was one of those moments that reflects everyday life, so I snagged my camera and snapped quickly.  I put the camera away and snuggled back onto the couch to finish my coffee and soak up the love.

Eldest just turned eleven.  He’s on the cusp of those teenage years.  We see a lot of attitude from him, but we also still see a little boy sometimes.  He will cuddle on the couch as long as no one says out loud that we are cuddling.  There may come a time when it will be too weird to him to share a blanket on the couch with me.  Maybe not.  I still share blankets with my mom when she’s over.  We spent many a Sunday that way, with matching mugs of tea while watching Downton Abbey.  I’m not sure how it will go when he’s older, but right now, I will enjoy the shared-blanket moments with this boy when they come along.

This photo may represent something else to many people.  A child staring at a screen.  This is the ugly that entered my mind as I was adding the watermark and sizing the image for the web.  Much like we can’t ensure our words will be read in a certain way, we can’t force someone to see an image in a certain way.  It will speak to each viewer differently.  I see a quiet moment with my boy.  It evokes feelings of peacefulness and a joyous moment when we were just together and content.

But I’m anticipating that many viewers will not see much more than a child staring at a screen.  We talk quite a bit about screens at our house.  I’m not a super fan of this technology era, but I do love my e-reader.  I certainly find my phone to be a useful tool, tracking my grocery list, my daily fitness details, my fertility, my envelope banking budget balances, my gift needs and purchases, my calendar, … I could go on and on.  I rely on technology as much as anyone these days and much more than some people.  I’m still not a super fan, though.  When it comes to screens and my kiddos, the hubs and I are constantly reevaluating.  We have only needed to start setting limits in the past year or so.  Prior to that, both of our boys were pretty good at self monitoring.  They would get bored after a bit of device time, be it playing on the iPad or watching a show.  They would just get up and go play.  They’re still pretty good, but we have definitely noticed a shift.  When we decide it’s time for a break, we suggest one or create a diversion.  We don’t make a big deal out of getting off the screens unless distractions aren’t working well.  The thing we try to recognize is that these children growing up right now are immersed in technology all the time.  We want to walk that line between making sure that they’re having healthy childhood experiences that involve sunshine, rain, snow, mud, sleds, swings, puddles, and grass.  Oh and trails.  And other things like bugs and birds.  But we also want to make sure they have enough exposure to technology so that it’s not unusual to them.  They will need technology to be second nature throughout their learning and quite possibly throughout their careers.  It’s hard to predict what their technological futures will hold.  We strive for balance.  We aren’t really interested in judgy opinions, though I certainly don’t deny that I get judgy about stuff myself.  The thing is that, when I know I’m being judgy, I bite my tongue (usually).  I can have my opinions, but it’s not always okay for me to force those opinions into someone else’s ears.  In fact, unless I think you will be willing to just talk to me about a topic, I’m not going to get into it with you.  It’s not fun for me to defend my opinion.  It’s kind of tiring, actually.  I have lots of other things (actually people and furries) to expend energy on.

So maybe we can agree to let this be a moment.  Regardless of what it looks like, it was a sweet, beautiful moment of snuggling with my little man.  We were warm and quiet.  We didn’t have to run out the door for soccer practice or school or play rehearsal or a birthday party.  It was just nice.  Maybe I’ll rewrite this whole thing and just focus on the nice rather than on the rant this kind of turned into.  But maybe this rant will bring some good because it serves as a good reminder even for me that we are all seeing the world in our own ways.  All of our ways are full of our own truths, which are made up of lots of opinions we’ve developed along the way.  If we approach life with the mantra kindness always, maybe we can each be a piece of that change we wish to see in the world.

Wk10 | 52-Week Project | 2017
Photo specs: Nikon D810 | 35 mm | f 2.5 | 1/80 s | ISO 1600
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