Just a little word about playing nice in my online home.

I was given a great link to this blog post by Steve Pavlina about Free Speech in Online Communities: The Delusion of Entitlement.

I love what he has to say about Free Speech in private online communities (ie private forums or blogs).

When people approach online communities with the erroneous belief that they’re entitled to unbridled free speech, this misjudgment often leads to inappropriate behavior.

~ Steve Pavlina

You Are an Invited Guest

Here’s an attitude I suggest you adopt when it comes to participating in online communities. When you visit someone else’s online community, you’re a guest in the owner’s online home. Behave accordingly. Your participation there is a privilege subject to their owner’s discretion.

….

If you’re going to come into my private online home and behave like a jerk in my presence, I will show you the door every time. And after you’re gone, I’ll return to my other guests and refill the snack bowls.

….

Do you have to become my close personal friend or agree with everything I say to participate in my website’s online community? Heck no, I’m not that strict. But if you pay me a visit online or offline, I do require that you treat me […} with basic courtesy, politeness, and respect. Treat me online as you would if you were a guest in my home. Just as I open my website to others, I often open my home to a variety of guests as well. I love hanging out with many different kinds of people, as long as they behave with a modicum of human decency.

~ Steve Pavlina

As a person who had her boundaries violated and emotionally abused many times as a child and young adult, it’s difficult for me to remember that I have the power to walk away from people who not only just disagree with me, but look for reasons to punch me in the gut when I’m down.

My mother and grandfather used to accuse me of not knowing how to take anyone’s advice. Well, that’s partly true. I don’t take the advice of others that is inconsistent with my internal values and goals. Just like any other person with exceptional critical-thinking skills, I have high expectations for myself and I keep the bar high for others. And that includes children too.

People who leave comments simply in order to punch below the belt really have nothing useful to contribute here. I will be deleting nefarious, underhanded, UNHELPFUL comments in the future. I’m leaving some of the ones here for now because the more I go back to read them, the more convinced I am that I’m right and they are just being difficult because they ain’t got nothing better to do except complain about what I say, or how I process my childhood/early adulthood pain or how I spend my time with my family.

That being said…

This is my personal online home. This is where I come to process some of my thoughts and feelings regarding the choices I’ve made and the choices I didn’t make in my life.

I come here to journal the thoughts behind parenting my smart girls who one day might be mothers themselves. I want to groom them to have choices – so that they can be all they want to be.

I want to make it quite clear that I LOVE being a mother to my girls and teaching them things about the world around us. They are very gifted girls too. I don’t anticipate them growing up simply wanting to be mothers. If they do, that’s fine, but if they want to be more than that, I do believe there is room for that too, with proper planning.

We (my husband and I) didn’t plan things right. That was our mistake. We never really gave much thought to family and when we had to, we naively thought that having a career and a family was completely feasible for us, until the realities sunk in – being gone 11 hours a day (commuting into the city) was not healthy for my 2 children, my husband or me. I was 31 when I had my first and 34 when I had my third daughter.

Someone criticized me for choosing to get married and have children, so now I should deal with the consequences. While it’s true that I chose my husband, it’s because it was better than my original plan – which was to have a string of affairs and pursue my career goals. This wasn’t a feminist move – it was simply that the fact that having been from a family with a domineering, abusive, money-driven,power-hungry, gas-lighting, divorced once and nearly twice mother who cared more about her bank account and her showplace of a home than caring for the emotional needs of her husband and children and the fact that my oldest sister and youngest sister learned how to continue abusing me with their passive-aggressive, gas-lighting, hyper-critical digs at me on everything about me which made it crystal clear to me early on that marriage and families sucked big time. They continued to abuse me long after I left home. I still have vicious emails from my sisters saying nasty things to me when they were mad and didn’t get their way.

So then what?

So then I did everything I could to become independent – chose a career in science to support myself – so I would never have to rely on my family again. And I didn’t. I worked from my freshman year of college to pay my way through school. Starting about my junior year of college, I was well on my way to dating a variety of young men, many of whom I cared about but never wanted over the long term.

So, what changed?

I fell in love with someone I could trust and I didn’t need to have affairs anymore. And I continued to work at some really great jobs that served the “greater good”. From my junior year of college, I worked at a food microbiology/chemistry lab first as a lab technician, then in Quality Assurance/Quality Control for the lab, then in QA for the corporate HQ. I was in charge of assisting with 10 laboratories’ QC departments. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with having gotten myself out of the laboratory and into the office, so I started looking around. I went through a very extensive screening process (that took 15 months) to get hired in forensics. Out of 1400 applicants, they hired 85 for various positions. My forensic DNA position was only 1 of 5. I had a week off between jobs.

