Sunday, September 7, 2014

Get Your Own Damn Life


My friend looked at me, eyes wide open, unsure if she should applaud my creativity or call social services on me.

"Well, what was I going to do?" I said. "I'd rather have her scared than dead."

I was referring to the fact that after several gun related incidents with a few of my daughters daycare classmates, a staggering look at the statistics of children and guns, the rising number of homes that have guns in them, a 20/20 special that proved the gun awareness programs that we have for kids are failing, and a very eye opening conversation with my six year old that alerted me to the fact that even after all the talks we have had about not playing with a gun you find at someones house and learning that she still was not absorbing the information, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I scared the crap out of her.

How you may ask? Well I made popcorn, I brought extra pillows and blankets to the couch, I let her stay up late, and we had a mommy daughter TV night.

We watched "Trauma Life In The ER: Gun Edition."

"Mommy!!! All his blood is coming out!!"

"Yep, it sure is dear child of mine! That's because a bullet when into him and made a hole! Look! The doctor is putting that big tube in his throat!"

After it was over we had a long talk and I think for the first time she understood the concept of "a gun really will hurt you." I believe this to be true because several days later I overheard her say to her little brother "don't pretend to shoot me! If you ever see a real gun you have to run and get a grown up as fast as you can! They can make all your blood come out if a kid touches them!"

Mission accomplished.

Was it the most practical way to teach her about gun safety? No, I'll admit that. Some might call it cruel or heartless but quite frankly, I don't care.

You see, I've never been one to follow the parental norm. I thought I would be. I had worked with children for years before I had my own children, even working at a daycare throughout my pregnancy. I have parenting books up to the ceiling and a quick peek inside of them will show you just how very much I intended to be the perfect parent; highlighted paragraphs and all.

Then my daughter was born with medical problems and everything that I thought I knew went right out the window. She almost died in the hospital because of a missed diagnosis; a diagnosis that was only made after I stood up to her know-it-all doctor, telling him that he had better call for a hospital transfer or the police because he was about to kill my baby. Only THEN did they finally look at what I was showing them and realize that yes, something was VERY wrong with my baby and YES, I had been right all along.



I realized that day that sometimes you have to go with your parental gut and throw any pre planned idea's of how you were going to parent right out the window. If I wanted my daughter to thrive, I needed to be willing to go against the flow of life sometimes.

These days I would say that I definitely parent off the beaten path. The kids live an organic and holistic lifestyle that many people think is crazy. I follow my own vaccination beliefs and I tend to turn away much of modern medicine. I don't believe in homework or tests. I don't allow my kids to watch much of what most people would deem appropriate TV shows for children and yet I allow them to watch many things that most might find inappropriate for kids. They don't have access to a computer and we don't own any video game systems. I'm the strictest mom I know and yet I'm also the mom that allows them the freedom to pick out their own clothes; whatever crazy style that may be. We can routinely be found eating dinner inside of a makeshift fort, even if we are all eating quinoa and kale chips. They know that I don't take shit from them and they know that I say "shit." There is no yelling in our home and at the same time one sideways glance from me and they both go scurrying to safer grounds.

My point in all of this is that you have to do what's best for you. My daughter almost died because I spent so much time listening to what other people were telling me; listening to the advice of everyone except the opinion of the one person that mattered the most, mine.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because we talk a lot on this blog about being your own person. We talk a lot about finding the path that you are supposed to be walking. I think the most asked question that I get on here is "how did you become so comfortable being the freak outspoken person that you are?"

I became that way because I learned that my life works better when I am living it in a way that works for me and my kids. I learned that my life, my family, we all thrive when we are living in a situation that is best adapted to who we are as individuals.

Does my way of life work for everyone? Of course not. Does it cause people to look at the way I am living, the way I am raising my children, and judge me? Of course it does. People are quick to judge things that they don't understand; to shun things that are unfamiliar to them. Once I got over the fact that I didn't need the approval of someone else to live the way that worked the best for me, the rest just fell into place.

That moment for me, going head to head with the doctor in the way that I did, that was a big moment for me. My whole life I had been programmed to just do what I was told. Don't think, don't reason, just do what you are told to do. When I felt that I was losing my daughter, I did what I had to do and in the end I saved her life.

I wish I could say that a flip had switched for me at that moment, that from there on out I was my own person, living my life my way, but as you have seen in this blog, we all know that isn't true.

