Kindness Matters

Six months ago, I wrote an essay about my son’s injury at Mt. Hood. I called it “Broken”, and you can read the original piece here. It was hard for me to write; I was going through some emotional times during the summer, and, as with any time a parent sees their child injured, his accident really shook me up. I needed to figure it out.

As with all my writing, I wrote it for me. I wasn’t out to impress anyone with his injury or our story. I didn’t intend to make my life seem harder/more painful/more dramatic or fill-in-the-blank with whatever word you would like. I was simply telling my story, my experience, and sharing how it made me feel. No judgement, no pity party, nothing but sharing my love for my son, and no evaluation or proclamation that our situation was more traumatic than any other.

My story was about healing, change, and adapting to the ‘new normal’ – something I was dealing with on several levels in my life. At the same time this happened, I was reading a blogpost by one of my favorite writer/bloggers, Katrina Kenison, who so eloquently pens the exquisite agony we feel as mothers adapting to different experiences with our children. It felt like the Universe was speaking to me, sending me ways to cope with my situation.

I ended my story with healing, with gratitude, and with thoughts of moving forward.

Today, the Huffington Post published the same story, with the title “The Phone Call No Parent Wants To Get”. Provocative title, I agree – that’s what happens when stories get published online.

Within minutes, there were dozens of comments. Surprised, I clicked over. I didn’t think it was the kind of post that would garner much commentary at all. It was just a retelling of an experience of motherhood.

What I saw was full of hate.

I fully realize that the Universe deals out trauma much more intense than what we were experiencing. No one wants to see their child – or any other child – experience pain, fear, or injury. I know that some have more than their share of heartbreak, suffering, and agony. I would never presume to understand the pain of losing a child, or watching a child suffer through any trauma.

But that’s not what my essay was about.

It’s too bad that those people who clicked on my post were “infuriated”, as one reader expressed. It’s too bad that they felt they just wasted their time reading it, or that they somehow had to insert their ego/story/opinion into mine.

Why they would waste more of their time spewing hate and vitriolic comments to me is amazing.

Kindness Matters

Kindness matters, people. Read closely:

You absolutely have the right to say what you think, just like I do. But please, think about how you say it.

This essay wasn’t a piece about politics or religion. It wasn’t a controversial topic. This was a reflection, a memoir, a snapshot of time. It was my experience, not meant to be evaluated or judged against anyone else’s. What would be the point in that? How could one possibly believe that their pain is any greater than another, that their suffering is any stronger? We never know each other’s back story.

While the internet offers an amazing opportunity for people to communicate and connect, why not do so with kindness and seek to understand and be understood? Why hide behind anonymity, freely condemning people for their ideas? Would you yell at me like that in person? Would you hunt down a book author, and plaster your words all over their home?

I’m not impressed by your hate. I’m not even agitated enough to write back and engage in any sort of debate. It’s pointless. I’m even laughing at much of your poorly written, ignorant assumptions you make about me and my son. You have no idea. You don’t know me, you don’t know my story – and to engage with you would be to proclaim that I know yours. Your assumptions make you look like an ass, and give you no credibility. Who are you to judge me?

Life is hard. We all have different challenges. In no way would I equate my son’s accident as anything even close to what many parents deal with on a daily basis.

THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

We are all on this life journey together. We all have a voice. I use mine to communicate, to understand others, and to make the world a kinder place to live in. By spewing your commentary, it makes me wonder what else you do in life that pushes us all backwards in anger, instead of forwards in compassion.

Remember, kindness matters. Maybe I could learn from you – but not if you try to teach me with your hate.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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A Rainy Day in the Bookstore

Diary of a Wimpy KidMost moms dream of a day like I’m having today. I’m on vacation, absolutely no obligations besides catching my flight home this evening. I slept in and woke without an alarm. I didn’t rush out of the motel room, instead I moved at my own pace. I downed several cups of coffee before I even got out of bed, slid into comfortable clothes, and headed out for the day in Salt Lake City.

Alone.

Attempting to avoid the rain, I found refuge in a bookstore. I browsed every stack with pleasure, not feeling like I needed to be anywhere or pick up anyone.  Hours ticked by, the rain poured outside, and then it happened. That moment that knocked me out of my reverie, sent the tears to my eyes, and forced me to scramble for cover.

The children’s section.

When my babies were younger, we spent hours in bookstores. I found the brightly lit space lined with title after title so enticing, and so full of possibilities for their future. Weekly we would park the stroller to the side, bags of Goldfish crackers in hand; I loved the chance to snuggle up with them, choose a new book to look at, and hope their imaginations sparked and they would grow to love the comfort of books as much as I had.

