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9.20.2017

Plant Lady is the New Cat Lady?


If you follow my instagram (@killjoymills) at all, you already know that I have become a collector of leafy plants. I've always enjoyed plants of all kinds, thanks to both my mom's green thumb and Josh's love for all things green and sun loving, but never had the confidence to really "grow" until this past year. I borrowed my mom's book collection and added it to everything she imparted while I was growing up. It was an inevitable obsession, really. No one is surprised one bit.

I hesitated filling our tiny apartment with plants because I was afraid I'd just kill everything.
Yes, miss tree hugger here was worried about taking care of plants. 
I put it off for the same reasons I don't currently have the fur babies I also want so desperately. Because being responsible for ANYTHING living is a big thing and should be taken seriously.
(Coming from a mom of two little humans, 5 aquatic turtles, 1 dog and 2 lizards....)

Anyway, obviously this post and my instagram feed prove that I did cave. After living here over a year.

Josh actually started it for me. He got me what is still our biggest baby, Mr. Grumpy Leaves, Philodendron, for my 25th birthday.
He has a love-hate relationship with the light in our hallway, but really he's just getting too big for his britches. Literally. It doesn't help that his leaves are so big and wide that between Jax and Chet, he has to constantly grow new shoots. He's a tough guy though, he can hold his own. I was sure I was going to end up killing him, but he proved he's a fighter and I'm not the big bad plant killer I thought I was.

Thanks to that boost of confidence, I chose a hanging Spider Plant to be my first addition. Unintentionally nicknamed, Spidey (not my most clever moment, but it stuck anyway).
Since bringing him home and caring for him (an already hardy and easy to care for plant), he's gotten bigger and greener and is easily one of my favorites (of my plant babies, of course).

Next, I learned why my mom was always coming home with new plants anytime we went to a greenhouse or even Lowe's. We went in for light bulbs and I walked out with two new babies.
Meet Violet and Rex.
Violet is a fuzzy, velvety Purple Passion (Gynura aurantiaca) and she hangs out on my desk behind my makeup brushes. She has a super soft layer of purple fuzz on her leaves and her blooms are bright yellow (as you can see, she's got buds now and will probably bloom in the next few weeks) so there was no way I was NOT bringing her home with me.

Rex is pretty interesting too. I didn't have to give her a nickname because Rex IS her name. And it fits her perfectly. This feisty lady has tripled in size already and absolutely loves being outside showing off to all the other deck plants. What makes her unique is this waxy, wet looking top layer that covers her already beautifully painted looking leaves. She feels and looks fake. It's impossible to fully capture through a camera, though, but I tried. Bugs like her too, but she defends herself pretty well.

No green plant collection is complete, however, without a Snake Plant.
The toughest, slowest and most metal house plant in my life.
This badass was a must have that made me officially enthralled with green plants. I enjoy all flowers, plants and trees, obviously, but leafy, dark green plants with designs that look painted on are my forever favorite. I will never get tired of admiring their impeccable patterns and textures.
Snake plants in particular tickle my fancy. They grow super slow but are the easiest house plant because they prefer low light and only an occassional watering. They also benefit the air (duh, it's a plant) and are just wonderful to look at.

As a plant mommy, having a partner who not only shares your appreciation for Mother Earth's gifts, but chooses to add to your collection, is pretty much the best thing ever.
My biggest plant babies are also some of my favorite gifts I've ever received.
Mr. Yuccdrio is actually a trio of Yuccas trimmed to look like crazy exotic dinosaur trees and I love it to bits. He's outside for now because now that he's in his new pot, it takes two people to move him and I still need a pan for him to sit on so he can be inside. He's loved being out there, but Winter is coming.

These last two are my latest littles, other than my herb and fruit plants.
I haven't named this little guy yet, but doesn't he look handsome in his little purple pot? It really brings out his red veins. (I know, I'm becoming borderline creepy. Sorry.)
He's a Nephthytis. Maybe I'll dub him Nephy.

And my current pride and joy,
Baby Black Beauty.
My first (but certainly not last) Elephant Ear plant. She's going to get MASSIVE if I let her (more like, whether I like it or not), which I absolutely will. She's also the official start of my future Goth Garden, which I will build once we have a real yard and eventual greenhouse. Until then, she's my precious baby and I adore everything about her. She's perfect.