I still endured years of "programming" from my ex. I still hid my secrets away, ashamed at what the world would think of me, but that moment started something. From that moment on I started raising my daughter (and eventually my son) in a fashion that I feel works best for them, despite the judgmental glances that I get from society.

One night about a year and a half after my ex left, I just felt beaten down to my core. I was sitting with a friend and I was telling her how I just felt like a failure. "I just can't seem to do anything right. Every decision I make is wrong. I'm succeeding at nothing, I'm failing at everything, and I can't figure out what is going on here!"

My friend, being the sweetest person that I know, simply took my hand, led me upstairs, and opened the door of my sleeping son's room. Luckily he is a heavy sleeper because she reached down and rubbed his little head before saying "look at him. He is thriving in the therapy program you have him in. I've seen such a drastic change in him over the last few months, I just know that he is going to be completely healed."




At this point I thought I knew what she was getting at but I went along with it as she held tight to my hand and led me into my daughters room. We stood by her bed for a minute, not saying a word, and then she led me back downstairs.

As we both sunk into the couch she started talking. "Wasn't it you that told your daughter's teacher that you didn't believe in homework and that she wouldn't be doing it?"

I nodded my head yes.

"Yea, that was really weird" she said. "Not as weird as when you decided that they weren't allowed to watch Nickelodeon or the Disney channel anymore."

"Hey" I interrupted. "I don't like the fact that all the eleven year olds are dating, there is always a bully, the parents are always stupid, and there's always the slow kid that they make fun of."

"Yea," she said, "but it was pretty weird when you put them on those crazy diets and turned both the kids car seats rear facing again."

"I had my reason's" I said.

"I'd like to know the reason that you made a stand FOR swearing in front of your kids" she said.

Before I could answer though, she kept talking. "I thought you were nuts when I came over and you were neck deep in research and coming up with a modified vaccination proposal to counter your pediatrician's standard vaccination agreement contract."

"Yea, I don't really" was all I got out before she continued on.

"I've never really seen your kids throw a tantrum before and at the same time I've never seen you yell at them. I come over and they are painting each other on the front porch and you are totally fine with it. You climb in bed with them at night to talk about life values and morals and yet you have outlawed children's music and nursery rhymes in your home. Why are you so weird?"


I waited for a minute to see if she was actually done talking before I started, all defensive and ready to defend my 'parenting weirdness' as she called it.

"I'm not weird! I just feel like my kids are people, not robots. They didn't come with a manual, I don't have any instructions for them. I refuse to try and mold them into the people that society thinks they should be and because of that I can't parent them based on some predetermined set of rules that society has set as the standard. It's not being weird, it's me fighting against society for the right to let them live in a way that is conducive to them thriving."

"Well," she said. "It seems to be working. I mean your daughter is at the top of her class, they are are some of the best behaved kids I've ever seen, and your son has all but recovered from what the doctor said would 'catastrophically affect his life.' They are sweet, smart, they don't swear, and above all, they are happy. Your daughter had her father walk out on her and she is one of the most well adjusted kids I know.You broke the rules and allowed them to thrive. You aren't failing at everything because you haven't failed them."

Despite the point that my friend was trying to make, I suddenly seemed to grasp an even larger picture:

My kids are thriving because I've allowed them the opportunity to live outside of what society deems as "normal." They don't live by the pressure to be like everyone else and because of it they are becoming the amazing version's of who they were supposed to be.

If they are thriving because they have had the freedom to be their own person and I'm falling apart because I've only ever been allowed to be who I was told to be, what can we gather from this people?

I wasn't failing at being a success, I was failing at being someone I wasn't supposed to be. I was measuring my successes against a set of standards that were never meant to apply to me; a set of standards that has a good majority of us trying to be someone we aren't.

The entire time I was fighting to free my children from the pre-formed molds that society had set for them, I wasn't fighting to give myself the same freedom.

It was that night that I decided to throw "normal" out the window and let all my abnormal hang out.

How will you really ever know your true potential if you are aiming for the goals of someone else?

When you look back at the history of the world; Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Maya Angelou, Plato, Benjamin Franklin, etc, do you know what the difference was between them and everyone else?

They were different.




They didn't conform to who people thought they should be, they stepped outside of the box. They stopped wasting their time and energy keeping up with everyone else, and instead they changed the world.

How can you make a difference in the world if you are doing exactly the same thing that everyone else is doing?

You can't, it's not possible.

So am I weird? Probably. Different? Absolutely. Original? Hell yes.

