Boys Will Be Boys

When my son was younger and even now that he is a teenager, I would often times ask my husband why the heck my son was doing whatever it was he was doing. I simply didn’t understand – why is he eating like a neanderthal? Why is he constantly joking about bodily functions as he makes continuous fart noises? Why will he not stop talking about Minecraft? I would just look at him wondering what the heck is wrong, only for my husband to reassure me that “That is just what boys do.” “He’s just a boy.” And, as my son would get older, my response was, “I don’t care. He’s my boy and therefore, he will not act like that!” Now granted, I look back and his behaviors were quite typical – climbing the walls as he only answered to the name ‘Spiderman,’ not focusing on school work because he is obsessively thinking about a video game, not cleaning the toilet after he pees all over it, forgetting everything I say that doesn’t involve a superhero character or new video game, and the list continues. However, there is a specific phrase I hear in my office often – “Boys will be boys” or with my couples, I hear “It’s because he is a man.” Women excuse their husband, their brothers, sons, friends, or colleagues simply because he is male. I do not understand. If men themselves are not going to create standards for them to live by, then who will? Us wives and mothers will set up a doctor’s appointment for the men in our family because they won’t do it themselves. We will tell them to dress appropriately for an event so as to not be ridiculed. We will tell them to mind their manners to show respectable behaviors. We set the precedent for what we expect. And yet, I wonder why we have expected or stayed silent about men’s predatory and demoralizing behaviors toward women. We expect them to behave in a sexually disrespectful manner. And so, as opposed to holding guys accountable when they are being complete @#$%, we instead train our daughters to deal with them in a certain way so as to protect ourselves.

I can understand that with all the current news, women now believe it is safe to speak out and #metoo. There is not one single woman I know who has not experienced some sort of assaultive behavior or harassment towards them. NONE! I am not here to tell my stories and say #metoo because I would be here for awhile. I would like to take a different path – I am here to hold men accountable. I do not want a group of women only telling their stories because the fact is, all women can relate. I don’t necessarily want a support group type of environment without a direction of what to do next. Just telling our story is not going to change the culture of men. Instead, I would like to begin by encouraging others to change the verbiage. People write “Women were raped or assaulted.” They are not writing, “ Men raped women.” We discuss how many young girls have gotten pregnant, but we are not saying how many men or boys impregnated those teenage girls. As though men are not part of the equation. We are focusing on what is happening or being done to women when we should be shifting the focus on who is actually part of the problem. Why are we not calling it out for what it is – “Man assaulted woman” versus “Violence against women.” There needs to be accountability directly towards men. And, when this occurs, they WILL know what is expected.

The next step is making sure I am doing my part at home. I am not raising just another boy. I am going to change the presumption that all “boys will be boys.” I will raise my son to respect women, to not touch them in an inappropriate manner, to not threaten them, to not speak of women in a derogatory way, and to challenge his peers to do the same. And, if I miss a beat, I am sure that his 4 sisters will remind him to be better than what society has simply accepted or excused!!

Stay tuned for more concrete tools to help our sons, brothers, husbands, and friends as to how to stand up for their gender by being better men…..we will no longer allow “boys will be boys” to exist!

Charise 

Where Have I Been?

Hello again!! It has been quite some time since I have been on this platform. There is no excuse other than life itself and let me tell you, it has been daunting….

Today, I would like to share my journey on where I have been and how exactly I have been preparing for yet again, another chapter. Where have I been exactly? PREGNANT!! That’s where!! My family has transitioned from being a party of 6 to a party of 7. It all began in December. I have been experiencing symptoms of being peri-menopausal for a couple years. So, having months with no menstrual cycle or a month where I would have one/two day periods was not exactly unusual. During the holidays, I was still having my incredibly irregular one/two day periods and was at Target with my 3rd child to purchase feminine hygiene products, no less. It must have either been divine intervention (and possibly a dare!) to purchase a pregnancy test. I went home, took the test, and in no less time to pull up my pants, I see the DOUBLE LINES! THAT CANNOT BE! So, I immediately take the 2nd test only to get the same results without the chance to blink or breathe. I sit there….completely still. And, within less than 20 minutes my husband texts me to check in and see how my day is going. Although quite abrupt of me, all I could muster up to do was send him the photo of the pregnancy test. 30 minutes later, my husband is at the door, as I am sure praying that it is an early anniversary joke of some sort. Only, he saw my face and it was not a joke.