As I mentioned above, I do have a few other plants not shown here. Between the dude and I, we also have a couple basil plants, a little mini oregano, a fern awaiting a new basket, a pineapple plant I'm babying and a tiny little baby banana tree. We also have a couple succulents, of course, but I have left the caring of them up to Josh because I have a major problem over-watering them and I refuse to be responsible for their demise.
We do have a window sill perfectly set up for a few babies though.....

If you didn't already know, plants are super beneficial and important. They improve air quality, help heal and calm and are just wonderful to look at and be around.
I am far FAR from being an expert and am FOREVER learning, but one thing I know for sure is there is NOT SUCH THING AS A "GREEN THUMB."
You're not born a plant magician. You BECOME one by reading, learning and trying. Start with something sturdy and easy (like a snake plant, spider plant or even mum). Gradually add as you feel comfortable. Don't rush yourself, and don't overwhelm yourself. Plants require just a few things; Sun, water, and PATIENCE. 
But you CAN do it, trust me. You are not a plant killer. Just a plant beginner, like me.

So....got plants?

8.15.2017

But...Your Kids


"But you feed your kids chicken and dairy, right?"
-Literally every person that's just found out that I don't drink cow milk or eat meat.

In all honesty, up until very recently, I have always answered, "Yes, of course."
Why? Well, because it's true, and it usually satisfies their questioning and sets them back in their comfortable reality after being slightly shook for a second.

However, more and more I'm beginning to question that stance. More and more I'm beginning to feel uncomfortable and even phony about it. 

Why am I feeding my kids products that I personally don't consume anymore? Why am I making a decision for them without their full understanding and consent? Why is it okay to buy and feed those products I am against on many levels to my kids, but not okay to feed them what I eat?
Why do we keep the truth from our kids?
I suppose it's on the same plane as Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.

Despite constant debate, there really IS NO argument FOR meat and dairy. There is nothing in them that we can't get anywhere else. Their protein, calcium, vitamins and iron ALL originally come from the PLANTS they consume. Even the B12 that most meat eaters claim as their reasoning, is originally plant based and because of the way we grow and treat so many plants, it's not near as concentrated as it should/could be. Regardless, the only reason B12 is in meats at all is because the animals were pumped with medications, and modified feed with added B12. So B12 should be supplemented REGARDLESS of your diet. Meat is NOT a multivitamin.

Now that THAT is out of the way, I can get to my main point.
There is NO reason that my kids can't eat the way I eat. They already like their veggies and they trust and even enjoy my cooking [for the most part haha]. There are SO many options that are delicious, balanced and animal free, it is NOT like it used to be. As a mom, I have really no excuse not to try to expose my kids to alternative diet options. My kids are thriving, they have no allergies, they get regular check ups [and yes, are vaccinated]. I have tried enough and looked into enough that I am officially accepting the challenge to feed my kids a balanced plant based and delicious diet. We're not cavemen with no other option. We are in a fantastic plant based era that is constantly giving us new and even better alternatives. There are [and have been] amazing humans that have lived lives proving that meat and dairy is not only unnecessary but limiting and backwards. There are even fad diets claiming to fight cancer and heal chronic illnesses and guess what, they are ALL plant based.

So the question is NOT "can my kids thrive on a plant based diet?"
The question IS "what is stopping me from helping them thrive?"

I WISH my mother would have at least showed me there were other options. I WISH she would have been honest with me sooner about where my food comes from. I certainly don't BLAME her one bit. She was doing the best she knew how. Both my parents still showed compassion and empathy for wildlife and all of "God's creatures."

But when I'm no longer ignorant to the truth, why would I lead my kids blindly toward a direction I no longer believe in? At this point, if/when they make a decision to keep a plant based diet, they would honestly have every reason to blame me for any regrets they may have. Because the truth is, I AM in control. I DO know better. And above all else, I LOVE MY KIDS. Despite my many faults, I do my best to stay honest with them about everything. They know where their Christmas gifts really come from, they are told exactly why I get frustrated and exactly why I want them to do and act certain ways at certain times. I make it a point to NEVER claim "because I said so" or "because I'm mommy" because I know they are more understanding and capable than anyone gives them credit for. I want them to trust me. But trust is not trained, pounded in or lectured. Trust is EARNED.

