22 May 2015

"I Acted Inexcusably."

I thought long and hard before deciding to write about such a controversial topic. As a mother and a teacher and somebody who doesn't hold back or filter very often, I decided to share my thoughts and opinions.

Yesterday, Josh Duggar confessed to sexually molesting five young girls, with speculations that some may have been his sisters.

From Josh:
Twelve years ago, as a young teenager I acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret. I hurt others, including my family and close friends. I confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation. We spoke with the authorities where I confessed my wrongdoing and my parents arranged for me and those affected by my actions to receive counseling. I understood that if I continued down this wrong road that I would end up ruining my life. I sought forgiveness from those I had wronged and asked Christ to forgive me and come into my life. I would do anything to go back to those teen years and take different actions. In my life today, I am so very thankful for God’s grace, mercy and redemption.

When I first heard about it today while watching Good Morning America, I think my jaw dropped to the floor. My initial reaction was that of anger towards Josh and sadness for his victims. After I digested the information, I blamed his family for their choices. I condemned them for not allowing their children to show love towards others through kissing and touching. Because of their strict family rules and their views on how society should be, this made Josh feel like a caged animal, wanting to explore and react to normal hormonal changes that a teenage boy goes through. I blamed them for not being open to discussion with their children about sexual experiences and that as followers of Christ, you do not give in to sinful and devil like behaviour. I am not against a family setting rules and boundaries when it comes to intimate relationships, but I am against avoiding discussion and not deciding on a plan that will work for the whole family. I am against sweeping matters of a sexual nature under the rug. These were my initial reactions. Emotion over logic.

After I read Josh's statement, I was even more upset because I thought that he used Christ as an out. He used Christ as a means to excuse his behaviour and inexcusable choices. This bothered me. As I continued to read his statement, I wondered how his family could speak to the authorities but that nothing was done. Why did the Duggar family not contact the authorities right away? Why did the incidents continue before something was actively done about it? If five girls had been molested, seeking counselling was enough of a consequence? Today, are they thriving women, in healthy relationships, with no thoughts of their tumultuous past? Josh's actions were clearly illegal and those which will heavily impact the lives of the victims and their families for a lifetime. The family also stated in the police report that they all felt safe in their home with Josh. I can hear the Duggar parents educating their children on what they would say during their interrogation with the detectives. I could actually hear them saying that God forgives. For me, this is not about Christ, this is not about your beliefs, whether you are religious or not, this is about a human being who has sexually abused five girls. It is against the law. It deserves consequences. These actions are not remedied by attending counselling and receiving a verbal lickin' from your family and the authorities.

How do we truly know that he has made right with his victims and that by admitting it publicly, we should all forgive him and move on? How does this make those affected by abuse feel about their own personal situations? The perpetrator can apologize, receive counselling and all is made right. The Duggars have an enormous following, most are followers of Christ, who say that we are all sinners, he shared his mistake with all of us, he is forgiven and we need to move on. Yes, I agree that we are all sinners and that God forgives, but there are rules that society is expected to follow. We have laws for a reason.

There are many others who do not feel that the situation was dealt with accordingly or lawfully.
Some of the comments which have received numerous 'likes' and feedback.....

"Love hearing most of you defending a child molester...you would be singing a different tune if it's your child."

"What about the girls? This is a HUGE part of this response that is missing, what about the girls? I fear for his daughters. Good luck wearing those blinders.

"So anything can be forgiven except homosexuality? I'd leave a daughter with a same sex couple in a heartbeat, but never with a pedophile who's warped parents will protect him and place their own children and grandchildren at risk. It's sick."

The last comment, I read it several times. The Duggar family has been very vocal about what makes up a healthy family unit. It consists of a mother, father and children. Josh has resigned from his position at the Family Research Council, where he has preached about family and love and that we need to follow God's word.
I think about the world and all the unhealthy and volatile households, which consist of a mother and a father. What makes up a family unit? It's a home filled with love, respect, values and morals.  

The Duggar house would have been filled with fear, uncertainty and upset. I know that they do not need to admit to the public how they felt at the time, but the fact that their story has travelled all across the globe, I feel sorry for all of those who have been victimized, abused and who continue to go through this today. I feel that we are telling them that they need to move on, they should not feel that abuse is taken seriously and that going to the authorities is futile and a waste of time. An apology and counselling with make all the wrongs go away.

Josh Duggar did not make a mistake. A mistake is defined as 'an act or judgment that is misguided or wrong." It is one act, one judgement, not multiple. After your first misguided decision, it becomes a choice, one that you have complete control over. Five misguided acts is serious, it is not something that should be taken lightly nor should it be swept under the rug. With the enormity of their family and the amount of young children, why have the authorities not stepped in with rules, with consequences, with an order that protects the children? Do I believe that Josh feels remorse? Absolutely. Do I believe that he is cured of impure thoughts? No, I do not. This is why there needs to be resolution, one that involves the law, not a public apology to the viewers. This does not 'fix' the inexcusable choices that were made in the past. Putting Josh behind bars and throwing away the key is not the solution, but probation, community service, boundaries need to be put in place.