I worked in the crime lab for 5 years before I realized that while I enjoyed helping victims and their families find justice and prevent (at least temporarily) others from becoming victims, it was incredibly stressful and there were too many cases for the number of analysts we had. So again, I looked around. I found another position as a senior technologist/acting supervisor of a genetics laboratory at the very same private university I turned down 10 years prior because the caveat was that if I were to attend there, I’d have to live at home (listening to my mother and step-dad fight all the time).

I got hired at Snooty U. My last day at the forensic job was on a Friday and my new job started that Monday. I worked there for 3 years, loving the perfect amount of challenge and responsibility, but having loads less actual stress. My lab performed DNA testing on many rare genetic diseases. I felt good about what I did – we helped give answers to sick children’s families and helped prepare parents make decisions on whether or not they should risk having children if they had potentially devastating genetic mutations they might pass on to any children. It was the perfect job for a while.

And then what happened?

I first got pregnant 3 months after being hired. Then I lost the baby a week after a car accident we had. Of course the doctors can’t prove the car accident caused the miscarriage, but the day of the accident, I was in such emotional shock I was terrified to sit down because I felt like I was going to pass out and never wake up again. The phrase “scared to death” was a very distinct possibility. I believe, while it didn’t kill me, the stress I underwent that night killed my baby. I was 10 weeks along when I miscarried. My husband stayed by my side as long as he could while I miscarried the baby at home and went in for the follow-up DNC.

And after the loss of the baby?

I got pregnant again 3 months later with my oldest child. Six months into the pregnancy, my husband got laid off from his $50,000 a year engineering job and then 9/11 happened and he was not able to find any employment for a year. I worked up until the day I delivered the baby, then went home on the train only to feel like the baby was gearing up to be born. By 11 pm at night, went back to the hospital I worked at and delivered my first daughter.

My nursing experience with her (and my second daughter too) was pretty horrible. I felt incredible amounts of personal pain and suffering because I could not get breastfeeding to work right. She was also a very high needs baby. My introduction to motherhood was filled with chronic tears on both my baby’s part and my part. It wasn’t supposed to be this hard.

When my oldest was 11 months old and I was just getting used to combining motherhood and career, I got pregnant again. I would be gone to work for 11 hours, then come home and take care of the bedtime routine for my oldest – I spent lots of time reading her stories, singing her songs and cuddling her to sleep because I didn’t see her for 11 hours. As my pregnancy wore on, I became more and more tired and worn out. I would often fall asleep before my daughter would, and then she’d nudge me and tell me “more” (stories).

When she was 19 months old, I gave birth two my second daughter, and after my 3 month maternity leave, I would trudge back to work, be gone 11 hours, and come home to take care of two high needs babies.

Every other baby I had seen was “good” and “pleasant” as infants. Not mine. My first two babies were really intense and fussy babies and they were walking early 9.5 months and 10 months. Unless they were in my arms, all they did was cry and scream.

I’ve seen plenty of other infants that we content to be “potted plants” – watching the world go by from their bouncy chairs, or their swings, or their pack and plays. Not mine. They needed constant stimulation and interaction with their world and me. It’s not that they cried – it’s that they screamed when they were expected to deal with being observers and not participants. They were so eager to get around that they walked at 9.5 months and 10 months respectively. And they barely slept, unless they were cuddled up next to me. I tried sleep training them and soon gave up on it. I thought it was one of the most inhumane ways to treat an infant – to listen to them scream bloody murder in their beds was torture on my ears and my heart.

Such is the life of the gifted infant. Of course I didn’t know they were gifted as infants (that only came later). I fully expected them to be smart (with a scientist for a mom, and a mechanical engineer as a dad, how could they not be?).

It turns out, as they grew older, their giftedness has exhibited itself in many ways and their school progress and some testing done so far has proven what I suspected long ago.

After a period of time, it became clear to me that having a career and 2 very high needs babies was not going to work out so well. My husband was in a rotating shift work job by then, and 2 weeks out of three he was not home to help with the bedtime routine. I was chronically late to work because I was exhausted all the time.

I chose to give up my job because I wasn’t about to give up my family.

Three months later, I got pregnant again, unexpectedly, on the day my husband was scheduled for a vasectomy. To the commenter that suggested we CHOSE to have children, we certainly ALSO CHOSE to limit the amount we had. Unfortunately, they made a mistake at the clinic and my husband’s doctor was on vacation the day he was scheduled. Because we took advantage of the day he took off, and I couldn’t keep my hands off my husband, we ended up pregnant quite by accident.