And I take their trust very seriously.

7.27.2017

What A Fine Life


I realize it's been quite a while since I promised family photos. Sorry.
Although, we all know my excuse[s].

That being said, I have been struggling to find something both appropriate and relevant to write about, which is really why there has been such a gap in posts. Don't get me wrong, I have many subjects worth sharing my opinion and experiences on. No doubt.

More important than that, though, is the fact that Roran, my second and babiest baby...
Turned ONE YEAR OLD on the first of the month. Already. I know. He was just born yesterday, I swear.

So will this post be a letter to my about-to-not-be-a-baby-anymore baby, a recap of life, vacation and current events, or another rambling about a side of parenting I'm just now learning about?
To be honest, while typing this out....I still don't really know. So I guess we'll just have to find out.

I actually feel incredibly guilty that I don't think I have enough to say in a full sized letter to Roran about his first year and existence in general. I feel like I have so much more to say for Jaxon. I suppose that is mainly because Jaxon used to be my one and only so he was all I had to write and think about.
That's not to say I have nothing to say about my littlest duckling and all his quirks and traits, though his dimples alone could pretty much say it all.
It's just that I couldn't really say much at all without mentioning his big brother. These two are already the best of friends and mortal enemies all at once, and Roran can't even talk yet.

I could say a million things about them together or separately, about being a mom of two, about raising boys and about the hopes I have for them [and me, as their mom].
But I'm honestly overwhelmed by it all. I adore every minute. I wouldn't change a thing, except maybe our living situation, but that will come soon enough. I will keep saying it, regardless of who's will is behind it, I believe everything in my life happens for a very important, specific reason, even if it takes years to realize it.
All I know is my boys are as imperfectly perfect as their 'rents are, and I can't imagine life without them consuming it.

Every day I learn something new about life, motherhood and my sons.
During our trip to Nags Head, NC, I learned that Jaxon is restless but incredibly cautious, just like me. I also learned that he is confident, social and independent just like his father.
I learned that Roran is both a massive lover and volatile fighter.
I learned the importance of forcing myself to let things go and how to allow myself to relax.
I also was reminded of the definition of gratitude and art of consideration.

Roran had a small birthday part at our tiny apartment and even though it turned out great and basically exactly the way I expected, I really hope he doesn't feel neglected when I finally collect and display the few good photos taken and memories made that day. I consumed and stretched myself farther than I thought I would for just a small get together with family and close friends. I feel like I failed, honestly. But you know me and my guilt. It doesn't take much.
He had a blast, of course. He always does.

As for the present and future, I'm trying to savor every bit of summer I have before it goes as fast as my babies' first years. I'm trying to cherish every moment with them, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. I'm trying to both push myself and treat myself in every way so that I stay sharp. Because with boys like mine, Lord knows I'll need all the mental, physical and spiritual help I can manage.

 

[photos taken by my lovely SIL, Lindsey]

6.05.2017

More Like a Candle Box


I'm about to get a tad personal. Probably too personal, in all honesty.

So let me start right off with a little disclaimer:
THIS IS MY PERSONAL OUTLOOK, NOT AN INVITATION TO A DEBATE.
I am aware how the internet works. I am aware of the full definition of "PUBLIC". I fully understand and even fully support the variety and diversity of beliefs and views outside of my own.
I would never claim to know everything there is to know about anything there is to know, so I am in NO WAY saying that my personal beliefs are the be all, end all, ONLY way to live.
However, I have very good reasons, based on experience, to see things the way I do and because of that, I'm pretty sure if everyone else WAS to believe what I do, the world would be WAAAAYYYY less hostile, destructive and evil. Just throwing that out there. You know, as a theory.

Whew! Okay, that's out of the way. Good.