There are so many gaps in this story. My post is based solely on what I have read and seen on TV today. I did not write this post to cause controversy or to shame followers of Christ. I believe in God but I feel that in a situation such as this, it is not about God forgiving sins, it is about the world knowing that there are consequences to those who do not follow the law and compassion for those who are victimized by others. I hope that there are more details in the future and that the victims find the peace and closure that they deserve.

11 May 2015

The Dad Bod! Ya, You Want It!

I very rarely post pictures of myself on social media sites. The other day, I posted this one of myself showing my friends on Instagram what spring soccer looks like in Alberta. It's been a very cold start to the season. Before sharing the picture with others, I mentally came up with a list of my flaws. This is what I found wrong....
1) My eyebrows don't start where they should. If I lined up a pencil with the corner of my eye with where my eyebrow should start, it doesn't match up.
2) My left eye is droopy.
3) My nose is too big.
4) I have a double chin.
5) My cheekbones are not defined.
6) My eyelashes aren't long enough.
7) My face is too round.
8) Some minor plastic surgery would go a long way.
As I dissected my picture, I was thinking about what my girls would think if they heard me saying all of these negative things about myself. How would they perceive themselves? What would stop them from looking in the mirror and pointing out all of their flaws? How would they feel about their mom if they heard the words "fat, too big, not good enough, should lose weight, plastic surgery, flaws?"
We live in a world filled with high cheekbones, size 0 figures, fake boobs, fake eyelashes, photo-shopped images; perfection. We live in a world where perfect is what is acceptable. We are teaching our young children that what we see on newsstands and on TV is how they should be; without flaws.
Recently, I came across a news segment that was talking about the 'dad bod.'
Dad-Body (Urban Dictionary)

1. A body resembling a man who lives a sedentary lifestyle, flabby, usually comes with a keg gut. Sometimes can see penis, most of the time cannot. Body resembles his personality; dull, lifeless, and very conservative.

2. Once in shape, but clearly has lost most athletic properties. Best suited for sitting at a desk chair, possibly doing ones taxes.
Ok, so, women want a man with a dad bod. We want a man who looks like a dad, not fit, but not heavily overweight. We want a man who has some flab, no six pack and who wears shirts and ripped jeans. We want a man who is not perfect. A man who will go to work Monday-Friday, come home and drink a few beers while chowing down on a large pizza. Women find this sexy. This is the new in. This is what women want, the man who isn't perfect.
Where does this leave us women? I have a mom bod. I REALLY have a mom bod. Why am I upset that this body housed two children and now I have stretch marks and a dangling tummy? Why am I not happy with my imperfections? Why are men not telling me that they think my non-existent six pack is sexy and beautiful? Why is society not telling me that the mom bod is the way to go and that men love a woman with a little extra? Why is society not telling me that the biggest turn on is a woman who works Monday-Friday, comes home, cracks open a beer and indulges in a 14" pizza and cheesy bread? What if we can't see our vagina? Is that ok? Is that sexy? The dangling man tummy, which by the way, did not house a child, the world considers this perfection?
I have to be honest, I enjoy the dad bod. I have always loved a man with a bit of a tummy, I'm not really a six pack kind of girl, but there is a fine line between dad bod and an overweight man who doesn't believe in self-care. :)
Just a side note....James thinks that I am beautiful and wonderful and perfect. BUT....I need to hear it from men all around the globe. ;) I want men to shout to all of us women "I LOVE YOUR MOM BOD!"
When will society celebrate women's imperfections? When will society tell young girls that they are to be celebrated, that they are beautiful just they way they are, that we need to celebrate our perfect imperfections? Our views are twisted and unhealthy. Our views are encouraging young girls to step on the scale, to criticize and to judge ourselves and others. We are stuck in the world of social media, where we only post the best pictures at the best angles and feel the need to look like the celebrities. We need to stick our lips in a small bottle, suck in air, so we end up with nice plump lips. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to look like a Kardashian? Seriously.
As I think about my two girls and how I want them to view themselves, I need to change how I view myself. Reality is not a magazine. Reality is not on TV. Reality is not Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. Social media has allowed us to alter our own photos, so that we can look our best. So that we can look like a celebrity. What is this teaching our children?
I am changing my views. I am changing my way of thinking so that my children grow up to be confident, beautiful, strong and productive members of society. I am going to encourage them to love themselves, to love their bodies and to feel confident when they walk out of this house everyday. It will be echoed in their ears that they can conquer this world because they learnt the tools and strategies from James and I, they heard their mom say that she loves herself. They heard their mom say that beauty comes in all different forms, colours, shapes, religions and sizes.
Let's celebrate us. Let's celebrate the mom bod! Let's celebrate our beauty. Let's celebrate with a six pack (of beer) and a pizza. Come on world, get on board.