My husband was still working shift work and then I had 3 little ones to take care of instead of two, and came to the sad realization that going back to school to keep mentally stimulated would even be challenging.

Some have insinuated that I am not doing my job as a mother and wife right. Or that housekeeping should be more important to me. Or that now that I have a family, I should not complain about what is now my reality.

To that person, I’d like to say you are incredibly judgmental for someone who just started reading my blog. I don’t understand why you chose to address my housekeeping or say I’m not respecting my husband (who brings home the income) by not keeping a high priority on housekeeping, on a post that was about how other mothers neglect teaching their 3.5 year old child not to throw rocks or hit or pinch other kids.

And to anyone else – I was before and now again AM keeping my kids away from this 3.5 year old. I began to trust the child as she was doing better, so I lightened up my hovering over my kids because my children (4.5, 6 and 7.5) know enough by now not to hit their friends with rocks, hands, or toys.

To anyone else insinuating I don’t like motherhood, or wifey-hood or what have you, that is entirely not true. I just don’t like being a housemaid when there are other things we’d rather be doing.

My kids, by their very giftedness, demanded I be a better mother and not be a lazy mother. I had to read books to find out why conventional wisdom and traditional behavioral modifications (time outs and spankings) did not apply to them. My kids, by their sensitivity (their emotional needs and my one child’s sensory processing issues), demanded I be an attached mother, not stick them in front of the TV or in their playpens (yeah, what a waste of money that turned out to be) and expect that they can be left to their own devices while I scrub every cobweb out of every nook and cranny. My kids, by their very giftedness, demanded that I be a teaching mother – filling their needs for stimulation and learning – because they ask for it all the time.

The job of mothering my kids is EXTREMELY important to me. They taught me to search harder and explore my own feelings in depth because I could not understand my own conflicted feelings – their growth and development is important but NOT to the exclusion of my own.

The housework is a necessary evil and I will continue to do the housework on AS NEEDED basis while I do other things to make my time here at home pleasant for me as well as for them. I didn’t give up my job to be a housemaid. I made it perfectly clear to my husband that the deal was I was going to quit my job to spend more time with him and my children and figure out where to go from here (getting a master’s degree was high on my list, but got sidetracked when I got pregnant with #3).

Now, being 5 years out of my career, it’s not so easy to get back into, and I know of no DNA labs around here that would give me a job between the hours of 8:30 and 2:00. Can anyone understand how this might be a little frustrating?

Despite what the commenter said to me about my husband bringing home the bacon, so I should respect him by doing more housework. Um, yeah, if I didn’t contribute anything else to the family income, perhaps, but how do you know I don’t? You made a huge assumption about who does the all the earning and spending around here. So, yeah, I do believe I have some leeway in how I spend my time.

I feel despite having had a really rough start with the issue of raising a family – from having no healthy role model to look to in my family of origin, to getting pregnant 4 times in three years and having 3 babies under 3.5, to going from not having enough milk to hydrate my first infant to having nursed my last infant 3 years (and the subsequent drain to my energy due to the nursing hormones), who have been better behaved in public than most of their age-mates – I’m doing pretty damn well as a mother.

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This entry was posted in Attachment Parenting, career, combining science and motherhood, gifted adults, gifted children, highly sensitive child, highly sensitive mom, motherhood, my mothering goals. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Just a little word about playing nice in my online home.

  1. Of course you are and you’re not doing too badly as a human.

    Welcome to your life, my dear. Good, bad..indifferent–it is yours and you have made it tolerable and livable in spite of all the arrears of faith.

    Never stop believing….that’s what fuels life. That and hope.

    LK

  2. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Laurie –

    It’s also been made tolerable by having a few others remind me that I am not doing too badly.

    I really appreciate those messages. That makes a difference to me, because even when I doubt myself, it helps to get outside perspective.

    I think we are all here in life to help each other out, not tear each other down. And it’s a give and take situation. I don’t want to be the one to require needing a hand up. I like being there for others too.

    That’s part of the reason the internet has been so important to me. I’m able to partake in communication with people I genuinely like and can be contribute something to.

    I know that by being honest with my struggles, I’ve had other women write me and say they’ve struggled with similar things and that it was helpful they read something that made them feel less alone. That actually makes me feel like I’m still contributing something of value.

    Even if it does mean I have postponed doing some housework to help others or feel the need to express something to someone outside these 4 walls.