First things first, I believe Jesus was a real person. I believe in a creator of all life and existence and light. I believe in purpose, not accidents, as far as value of life goes. I believe in the life examples and teachings of Jesus and I believe in the significance and existence of the Holy Spirit.
That being said, I also believe in Nature and the power and balance of the Universe/Cosmos. I believe that true peace is only found through a perfect balance, and that conflict, confusion and pain are a direct consequence of imbalance. I'm not talking about tip toeing, living a luke warm, grey life or any kind of apathy. Apathy does not equal balance or lack of imbalance. Apathy seems safe, but is actually incredibly destructive.
Now to attempt to be a bit more clear, when I say I believe in a creator, and the Holy Spirit, I don't necessarily mean in the EXACT biblical sense. What I mean by THAT, is I don't believe in HUMANIZING a supernatural, omnipotent being the exact way the Bible does. So, in other words, I recognize the Holy Spirit in all forms, including sensing/seeing auras, judging character based on "gut feelings", connecting with the spiritual world as a medium, or even "mother's intuition." It's ALL the "Holy Spirit" to me. It's what gives us clarity, discernment, revelation, translation, which is why I believe in the importance of it/him/her/them. I fully believe in a spiritual, supernatural, physically invisible plane that we live among, but not always in (kinda like alternate dimensions and timelines portrayed in comics and movies, if you're confused). I believe some of us are more sensitive to it and aware of it than others and I believe that, as humans, it is impossible to fully comprehend it all, and to picture God as this human looking, emotional, relational (in the human sense), sort of being, is a little....belittling, honestly. At least to me. Even if He is all powerful (which I have no reason to believe He isn't), He has pretty much relinquished all control to us. So where you stand with Him/Her/Them/It, is completely between you and Him/Her/Them/It. I believe that humans are imperfect and flawed from the start, which is why I believe life is about growth and improvement.
THAT is why I cannot believe ANY book, ANY practice, ANY organized religion, or ANY human-touched ANYTHING 100%. Does that mean I think the Bible is crap? Absolutely not. Does that mean I think all religions are the same and lead to the same things? Nope. Does that mean I think going to church, praying, studying and listening to sermons are a waste of time? Of course not.
It means, I am OPEN. I am LEARNING. I WANT to learn. I WANT to grow. And it means I am FAR from knowing enough to close myself off completely to everything else.

Don't confuse my openness with ignorance, confusion or complacency. I am quite solid in my spiritual foundation and even more firm in my views and intentions. If you ask me how I feel about something particular, I will give you a straight, honest answer (most of the time, unless it's a loaded question in which case, you literally asked for it so prepare yourself).

Do I think you are an idiot if you faithfully attend church, or think God is dead? No, not for those reasons ;)
I'm kidding. I only think animal abusers, child abusers, anyone who thinks harming anyone for selfish reasons is okay, anyone who is too set in their ways and refuses to change even after they are shown a better/healthier/loving/less harmful way, anyone who judges/harms/hates based on shallow factors like gender, race, age, etc, anyone who blindly claims climate change is a complete hoax and fossil fuels, animals and slave labor are God's gifts to us to exploit, and anyone who leaves their shopping cart in the parking lot are complete idiots.

And even then, I would never harm, insult or choke you with my "counter" beliefs, even if I did have the energy.

I believe in LOVE, HARMONY and BALANCE. And living in a way that tries to achieve that without harming anyone in the process, all while understanding that it is a process, and that I will fail more often than succeed, which is all part of said process.


Yes, I am that tree hugging, animal loving, snowflake shaped hippie.
And I LOVE YOU.
Even if you eat meat.
Even if you drink milk or eat cheese.
Even if you hunt.
Even if you don't recycle.
Even if you drive a diesel guzzling, smoke spewing, confederate flag boasting, ear deafening, lifted and "suped up" monster of a truck.
(Which seems oddly specific, but around here, it's actually not. At all.)
Even if you bought your dog from a pet store.
Even if you spank your kid (though I recommend trying a hug and calm voice next time, just to rule it out)
Even if you believe in multiple Gods.
Even if you believe in only one God
Even if you don't believe in any God.
Even if you're a Republican.
Even if you're a Democrat.
Even if you're neither.
Even if you voted for Trump.
Well....yeah even then.

We're not robots. We're human. We feel. We think. We learn. We change. We grow. We try. We really, really try. Through all the blood, sweat, tears, urges and emotions, we try.
And with great humanity, comes great responsibility.

And that's just how I see it.


5.17.2017

Not Bad, for a Third Year




I knew I wouldn't be able to post the annual "Jaxon is a year older" post anywhere NEAR his birthday because I have a tendency to be overwhelmed by a pile of unfolded laundry. I also was waiting to be able to post the family photos we had taken on Easter. Still working on it.