I'm done trying to be like everyone else. I don't want to accomplish what everyone else is accomplishing, I want to achieve something greater. I'm done wasting my time trying to be a someone that I'm never going to be; someone else. I'd rather spend my time and energy being who I am supposed to be.

When you love yourself for who you are, you can be proud of what you do. If you spend your life trying to be like everyone else, you will surely fail, because you were never meant to be them.

That is why you have your own brain, your own heart, and your own legs. You were meant to think what you think, feel what you feel, and walk your own path; individually and separate from any other person on this planet.

If you were supposed to be exactly like someone else, there would really be no reason for you to be here, am I right? Why are we trying so hard to cram ourselves into the same elevator as everyone else? Take the same ride; end up at the same place. For what purpose? So that we can all get off on the same floor and leave the rest of them untouched and undiscovered?

So that my friends, is where I learned to accept the person that I am, throw caution to the wind, and let my crazy originality hang out.

I'm an original form of awesome and so are you.

You just have to be willing to get off the elevator; stop trying to get to the same place that everyone else is, at the same speed, at the same time.

You really should try it, the air is a lot fresher where everyone isn't all crammed into the same box.

You are the only one who can figure out your destiny, that I can assure you. No one else is going to live your life for you and no one else can tell you how to live it better than you can. This life, this is your mission. This is your fight, this is your battle, and the end result is yours alone.

Live your life so that when you look back one day you know that you lived YOUR life. Be able to look back and know that you reached YOUR goals. It would really be a shame to look back on a life full of failures and know that the mission's were never really yours to begin with.

Be different. Be you. There has never been and there never will be another edition of you, so be the best edition that you can be.

Be your own original form of awesome, because normal blends in, but awesome people change the world.


38 comments:

  1. Wow again! I really love your posts, Eden. You absolutely are original & amazing, and have certainly had a lifetime of experiences not many others have had. Despite everything that prevented you from being yourself in the past, you have by now definitely allowed your personality to shine and live life the way you want it. Who cares about college, you have an amazing nonprofit and are smart, worldly, and kind (you frankly didn't need it), and we all know your financial troubles aren't your fault. You are absolutely capable of changing the world! I'm cheering for you :)

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    1. I am really happy for your kids too. Nothing makes me happier than happy, free, and happy kids :)

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    2. Aw thank you! Such sweet words, you brought a BIG smile to my face :D I'm always a little surprised (and embarrassed) when you guys take the time to say nice things. I'm not certain that I deserve your praises but I do thank you for sharing them with me :)

      Thank you (all of you) for continuing to stand by me as I fall down, get back up, repeat, and so forth.

      *hugs*

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    3. Oops, I meant to say "healthy" on that last one. Don't thank me, Eden, cuz I only praise when there is something praiseworthy :)
      PS I think tv taught me a lot about social interaction as a little kid. Bullies and slow people are in the world and I'm glad I first learned about them on tv and not in real life.

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  2. I hear you there, what IS normal anyway? There's no such thing, it's a medical term for potential physical problems or a setting on the washer. Also in medicine "normal" is a range

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    1. I've seen that sign "normal is just a setting on the dryer" lol. I need to get that. Very true about the medical spectrum of normal!!

      *hugs*

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  3. Curious now. What do you have against nursery rhymes?

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    1. Oh the nursery rhymes lol.

      I was a bit shocked when I found out that most of them are written from quite the sinister past.

      For examply "Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row."

      It is believed that the Mary they are referring too was actually "bloody Mary," queen of England that lured women looking for jobs into her castle. She tortured and murdered hundreds of them. In the rhyme the silver bells and cockle shells are actually weapons of torture and the maids all in a row is referring to her burying the maids in her garden.

      Ring around the Rosie is believe to have stemmed from the black plague when the telltale sign of the disease was a red ring on the skin. Back in the day people would put posie herbs in their pockets to ward off the bad smells of the dead. "Ashes ashes we all fall down" is most likely a reference to the creamation process.

      The list goes on and on from the old woman who lived in the shoe and ended up whipping her children and putting them in bed to babies falling out of trees in "rock a bye baby" lol. From Humpty Dumpty to Jack and Jill most have a history most likely stemming from a historical event.

      It's almost as if most nursery rhymes originated back in the days as modern time tabloids. With their catchy chants and lack of other entertainment they became little chants that kids would sing, and somehow we turned them all into bedtime stories!