5 May 2015

Let's Get A Divorce...Or Not.

The Mighty Challenge....

Marriage and special needs parenting: it’s a topic not often discussed, but it’s important, and it deserves more discussion in our community. Can you share a moment on your special needs journey that strengthened your relationship?

I've thought about this topic quite often over the past couple of years. When we received Adele's diagnosis at 15 weeks, it didn't bring us closer together, but it definitely got us talking a lot more. The discussions weren't always light and fluffy, they were usually a bit tense and at times, frustrating. I read once that having a special needs' child, it brings couples closer together and that the divorce rate is substantially lower. Lower? This truly confused me.
Adele was born one month after our town was flooded; we were living with my parents, while our house was being rebuilt. I understand that we had extenuating circumstances that led to more stress, but after Adele's delivery, we were consumed by NICU visits, getting our home fixed and the stress of being grown adults, living with my parents.

Adele spent 6 weeks in the NICU; when we brought her home, we were anxious and still concerned about her breathing. We were focused on contacting FSCD, filling out government forms and trying to keep a newborn healthy. Once we got into a routine, we made sure to contact the necessary supports in the community and began occupational therapy and physical therapy out of the home. When Adele was born, Brinley was not even 17 months old, so we had two babies, one of them required more attention and time. Some days, we both felt overwhelmed and would take it out on each other. The stress of having a special needs' child, would sometimes consume our days and nights. There were times that I would lay awake, beside my husband, who had really turned into my buddy, my pal, my friend, and I would listen to Adele's breathing. I gained more weight; eating because I was stressed and worried and sad.

Marriage success rates are higher when you have a special needs' child?? I still didn't get it.

Adele spent some time in the hospital. They were only brief stays, but James and I were like two ships passing in the night. One would spend the night at home, then we would do a switch the following night.

I remember the first time that Adele spent some time in the hospital. We had recently returned back home from our 3 month stay at mom and dad's house. Adele's breathing was a bit laboured and her colour was off. My gut was telling me to take her in. My sister came with me. Our hospital was sending Adele by ambulance to the Alberta Children's Hospital. I had to take my car, so that I had some form of transportation, as the hospital is over an hour away from where we live. My sister and I stopped off at my house to pick up some stuff for the night's stay. I was short with James, I was mad at the world, I was frustrated and worried about my newborn baby. I was angry that she was sick. I was angry that I had to spend the night away from home. I was angry that the journey was taking another turn, one that wasn't expected. My sister told me that I wasn't being very nice and that it wasn't James' fault. I knew this but he's my husband, he's the one who I take my frustrations out on, he's the one who has no choice but to listen to my fears, my anger and my upset. He is my husband.

Our schedule is full. We have Brinley in extra-curricular activities. Adele receives therapy twice a week, two hours at a time plus she has other appointments at the hospital. I also try to have a life outside of my family and manage to fit in dinners with friends a few times a month. Where do you find the time to make a marriage work? 

So here we are, 21 months into this journey. We have come to a place of comfort with Adele, which in turn has lessened the stress in our everyday lives. We worry a bit less with Adele, not completely, but it's less. We laugh a lot more and appreciate and enjoy the days with our beautiful children. We hug and snuggle and cuddle and revel in the excitement and love that our children have for each other. We stop, relax and are thankful for two healthy girls. 

James and I have found a way to become a husband and wife again. We used to fall asleep holding each other's hands; we have started doing this again. We not only tell each other that we love and respect one another, we show it. We have slowed down. We work together as a team. We both take care of our home and we show the girls daily, the importance of family, a happy, healthy family.

We are on 4 journeys in this house; one with each other, one with Brinley, one with Adele and one as a family.

The journey with Adele.....
She has brought peace, joy, love and happiness to our family. She has brought light and laughter to those around her. She has taught our family about respecting others, about slowing down, about appreciating the journey that others are travelling.
She has strengthened the bond between James and I, although in the beginning, I feared that this unknown journey was placing a wedge between us. She has taught James and I that our girls need us to be strong, to love with all of our hearts, to give them the home that they deserve. I watch James with his girls and it brings me to tears. Our love for our girls is equal but when I see James interact with Adele, there is always a special moment, it may only last a few seconds, but in that moment, they look into each other's eyes and you know that there is bond that will never be broken, it's a bond that no matter what, he will always be there for her and take care of her and love her unconditionally. These beautiful moments strengthen our marriage. When Adele can't sleep and James snuggles with her late at night, this strengthens our marriage. When Adele laughs hysterically and her dad joins in, this strengthens our marriage. The moments are many and are savoured and cherished.

The journey is rewarding. The journey takes work. The journey is filled with ups and downs but it is our journey and we will walk this journey together.