But enough of the excuses.
JAXON CAIN IS THREE YEARS OLD.

Let me start by saying, he is ME through and through. Every day he proves it in new ways.
And I don't just mean because he loves pickles, lemons, punk rock and the Kratt brothers. I mean, he reacts the EXACT way I do when I see a cute animal, he is unfazed by peer pressure, he loves broccoli, old bay and sushi [obviously not together], he already has a witty sense of humor and shines when he's able to do things on his terms. Those are just things on the most basic of levels. There are mannerisms, looks in his eye, facial movements and attitude changes that are more than just learned. He is 100% my child.

Don't get me wrong, he is also 100% his father. But we'll save that for another time, for Daddy's sake ;)

I want to tell you a little more about this amazing, challenging, genius child of mine.
Jaxon knows all his colors, all his letters and can count to 20 with his dad. He knows different ways to tell you his food tastes good, what his plans are and exactly what he wants to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner and what his favorite foods are from his favorite restaurants [Montezuma's, Buffalo Wild Wings, Saga and Dawg House]. He can completely dress himself, from socks and shoes to hat and sunglasses. He can quote and sing along to every catchy tune from Blue's Clues, Zaboomafoo, Veggie Tales and Octonauts. His favorite movies are The Iron Giant, Finding Dory, Zootopia, Cars and The Lion King. His imagination is unlimited and he loves to pretend to talk on the phone with his grandparents, his friends [Dylan and Rachel] and his cousins. He also loves to grab one of his lunch boxes [he calls them backpacks] and his toy keys and tell me he's off to either work or "AwMart" for juice and chicken and daipers. He loves telling me which way to turn when I'm driving [already the BIGGEST, most literal backseat driver to ever exist]. He absolutely LOVES to boss people around [he's still working on grasping the concept of consent and being polite when it comes to making friends ha] though he hates being told what to do himself [I'm sure we don't all know anyone like that...].

He also loves his baby brother and is becoming possibly the best big brother in the whole world. He tells me when baby is crying [just in case Roran's shrill screeches don't alert me] and will give him the nearest toy to try to soothe him, even if it's his own toy. I can't claim that he ALWAYS shares, but he does most of the time. He loves playing peek-a-boo, giving him his snacks and making funny faces at him to make him laugh. He asks me every time we pack up to leave somewhere if baby is coming too, to make sure we don't forget him, and tells me "baby's okay/sleeping" when I ask for his help when I'm driving if I can't see him through the mirrors. And when I ask him if baby Roran is his friend, he always says, "YEAH!"

Just because I've mentioned all the ways this kid blows my mind, certainly doesn't mean he is some superhuman cyborg child from an alternate timeline that never does anything wrong or never throws a fit. Just in case you were beginning to believe that. I gotta clear that up too, I guess.
He DEFINITELY throws fits. Loud fits. Painful fits. Angry, demonic fits. Unavoidable fits.

Ironically, he also hates when I remind him to stop and take a breath, even though he tells me to EVERY time he thinks I'm getting frustrated [I mean, he's usually spot on, but still...having a 3 year old tell you to chill is something I'm still working on reacting to properly].

Which brings me to a side note. ANY adult that you hear say "I would never let my kid throw a fit like that" or "they must be crappy parents if they can't control their kids" is either SINGLE, does NOT have children, FORGETS what raising a young child is like, or is flat out LYING. Because let's just make this very clear, once and for all...
EVERY child throws fits [some more/less than others, depending on the day]. EVERY child is learning what emotions and urges are all about. It DOES NOT MATTER what approach you take, your child WILL throw a fit in a public place, out of nowhere, at the most inappropriate time in the most inappropriate way and there is absolutely NO WAY to avoid it. 
The ONLY "secret" to raising a human is this: YOUR CHILDREN WILL LEARN BY YOUR EXAMPLE.
Spanking them, threatening them, intimidating them, out screaming them, WILL NOT teach them anything EXCEPT how to hit, threaten and intimidate others. If you want quiet, reasonable, polite and patient children, YOU must FIRST show them how quiet, reasonable, polite and patient YOU are.
And let me make you another promise.
It will show you just how loud, demanding, rude and impatient you didn't even know you were.
There is no such thing as "winning" at parenting. It is a learning and growing experience for you just as much as it is for them. You will fail but you will also learn how strong, smart and resilient you can be. And so will they. That is what makes parenting worth every insane, exhausting, tear inducing second.