Magic Treehouse booksMy shelves at home still retain the evidence of our visits; I cannot bear to part with the Puppy Place, The Magic Treehouse, The Diary of A Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, Nancy Drew and the escapades of Rick Riordan. To me, it never mattered what they read, simply that they were reading. When interest waned, I lovingly lined another space with their cherished titles, hanging on to the hope that someday they would pick one up again, call to me, and settle in for hours of dreams of their futures.

Those bookstores have closed now, and I must admit, my teens and I rarely spend time searching for dreams together amidst the stacks anymore. Sports, social lives and academics have replaced the stroller and sippy cups, and I find myself today, alone with my memories.

My children are growing up and away, spending their days in the snowrather than safely snuggling against their mother. College visits have replaced our family vacations, and the piercing reality of the end of our life under the same roof attacks in the most unexpected moments.

Like the rainy day I’m alone in the bookstore.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Dia De Los Muertos Memories

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”

― Thomas Campbell

Frida Kahlo, "My Grandparents, My Parents and I"
Frida Kahlo, “My Grandparents, My Parents and I”

“We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper from the universe. All we have to do is listen — feel and sense it with an open heart. Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition. Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane. Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.”

― C.J. Heck, Bits and Pieces: Short Stories from a Writer’s Soul

Charlotte Bronte

“I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes”

― Vladimir Nabokov

A favorite Nicaraguan memory
A favorite Nicaraguan memory

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,

Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie

Frida Kahlo self portrait

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it.

Memories need to be shared.”

― Lois Lowry, The Giver

Do you celebrate Dia de los Muertos? How do you share your memories?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Change: The Only Constant In Life

Changing Leaf
Change (PC: Knowsphotos)

“The important things is this:

To be able at any moment to sacrifice

what we are

for

what we could become.”

~Charles Du Bos

So here’s to change:

to submitting college applications,

to new schools and teams,

to forging new friendships,

and

contemplating what could come next.

Change.

The only constant in life.

A life constantly changing.

How is your life changing?

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Cusp of Change: Those We Love Most

cusp

“Her life now hovered on the cusp of change…at this precise intersection in time, contemplating both distant memories and the uncertainty of the future, she knew she was standing on the lip between past and future. she had not yet taken a step forward into her new unwritten life.”

Lee Woodruff, Those We Love Most

She stands on the cusp of womanhood, her body and mind blossoming in unison. Only seventeen, the future spills before her with temptation. Choices abound, crashing through her day as she contemplates which class to take, which test to cram for and scrolls through glossy promises of college after college, holding her future in their hands. On her bedroom floor, littered with hastily scribbled to-do lists, fading birthday streamers and balloons nearly deflated, neat piles of laundry await, compromises about what to carry away to six weeks of summer ski camp in one not-so-gigantic bag. I can still see her childhood smiling back at me as she packs.

He bounds into the room, red faced and sweaty, backpack full of treasures discovered in a neighbors’ ‘free’ pile down the street. Deserted childhood bowling trophies, a half-filled helium tank, a roll of unopened masking tape and someone’s discarded Sacramento Rivercats handkerchief now strewn across the baby blue carpet of his bedroom. He is thirteen, teetering between that round-faced little boy I toted on my hip and that suave seventh-grader gently holding hands with his girl after school. He towers above me now. It’s his time to sample life, taking n taste after taste of all the world has before him. One class after another, new sports, new friends. A decision about a ski academy, the move-in date etched in our minds. Moving away before I’m ready. I grin as he gulps down his favorite dinner, and push myself back into his childhood.

I’m riding the line, straddling the fast lane. Since when did the teeter-totter weigh less on my end? Motherhood, once so physically exhausting, has now shifted its pressure. My mind tethers me to the past and drags me into the future. I write, I teach, I parent, I love, forever remembering who I am first and wondering how long that will last. We push ourselves to travel, to meet new people and speak their language. I strain for their hands, hoping to catch a finger before they soar off in another direction.

We hover on the cusp of change, dipping our toes into the unknown waters and in that precise moment, contemplate our next step. We ride the ebb and flow of life, sometimes skittering to the safety of shore, occasionally squeezing our eyes shut and diving into the wave. The future lies before us like a foggy horizon, and we, cautiously, carefully, often blindly, scan the horizon, searching for the lighthouse.

This post was inspired by the novel Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff. Every family has its secrets and deceptions, but they come to surface a tragic accident changes the family dynamic forever.. Join From Left to Write on June 6 as we discuss Those We Love Most. You can also enter to win a live video chat with Lee Woodruff! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Use this link to enter to win a live video chat with author Lee Woodruff.

 

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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