We anxiously await our first doctor’s appointment, only for him to confirm that we are indeed expecting a child and that I have been pregnant for 3 months. 3 MONTHS!! What the @#$%??!!
It was all a daze now that I look back. But, what contributed to the journey that my husband and I had to navigate through was the apprehension we both had in disclosing our news, knowing that we would not necessarily be greeted with congratulatory praises. “5 children! Are we crazy?” I vividly remember a client looking at me with a look of suspicion to which I admitted that I was indeed pregnant. Her response, “Wow! So, after this child are you going to fix this problem?” Ironic, considering she was in my office to see me for parenting advice. Another situation was at a school meeting in which our school president was recognizing and honoring a family who had 8 children go through our school. I was so amazed that this mother had 8 children and then, the woman (and mother) sitting next to me said, “That is so unnecessary!” Hmmm, unnecessary to have children? Ok. There was not a week that went by, or so I felt, when my husband was asked when he was going to get “clipped/fixed.” That specifically would make me frustrated.

Nonetheless, our journey to have another child was, yes, unexpected. But, the moment we had our first sonogram, I could not help but feel pure joy and elation. Unfortunately, my pregnancy was met with such disapproval by our society, that it saddened me. Although we have thick enough skin, it saddened me that our society no longer sees the beauty and preciousness of children. Rather, they see it as a burden. A burden to one’s wallet and one’s lifestyle. And so, the mental and emotional preparation began to make our family what it is and raise children to the best of our ability, despite what others think and believe.

My gorgeous daughter was born in August and all I can think of is the need I have for her in my life. She has reminded me in the busyness of mine and my older children’s schedule to stop, slow down, and be present. She has redirected me to focus on myself and my vocation as a mother, not my comparisons of what I am not as my insecurities rise in a self—absorbed world. She has brought more love and affection to my family and unfortunately for her, she has gained four extra parents without ever asking for it! She has allowed me to focus on good in the midst of political division, racial tensions, murders, fires, bombings and threats of war, and men in power who lack a moral compass. She has allowed me to remember what life is about – love.

Baby #5 was born August 2017 and has been the most wonderful gift!

 

Charise

In a World of Versus

Pro-Vaccines Versus Anti-Vaccines

Western Medicine Versus Eastern Medicine

No Technology Versus Owning most updated technology

Homeschool Versus Private School Versus Public School

Organic Food Versus I don’t care what I eat

Religion Versus Atheist

Pro-Life Versus Pro-Choice

At-Home Mom Versus Professional Working Mom

European Cars Versus American Cars

Democrats Versus Republicans

It is has been 6 months since I last posted anything. I have had difficulty with going on-line and looking at the headlines of articles and blogs and I will not even begin to describe my frustrations and anger when trying to open social media outlets. It has honestly been exhausting. Let’s put politics (or Donald Trump) aside for just one moment. The last 6 months has intensified our already world of differences. I saw this world of differences in a much more profound way as I entered adulthood and my friends were criticized for their “ultra-religious” views or when my married friends were questioned because one no longer needs an official certificate to bond their relationship. Then, I entered the world of motherhood and “versus” became the life in which all people needed to navigate through. The moms who would only feed their babies organic food versus those who were perfectly content buying baby jars at the grocery store. The moms who would absolutely refuse vaccines versus those who believed in it. The moms who would only maintain a strict and structured schedule versus the moms who were more flexible about routines. And, of course, the moms who stayed home versus those who left to go to a professional job setting. The list has always been there and after the last year, I fear that the list will simply be ever-growing.

So, what exactly are my thoughts regarding us continuing to live in a world of differences? This is what I know. My friends and even my family have vastly different thoughts, opinions, and feelings from regarding an array of topics – religion, politics, child-rearing, values, etc. I also know that despite those differences, these are people that I still respect and yes, love. I love my friends. My friends who do not agree with me. My husband who does not always agree with me. My family who can criticize my belief systems. And, I will continue to do so.

This is what I learned from the last few months during the election and even currently. People will be passionate about their thoughts. And that is ok. However, we are made up to be a beautiful world because of our differences and how we can and should challenge each other (constructively!!) to all be better people. But, I refuse to immerse myself in social media or news outlets where the communication style is demeaning, angry, and unkind. Regardless of what occurs politically or not, will not affect how I will raise a piece of the future – my children. I will raise my children to be kind, respectful of all people’s opinions regardless of how dumb we think it is, and mostly, to be tolerant. They will not be violent, they will not use vile language to try and get their point across, and they will judge one person on their character and not solely on their belief systems. The fact of the matter is that they will need these tools because there will be many other presidents elected that they may or may not care for; there will be new life philosophies that they may or may not succumb to; there will be many other laws put into affect that should not dictate how they behave towards their fellow man; and there will be many other inventions and technological advances that can possibly inhibit the ability to truly connect with each other through openness, kindness, and respect.