Now back to my real point.

Jaxon is my favorite 3 year old in the entire universe. He makes every tear I've ever shed, every painful heartache I've ever felt, every beautiful and every ugly sight I've ever seen and every failure I've ever learned from worth it. He is my shining star and calming focus. He is my reminder that everything alive has a purpose, including me. He is my superhero and I still believe that I never truly existed before him. Raising him and being alive knowing him is like meeting my true and complete self for the first time, every day. I am aware how strange, exaggerated and borderline obsessed I sound, but I cannot make you understand any further just how much he has saved my broken, dark, anxiety riddled life and continues to make it bright, satisfying and whole.
Goodbye, Terrible Terrific-Two's.
Hello, Terrifying-but-even-more-Terrific-Three's.


4.03.2017

Mirror Mirror


When I was about thirteen years old, I went grocery shopping with my mom. During that trip, I witnessed an exchange between a mother and child that has seared itself in my mind. The boy was no more than 3 years old. He was visibly tired and moody, crying and screaming, dragging his exhausted little feet behind his mom and her boyfriend/husband. His mom was probably close to my age now, possibly younger. She was trying to ignore him and probably just wanted to get what she needed and get out, since they didn't have a cart or basket with them. His crying was impossible to miss and hard to ignore. When he caught up to her, he stretched his arm out and began to call out, "mam-" when suddenly she spun around and pulled her arm back ready to swing full strength but faked him out. She didn't hit him, but the motion and threat of being hit made him spin and fall on his face and start crying harder. He was only a toddler, but he looked humiliated and terrified.

My heart still hurts for him, 13 years later. I'm not accusing anyone of anything. I'm not claiming to know anything about him, her or their life at home. But that flinch was learned. His fear was too, from experience. How dare he cry out of exhaustion. How dare he be moody and unable to control his emotions after 3 years of being on this earth. How dare he cause others in the store to judge her for not "controlling" her child.

I'm going to just say it.
I am not a fan of belts, paddles, spoons or even hand spanks. I am that mom.

But before your blood pressure spikes and you flex your fingers preparing for a keyboard battle, let me explain to you why I feel this way and what conclusion I've come to regarding it.

My brother and I are 4 years apart in age. We have always been polar opposites (except for about a year and a half during our teen years). I was generally quiet, obedient and tended to internalize everything. I was sensitive, gentle and more of a "thinker".
My brother, on the other hand, was hyper active, hands on and fearless. He demanded his way and let his emotions run rampant. He was angry. Always so angry.
He was also exactly like our mom.

When I was 8 years old, I did something I knew not to do, and my mom made my dad spank me with a massive wooden paddle. I wept the entire time. My dad said nothing and kept the same emotionless expression. I could tell his swings weren't the only thing being held back.
I was never spanked again. I'm not saying I never again misbehaved, but I was never punished with a paddle after that.

At the time, my brother was 4. He was still in diapers and had probably his 100th paddle by that same day. He laughed. My mom told my dad to pull his diaper down, but he didn't. It wouldn't have mattered anyway.

It wasn't long after that my parents did away with spankings altogether and "controlled" us in other ways. They learned that I just wanted their approval and to be like my dad. I was humiliated by any sort of correction. I was easily crushed. "Hyper-sensitive" I think they call it.
My brother required rewards and trophies. Instead of punishing him for doing wrong, they gave him "incentives" to do good. He still did plenty bad, like any kid, but he learned what to do to get what he really wanted. Like my mom.

I don't think a Psych 101 class is required to understand that children learn in different ways. There are endless factors that go into why we are the way we are. Some require learning hands-on, and are punished for not having the patience for reading from a book. Some retain everything read and told to them, and struggle to communicate through painting or other artsy crafty things. Some are great communicators and love performing, and still need a tutor for math and science.

I can already tell that Jax is more like me and Roran is very similar to my brother. They are only 2 years apart and are both male, but they are uniquely them. I don't want to fail them by creating this illusion that they are basically the same.