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    2. Bloody Mary wasn't called that due to a rumour (which the story of her killing girls most likely is), but due to political reasons: After her father, King Henry VIII had reformed church and split from the roman Catholics, he pursued Catholics and beheaded them; Mary as a Catholic tried to turn England back round again and burned Protestants. Since the people didn't like her, they called her Bloody Mary, despite the fact that in her very short reign she never came even close to the number of people her father (and younger sister) killed for the same reason.

      The story with the girls sounds exactly like Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, the Bloody countess. Could you mean her? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Báthory)

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    3. Possibly! It was so long ago that I read up on that stuff, I just know that I don't like the nursery rhymes lol. Plus they just drive me crazy ;)

      Thanks for sharing the info!!!

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  4. "How can you make a difference in the world if you're doing the same thing everyone else is doing?".... Love this line and the elevator analogy!! You are one of the best moms that I know. Keep rockin' Eden ♡

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  5. Just.... YES. On all. FINALLY someone gets what I've been saying for the past 4 years with my little girl. Glad someone else voices her parental beliefs like me.
    And thank you for this post - I needed this today.

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    1. I'm glad this helped you today! *high five* out of the box parenting momma!!!

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    2. Thank you, thank you!! (I need to get my profile published so I have a name on here LOL!!!) And yes, us out of the box parenting Mommas ROCK!

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  6. Love this post, as usual, Eden. Love that you found a way to make the lesson real for your daughter in regards to gun safety. Thanks for reminding me that even if the shit I do is weird, I believe it's the best for me, and society can go piss off. :)

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    1. Lol! Yes my weird friend, society needs you more than it needs another clone :)

      Trauma life in the ER all around lol! I'll admit, that was pushing it a bit even for me. I was going for "lesson by shock factor."

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    2. Well, we often try to impart lessons to kids, while forgetting that they don't have the life experience to put context to the words we use. I grew up butchering animals, so I saw that stuff first-hand. I think you made a hard choice to give your daughter some context for what you were talking about-not necessarily a bad thing! It's like the difference between telling your son the stove is hot, and him actually touching it. Difficult, but important, lessons!

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    3. You should have seen her jaw hanging open. I had fleeting moments of thinking "this might have been very, very, wrong" but I think since the lesson sunk in, I'm going to consider it a success!

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  7. Yay, let your freak flag fly. :) I've been thinking about this a lot over the past few days: the fact that I am different, my daughter is different and we are happiest when we are supported by other people who are different and not trying to be like everyone else. Sometimes it's easy to get sucked into the belief (while being unaware of it) that something is wrong with you, different = bad, weird, strange, odd, etc... excuse me, but that's BULLSHIT! I get so happy when I hear my daughter say things like "Well, everybody's different! And that's good!" It's part of my personal mission to do whatever I can to help her never forget that. Don't change!

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    1. I'm gonna make a freak t-shirt lol!

      You're daughter sounds like a smart girl with a smart momma :)

      *hugs*

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  8. I think showing her that show was a fabulous idea! I never see the point of keeping children away from reality all their life.
    Over here there was a very well-known cook, who a few years ago gave a cooking class for children. One of the first things she did, was to give each child a fluffy rabbit. After playing with it, she showed them how to kill them and prepare the meat. There was a huge uproar from parents all over the country, who said that was just cruel for the kids. The cook calmly answered that it wasn't, since even children have to damn well know where the tasty meat is coming from and at what cost their hamburger comes, that they have to take a life to be able to eat that. So they can choose to eat meat and KNOW that it means they might be killing something they thought to be cute in life or decide to not eat meat. I fully agree. I think it's utterly scary when children walk out of their bubble as adults and have no idea at all.

    Besides, people underestimate what kids can take: Normal fairy tales are so gruesome! And children's imaginations run wild so easily. In my head the Hansel and Gretel witch that ate children and then burned to death alive was always pretty graphic. No damage taken. :D

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    1. Haha!! Yes I had not even thought about fairy tales! Hansel and Gretel was a bit much! A lot of the fairy tales are to be honest!

      That's crazy about the rabbit! Good life lesson though but wow would I have loved to see the faces on those parents..... !!!!!

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  9. That is interesting... there are certain breeds of rabbit specifically for raising as meat, eg Flemish giants. Those breeds are big and heavy and usually have brown sleek fur like wild rabbits. Angora rabbits and other rabbits with nice fur are usually raised only as pets. I've never heard of a rabbit hamburger before and don't see rabbit on menus.

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    1. We don't know where the poster is from, maybe a rabbit hamburger isn't uncommon elsewhere in the world!!

      Poor rabbits :(

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    2. Very true. Thanks for the insight.