We cannot necessarily change that we will forever live in a world of “versus” but we can change how we react and treat each other in spite of differences.

Charise

Do Not Judge Me Based on Who I Vote For

It would be an understatement to say that people’s convictions, thoughts, and feelings are intensely passionate regarding this upcoming election. Now that both National Conventions have aired, it is safe to say that people are more opinionated than ever. My blog has never been a platform for political accountability and I do not plan on it ever being so. One of the intentions when I began writing was to encourage compassion and more than ever, during this election, I believe it necessary to do so. I have never stated my political affiliations, not because I want to avoid conflict (because let’s face it – it is an area of conflict for everyone) but because it is personal. Just as my religion is. That is why I will not address politics among my religious friends. This is why…

Regardless of the presidential candidates, my personal moral choices in life are based on my faith and philosophies. That is not and will never be dependent on who is president – Republican or Democrat. I have never been a fan of someone JUDGING me because as a Christian, I “should vote conservative.” Or because I am an empowered professional female, I am judged if I do or do not vote democratic. My personal moral choices are between God and I. Not Bush or Obama and I. They have no bearing or weight on how I choose to raise my children or what legacy I leave behind. However, if we are speaking on fiscal concerns, national security, education, and healthcare, then I have an opinion. And, yes, they are strong opinions. My issue with this election is that we have forgotten the country we are living in. It is because of the freedom we are privileged to have, that we can have opinions and not be killed for it. Unfortunately, we are socially punished for it. I have friends who are extreme “left” and extreme “right” and I truly believe that because I respect them and they have mutual respect for me, that we can compassionately agree to disagree without losing perspective of our friendships. That is not the case I have been witnessing in the last year. I have seen and read vile comments to each other as people try to stake their claim in the #imwithher or #makeamericagreatagain campaigns. I have seen physical fighting and horrific name-calling. The fact is, there are presidents we have respected and those we don’t care for. I have been an advocate for voting since before I was of age and have followed politics since I was in grade school. It is a topic I enjoy. Call it maturity, but as I have grown older, I see the points of everyone. I don’t have to agree with it. And, if we are truly to be ONE NATION, then I shouldn’t be judged for my opinions. Rather, if we are to speak of inclusivity, then that means my race, creed, gender, sexual orientation should not matter. What should matter is HOW we all live together. Because regardless of whether I agree with Obamacare, I will still care for my clients. Regardless of whether the politicians deem same sex marriage or the legalization of marijuana as positive, will not have weight on how I personally live my life and how I raise my children. Regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease, I will continue to pay for we all live in a privileged country to have the niceties that we possess. Regardless of whether there is a physical border or not, I am called to be compassionate to all people – immigrants and citizens. Regardless if the gun laws are adjusted, I will continue to be a responsible citizen who follows the laws and equally respect service men and those who walk our streets and neighborhoods. Regardless of whether climate control is real or not, I will continue to respect this earth as it will one day be inherited by our children. Regardless of whether abortion is legal or not, I will continue to cherish life. The list continues.

As my friend so eloquently stated as she looked at the beauty of our beaches and the miracle of a gorgeous sunset, we simply need to redirect our focus sometimes from the chaos of “Ding Dong Donald and Crooked Hilary.” We have survived a lot in this great nation and we will continue to do so despite which candidate wins. I just ask that people calm themselves and remember what we were taught when we were younger – “If you don’t have anything nice to say, do not say anything at all.” I disagree with a lot of people’s posting on Facebook or Instagram, but you will not see me negatively comment. There are a few people I answer to on a daily basis – God, my husband, and my children. Whoever becomes president will not change who or what I am because how I live my life is between those I love and myself. The only judgement I care about, is that of God’s because no one else’s judgement should matter. Right? So, stop judging!

 

It’s easy to judge. It’s more difficult to understand. Understanding requires compassion, patience, and the willingness to believe that good hearts sometimes choose poor methods. Through judging, we separate. Through understanding, we grow.  – Doe Zantamata

 

As I say to my children, “Remember to always be kind to one another.”