So what IS my plan?
I've said before that children, especially toddlers, are mirrors of us. They show us aspects of our personalities that we didn't even know really existed. We can sing the alphabet with them 10,000 times a day with them, but they'll remember a phrase your mother used to say when you were a kid that you HATE now. A phrase they heard maybe once that day.
I can tell Jaxon to say "thank you" and to share and be nice all day, every day, but if he doesn't see ME doing those things, he won't care to do any of them. And why should he?

Children learn by EXAMPLE. Jaxon doesn't just say please, thank you, and you're welcome. He says them just like I do. When he was first learning to talk in phrases and sentences, he said the things he heard us say the most, first. He gives me attitude in the EXACT form that I give him. He didn't start hitting me until I smacked his hand for getting into something. I'm not saying he never would have if I didn't hit him first, but it definitely triggered something new for him at that moment. I saw it in his eyes.

My oldest son will be 3 in May. I am still VERY new at this parenting thing.
But I refuse to believe that if I DON'T spank him, he'll become an ungrateful, selfish, manipulative menace to society by the time he reaches adulthood. I refuse to buy into the belief that spanking my own flesh and blood will ensure that he is respectful, obedient and trustworthy.
If respect is EARNED by others actions and examples when it comes to your adult relationships, then why do we demand it from someone who has only been around for a few short years, regardless of the amount of respect we've shown them? If we don't spank friends with a belt when they yell at us or share a secret you trusted them with because it's frowned upon and society considers that assault, then why do we cause physical harm to a younger human who has even less control of their emotions and urges? Because we think it teaches them about consequences? If that were true, then why don't we get spanked when we screw up? We get reprimanded, we get humiliated, we get fired, we get heartbroken, we get fined.

I get that adulthood is very different from childhood. Duh.
But aren't we as parents supposed to guide and prepare our children for adulthood?

Don't misunderstand me. Jaxon does things DAILY that make me want to smack the devil out of him. My mother's intensity and impulsiveness comes out in me more than I'd like to admit. There are things he does over and over and over and OVER again that I wonder if pulling his diaper down for a full handed slap wouldn't correct at least for the rest of the day. But I then remember my brother. I remember my mother's frustration and exhaustion. I remember her crying from him driving her to her wit's end. I remember her standing up and walking to her bedroom, mumbling something about him being possessed, leaving him there, continuing to slam the back of his head onto the floor, his face red as blood from screaming at the top of his lungs. I remember the tiniest irritations would throw her into a screaming frenzy herself, as we got older. My mother rarely spoke to us in a calm, "inside" level voice. Conversations with her almost always escalated quickly to hisses and growls and dramatic stare downs. If looks could kill, neither of us would have made it past 2.

So yeah, maybe I feel the need to go against my mother's extreme to an opposite one of my own.
Maybe I've read too many hippie mom articles. Maybe I'm just being my usual "hyper-sensitive" self and can't stomach my kids being in any sort of pain, especially inflicted by me.

All I know is I have SO much faith in my child. Jaxon is so smart. He is so gentle. He is so aware. He's fearless. He's sassy. He's clever. He's thoughtful. He's strong. When I cry or look sad, he asks me if I'm okay. He stops what he's doing out of nowhere to hug me. He points things out to me that I missed because everything is new to him and old to me. Things that I never expect him to see or even understand. Enough to prove to me that they are capable of SO much more than we think.

I explain everything I can to him. Everything. Even if I doubt he's listening or even able to comprehend what I'm saying. I talk to him about it anyway. He surprises me daily with his empathy and knowledge. He retains things I don't expect. So I just put it all out there and let him hold on to what he can. And he does.

I don't expect him to stop coloring on the walls because I asked him to nicely and explained to him why I don't want him to. I tried to make him clean it off and he still does it. That's because he's still a two year old. A HUMAN two year old.

I know ADULTS who still do the same annoying shit, no matter how may different ways I try to stop them. My son doesn't need to be taught how to be perfect. He needs to learn how to live with being imperfect.

If my kids grow up to be compassionate, logical, respectful, creative gentlemen, I will be ecstatic.
But first, I'M the one who needs to be compassionate, logical, respectful, creative and strong. I need to show them how it's done. Because they're going to learn from me whether I like it or not.

I want to smile when I look into my mirror.