  3. joanna says:

    I HATE housework and I’m not afraid to admit it. I was NOT put on this earth to keep a clean house for “my man” – I was put here to fulfill my potential as a creative human being. If that means the bathroom floor doesn’t get mopped but once in a blue moon, then so be it. No one’s gonna die. (Read Madeleine L’Engle’s and Barbara Kingsolver’s thoughts on housework – they’re my idols!). I get so irate when people equate cleanliness with godliness – do they really think he/she/it cares if your counters have toast crumbs???

    Not all women were “meant” to be mothers or house-slaves but most of us do it and do it with love and sacrifice. We do the best we possibly can because we love our children.

    I think you’re doing great!

  4. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Thanks Joanna-

    I’m always reminded of the story of Mary and Martha – I’ve always related to the Mary character more than Martha.

    But now I’m really interested in reading Madeleine L’Engle and Barbara Kingsolver’ thoughts on housework. I just recently read A Wrinkle in Time (loved it!).

    I’m not a full blown feminist, but I do believe there is a way to have a life outside of housework.

    Thanks for the warm encouragement. Now I’m off to read your other comment.

  5. joanna says:

    I think they’re in L’Engle’s Circle of Quiet and Kingsolver’s essay collection, Under a Tuscan Sun…

  6. theexplorationstation says:

    Thanks for the tip on where they might be found. I was going to ask you where I might find them.

    🙂

  7. Cathy says:

    Hi there,

    First, just a general thank you for keeping up this site, which I check into every few weeks. I discovered it several months ago while investigating selective mutism. Thanks to your recommendations, I read the books “Movement and Early Learning” and “The Highly Sensitive Child”. One of my boys is a selectively mute, gifted and bilingual sweetheart.

    Cathy

  8. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Cathy – Welcome! Thanks for saying hello. I appreciate knowing that maybe I have helped some others help their children.

    I know when I started out two years ago, I thought we were in for an INCREDIBLY long journey. I have heard from other parents and individuals with SM on a message board, read some personal stories online, saw YouTube videos of some with SM, watched a show on 20/20 shortly after she was diagnosed, and saw that for many, it is something that can linger if not worked on in a interdisciplinary way.

    I know, the earlier that it can be diagnosed the better the long term prognosis.

    But I can say that at 6 years old, my formerly mute daughter is thriving in school. She still has some of it come into play around certain strangers, so I know that she still has some issue with it, but I think that in time, even that will fade as she matures. Heck, even I go into stores and sometimes don’t feel up to making idle chit-chat with strangers (oftentimes I’m wrapped up in my own thoughts, not trying to be rude).

  9. HeatherB says:

    Wow, I just stumbled across this blog, and I can’t wait to read more. I can relate on so many levels….the mom stuff, two boys 17 months apart, both likely gifted, housework, feeling stifled but loving my family, and even I have related myself to Mary rather than Martha! My boys are just 2.5 and 4, and I am just feeling like I can breathe again. I cannot wait to get to the point where you are like you feel like you are the mom you wish you had. My boys require so much creative energy that I just don’t have yet. I hope that reading your blog will give me some creative inspiration! Thank you!

  10. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Heather –

    Welcome. I’m glad you are here. Parenting gifted kids is a wild ride isn’t it?

    Even with all the frustrations that comes with changing my life so drastically, I’m very happy I’m home with them. I have the time to really, deeply get to know my kids and their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly can not imagine how I would meet my daughters’ needs if I was exhausted all the time from working like I used to.

    My mother had her life, her friends and her career and we kids were just an afterthought. Because I know how that felt, I just couldn’t do that to them.

    It does get somewhat easier, and more fun as they get older. But yes, it takes A LOT of creativity to keep all of our needs met.

    I have some great math and science ideas that your boys might like at my two other blogs.

    The Wonder Years

    The Exploration Station

    Hey…and really, blogging has helped me sort things out. You might want to try it. It’s free and it would be great to see what other bright/gifted kids are doing.

    It’s also put me in touch with some wonderful mothers who have talent and intelligence and wisdom and wow…it just humbles me. I have never had so much support. It’s an amazing thing.

  11. Cathy says:

    These are great rules! As a long-time co-moderator of an online parenting community (not the one I linked to here, by the way), I’ve seen first-hand, and repeatedly, how entitled some feel to tear others down or start huge drama. We ended up having to get very strict about our rules and even to kick out repeat offenders. It’s hard, but I think it’s fair and reasonable to expect adults to behave in your home the way you’d want your toddlers to behave in theirs. Well written and well explained–good job!

  12. raisingsmartgirls says:

    Cathy –

    Thanks for commenting. And, given the fact I’m going to eventually return to the work world, I appreciate the site you DID link to. I will definitely have to check out that out. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    Casey

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