Charise

To All the Mothers…

10 Incredible Motherhood Quotes to Make Mom Feel Amazing:

Mother’s Day 2010 forever changed my feelings regarding this day. I would like to say that I can look at each year as a new and different experience and I believe for the most part, I do that with other aspects of life. Unfortunately, Mother’s Day has remained a negatively tainted day for me that brings a tinge of pain and sadness. For the last 6 years, I have managed my feelings and worked at looking at this day for what it should be – honoring mothers and all that we do while embracing our children who have made us who we are. It has been a personal journey for me that I do not share with others. And, yet, the last week and a half, I have had many women come in for their sessions and a few friends express disdain for this holiday. I came across two women yesterday that when asked how their Mother’s Day was, looked at me with ambivalence. Nothing special. And, although people make all attempts to make this day special for their loved ones, I came to the realization, that mothers yearn for so much more than what this day offers. In talking with several women, none of who know how I personally navigate through my own feelings this day, shared a sense of sadness they always feel despite how their family tries to acknowledge what they do and the residual feelings that linger after. But, here’s the problem – why is it that there is ONE day in which all those around us reflect upon the sacrifices mothers make day in and day out? One day to reflect on the daily grind and the pains, joys, and intricacies that make our jobs more than a job. One day to acknowledge that we, too, need to be cared for and looked at the way we care for and look at our children. This day is almost condescending despite its well intentions. It was even more difficult as I sat there in church and listened to a pastor struggle with how to incorporate Mother’s Day into his homily, considering it is a “secular” holiday. WHAT? Mother’s Day is not a secular holiday and it shouldn’t be minimized to a hallmark day, either. It is a day in which we should honor the women in our lives, as it biblically states we should. The Bible actually states we should honor our mothers (and fathers). This is not an instruction to do just ONE day out of the year, but always! Mother’s Day should be a reminder in how we should honor the women we care for everyday and not take advantage of all the aspects it takes to be who we are.

Who are we? We are women who have miraculously created a home for a growing human in our own bodies and then, throw away our misconceived notion of what we believe our bodies should or should not be like. We are women who despite having not eaten, will feed their children first and sometimes, with our own bodies because it no longer belongs to us. We are women who do not sleep for fear of the unknown and because our children will be forever implanted in our dreams and sometimes, nightmares. A woman whose dreams no longer about herself, but about her family. A woman who has lost the ability to contain emotions because her children make her vulnerable with laughter, joy, pain, and tears. We are women who despite self-doubt, mommy-guilt, and sadness, are strong and beautiful and brave. And, there is not a holiday that can define or dictate how others view our role in this world. Our role in our world is carried through everyday that we care for and love our children (and spouses) because we do not only carry our children for nine months, we carry them forever.

So, for all the women who have felt sadness since Mother’s Day and continue to reflect negatively on what we are not or what we do not have, I would like to share three quotes from men I follow on Instagram that reminded me that I am so much more than Mother’s Day – I am someone important,  who makes a difference everyday:

Mark Hart @biblegeek shared this beautiful message about his wife: “Heaven sends us Mothers that we may have an earthly reflection of God’s heavenly love. There really are no words to describe how blessed our kids are to have this gorgeous soul as their Mother. She is a picture of grace, constant in her love and patient with them (and me) to depths I can only pray to one day achieve. She is a woman after Mary’s own heart.”

Ryan Frederick @fiercemarriage wrote: “Fathers have unique access to their children’s hearts. Their tender love and intentional leadership can build confidence and instill character like nothing else. On the other hand, harsh words and emotional distance can devastate even the most resilient kids. Men…husbands…fathers, the most immediate and potentially impactful way you can love your children is by loving their mother well. They watch, they listen, and they feel the way you love her. They hear how you speak about her when she’s not around. They learn how you respect her by observing directly – even when you don’t think they’re watching. They see how you love her when she’s hurting, after you’ve had an argument, and when you laugh together. Husbands, love your bride with everything you got. Give yourself up for her, sacrifice your agenda if it means serving her more selflessly. …. Love her fiercely always.”

Mark on @Kellyejensen “hacked” his wife’s account to glorify her by saying, “This girl…is the love of my life. The best mother I know. She is more loving, patient, kind, hopeful, supportive, beautiful, fun, cool, adventurous, wise, and exciting than the kids and I deserve. She is our rock. She takes time every day to think of each of us, what we need, how to connect, how to love us. She teaches me everyday how to be a better man, husband, father, and person. I am beyond blessed to call her my wife and best friend. I just wanted to say (mainly because I never say it outside the confines of our home) that I love her. Am grateful for her. Am impressed by her everyday.”

To all the mothers out there who question their worth and haven’t stopped mulling over their emotions from a weekend ago – these three men have just validated that what we do is not just important on one day, but has affected them all year round and has molded their families to be better than yesterday and to be great tomorrow.

Charise