      USA

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    3. I've never heard of a rabbit hamburger, and am pretty sure it would be even worse (if that's possible) than a turkey burger. However, it's quite common for lots of places to eat rabbit in all various forms. One of my favorites happens to be enchiladas. :D

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  10. There's definitely no one way to raise a child. You have to find what works best for you and your kids and, provided you're not actually hurting your kids, stick to that. I see nothing wrong with showing your daughter that show. Some kids can be told "Don't do this or that will happen" and they understand. Other kids need to be shown what bad things can happen. Better you show her a TV show than have her experience the reality in real life.

    My father has always been VERY into horror movies and constantly tried getting me to watch these gruesome monster movies starting before I was even in kindergarten. He kept telling me not to be scared, that it's just people in costumes and makeup, etc. But none of his words worked on me. Finally, he found some tape (VHS, because this was the 80s after all) that showed the behind the scenes making of various monsters. It showed a step-by-step process of putting on all the makeup and costumes on a person from beginning to end. For me, seeing the people actually slowly turn into the monster, as each costume piece or bit of makeup was applied, finally made sense to me. And from my kindergarten days on, I fell in love with the movies my father watched. They no longer scared me. They were just fun and I loved trying to imagine what the people looked like under the make up and costumes.

    So yeah. Some kids just need to see what can happen if you play with guns (or how monsters in movies are made) before they get it. And now your daughter knows exactly what to do if she ever finds a gun, and she's telling the boy child to be careful as well. Mission accomplished!

    Your kids are very lucky to have you. :)

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    1. Hey you!! I was wondering where you had gone wandering off to!

      Love the horror story analogy. Yes, sometimes kids just need to be able to actually SEE a prevously abstract concept before they can really get it!

      Thank you my dear :)

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  11. I am absolutely loving this post Eden! I remember when I was younger I didn't care if I was weird, etc., but as I've gotten older I've become more "programmed." Every time I read your blog it reminds me to just be myself & stop worrying about everything else. You sound like a great mother & one I aspire to be.

    On another note, have you considered setting your blog up for an RSS type fee so people with Bloglovin for example could add your blog to their daily feed :)

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    1. Thank you :)

      There is no one as awesome as the original you :)

      I believe there is an RSS feed? I have Bloglovin followers and I think a few of my readers have mentioned the RSS feed, so.....?

      I'm not very technical so I don't know.....

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  12. I hate all the homework and tests my kids have to do for school. How did you get your daughter's teacher to let her skip that? I would LOVE to be able to do that!!

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    1. Where we live the kids have a super strange grading system and homework actually doesn't factor into it (I would explain it more but I'm not sure if it's specific to my state). I basically just explained my reasoning and that was that. She wasn't too thrilled looking, but I told her that if my daughter was falling behind anywhere I would make sure to work on it with her and so far she has been ahead of the class so it hasn't been a problem. I do however believe the 1st grade teacher does not like me....

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    2. As for the tests, standardized testing is given to all students unless you opt out :) Regular tests in class, we haven't really reached that point yet because she is so young still.

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  13. Thank! I have lost many a friend because we don't celebrate Christmas thanksgiving Halloween birthdays Valentine day. I've been told I'm robbing my kids of childhood because my husband and I never told our kids there was a Santa that brought them toys if they were good, because birthdays parties bring resentment for getting a present just because you were born. We don't give gifts out of obligations just because it's Christmas or a birthday. We give them anytime we think about someone. The only thing we celebrate really besides e as Christmas kids 13the birthday is our anniversary because that's when we became a family. We teach gratitude and manners and the we old doesn't revolve around us. God put us here to do His work taking care of eachother and those thst have less. Because he and I have trumatic childhoods, we are selective of who we allow our children to be around. We parenting our kids. Our kids never run our house they say yes ma'am yes sir no thank yes please...and so on.

    My point is, Eden, I understand the need to parenting with Your beliefs rather than society norms.

    Good job

    Nikki

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    1. Rock on sister, it's your own damn life :)

      Be proud of it!

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  14. Hi,
    I randomly found your blog and have been making my way through it. You are such an inspiration in everything you have done.
    I really wasn't planning on commenting at all, but I LOVE this post, and I LOVE the way that your friend supported you in your decisions regarding raising your child. I am an early intervention speech pathologist and I try every day to help empower families in order to help their children by carrying over strategies that I provide, and by trusting their "mommy instincts" (or "daddy instincts"). THIS is the feeling that I can only hope some families leave with. Thank you.

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